Saturday, 9 December 2017

A Wairarapa weekend

On 4 and 5 November, we had a weekend in the Wairarapa. The trigger for it was that there was a Scottish Country dance in Carterton that we wanted to attend on the Saturday night. And we wanted to do some biking while we were in the area.

We booked a cottage in Greytown for our overnight stay, and arrived there after having had lunch in the village. It was just a street away from the entrance to the Woodside Trail. We knew we were going to bike this trail the next day with my sister and brother-in-law, who were spending the weekend elsewhere in the Wairarapa, but we thought we would check it out first.

The trail is very pretty – the trees were fully green, and the poplars at the start of the trail, which were mere sticks the first time we rode this track four years ago, when it had only just been opened, had grown quite large, and the planting on the bank on the right hand side had filled out to become lush mounds of grasses and flaxes.

The track in November 2017

The same track in August 2013
What a difference on the bank! (photo by John)

Although it was only five kilometres to Woodside station, it was nice having our electric assist, because we had a pretty strong headwind.

The grass is being whipped by the strong wind

When we got to the end of the trail we wanted to explore a bit further – looking for the loop that would take us to the river and back to town. But we ended up going past Woodside Station, and going down Waiohine Valley Road. It was gravel, quite corrugated to begin with, but it improved after a bit. We didn't think we’d want to take Aimée and Neil there, but we were keen to explore for a while.

Waiohine Valley Road

It is a beautiful valley, farmland and hills on the left, and glimpses of the river on the right. Lots of broom in flower which exuded a subtle fragrance.

Farmland on the left … (photo by John)

… and glimpses of the Waiohine River on the right

The flowering broom exuded a subtle fragrance

After quite a distance, we got to a place where the road looked like it was becoming private property. There was a gate, and though it was open and looked as if it hadn’t been closed in a long time, we didn’t go any further. When we turned around, we sidetracked for a bit to go to the river’s edge.

This is where we turned around (photo by John)

The Waiohine River (photo by John)

On the way back, we stopped at a paddock with three alpacas in it. When we went past on the way out, they all galloped away to the far end of the paddock. But on our return trip, one of them came rushing back over to the fence to check us out. He was very inquisitive, and made little noises in response to our talking to him. Very cute.

This gorgeous alpaca was quite inquisitive and “talkative” (photo by John)

We made our way back to the cottage, having biked 20 km. We had coffee on the little deck, and then we sat in the sun and read until it was time to head out for dinner, and then to Carterton for the dance.

Coffee on the deck of “Ivy’s Cottage” (photo by John) 

Scottish country dancing at Carterton SCD Club’s Annual Dance (photo by John)

The next day, we visited a Farmers’ Market in the grounds of the Te Kairanga Winery. It was in a lovely setting ­­– lots of stalls under the trees. We bought some fudge, some olive oil, some Leckerli (a chewy, spicy kind of biscuit from Switzerland that we used to love when we lived there as children) and had some yummy French crepes with sugar and lemon, which we ate on the steps in the sun.

At the Te Kairanga Farmers’ Market (photo by John)

The next thing on the plan was to drive out to Gladstone to look at the scarecrows. We had biked from Martinborough to Gladstone, along Longburn and Gladstone Roads on a couple of occasions last year, and while we were driving along this time, we were impressed with ourselves for having biked all that way! In fact, the distance we drove would now – almost! – put me off doing it again.

The Scarecrow Festival started nearly twenty years ago as a fundraiser for Gladstone School. During the first week of November, the whole district is said to get into the spirit of it, making scarecrows to display at the farm gates. However, this year there were fewer scarecrows along the road than in previous years, which was a little disappointing. But there were a good couple of dozen all along the fence at Gladstone School.

The scarecrows at Gladstone School (photo by John)

We took a few photos, but didn't hang about, as we had to get back to Greytown to meet up with Aimée and Neil for lunch at Saluté. We made it back at just the right time.

After lunch we drove to the Woodside trail to start our bike ride. It was very, very windy, and we set off into a fierce headwind. Unfortunately, we only made it to about half-way, as Aimee’s battery decided to pack a sad and died.

We had to turn around when Aimée’s battery died

We had to turn around, as it was near impossible to struggle against the wind without e-assist. A pity, because it really is such a lovely track, they would have enjoyed it. Of course coming back, the tailwind was quite nice.

After we had packed the bikes back into the cars, we sat on a seat and ate our Leckerli, and chatted. About 2:30-ish we headed home. It had been quite a nice weekend, despite the wind and the aborted bike ride.

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