A weekend of short road trips – The Wairarapa and Paekākāriki

This weekend was one of unexpected excitement. The Ludbrooks, as I have mentioned before have a farm in the Wairarapa, a scenic area about an hour outside of Central Wellington. They spend many weekends on the farm, as they have tasks to care for their vineyard and olive grove, but they were not planning to go this weekend. A friend was to go, and they had something come up, so their were a few tasks that someone now had to go and take care of that the friend was going to do. It was decided that we would take a picnic, (with a friend of theirs) and make a day trip of it on Saturday. Adding to the fun, a quaint neighboring town, Martinborough, was hosting their Country Fair . Martinborough is a lovely colonial town famous for their vineyards and wineries. Pinot Noir is the regional specialty. I was excited to journey to the Wairarapa, and it did not disappoint. The drive itself was just gorgeous, with stunning landscapes all around. We started in Martinborough, and had a coffee at the OMG Cafe (on Ohio Street), before all going our own way to wander the massive fair for a bit. There were foods, crafts, clothes, games and everything you would expect at a fair, as well as about a bajillion people.

I wandered through the fair – reminding myself that shipping cool items home would be crazy expensive, and the stumbled upon the Martinborough Brewery – where I treated myself to a flight of Stouts and Porters for not buying any of the cool things I wanted in the craft fair – makes sense, right?

At the appointed meeting time I ventured back to meet the Ludbrooks, and we continued to the Farm. Y’all – what a gorgeous retreat. Minimal solar power, no cell phone service, rain water collection. We had a yummy picnic, then I got to explore the vineyards with Julian, and even got the chance to help him repair some of the bird netting to protect the grapes.

There wasn’t much to do with the olive grove at this point, but I have a confession. . . for over 30 years I have adamantly said that I dislike olives – like will pick them off of stuff – and I am a pretty adventurous eater, so that is not something I do often. I don’t know if it is New Zealand, or the Ludbrook’s farm, or just some interesting change in my taste buds – but I have ate olives in things and even found myself snacking on them at a gathering recently. . . so yeah – confession over.

But guys – seriously – just look at these pictures. . .

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After picnicking, working and relaxing a bit, we headed back to Wellington.

On Sunday we had planned to go to Paekākāriki for lunch with the Clark’s (my other landlords, the owners of the beautiful earthquake damaged flat) at their bach . They had also invited Sherry (another Fulbrighter) and her landlord as well, so I was excited to venture to the Kāpiti Coast, enjoy a good meal and good company. We arrived and were welcomed so warmly by Ian and Jenny, and they gave us a tour of their lovely beachfront home. It started as a proper, small bach, and they have added a dining room, done amazing landscaping in the back, and even added a detached master suite to create such a nice home.

Just look at this garden and the views! They even painted a Hobbit Hole on the shed door! After lunch we took a walk along the shore, then it was time to head back to Wellington, so I could pack for my next adventure, a trip to Rotorua (including Matamata and Hobbiton).

However, there was a bit of bad news to come out of this journey – we had hoped that by Mid-March I would be in the flat, but it seems that is not to be. Construction is delayed and there is no clear timeline in sight. However, I am so so so so (and that may not be enough repetition) very lucky and blessed by the Ludbrooks – they are more than happy to make this work and let me continue to stay here – which is such a godsend for many reasons. There is quite the housing crisis in Wellington right now (this article shares a bit, mostly from the student perspective, but it is the same situation for short term rentals as well) following the earthquake and the number of residences that are not available – this is especially true for the short term and furnished markets, so to say that I am thankful for their kindness and generosity is an understatement. What could be inconvenient, troublesome and a negative blotch on this experience has been just a bump in the road with a positive outcome – they are like my NZ family – and I am so blessed.

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