I married a man who was raised on a cattle farm in South Taranaki. Prior to meeting him, I hadn’t ventured to this part of the country (except for a brief breakfast stop in Palmerston North on my Dunedin-to-Northland journey a number of years prior); almost ten years later, I’ve been at least once a year, bar the time we were living and travelling abroad. I love taking our boys to The Farm; I love that Tiny thinks Pops doesn’t do a very good job of shifting the cattle unless he is there, and I love that they get to see a variety of animals in their natural(ish) state.
Tall went to boarding school in Palmy, and he hates the city with a passion. It bores him, and having spent an afternoon shopping their when pregnant with Tiny, I have to agree. I’m sure it has some redeeming features, and it has no doubt improved a whole lot since he was at school there, but for us, it is merely the city we fly in and out of. Because I’ve never actually explored much more of the city than what I’ve mentioned, I think it’s only fair that I provide you with a link so you can find out for yourself whether it’s somewhere you’d like to spend any time.
Tall’s sister lived and worked in Feilding for a year or so, and we visited her there when Tiny was about 18-months-old. We went to the A&P Show and Tiny had his fill of tractors; apparently the Farmers’ Market is very good.
In all honesty, I much prefer Whanganui to Palmerston North, and actually think the council have done a great job of prettying up the city in recent years. The main street is lined with trees and flowers, with cafe tables spilling out onto the footpath. There are sculptures dotted here and there (including a beautiful one at the entrance to the city), and it just looks more inviting. We’ve had a number of lunches at Element Café and Big Orange (lovely meals and decent coffees), and played around at Splash Centre which is great fun. I will admit that seeing Moutua Gardens (famously occupied by members of the Whanganui iwi in 1995) for the first time was disappointing (it was so small!), and the colour of the river is pretty foul; still, if you fancy a boat ride, you can board Paddle Steamer Waimarie and have a rollicking good time. Virginia Lake is really pretty, and you can wander through the trees and flowers, feeding ducks and swans as you go.
Tall was raised in a tiny village* in South Taranaki that has become a virtual ghost town since devastating floods in 2004. There are a handful of houses still occupied, and the pub-slash-post-office-slash-dairy does a roaring trade. His parents sold their farm there and moved to a smaller, easier, windier-but-better farm ten minutes further west, which is where I’ve spent most of my time. We’ve been to the races at Hawera (I saw Spiderman! True story!), and driven all over the district for various reasons. It’s pretty, and rural, and I really love going there. One day, I’m going to stop at Black Sand Studio in Maxwell, and take Tiny to Ashley Park petting farm. And who knows? We may end up moving to the farm if and when Tall’s parents decide they’ve had enough.
* I am being purposefully cagey about the exact location, purely out of respect for my husband and his family. Soz.