It was a matter of getting up bright and early, climb into the car and head off over the Rimutaka Hill to the Wairarapa on Wednesday. No mean feat as it was a 2 hour drive each way. Les was in charge of the day, and as well as organising a day out with our SLG friends, we were helping him celebrate one of those BIG Birthdays. At the grand old age of 80, Les is still active and sprightly! We had a lunch booking in a local cafe at Greytown, and during a break in the noisy conversation, Les was presented with a little token of our esteem for his birthday.
After lunch Les had arranged a visit to the nearby Cobblestones Early Settlers Village, which had received quite a big upgrade since we were last there. It now sports a brand new museum building, with a reception and retail area.
The large exhibition area allows for larger parts of the collection to be showcased easily and under cover. One of the volunteers was our guide for our visit and took our group around the facility. It was interesting to see two waka (canoes) hollowed out from totara logs on display under an old photo showing one of them in use. These were used by the Maori people to navigate rivers and lakes in South Wairarapa prior to the road and bridge building that came with European settlement.
After a good look around the museum building, we were let loose outside to explore the large two acre grounds dotted with 20 or so vintage buildings. Such as a school, cottage hospital, church, fire station, forge, colonial cottage, stables and a woolshed, all giving a glimpse into life from earlier years.
We wandered through the small cottage hospital, peering into the different rooms packed full of all sorts of vintage medical equipment.
First Public Hospital erected in the Wairarapa in 1875
Wonder what it was like to travel on the “Pride of the Valley?” This coach was built in 1906 in Martinborough and travelled twice daily between Martinborough to Featherston. We were told it could carry 12 passengers. I suspect it looks more glamorous than it really was, imagine all that creaking, jerking and jostling around as the coach travelled along stony roads.
Hastwell Stable building was erected in 1857. This is the last of several stables and a blacksmith shop that were erected on this site to service William Hastwell’s coach and mail service. The site was also used as an overnight stop for the Cobb and Co Wellington to Wairarapa coach service which ran until the railway line opened in 1880.
There was such a lot to see that I’m sure we didn’t do it justice, but it was fascinating to look around the complex. The beautiful grounds are a credit to the volunteer staff, and it would be lovely to partake of a picnic lunch there sitting in the sunshine at one of the picnic tables dotted around. Our day finished with afternoon tea back at Les and Anne’s home, enjoying a slice of his delicious rich fruit birthday cake, baked especially for Les by one of his friends to celebrate his birthday. Thanks Les, for a great day.