It’s been a wonderful year living and exploring in our wonderful Jayco so it’s a sad day saying goodbye to it and so I’ve decided to reminisce a bit with a post about our Easter Weekend spent exploring the bottom of The North Island.
How great that Easter fell early in April this year to take advantage of the warm weather we are still having. We left Auckland on Thursday afternoon making our way to Vinegar Hill Campsite in Rangetikei by nightfall. Whilst our fellow campers huddled around their campfires, we huddled in our gorgeous new Jayco around our oil heater and rejoiced in our generator. We were far too tired to be building campfires.
Our itinery, albeit very broad, included the area south of Rangetikei so basically anywhere our nose took us in the four days we had to explore the area. After a very chilly night, making Auckland seem practically tropical by comparison, we consoled ourselves with porridge and welcomed the morning sun.
Having ticked off our first real coffee of the morning in Fielding, we arrived in the pure treasure town of Woodville. Honestly if you are a Crown Lynn Pottery collector and your missing a piece, chances are it’s in Woodville. I hate junky second hand shops where everything is just bundled together on a table and it all just looks like junk but you won’t find secondhand stores like that here. Everything in a box, in a collection, named, polished, priced and I bet they do a roaring trade. Even if I was a little weirded out by the guy in the viking come priests get up behind the counter in one particular store.
After a morning spent treasure hunting, it was with delight and surprise that we happened upon The TuI Brewery in Mangatainoka. Yes I’ve seen the ads on TV with the bikini babes in Mangatainoka but who actually knew where Mangatainoka was. It’s a thriving place disproving the fact that you need location to be sucesssful. With a great garden bar and over the top tasting paddles, it was a great way to pass an afternoon. Loving the Tui shop with everything Tui ever invented. How could you possibly pass up a bright orange singlet top plastered with the Tui insignia.
Having loosely decided upon Greytown as our second nights destination , we found a duck pond in The Carterton A and P Showground to park next to for the night. Great stop, full facilities including power all on large grassy sites all for under $20. We woke in the morning to the sound of whales breathing out of their blowholes – or so it sounded to our newly awakened ears. In the Duck pond we asked ourselves? Turns out Wairarapa is a hot air balloon paradise and right outside out doorstep were three balloons ready for take off. Simply gorgeous.
Another gorgeous thing is Greytown. If she were a lady she would be a gracious victorian lady in all her finery complete with satin gown and parasol. Yes I’m gushing here but truly, I loved the beautifully restored villas, the autumn colours of the trees, gracious shop fronts like Blackwell and Sons which stock the best range of vintage bikes, baskets and bike paraphernalia I’ve ever seen. As we sat on the pavement drinking great Supreme Coffee at Cahoots Cafe, a parade of vintage cars and bikes past us completing the picture. Don’t miss Schoc Chocolates – handmade chocolate at its finest. Enough said really.
I could have stayed all day however Featherston was calling. Featherston is a bit like Greytown”s poor cousin but with plenty of promise with shops such as C’est and Mr Feather’s Den winning hearts and customers.If you love cheese and gourmet treats then C’est is a definate must. If you like bizarre or eclectic collections then Mr Feather’s Den is the shop for you containing the best collection of Robinson Crusoe books ever and other oddities.
Moving on to complete the trifecta of Wairarapa towns where we sampled some of the local wines. We took up the suggestion from the local Isite to head to Cape Palliser and what a suggestion that was. Back on track, heading out to Cape Palliser was akin to striking gold.
Having passed over Lake Ferry for the DOC site at Putangirua , we were stoked to find a large grassy area just off the highway with a lovely sea view and open fireplaces all for a donation fee of $13.00. How good are the sunets here in this neck of the woods.
An added bonus of staying here was being on the door step of The Putangirua Pinnacle Walk. After a breakfast of eggs and bacon, we laced up the hiking boots and headed off. Not so well maintained here DOC or well signposted for that matter but still a worthwhile trek along the riverbed and up a rather steep incline to the rock formations that make up The Pinnacles.
Having ticked off The Pinnacles we unhitched the caravan much to my husband’s chagrin, he is rather attached to his new Jayco, and headed out around the dramatic coastline toward Cape Palliser. The road hugs the waterline and it’s a lovely lovely drive with open farmland on one side. There is a campsite our at Ngwai which I feel must translate to mean bulldozer graveyard. Bulldozers and crayfish boats grace the shorelines of this seaside town making it quite a sight for sore eyes. Here you will find stalwart fisherman in Arran knit jumpers and white freezing work gumboots idling up and down the road on the trusty farm bike nodding begrudgingly at the nosy tourist. Pure magic.
Not so pure magic are the stairs which lead up to The Cape Palliser Lighthouse but the view from the top….. You guessed it pure magic.
Now for me one of the highlights of my gypsy travels is the Kaikoura Highway and I’ve missed it recently due to the road closures. I’ve missed the seals that call this shoreline home and so it’s awesome for me, infact the highlight of my trip to discover sleepy seals on the side of the road here at Cape Palliser. Nothing warms my heart more than to watch the baby seals frolicking in the rock pools totally oblivious to the dangers lurking in the surrounding watersc whilst their mothers keep a watchful eye. Local signs suggest this is also a penguin highway but for us we saw none.
As always all good things must come to an end just as our time in the Wairarapa does too. Often ignored because it’s slightly left field of Highway One, it’s a brilliant place to escape for an extended weekend with so much to offer and it’s was with a tinge of sadness that we left because our time here was truly special. Our lastvnight was spent under he bridgr at Ferry Reserve in Woodville which is a lovely spot to park up next to the river and as luck would have it very close to The Bridge Cafe which i thoroughly recommend. The turkish eggs are the bomb. We will be back.