Culture and Viniculture

In our last few weeks in New
Zealand we have suddenly been exposed to a variety of cultural experiences, at
the same time as trying to capture a number of our favourite local localities. During
the weekend of 15th/16th May we mainly spent the days
sorting out various business to do with our imminent departure, apart from a
walk we did on Saturday when the weather got out sunnier than predicted. This
followed the new ‘Sanctuary to Sea’ walkway, going up through Ngaio Gorge and
Otari Wilton’s Bush to reach Karori cemetery and ultimately the wildlife
sanctuary, giving us a last chance to explore some of the walking tracks around
Wellington that we have enjoyed in the last two years.

 

The evenings were devoted to
Culture, however. On Friday night we ended our usual pub crawl with a
production of ‘MacBeth’ at the little Griffin Theatre. This was good, despite
being minimalist and modern dress. On Saturday there was a much bigger occasion,
when we went to St James Theatre to see the New Zealand Opera production of ‘The
Marriage of Figaro’. The theatre is very large, and was almost full, and we had
seats near the back. We enjoyed it nonetheless – the plot seems to be French
farce, set in Spain, and sung in Italian.

 

Last weekend also contained a bit
of culture, with our final trip over the Rimutakas to the Wairarapa in between.
On Saturday we picked up a hire car and drove over to Wainuiomata to see a
colleague performing folk music with his wife in the library there. They call
themselves ‘Drammach’ (which apparently means oats in cold water – don’t ask),
and play fiddle, guitar and wooden flute, which is quite fun. Afterwards we did
a walk around the Tunnel Gully Recreation Area, before crossing the hills to
Martinborough.

 

We stayed at the Margrain
Vineyard again, just out of the town, and on Saturday night walked round to
another vineyard, Tirohana, for a meal to celebrate Ian’s birthday. This was
very nice, with three courses and a lot of trimmings, including free bubbly and
a cake with a birthday candle. Walking back there was an amazing display of
stars, as the Wairarapa does not experience much light pollution.

 

On Sunday we did some more
walking in the Martinborough area, including a walk around another vineyard. We
also stopped at a couple of wineries to taste the produce and replenish our
rapidly falling stocks. Then we detoured for a last look at Greytown before
heading back over the Rimutakas as far as Petone. We visited our favourite pub,
the Fireman’s Arms, and had some of their amazing pizzas – including Sandie’s “design
it yourself” special.

 

From there we walked round to the
cinema to see one of the ‘NT -Live’ showings of a play performed at the
National Theatre in London. This was ‘The Habit of Art’, by Alan Bennett, and
was really good, as well as rather nostalgic for us when they showed shots of
the Thames and the theatre. Our cultural experiences are not ended yet, however
– on Tuesday we go back to St James to see the Ten Tenors (that’s inflation for
you), and finally next Saturday TVNZ is screening the very final episode of ‘Lost’
over 2½ hours. That is one cultural experience we will be avidly glued to!

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