Saturday, 8 November 2014

Springtime in New Zealand

It is Springtime in New Zealand with fronts of wet, windy and cold weather sweeping over the North Island.  One day I am sun bathing, the next I am huddled in front of a wood burning stove.  Yesterday I awoke to the sight of snow capped peaks on the Tararua Range.

November 5th was a complete washout, but down the road in Gladstone the annual Scarecrow Festival is underway.  The school railings are adorned with a wonderful array of straw stuffed effigies – as are gateposts throughout the area. 

This is a fun time for anyone interested in photography and my trusty driver/guide is patience itself with the constant requests to stop at short notice so that I can jump from the car to snap another scarecrow or letterbox.

Further down the road can be found Martinborough.  The town square is framed with old settler’s buildings from the 1800s.  The building proclaimed to be the Martinborough Hotel was at one time the Railway Hotel in Masterton.  In New Zealand buildings are picked up, placed on a trailer and moved from one location to another.  Large buildings, such as the hotel, would need to be sawn in half and moved as two pieces.  Oh how I would love to see a house/hotel on the back of a trailer being moved from one town to another.

Public conveniences can be found in all towns – FREE to use and spotlessly clean.  In Martinborough the building used for this purpose has the quaint look of those all around but I was a’feared to see they were the dreaded electric variety.  But I needed to go, so ventured into the facility.  

To my delight the operating panel inside the door had clear instructions – and to make certain the occupant was in no doubt as to how to operate the door a voice came through a speaker announcing the procedure.  I was informed that I would have a maximum of 10 minutes before the door automatically unlocked – of course, I was free to unlock the door via the electric button anytime I wished.  As soon as the door was locked soft music began to play – what a very pleasant experience.

Later in the day I also tried the Ladies Loo within the Martinborough Hotel.  True to its era the walls were half paneled with wood painted a dark green and above the paneling could be found colourful pictures.

Friday night is pizza night at the Water Mill Bakery on the road to Mount Holdsworth.  You would be forgiven for thinking you were in the Austrian Tyrol as the building is reminiscent of a delightful alpine chalet.  

Pizza is ALL that is served her but patrons are welcome to bring their own drinks – AND their own desserts if so inclined.  Even on a cold evening my preferred table is outside on the deck – what a lovely view over the trickling stream and up into the forest.  If the temperature is very cold then “mine hosts” will provide hot water bottles and sheepskin rugs for those seated outside.  It is always packed so go early and enjoy.

Of course, a visit had to be made to the self composting ladies loo! 

What a surprise – no smell, spotlessly clean and no lock on the door.  There was a small heart shaped cutout in the door so a quick glance would reveal if the space was already occupied.

Two notices informed guys that if they used this facility they MUST sit down because the urine separator was located at the front of the seat and would be missed in the normal standing position. 

It was preferred if the guys used their own facility a little further up the track – I did not look inside that particular dark little cabin.

More from the Wairarapa and beyond in the coming weeks.

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