Come on with the rain, I’ve a smile on my face

I was sitting trying to think of a good title for this third blog post about our excellent, if rather wet, weekend based in Greytown.  As I looked for a good quote that might inspire me, I thought of that classic song, Singing in the Rain, and how despite the wet weather, we had smiles on our faces the whole day.

Our plan for the day was to head up to Pukaha Mount Bruce National Wildlife Centre in the hope of 1) seeing kiwis and 2) that it might dry up a bit.  Well, wish number one was fulfilled, but unfortunately not number two.  A while back, we saw Tahi the one-legged kiwi at Wellington Zoo, and up until Sunday, this was the only kiwi we had seen (although we had heard them on a visit to Zealandia when we went to visit Sirocco the Kākāpō).  The centre is part of a nationwide conservation project to improve the chances of the survival of the kiwi.  We saw where eggs, collected from the bush, are incubated, and where new born chicks can grow to a decent size before being released into the wild.

The centre is also home to the only known white kiwi to hatch in captivity.  Manukura was born in 2011 and can be seen in the special nocturnal kiwi house. She shares this with another North Island Brown Kiwi, a male called Turua, who our guide told us is bossed around by Manukura.  We also learned that Manukura is not albino but is pure white which means she is the rare progeny of two parents who carry the recessive white feather gene.  We were absolutely delighted to see both Manukura and Turua, with Manukura coming so close so that we were only separated by the glass.

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Manukura (picture from here)

We also saw some tuatara and some lizards, including a little one that had clearly run in from outside and was running about people’s feet!  There is a two hour walk that you can do around the whole centre, but as the heavens opened and the rain started to fall, we retreated indoors for a toasted sandwich at the café.  It’s a place we would definitely go back to on a good day.

We got back into the car and thought and decided to head over to the Tui Brewery at Mangatainoka, just off State Highway 2.  There was an hour to wait for the next tour, and since we had both done brewery tours in the past, we just opted to sit and have a drink instead.  While beer has been brewed there since 1889, the operation at this site has been downsized, and the focus at the Mangatainoka is now on tourism and special beers.

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Beer in the rain

From there we headed back to Greytown, sat and read and drank tea, then headed out to The White Swan for dinner.  We have had lunch there a couple of times, so thought we would try it for dinner.  Karl was delighted with his Wagyu burger, and I was also happy with what I had, the slow cooked lamb with an ‘ancient grain’ (always makes me think of things from the back of the cupboard…) salad with tomatoes, feta, sweet corn, courgette and peas.

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Tucking into Sunday dinner

We got home just in time before the storm really got underway.  The winds were so strong that at one point during the evening, the road over the Rimutaka Hills (ie the road back to Wellington) was closed.  Anyway, all was fine on Monday morning, and we got home by lunch time with loads of time to do laundry…and read…and have an afternoon nap.

Footnote – world events did not escape us, and we did watch the news this weekend. When I was looking for a quote to give me inspiration for a title for the post, I came across this from Abraham Lincoln:

“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.”

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