The big white bus arrived, with our friendly driver Peter at the wheel, and a bus full of Probus members climbed aboard for a day of adventure travelling to Wanganui. The first stop on our intinery was to look through the St Stephen’s Anglican Church at Marton.
St Stephen’s Church, Marton
This lovely old church was completed in 1872, and made from native timbers of totara, rimu and matai. The interior glows with the dark honey colour of the timber panelling, and light floods in through the stain glass windows. The bell tower served for many years as a fire warning before the fire station was built. We were given a potted history of this lovely old building, and then had a cuppa at the adjacent church hall next door.
Inside the church
Re-boarding the bus, we then drove on to Wanganui, passing a caravan on the road and we noticed something white fluttering in the wind as we started overtaking We first thought that perhaps a curtain was stuck in the window, but this was much more serious, and the whole front window was missing. Whoops, wonder how that happened?
There’s been a slight accident
Bushy Park Homestead and Sanctuary in Wanganui was our next stop. Built in 1906, it sits in stately grace admidst lawns, colourful flower beds, and has a wonderful view of the surrounding countryside. This wonderful property was bequeathed to the Forest and Bird Society in 1962 by Frank Moore, to be preserved in perpetuity in its natural state.The homestead is surrounded n three sides by a large expanse of forest and an area of wetlands and is a sanctuary for many species of native birds. Our group enjoyed a finger food lunch in the dining room, where we were told all sorts of facts and figures, including the fact that originally 10 gardeners originally worked on the property.
Lunch in the dining room
We were then free to look around the homestead and beautifully manicured grounds, or take a walk along the many bush tracks. The homestead is run as a B&B and it would be a lovely place to stay for a special occasion, as I mentioned to Robin, perhaps our next anniversary could be a caravan free zone just for a change?
All the rooms had original furniture
Standing on the steps of Bushy Park
In 2005 a 4.8km predator proof fence was completed around the 98 hectare forest, wetlands and homestead grounds. Constant vigilance is still needed to ensure that the sanctuary remains predator free, including checking numerous traps regularly - work done by a large number of volunteers. Several endangered bird species have been re-introduced: toutouwai, (North Island Robin), tieke, (Saddleback), and hihi, (Stitchbird).
Driving back down the long bush clad drive, our next stop was just along the road where we visited a Walnut orchard.
Following the owner we were taken through the orchard to look at various plantings of walnut trees, but I must admit I was more interested in checking out the free range nut eating pigs. And here they are – just look at those cute babies!
Cute little piglets
Heading back on our homeward journey, there was just one more stop to make. On our way through Sanson we had dropped off an order at Viv's Kitchen, for some of her world famous cream horns, to collect on our way back home. Yum, guess what we had last night! It was a great day out.
Here come the cream horns