On the road
DELIGHTS Tim WarringtonLVFKDVHGIURP:HOOLQJWRQWR:DLURDE\ZLOGZHDWKHU
ccording to the weather forecast, there’s a tiny piece of blue sky somewhere north and I am determined to ﬁnd it. From Wellington, I will tiptoe through the rainsodden Manawatu Gorge and head inland along the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail then on to Wairoa and the legend of the golden ﬁsh and chips. It’s slow going at ﬁrst, skirting slips and earthworks from the storm. I’m heading for Woodville, but my thirsty, troublesome Fiat begs to stop in Featherston to join a smorgasbord of drivers ﬁlling up at the pumps. A taciturn mechanic hammers violently at my broken wiper. He seems surprised when it falls oﬀ, then shoos me towards the nearby Everest Café while he sorts repairs.
Despite the roll-neck weather, I perch outside to soak up the picture of the world autumn has daubed with umber and vermillion. A hedgehog, fat as butter, totters along the pavement. Drunk? We are in pinot territory. Or simply disorientated by the storm? I oﬀer it a saucer of milk. I sip my latte, delighting in the restorative properties of the bracing Arctic southerlies which recharge me for another stint behind the wheel. My prickly friend seems rejuvenated too, and wanders oﬀ. Mr Feather’s Den: Oddities & Delights is an unexpected treasure. A cluster of taxidermied mice catches my attention. Give me a stuﬀed rodent in a full ballerina skirt and I’m on board; Mermouse
and Patrick the sporran-clad Highlander, winsomely framed in a mildewed hutch, are not without their charms either. I wonder if the adjacent fromagerie, â€˜Câ€™est Cheeseâ€™, was established to feed these little neighbours. Not surprisingly, for an establishment that stocks more than 100 varieties of cheese, the heady aroma socks me in the sniďŹ€er like a sledgehammer. It also seems to obliterate all retail constraint. I spend up big. Iâ€™m in love with the Kingsmeade Sunset Blue from Masterton, and the apple mustard jelly, and the rye wafers and the teeny tiny, toasted briocheâ€Ś My credit card groans as I enter my pin, so I take the hint and leave Featherston without returning next door to purchase the grim reaper mouse, the elaborately bevelled Frida Kahlo mirror or Mildred the stuďŹ€ed chicken. I trundle oďŹ€ in my cheese-ďŹ lled car past thickly stoned cottages and civic buildings. Early settlers in the area ďŹ‚exed their muscular Christianity, building many handsome churches hewn from local stone. By the time I arrive in Woodville I am high on blue vein but sobriety is quickly restored by the beguiling vista of antique stores. Hidden among factorymade goods of the most ordinary kind, I discover a refreshingly arty headpiece: a trans-seasonal hybrid deerstalker/baseball cap. Perfect. After several hours of ooh-ing and aah-ing over the Aladdinâ€™s cave of treats on oďŹ€er in Woodville I spot a studio tucked away down an alley. Sidestreet Gallery is a symphony of artistic delights. Some are familiar: acrylics, charcoals, chalks, sculptures; and the
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less familiar: road kill art, the outline of a starling corpse, a crime scene in miniature. Artist Nick White assures me itâ€™s a fragrant, rather unpleasant exercise. And I do not doubt it. The caprice continues beyond the gallery into the rear workshop, which Nick allows me to explore. Just- begun and half-ďŹ nished pieces ďŹ ll the airy space, everything covered in a layer of dust, like the art time forgot. Very little seems complete. I am undecided whether Nick is a dreamer or a perfectionist or both, but his art is heaven and I leave Woodville with my head in the clouds. I am Napier-bound. On arriving, I am once again hostage to the weather, and the spangled music of the Dixie Chicks. It seems all of New Zealand has come to hear them yodel and duel their banjos, and there is no room at the inn. In wet weather the Napier to Wairoa stretch of road is a punishing duty of concentration, but 90 minutes later I arrive and itâ€™s worth it. Every hairpin, every slip, every passing lane and logging truck: worth it. Wairoa greets me in her Sunday best.
