The apple orchard where we have been staying the last few days in definitely in winter mode, with the the bare branches of the trees looking stark against the clear blue sky. Most of the apples have long been gathered and sent away, but there are plenty of windfalls under the trees. A posse of pigs munching through all those windfalls wouldn’t look out of place, it’s a shame the fruit is all going to waste. Hastings is often called “The Fruit Bowl of New Zealand”, and we can certainly see why with so many orchards everywhere.
After a leisurely morning chatting to Frederick and putting the world to rights, it was time to pack up. With a cheery wave, Frederick climbed aboard his bus Fredrock Cafe, and set off for his next adventure. We topped up with water before we departed, the filtered bore water on site is too good to miss, Robin said. Then it was time to hit the road on our journey home.
We stopped for a late lunch at Norsewood, a town of two halves. The re-alignment of SH2 in 1966 divided Norsewood into the "Upper" and "Lower" halves. Now travellers only see signs and the bridge joining the two halves as they whizz on by. We made the decision to turn off the busy road to stop a while and eat our lunch in Upper Norsewood. Norsewood is located in the heart of what was once the dense and towering forest known as the Seventy Mile Bush. The town was established in 1872, with the arrival of over 700 Norwegians, Swedes and Danes, who became Norsewood's pioneer settlers. The New Zealand Government had promised to employ these immigrants on various Public Works, such as building roads and railways through the district. However, things did not always go according to plan - especially when the country descended into economic depression around 1880.
Today’s sleepy little village is still very proud of it’s Scandinavian history. The “Bindalsfaering” fishing boat on display was a gift from the Norwegian Government to commemorate the centenary of Norsewood in 1972.
Norsewood celebrates its Scandinavian heritage with trolls, mythological creatures which are said to populate the northern-hemisphere homeland. A family group of carved wooden trolls stand guard in the main street, father Norvirke, mother Margit and their son Ormvah. And they are not the only trolls in town. Seems that there are plenty more trolls hiding under bridges or up trees, just waiting to be discovered.
Lunch over, and trolls photographed, we left sleepy little Norsewood behind and re-joined busy SH2 once more. We retraced our route back through the Manawatu Gorge, arriving home in the late afternoon. Unpacked the caravan, which never seems to take as long as when we are packing up to go away. We acquired a great selection of Hastings produce on this trip, honey, big bags of apples, mandarins and lemons, two sorts of delicious cheese, and not forgetting my matching pair of lovely orange pumpkins. With pumpkin soup to make, and maybe a few pots of lemon honey to cook up, it looks like I’ll be busy in the kitchen for a while.