Christmas and Summer Break all at once? There's a reason the Kiwis call it the Silly Season. With my parents in town, Loren and I both got a week off work to tour the countryside at the end of November. It was too early for folks to be on X-mas holiday, and it was mid-week as well, so had a laid-back time of it, with very few fellow tourists on the roads.
My turn to drive. We stop at a two fruit stands and one winery. Fruit stand number one makes fresh fruit ice cream where they take plain ice cream and whatever kind of fruit you want, and stick them in an ancient-looking device that turns it into something tasty. At fruit stand number two Dad bought perfectly ripe black berries and insisted we eat them immediately. We mentioned we were on the look out for wine, and so the ladies at the fruit stand phoned the winery just down the road to make sure it would be open for tasting. The black berries were gone before we got there. We bought a pinot noir - one of the Wairarapa region's specialities, which is just fine with us since it's one of our favourites.
Next stop was Mt. Bruce - a wildlife reserve that has breeding programs for a native birds. We got up close with the kaka which are loose in the park:
And I got to show my family some hihi (the species I volunteer with here in Wellington). By the time we finished wandering through the park, we were all ready to find a place to spend the night. The next town was Etekahuna - a town too small to rate even one stop sign, but somehow managed to claim the national bird as it's own mascot:
There were exactly two restaurants open in Etekahuna. After a dinner of fish and chips wrapped in news paper, we decided to move along - the next dot on the map looked a little larger and therefore more promising.
At Pahiatua we followed a sign which simply said "quiet motel" and found a very pleasant B&B (acutally it was a 'bed' with an option for 'breakfast' for an additional fee). It was indeed quiet, with a pleasant garden as well:
There is no night life in Pahiatua. But the night was cool and clear, and I showed Mom what the Southern Cross looks like when it's up-side-down (not a sight you can see from the Northern Hemisphere, not even in Hawaii).
And that was just Day One!
More to come!
(photos from today's post were taken by my mother, except for the one of the kaka)
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