We headed south this weekend--took the other highway south. Yes, there are really only a few different major roads in NZ, which is awfully nice when you're trying to figure out traveling. Anyway, we went through Palmerston North and then headed east over to wine country and the Tararuas. Friday night we stayed in Masterton at a homestay (read: ensuite room attached to garage) which was called Medal Haven. The owner has won a bunch of master's swimming awards and medals and things, and they filled the room. It was a bit weird and maybe creepy.
The next morning we stopped at the farmer's market, where there were lots of lovely things. Lots. I love farmer's markets.
The cheese folks--they had lovely havarti!
And yumminess of yum, balsalmic syrup and real olive oil...olive oil that was pressed from olives grown here in Masterton. Yum. Have I mentioned yum? And finally! What is basically a balsalmic glace! Oh, joy of joys. I am happy.
And then we went for a little hike in the Tararuas. The Tararua range is one of several mountain ranges in the north island which form a ridge running parallel with the east coast of the island between east cape and Wellington. The ridge is at its most pronounced in the southern part of the island, where it comprises the Rimutaka, Ruahine and Tararua Ranges. The Tararuas run northeast-southwest for 80 kilometres from near Palmerston North to the upper reaches of the Hutt Valley, where the northern tip of the Rimutaka Range begins. It is separated in the north from the southern end of the Ruahine Range by the Manawatu gorge.
We started up a trail called Gentle Annie...it was a very nice, wide trail, but it went up and up! We had planned tentatively to hike the whole circuit, but we had to make sure we got back down in the morning for wine tasting and the chocolate shop...priorities, people! So we went up to the first hut, Powell Hut. It was pretty.
View from Rocky Lookout.
That sign says that Powell Hut is 2.8 kn, and it will take 2 hours and 30 minutes. WHAT? Oh, yeah, it's all UP! Don't worry, though, it only took about half that time.
Oh, but windy, Josh?
And that's the view of/from the hut. Super cool. Lots of excellent views of High Ridge and Totara Flats far below in the Waiohine valley.
Now these are bathrooms with a view.
Mountaineer man on top of the hill. It was so windy!!! And quite cloudy. Sad. We got occasional glimpses of Mt Holdsworth through the clouds.
We had a lovely night of hot chocolate and vino, and chatted with several other trampers who made their way up to Powell. The next morning we headed out early to make sure to get to the winery. Here's a nice maze of leaves. And branches.
Josh on a hill, Josh on a hill...or a rock
So we got down from the mountain and went to Schoc chocolates, which was heavenly. They have all kinds of fun crazy flavors, like strawberry balsalmic, and passionfruit, and my favorite, sea salt and caramel. SO GOOD!!!! This is the story via the website: In December 2002 Schoc Chocolates was born. In a tiny turn-of-the century cottage, in gourmet Greytown’s main street (the original confectioners shop), owners and creators, Roger Simpson and Murray Langham opened their doors to their sumptuous hand-made chocolates and small Chocolate Therapy studio. Schoc Chocolates is a unique blend of gourmet chocolate and self-exploration. We combine the joy and health benefits of consuming quality chocolate with a deeper understanding of one’s inner self. With 60 flavours in the tablet range alone - there is a chocolate that is perfect for you. From classic strawberry or heavenly caramel to the more challenging - and hugely popular - whole lime and chilli., sea salt, pink peppercorn, to name a few.
And then we went to Murdoch Winery, where an adorable prego lady (makes me think of Erika!!) gave us a great tour, where we went all around, to the vines and to the barrels and the vats and all the fun stuff. All the while getting to taste all the wine. That's my kind of wine tasting.
And we got to taste the little alcohol infused grapes. Yum.
After our fabulous wine tour, we drove to the east coast to Castlepoint.
I was a big fan of the 'home of the lost soles'
Lighthouses make for such great pictures.