Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Always blow on the pie."*

98 kilometres is a long way to drive for a pie, but Osler's Bakery in Wairoa is famously good. I hovered in front of the warmer, dithering over the lamb and mint, pepper steak and kumara, chilli beef 'n bean, wondering if I was brave enough to risk the 'boil up', but finally plumped for the classic steak and cheese. And it was good: light pastry, tender meat, real cheddar and great flavour. Excellent eating, especially in the sun on the riverbank, even if the seagulls were noisily disgusted that there was nothing left for them. Tragically - but probably just as well - I was too late for the award-winning port, plum and apple pie that I might have had for pudding: all sold out.

Wairoa isn't the prettiest town in the country, surrounded by green hills poxy with erosion, but the little museum showed real pride in their most famous son, George Nepia, member of The Invincibles, the All Blacks team of 1924-5 that won every one of their games on overseas tour. I was more taken by the story of Scottish settler Neil Walker, who sent his brother to fetch back to the farm the lady he arranged to come out from home to be his wife - but Peter was the one who married Miss Frew. And then they both died young and Neil brought up their children. Awww.

The best bit of Wairoa is the Bar, down at the river mouth where the turquoise sea breaks over the shingle bank and the black sand is littered with silver driftwood. There was a skylark singing, the sun was warm and it was almost as beautiful as the Mahia Peninsula, which has all that plus white cliffs and enough remoteness to make it feel like an achievement to have got there.
*Link here.

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