With high winds and heavy rain forecast for the day, we carefully set off for on our journey for a day in the Wairarapa. We were joining our SLG friends and Anne had planned the day for us. Travelling over the Rimutaka Hill and meeting strong wind gusts on the corners can be a challenge, but luckily we were not towing the caravan, but driving our smaller Toyota Corolla. A radio report had alerted us to a small rock fall on the hill road, and sure enough, the road crew were still busy clearing it away.
Rimutaka Hill Road
We met at Anne and Les’s home at Featherston for morning tea and a catch up of everyone’s news, then headed back to the main street of Featherston for lunch. The Everest Bistro was obviously a very popular place with customers coming in to eat or buy takeaways the whole time we were there. There was great friendly service, with the manager personally greating each and every person who entered the cafe. The pizza oven was glowing red hot in the corner, and we saw huge pizzas fresh out of the oven taken to various tables – they looked and smelt delicious.
No one at our table orders pizzas, but lots of other tasty meals were delivered. Robin had a freshly baked pie served with mashed potatoes and gravy, and I enjoyed my big bowl of piping hot Seafood Chowder. An obliging staff member took our photo for us.
Our SLG friends finishing lunch
After lunch Anne had arranged a visit to the Kahutara Taxidermy Gallery, run by John McCosh. The collection is housed in a purpose-built log cabin in South Wairarapa, and is still going strong after more than 30 years. John McCosh adopted the nickname "Tuatara Ted" which was given to him by visiting high school students, who said he was New Zealand's version of Crocodile Dundee. They said Tuatara John doesn't sound right so Tuatara Ted it became.
John McCosh – known as Tuatara Ted
Although Robin and I had visited this museum just a few months ago with the caravan club, this was the first time back for our SLG friends since more than 20 years ago. Way back then, we all bravely set off on a canoe trip along the Ruamahunga River organized by Tuatara Ted himself. He transported us and an assortment of canoes to our starting point along the river, and we paddled downstream, where he picked us up to return to his property. Those were the days – we were all so much younger and fitter then! Once safely back, we had a look through the taxidermy museum, looking in wonder at all the exotic animals on display.
Some of the animals on display
After another cuppa at Anne and Les's home, we thanked our hostess for arranging the day for us all, said our goodbyes, and started off on the 2 hour journey home. The electronic sign at the bottom of the Rimutaka Hill road warned motorists to take care, due to strong wind gusts. Together with rain, low clouds and the wind, it was a careful drive back over the hill.
Wintry conditions on the hill road
We experienced rain off and on all the way home. The sea was churning along the coast road towards Paekakariki, and Kapiti Island was almost hidden in cloud cover.
A steady stream of workers were on their way home after a hard day’s work, and we were caught up in the middle of them all, reminding us that yes, we used to be commuters too, not so many years ago. We had a great day out, meeting up with friends, but it’s always good to arrive home safely - and slip those shoes off our feet!.