North Island Roadtrip Day 1

Trip Start Oct 17, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Today was day 1 of our North Island road trip during our Christmas/New Years holiday. We didn't get off until around noon but we didn't have too far to go today so that was OK. We are spending our first night in Masterton, the largest regional town in the Wairapa wine region which is just over a mountain range from Wellington.

We had lunch in Greytown at the Main Street Deli. We had to wait forever for our food but it was understandable as they were very busy due to the holiday season and they were nice about it and gave us complimentary drinks. The food was quite delicious. Aron had a burger and I had a seafood curry chowder. Greytown is a small, cute touristy sort of town having lots of galleries and a small walkable downtown.

We headed to Carterton to a formal garden called Richmond, a 1870's house and grounds, that has been well preserved. It was $10 a piece, which we felt was a bit expensive for the privilege of viewing the gardens bit they were very well tended and the owner lady was friendly. There were even a couple of cute Snausers (dogs) that enjoyed barking at us.

We then went out to the Awaiti Garden and Teahouse a couple of kilometers outside of Carterton which was set on a beautiful farm in the country but we didn't end up touring the gardens as they were about to close. There is a cute giftshop and the bit of the gardens we saw did look nice.

There's a Paua (Abalone) souvenir factory Carterton that we visited. They turn Paua shells into souvenirs, mostly jewelry, and have store there as well. I got a pair of pretty earrings.

We still had several hours of daylight left but everything was closed so we decided to check out a large suspension bridge we had heard about in Waiohine Gorge, about 15 kilometers outside of Carterton. It was a pretty drive, with about 10 kms along a well maintained gravel road. There was a huge, apparently, newly constructed suspension that we enjoyed going over. It gave a spectacular view of the river & gorge and even a waterfall could be seen falling over the side of the gorge into the river. You could see through the bottom of the bridge though which makes it more exciting.

We passed a tapas bar in Carterton, much to our surprise, and decided we needed a snack. The owner was a very friendly guy who spent awhile talking to us in the cozy tapas bar. The food was edible but left a bit to be desired, as we have had a fair bit of real tapas to compare it to.

With about an hour of daylight left, we decided to check into our motel, the Best Western in Masterton which seems fine so far. I was looking forward to the hot tub though and it's out of order. :(

We decided to explore Masterton until it got dark and found a pretty rose garden tucked off High Street and then went to the huge Queen Elizabeth Park downtown. It's an awesome park with something for everyone including a wonderful playground, train, mini golf, skate park, rose garden, lake walk, and even a flying fox which Aron and I thoroughly enjoyed.  We had dinner at the cafe in the park calle Cicille Cafe. The ambiance, food and service were excellent. We had a Paua fritter for starters and shared Tarnaki fish for the main course. Masterton seems to have alot to offer for its size.

Tomorrow we go north to Morere hot springs and plan on stopping at the Tui Brewery and a native bird breeding park.
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