On the trail of artists from Tasman and the shimmering Ruby Coast


Sometimes when you really need a weekend, planning to make it happen is the hardest part.

And so it was before my two night stay in the Mahana / Māpua area in Tasman. I needed to spend my 40 hours at the computer, as well as tidying up the house for a babysitter, organizing a dog to stay with a sitter and the puppy with another.

Nothing exhausting really; just an administrator of normal life with a prep-to-travel side – but enough to make me feel like I needed the mini-break I was preparing for.

So by the time we found ourselves driving through the gently rolling green hills of Tasman, I was ready to collapse and relax into the experience.

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Since we live in Nelson it was not an epic trip to our accommodation in Tilvery, Upper Moutere and we were there in under 40 minutes. As we walked past pens of incredibly sweet black-faced sheep, it seemed like we couldn’t travel for more than a minute or two without passing a sign for a cellar.

This region, also known for its hop cultivation and apple orchards, is home to Neudorf Vineyards, Gravity Winery, Laska Cellars, Flaxmore, Ruby Bay, Moutere Hills Vineyard … the list goes on.

The “zeros and crosses” pattern is one of the five distinct patterns of the coating.

Tilvery

The “zeros and crosses” pattern is one of the five distinct patterns of the coating.

We were in a charming little cottage, one of five just down the hill from owner Chris Warren’s house. From a distance, the cottages look like ducklings huddled together at their mother’s feet – all with the same brick style as the main house, just smaller.

Up close they have an original distinguishing feature – each has its own patterns in the coating.

We were at Cottage Five – zeros and crosses. The others are diamond, zipper, row, and sawtooth patterns.

The former Upper Moutere post office is home to many local artisans.

MARION VAN DIJK / Tips

The former Upper Moutere post office is home to many local artisans.

Warren says he just wanted “something a little different” when playing around with the siding designs. Overall, her goal for the newly opened accommodation, named in honor of her daughters Tilly and Verity, was to create something “bespoke and beautiful”.

After a delightful inspection of our new home – where my daughter feasted on the croissants available for breakfast the next day, and I was delighted with the spacious shower and 1000-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets – we got together. forced out the door to dinner in New Zealand’s oldest pub, to meet my parents, who live 45 minutes across.

Auberge Moutere has been welcoming thirsty people since 1850.

Martin De Ruyter / Tips

Auberge Moutere has been welcoming thirsty people since 1850.

The Moutere Inn seemed to be full of locals, or at least people who knew each other and were chatting happily between tables.

We were surprised to find three out of four servers not wearing face masks, but when I asked one why not she said they had health exemptions. Bless them, the country air may not be as good as advertised, but the person serving us put on one “out of respect” before coming back to our table, which seemed thoughtful.

I had a really good burger from the traditional pub menu. The inn offers craft beers made from hops cultivated by Nelson Tasman, and its selection of wines is sourced from vineyards within 6 miles of the pub.

In continuous operation since 1850, they seem to have the right recipe.

Moutere Hills Public Cemetery is a lovely place to spend some time.

Things

Moutere Hills Public Cemetery is a lovely place to spend some time.

The next day, after enjoying the bed linen, shower, croissants and coffee in our own little courtyard, we made our way to the village of Upper Moutere itself.

We strolled through the cemetery before the gallery opened by ceramic artists Katie Gold and Owen Bartlett. I like to orient myself towards small towns by taking a walk by the grave. In this case, we saw many Sigglekows and Bensemanns, attesting to the legacy of 19th century German settlers in the area.

For many people, a getaway to this part of New Zealand is about the vineyards, but our weekend turned out to be more about dining, shopping, and admiring the creativity of local artists and artisans.

The gallery of Katie Gold, with her psychedelic clay art, and her partner Owen Bartlett, whose equally colorful but slightly more prosaic tableware, was a good place to start. The fact that you can visit their 130-year-old house covered in roses feels like part of the creativity.

Jumping off the Māpua Pier helps both chill the kids and keep the spectators entertained.

Braden Fastier / Stuff

Jumping off the Māpua Pier helps both chill the kids and keep the spectators entertained.

Across the road, we visited the Old Post Office Food Store and Market, home to Moutere Gold preserves and many other locally made cheeses and other divine pantry products.

“It’s such a pretty place, you’re happy to be there,” a TripAdvisor reviewer said. Which I agree with, browsing through woven baskets, linen bags, vine wreaths, and whimsical art prints.

How I got away from there with just a jar of nectarine and red onion chutney, I’ll never know.

Seagulls line the roof of the Jellyfish Café at Māpua Wharf.

Martin De Ruyter / Tips

Seagulls line the roof of the Jellyfish Café at Māpua Wharf.

But we were heading to Māpua, another booming craft town that is also home to galleries, gift shops, and great restaurants.

You might never know it was once a bustling industrial hub, shipping locally grown apples, strawberries, and other fruit all the way to Nelson from its quayside, except some stores are in old cool stores. , and one of the restaurants along the wharf is called The Apple Hangar.

Fish and chips on the dock is a favorite of many visitors. We watch the children jump off the platform and stroll through the stores. I’m looking for the perfect miniature bowl for a gift.

The boutique cottage accommodation in Upper Moutere, Tasmania, only opened in September.

Tilvery

The boutique cottage accommodation in Upper Moutere, Tasmania, only opened in September.

That way our weekend continues: indulgent food (I recommend the quesadillas from Golden Bear Brewing Company), stroll through craft and housewares stores in search of inspired Christmas gifts and, at the end of the day. of the day, relaxation in our luxurious country setting in Tilvery.

Because we live locally, we’re already planning our comeback, to do some of the many things we missed this time around:

  • Buy a locally made Appleby Farms ice cream cone at Hamish’s on Māpua Wharf
  • Take the ferry to Rabbit Island – part of the Great Taste Trail, a fun and easy bike tour
  • Visit the Rare Creations interactive wooden art gallery in Māpua
  • Stop at Old Factory Corner on the way to Appleby – a one stop shop for specialty food vendors
  • Visit the Highly Recommended Gallery of Michael MacMillan Sculpture and Country Homeware
  • Pet alpacas at Terra Nova Alpacas

The writer was the guest of Tilvery Boutique Accommodation. See: tilvery.nz

Stay Safe: New Zealand is currently subject to restrictions related to Covid-19. Face coverings are compulsory on all flights and public transport. Proof of vaccination and vaccine exemption may be required at some sites under the traffic light system. Follow the instructions on Covid19.govt.nz.


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