Don’t Leave Town ’til You’ve Seen the Country

We drove over the Rimutakas to Greytown in the Wairarapa, today. Just because we could. It was a longish drive – just over an hour each way – but it was lovely to do a bit of exploring. None of us had been any further than Upper Hutt on State Highway 2, so it was all new and exciting after that.

The Rimutakas are pretty rugged. We snaked up and up until my ears popped, then dropped rapidly onto the plains on the eastern side. The climate’s different over there in the rain shadow of the mountains; it’s drier and warmer. A relief after the damp of Wellington.

We ate lunch in Greytown at Cahoots, a cafe I read about in the Wellington paper. (Wellingtonians are very keen on their cafes and the Dominion Post runs a series of reviews of cafes located all over the southern tip of the North Island.) We had no idea what to expect of the town. I assumed it would be a small farming hub with wide empty streets, a pub or two and a dairy. But we found a pretty little town full of carefully preserved Victorian buildings which house upmarket clothes and antiques shops, as well as cafes and restaurants. Quite unexpected.

We were conspicuously under dressed and under budgetted wandering around the stores looking at Trelise Cooper skirts that cost hundreds of dollars each even in the outlet store. I wonder how Greytown got to be so posh, and how a small town in the middle of a plain full of dairy farms manages to sustain the flash stores. Tourists I suppose.

I’m embarrassed to realise just how little I know about the North Island, even though I’m a New Zealander. I’d be pushed to locate a lot of the medium-sized towns on a map and I have no idea what’s to be seen around the place. Now that I’m here, I look forward to rectifying my ignorance with a few road trips.

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