A Little Olde Country Town Called Geraldine

It’s perfect weather for flying and I am excited to be heading away on this trip with the extended family. My in-laws, sister in-laws, brother in-laws and nieces and nephews. All 13 of us on the same flight. We are heading to Geraldine in South Canterbury for a wedding.

We weren’t even sure if we were going to be able to attend the wedding, but fortunately the Covid restrictions were lifted to gathering of 100 people allowed only 3 days before the wedding.

Wellington and the South Island have put on a spectacular day, the views from the plane are outstanding. Snow on the distant ranges and not a cloud in sight.

We land in Timaru and after a few dramas with the rental car we are on our way. (our booking had mysteriously been canceled the day before, not by us and the car we booked was no longer available) The company was really good though and upgraded us to a beast of a car, a huge truck-like Ute that was so much bigger than we needed, but will be fun for the next couple of days.

Driving through Timaru, I fall in love with all the blossoms. It’s lovely to travel in the Springtime. We have a family lunch before making our way to Geraldine. I am keen to get a walk in, so Daniel and I head off to Peel Forest. It is such a clear day that Daniel is able to point out Small Mount Peel, Medium Mount Peel and Big Mount Peel as we head towards the park. Apparently the climb to the top of Small Mount Peel is a day walk, the walk to the summit of Medium and Big Mount Peel requires a much higher level of fitness and a good sense of direction (that rules me out) as a lot of that track is unmarked.

There are a lot of walks you can do in this park, I pick out one called Dennistoun Bush Track. It is meant to be a flat, easy walking loop track that takes about an hour. Flat – yes, easy – yes, an hour – not even. We did this walk in about 20 minutes and I was quite disappointed it was over so quickly. The track was a bit overgrown / branches over the track in places, perhaps from a recent storm. Despite the length of this walk, it was still great to be outdoors in the fresh air, amongst the trees. It’s a perfect, still day for a walk and I admire the large old trees with twisted branches, supporting so much life.

Located in Peel Forest is The Church of the Holy Innocents. It was built in 1869 and is a gorgeous little stone church. It was damaged a few yeas back in an earthquake, but has been restored and open once again. If you like old churches, it is well worth a look.

We make our way back into Geraldine town center, encountering a typical New Zealand country road along the way.

Even though I have never lived here, visiting this place I always feel a little bit like I am coming home. With Daniel having grown up here, several visits and family in the area, the place is familiar with great memories. So it does in a way, feel like home.

We check into our accommodation, a B&B called Hewling’s Manor. It’s such a delightful place in a beautiful garden setting and sun drenched porch. There are lots of interesting antiques and details around the place, and the host, Julie, is so attentive, friendly and accommodating. She even left us some afternoon tea for our arrival. Julie also has a gorgeous rescue greyhound who we get to give lots of pats and cuddles. I am only disappointed that we didn’t get to spend more time here. The rest of the day is spent with family.

My morning begins with the yummy breakfast Julie provided, enjoyed on the sun soaked porch. It’s wedding day, Daniel is busy setting up the sound system so I spend some time at the park with my nieces and nephews. It’s funny to think this is where Daniel would have played when he was a child. After making myself feel ill from spinning on some of the playground equipment (just can’t handle it like I used to when I was a kid) I trade in the playground for the local shops. It’s nice to spend some time wandering around and doing a bit of window shopping.

My mother-in-law and I head over to Verde Cafe. I really like this place, it has great food and a good selection of Vegetarian / Vegan / Gluten free options, but what I like most is the pretty outdoor garden setting. It’s even better in the Spring when all the blossoms are out.

Next door, a local band is paying in the park so we head over and watch them for a while. Then it’s time to get ready for the Wedding. I really like Geraldine and it’s small town country vibes and slower paced lifestyle. It speaks to my soul a lot more than living in the city. I think someday, I would love to live in a place where everybody knows your name.

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