4 February 2021
The township of Geraldine is located around 140km south of Christchurch. It is nestled in the foothills of the Southern Alps and the gateway to the lakes in the central Mackenzie Basin.
It has a history of milling timber and numerous sheep stations dotted around the area. When the timber started running out, farming took over as the major source of income.
And so it is today but it is also well known for its population of artists and craftspeople. This is reflected when you wander the main street as you can spend some time browsing the studios and galleries looking for items of interest.
Barkers of Geraldine
Although you will find the nice large and new retail shop for Barkers of Geraldine in the heart of the township’s main street, the original family farm is still located 8 km from the town’s centre. The large building houses all their retail products, as well as a very busy cafe. It is situated behind a very grand vicarage (1900) that they have lovingly restored. Since 1969, the iconic brand is a thriving business, making world-class jams, chutneys, syrups and condiments.
Talbot Forest Cheese Shop
Established in the early 2000s, they started making 10 tonnes of cheese a year. Word soon spread and so did the demand so expansion was necessary. Many of our cheese varieties are named in honour of local geography. We spent some time doing the ‘taste test’ with various samples and decided on the Mt Peel Blue cheese (so creamy!), and a garlic and chive gouda.
Valley Brewing Company
Located on the Geraldine-Fairlie Highway (SH79) approximately 7 minutes’ drive from Geraldine township The Brewery Café is situated just off the main road surrounded by the beautiful Gapes Valley farmland. There is a menu available along with the opportunity to sample their award-winning hand-crafted beers (which are all brewed on-site). We ordered a couple of tasting paddles consisting of 6 tastings, which included their non-alcoholic Jinja (ginger) Beer, for $10 per paddle. I’m not really an avid beer drinker but it was interesting taking a few sips of each while reading the tasting notes that were provided.
Geraldine River Walk
After all the eating and drinking this is an easy-going walk (you can choose how far you want to wander) and follows the banks of the Waihi River. We ended up enjoying a ‘cold one’ at the historic Crown Heritage Hotel which has been a watering-hole since 1906. The Edwardian Hotel is situated in the heart of Geraldine and quite the focal point for travellers and town folk alike.