last weekend we went to the Wairarapa, which is the bit of the south end of the
North Island to the east of Wellington Bay, and separated from it by a range of
hills. We hired a car for the weekend and drove over those hills, which is a quite
slow and fairly exciting journey. The weather was fantastic both days – blue
skies and sun, like May on the other side of the world not the start of winter.
stayed overnight in Martinborough, a quaint little town with a relaxed pace of
life, including a little cinema with a bar where they’ll sell you glasses of
wine to take in to watch the film with. On Saturday we drove down to the coast
at Cape Palliser, where they have fur seals lounging idly about on the grass.
They also have a lighthouse, with a scary 250-step wooded staircase to get up
to it. Around there also are the Putangirua Pinnacles, soaring towers of eroded
rock. We walked up a narrow valley between them, with the last rays of the
evening sun catching their tops. Quite spectacular – similar to some of the
landscapes in Utah or Australia. We discovered later that part of ‘Lord of the Rings’
was filmed there – the entrance to the Paths of the Dead.
was dry and bright and even warm. We did a 3-hour walk into the country, with some
rolling hills and good views. After lunch outside in the sun, we visited a couple
of local wineries. The Martinborough wineries are apparently ‘boutique’ – i.e. small
and pricey. Our final stop in the Wairarapa was at Greytown, with a long street
of elegant wooden Victorian houses, as well as an open-air museum which we explored.
Friday evening the Research Division at the Ministry had drinks, to which Sandie
was invited as well – very pleasant, but not much like Fridays at NFER. Monday was
Ian’s birthday, so after work we had drinks and then went down to the harbour front
and had a nice meal at a restaurant overlooking the water. On the way home we got
a bottle of bubbly, and drank it watching a film. No surprise parties this year!
On Tuesday we had tickets to watch a performance of Cinderella by the Royal New
Zealand Ballet. It was being filmed, so several times they stopped the action and
went back to rerun it. Apart from that, it was a good show and an enjoyable evening.