While in the Wairarapa, I had the pleasure of staying in a bach (a kiwi term for a cottage, as close as I can get it) which was a shepherd’s house at one time. No TV, no internet, no mobile phone coverage and about 5kms from a main road. Waking up to the sight and sound of cows, sheep, horses or even donkeys wandering around just outside. What could be better?
While visiting the Wairarapa region of New Zealand, I went to the Pukaha Mount Bruce national wildlife centre. This is primarily a location where they assist with the conservation of native species, including many of NZ’s birds.
One of the highlights is undoubtedly the native Kaka, a woodland parrot. They sure know when feeding time is and queue up in the trees for 3pm. Clever, and beautiful, birds. Hopefully one day they (and others) will be able to spread out across NZ once more as mammalian pests are brought under closer control. These Kaka are wild but sure know where they are best to hang out!
On the east side of the north island of New Zealand, within the Wairarapa district, lies Castlepoint. It is noteworthy because of the majestic lighthouse which stands proudly overlooking the Pacific Ocean, lovely beaches and a large sheltered lagoon – complete with baby fish swimming along the shore in the shallows.
It is fair to say that with pretty reliable summer weather, camping in New Zealand is big business. At holiday times, large numbers pack up their campers, vans, trucks and SUVs and head off with their tent (and often their boats!)
Some of the equipment people have is amazing. From their own toilets, barbecues, furniture, outdoor living spaces to leisure pursuit items…the range seems pretty endless. I’m not a very advanced camper by any means (I still like to go to eateries nearby) but I was thinking about how wonderful it is to be closer to nature and be awoken by the cacophony of birdsong in a morning…sure you also hear people snoring in nearby tents and have to share facilities but it seems a minor thing compared to the pleasure of turning your back on hotels and television (and maybe the internet too).
If you are really adventurous, some of the locations you can wake up to are quite amazing, from high in the mountains to small beachs on islands.
While in Russell in the Bay of Islands and in need of something to occupy myself for a spell, I decided to visit the Pompallier Missionary and Printery. It’s funny how sometimes you find a real treat by doing something that ordinarily you might not consider. Included in the ticket price was a croissant and coffee and a guided tour of the printery and tannery on site.
Originally set up as a French catholic missionary (which caused much consternation with the English who had moved into NZ), this is a fascinating history and also an amazing history of how much trouble people went to in preparing leather and indeed books. So great to learn and you even get to make an impression using one of the original printers shown in the image below!
If you are ever there, do give it a try!