The day after New Year’s Day, Emma, Kate and I set out over the hill to the Wairarapa to finally do something we’ve thought about for ages – lavender picking. Lavender Abbey is just outside of Carterton, and has different pick-your-own sessions around the holidays. We headed out mid-morning, and after conquering the winding Rimutaka Road over the mountains, we stopped in Greytown for some shopping and lunch. We had a delicious meal at The Offering before continuing on to Carterton.
It was a really hot day, and we slathered on sunscreen before leaving the car in the Lavender Abbey carpark. Let’s just say, it wasn’t exactly the empty field you see on social media!
Still a beautiful sight, though. Entry is $2 and you then pay $5 per “bunch” of lavender that you pick. The size of a bunch was open to interpretation.
You can’t go anywhere in NZ without directional signs, and of course the sign was lavender here.
Time for picking! Armed with scissors and a rubber band each, we decided on a row and scanned the flowers for the least bee-heavy spots.
There were plenty of Instagrammers and even some professional photoshoots going on amidst the rows. I opted for the matching dress, myself.
We slowly accumulated more lavender in our bunches as we moved along the rows.
Despite this being the busiest day of the season, as we learned later, there were still plenty of spots to enjoy the beautiful purple views, with the Tararuas rising in the distance.
We did have to stop for a water break in the shade, as temps were in the 30s (around low 90s F).
Even the sheep needed to find shelter where they could.
Kate took a break under a tree while Em and I continued with our lavender photoshoot.
I love the contrast of purple with the incredibly green landscape surrounding the lavender farm.
With our bunches gathered, it was time to head out. This place must make a decent income, and it sounds like they do private bookings for photoshoots too. I guess they have to find the perfect balance between PYO days and not depleting the lavender.
We planned to break up the drive back to Wellington by a slight detour to Waiohine Gorge. A breathtaking spot in the foothills of the Tararuas, Andy and I have been before to check out the epic swing bridge.
After the bumpy unsealed road to get there, we were more than ready for a dip. Since it was a really hot day, we weren’t the only ones, but there was plenty of space to spread out. The water was so refreshing, and plenty deep enough to swim.
You can see the 12-story-high suspension bridge up above:
We’d gone to the bridge first, but there was a line of people waiting to cross. It can only hold eight people and you can’t really pass each other, so we decided to try after our swim. Luckily, when we headed back, there wasn’t anyone waiting.
One of New Zealand’s tallest and longest suspension bridges, it acts as a gateway to the Tararua Forest Park and multi-day treks into the mountains of the largest conservation park on the North Island. We didn’t go far once we got to the other side of the bridge, but I’d love to come back for an overnight trek sometime. The Tararuas have a magical, mystical feel to them with the dense understory and moss-covered trees.
It’s so incredible taking in the view of the Waiohine Gorge from this high up in the air!
Time for the drive back to Welly and some rest after a day spent in the sun. Stay tuned for more adventures soon!