Saturday, July 20, 2024

Geraldine: Small town gem

By Helen Perry

When her friends moved from Taupo to Geraldine, south of Christchurch, it presented an ideal opportunity for HELEN PERRY to check out this charming township, one she had long wished to visit.

Two days in Geraldine just wasn’t enough! It’s one of the loveliest towns I’ve seen in New Zealand and, if it could be relocated to somewhere between the Bombay Hills and the Bay of Plenty, I would move there in a flash. South Island winters are too cold for me, so Geraldine is now one of my favourite summer destinations and I am already planning an extended return trip.

Together with friends, I enjoyed the chance to see all that Geraldine offered. Unfortunately, as we visited on Waitangi Day (something we didn’t take into account prior), many shops were closed, including picturesque Mia Flora Cafe, which is set amongst cottage gardens with eclectic décor beckoning – next time for sure. However, the Farm Shop and Cafe on the outskirts of town was open and busy – thumbs up for its huge inflatable multi-slide to keep youngsters happy.

We dined at the Village Inn located in the heart of town. A warm, sunny evening saw the central outdoor area packed; we enjoyed the atmosphere and hearty pub grub.

We also unearthed several retail gems, in particular Tievoli (‘I love it’ when spelled backwards), The Cheese Company, The Vintage Car and Machinery Museum (my husband was in his element there!) and the restored Post Office (now a shop and art gallery), all of which were impressive.

Just a short walk from town, we poked our noses into the stunning Talbot Forest Reserve while Barkers Foodstore and Eatery was also a ‘must visit’. Famous throughout NZ, the shop’s huge range of condiments, sauces, marinades and more made me keen to sample and purchase.

Travelling with hand luggage alone meant I was limited as to what I could carry. However, because I paid for extra weight, I managed to pack in several jars of Barkers’ preserves. I also learned I could order online, with a nominal shipping fee – yes, I’m already on it!
Throughout this pretty village, numerous boutiques offered gorgeous homewares, art, crafts, jewellery, specialty foods, designer clothing and more.

What’s more, it was remarkable to find so many buildings and places of historic interest all within cooee of each other, including the museum (formerly the Town Board Office) cinema, The Vicarage, churches, the restored ANZ building (now a beauty clinic) plus more than one veteran automobile venue.

Then there’s the recently opened Military Museum which has a mind-boggling array of rare vehicles, machinery, weaponry and even a large Vietnam War display among others. This interactive museum is a wonderful addition, especially as visitors can take a seat in some vehicles and touch many of the items.

I could waffle on and on about Geraldine’s attributes, such as the abundance of laden fruit trees ripe for the picking. Instead, I would strongly recommend readers visit when South Island wanderings are in the pipeline. Remember Geraldine is also the gateway to Mount Aoraki (Mt Cook) and a region of stunning lakes, walkways and small historic towns (such as Temuka, Fairlie and Burkes Pass) all within the vicinity.

There’s plenty more to explore, summer and winter – Geraldine offers scenic touring at its best and it’s not to be missed!

– Reprinted courtesy Rural Living

Related: Christchurch never a dull moment

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