o tannenbaum

today we went off in search of a christmas tree. this was a bit of a surprise to us but putting up a tree is much less common in nz than in the states. and many of those who do put up a “tree” are actually putting up a branch. turns out if you cut off a branch from one of the local pines and turn it upright it looks more than a bit like a traditional christmas tree. and since a big pine will yield a truck load of these this is what most kiwis use. you can pick one up at the local gas station for NZ$25.
we opted to try and find the real thing, and after asking around quite a bit we found a flyer at the local high end grocery pointing us to a christmas tree farm in greytown – about and hour and a half up state highway 2.

the weather was fantastic and it gave us a reason to go to a new place, so off we went. the drive to upper hutt is a nothing special, but then you begin the climb up a narrow twisty road through the rimutaka range. the views were spectacular and the driving a bit harrowing. the road is about an inch wider than two cars, falls off sharply and most of the time all that is between you and the abyss is a rickety wooden picket fence. great views from the top.

after you descend from the rimutakas you drive through the martinborough plains. the scenery reminded me of our earlier travels through the canterbury plains on the south island and why we came here.

it was a bit odd walking the aisles of the christmas tree farm on a warm sunny day in our shorts and t-shirts.

this picture of boston this year is more what i am used to.

we soon found a nice douglas fir that met our needs and asked one of the staff to make it ours. after they cut it down they carry the tree and you carry the chainsaw. given the distance back to our house the tree actually rode inside

here it is back in our home and ready for the holidays.

on the way home we stopped in featherston for a snack and beer at one of the late 19th century hotels that most small towns here have. these are great old buildings from the gold rush days that will have a bar on one side of the ground floor, a dining room on the other side and lodging on the upper floor. [no excuse for lack of photo – sorry] the condition of these varies dramatically from town to town and it hurts me badly to see any of them not at their best. this one was in fantastic condition. it was easy to envision the miners at the bar on side and the town’s elite in their victorian finest dining on the other. in keeping with history we had that classic snack from the gold rush era – nachos.

at work the next day when some of my colleagues asked what i had done over the weekend i told of our success with both the tree and the stand. i think they were quite amused at the length that went to to get a tree. when i mentioned how hard it had been for us to find a stand and asked where they got theirs, the response was “a christmas tree stand? – you mean a bucket filled with rocks?…” i’m guessing we may have one of the few special purpose built christmas tree stands in island bay.

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