Experience Rural New Zealand

At the Homestay "Under the Totara Trees", close to Wellington with a very friendly host (American accent), you will experience rural NZ at its best.

Experience Rural New Zealand

My place is rural New Zealand at its best. Peaceful, quiet and private, with a backdrop of stunning river and mountain views on three sides, this homestay is a very special place to relax-- sitting in the shade of the totara trees listening to birdsong and the distant sound of contented farm animals or, in the late evening, soaking in the roomy, outdoor bath under the brilliant star-studded Wairarapa night sky.

The homestay

I purchased the land, part of a former small dairy unit, in 1999 and have had great fun (and hard work) turning it into my dream of a unique place in a beautiful country setting. I am a friendly, sociable person and I love sharing my lovely place with visitors from all over the world, especially those interested in experiencing rural New Zealand.

The spacious home is nestled in a large olive grove in the heart of Wairarapa dairy country, only a little over an hour’s drive from Wellington, the capital city.  Although predominantly dairy country there are sheep, beef and deer farms (and seven hay sheds)  within sight of the front gate and orchards just across the river.  If you are interested in agriculture your host (me-Gail), originally from a dairy farm in Virginia USA and the wheat fields of Alberta, Canada will design a tour of rural Wairarapa to suit your interests.  She can take you to visit a dairy farm, New Zealand’s sheep and shearing museum, a vineyard or almost anything else you fancy.

Or if you want a touch of nostalgia, when life was much simpler, you can elect to stay in the rustic wooden cabin, hidden in the olive grove, with stunning views down the river. The cabin is furnished with simple family heirlooms and lit by a oil lantern.

Fun activities

Young children love the wide open (and safe) spaces for playing, including rolling down the roly-poly grassed hill and digging in the grandchildren’s sandpit.  Older children (and their parents) enjoy the outdoor draughts/chess and petanque.  There is a short walk on the property through regenerating native bush under towering trees beside a small stream.  Carry some tempting food and look carefully and you may see an eel or two in the early evening.  A couple of minutes from the homestay by car there is a short dirt track leading to a quintessential New Zealand river for children to play on the rocks and in the water--a great place for a picnic lunch.

Guests are welcome to borrow two bicycles to explore the country roads which pass beside many different farm activities and farm animals, depending on the season and weather.

Delightful dining

Enjoy your breakfast al fresco in the morning sun on the northern patio-- when weather permits.  If you arrange for your host to provide dinner you can dine in the evening al fresco on the southern patio watching the amazing sunsets behind the river and distant hills. When lunch is ordered, it is served on the lawn under the shade of the totara trees.

A special treat is to buy food for a pizza and stoke up the wood-fired oven for cooking your own pizza, while enjoying the brilliant sunsets.  You are welcome to pick the herbs from the herb garden near the oven and your host will provide olive oil harvested from her grove and possibly some fresh, spray-free vegetables and fruit, depending on what she has ready for harvesting.

Further afield

Close by is a winding, gravel road which takes you up to the Waiohine Gorge with a long and high, but very secure, swing bridge leading into original native bush where you can walk for hours on well marked tracks.  Or you can take a picnic lunch to enjoy beside the stony mountain river and, if you are brave, you can play in the cool, fast moving water.   Horse trekking is also available off that road.

When tired of the rural retreat atmosphere a 10 minute drive south will take you to Greytown for upmarket restaurants, trendy boutiques and causal cafes.

About 10 minutes to the north is Carterton which has a lovely 18 hole golf course which is rarely crowded and welcomes visitors. If you are a keen golfer there are three other golf courses within about a 30 minutes drive in several directions.

Further afield

Slightly further afield in the Wairarapa valley there are a host of fun, mostly outdoor activities, all less than an hour’s drive from the homestay.  (There also are lots of art galleries, museums, including a vintage aircraft museum, and other “cultural” activities when you want a break from “country”.)

For instance, to the east the town of Martinborough has vineyards, for wine tasting and exquisite cafes, as well as gourmet restaurants.  Around the area there is fishing, canoeing, kayaking, jet boating, horse trekking, glow worm caves, 4 WD quad bikes, Lake Wairarapa wetlands, the Cape Palliser lighthouse and a fur seal colony. 

Drive north to Masterton and east, through typical rural New Zealand hill country, to the coast to enjoy several beautiful beaches. Northwest of Masterton is Mt Bruce Pukaha National Wildlife Centre, an interesting place to study unique New Zealand birds. Sit on the cafe deck to see the brilliant blue takahe, one of the world’s rarest flightless birds, wondering around just meters away.

Naturally in an area surrounded by mountains, there are a number of day tramps and trails with huts for overnight tramps, such as the Mount Holdsworth tramp, if you are a keen tramper.

Best of all, your host prides herself on old-fashion country hospitality. The homestay is small and can only accommodate two couples or families. If you stay with me you are my personal guest and I will try to cater for your particular interests and make you to feel right at home--but you aren’t expected to do the dishes!  Go to www.olivehomestay.co.nz for more information.

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