On the road
WELLINGTON TO WAIROA IN HAWKEâ€™S BAY IS 428KM â€˘+DZNHČ‡V%D\KDVRYHU YLQH\DUGVPDQ\ZLWKFHOODU GRRUVDQGUHVWDXUDQWV â€˘2UFKDUGVVHOOIUXLWDQGKRQH\ DWWKHJDWHDQGIDUPHUVČ‡PDUNHWV specialise in locally produced, IUHVKIRRG6WRFNXSDV\RXJR â€˘Î–I\RXČ‡UHWUDYHOOLQJLQVSULQJ VZLQJLQWR7DQLZKD'DÎ?RGLOVRÎ? 6+LQ&HQWUDO+DZNHČ‡V%D\ 3LFNDELJEXQFKWRWDNHKRPH
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Cloudless skies and delicate autumnal sunshine dance oďŹ€ the copper dome of the recently refurbished lighthouse. In a rare victory of common sense, Wairoaâ€™s iconic lighthouse dodged the scrap heap after retiring from Portland Island oďŹ€ Mahia Peninsula. It was upcycled to its present location on a reserve at the heart of the town. The museum has been spruced up too, and the heritage colours complement the colonial architecture gracing Marine Parade â€“ the townâ€™s main drag. Great ranks of handsome Norfolk pines garnish the riverbank and the meandering walkway, which is popular with walkers, runners and cyclists. It extends several kilometres to the mouth of the river, the lookout at Pilot Hill and beyond to Whakamahi Beach. Once a busy port town, the bustle of river trade has long since faded, but parts of the huge wharf remain. Itâ€™s impossible to argue with my braids of DNA; I head to the second-hand shops. At Robinsonâ€™s Trading my eye catches a tarnished butter knife, heavy with a hundred years of grime. Later, after a polish, the hallmarks of earlyVictorian, Birmingham solid silver are revealed. Further down the road is D&D Secondhand Furniture, a maze for retail rummaging. There are blonde oak and rimu treasures by the score, and a petite cocktail cabinet (now stuďŹ€ed with cheese) nestles in my passenger seat and joins my adventure. Itâ€™s well past the tourist season, but still the motorhomes come and jostle for a prime position overlooking the mighty Wairoa River. Only a year ago Wairoa was declared motorhome friendly, indicating there are plenty of camping sites around town; as I try to discuss this with a backpacker, he shoos me away. â€œDonâ€™t tell anyone, theyâ€™ll all want to come here.â€?
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DISCOVER THE WORLD’S BEST ART IN THE WORLD’S SECOND BEST REGION. It raised a few eyebrows when Lonely Planet judged Taranaki the world’s #2 regional destination, but not from those who’ve visited recently. Of the many regional attractions praised by Lonely Planet’s judges, the shiny new Len Lye Centre, part of the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, drew special attention – “a shimmery steel zizz-fest ” There are
At the far end of Marine Parade is the Gaiety Theatre complex, another gem saved from the wrecking ball by a group of local entrepreneurs. There’s the cinema, the Saloon and the Eastend Café and Bar. The café sparkles brightest at brunchtime. Light meals and local fare served up with a chic, modern verve are a delight for the palete. You can’t leave without popping next door to the ﬂorist and giftware shop packed with treasures and trinkets. It’s the sort of place where you’ll ﬁnd exactly what you’re looking for, without ever knowing you were looking. Wairoa is very walkable, and as I saunter back down Marine Parade I begin to get a feel for its rich history and proud cultural heritage. Once upon a time guidebooks described Wairoa as little more than a petrol stop and place for pies. And while Osler’s Bakery still serves up sublime pastry goods, there is so much more to this little town: Rocket Lab, a ﬁlm school in the making, a world class recording studio and mountain bike cycle track to name a few. The Long River Gallery houses a collection of locally made artworks, much of it inﬂuenced by the driftwood for which the region is famous. I pop in for a nosy and naturally want to buy everything. I leave and cross the bridge to North Clyde, to the gold at the end of my rainbow. The ﬁsh and chips here are legendary, and there are two to choose from: The Ponderosa Fish and Chip Shop and Tui Takeaways. Never one to pass up a taste test, I sample both and both deliver the Midas crunch. Discovering Wairoa has been a delightful surprise, the sort of thing that gives travelling a good name. I could have ended my adventure in Napier – many people do – but the beauty of a real adventure is making less obvious choices. WINTER 2017
EDITORIAL TEAM Kathryn Webster Monica Tischler DESIGN AND ART DIRECTION Julian Pettitt Tangible Media
This was a particularly satisfying magazine to pull together as it addresses quite hard-hitting issues and also presents some solutions. We tackle how our lives as motorists can be improved; we also discuss New Zealand's social, environmental and economic reality with people involved in making positive changes. Hopefully, you'll ďŹ nd this issue thought-provoking and inspiring.
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ON THE COVER Designed by Julian Pettitt, Art Director for Tangible Media.
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AA winter 2017 Wellington to Wairoa