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Shopping In Geraldine
Dorothy - 31/3/00

Locally produced wines, juices and preserves, alpaca or woollen knitwear, honey, crafts .....

When I really enjoy a holiday I like to take with me some mementos of my visit. In my last article about Geraldine I wrote about exploring its scenic attractions and its history, but exploring the shops can also be an enjoyable part of visiting a place where enterprising entrepreneurs have set up interesting retail outlets selling local products.

Barker's, established in 1969 by Anthony and Gillian Barker, has been a household name for juices and fruit products sold throughout New Zealand. If you visit the Berry Barn in Talbot Street, the main street of Geraldine, you are in the heart of the area where the wide variety of fruits Barker's use are grown.

You can enjoy fruit smoothies and sundaes, and can sample juices, wines, jams, and spiced fruit sauces. I recommend spiced apricot sauce to serve with chicken. Their Christmas Fruit Mince is the best I have ever tasted. What I make at home does not compare. When you want to serve mulled wine do try Barker's elderberry wine, "Mountain Thunder". Want a gift to take back home? Barker's also offer attractive gift baskets.

Check out the baskets of factory specials for purchases at reduced prices.

The Alpaca Centre

The Berry Barn
The Berry Barn

Next to Barker's in The Berry Barn is the Alpaca Centre, which aims to provide the largest range of Alpaca products in New Zealand. I talked to owners Maggie Sewell and Brian Kitson. "We have a small herd of alpacas which will eventually be included in a farm park on the property we have purchased on the outskirts of Geraldine. " said Brian.

The shop stocks New Zealand made hand and machine knitwear, felted hats, knitting yarns in natural and dyed colours, kitsets to knit your own, and carded or raw fleece for spinning.

Although blended yarns are sometimes easier to process, Maggie says that she and Brian make all their knitwear in 100% Alpaca to maximise its special qualities of softness, warmth, lightness and strength. She explained to me that Alpaca fibre is 30% warmer than wool for the weight and three times the tensile strength of wool. Alpacas originate from the high altiplano of South America, and must withstand vast climate changes. As a result, their fibre has an amazing ability to adjust to different temperatures.

"Alpaca fibre is also ideal for people with sensitive skins who may find other natural fibres too prickly," Maggie said. "Our Toddlers' Alpaca socks have been a great success with children with eczema.

A selection of some of the many garments available
A selection of some of the many garments available

"As alpaca garments are very hard wearing and last a long time, we manufacture classic styles under our Adobe Knits label. We can make garments to measure at no extra cost. We also stock a range of knitwear, jackets, capes, Alpaca fur teddy bears and woven wall hangings imported from South America.

"Brian and I would love to tell you about these unique animals and their fibre, so do call and see us at The Alpaca Centre," Maggie concluded.

The Giant Jersey holds the world record.
I used the phrase, "enterprising entrepreneurs" to describe the business people of Geraldine.

The Giant Jersey and Guinness Book Of Records Award
Michael and Gillian stand in front of the Giant Jersey with their Guinness Book Of Records Award
Click here for a larger version

To be sure that people noticed "The Giant Jersey" Michael and Gillian Linton chose a truly attention-catching feature. Their shop takes its name from the giant jersey it features. The Giant Jersey was officially recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1999 and measures 16 ft from wrist to wrist, is 7 feet high, has a chest measurement of 120 inches and weighs 5.5kg.

The business doesn't only knit for giants, however, and has a range of sweaters, cardigans, hats and scarves, handcrafted from pure New Zealand wool, in sizes ranging from children's to largest adult sizes. You can buy from them on the Internet, but it adds interest if you can visit their knitting workshop, see the knitting in action and make your choice from the forty colours and fifty designs offered.

You will also be interested to see the map on the wall showing the different places where their jerseys are being worn - forty six at the latest count. You may wish to visit their website

Craft Shops
Check out the local craft shops especially if you are looking for gifts to take home. There are four in the main street.

Murch 'n' Dice is on the ground floor of the old Post Office building. It offers lots of interesting crafts, homewares and giftware. Upstairs there is a gallery featuring the work of local artists.

Country Rumours is a craft cooperative selling a wide range of locally produced crafts.

Victorian Wood Works features an interesting variety of wooden home decor items - both imported and locally made. This small shop is an interesting place in which to poke around for "gifts with a difference".

Needle 'n' Thread specialises in sewing and patchwork/craft supplies. You can also find there the locally made Geepers range of trendy designer children's clothing.

Apitherapy products How is your Latin? Good enough to work out that it is therapy based on the products of bees?

Honey Corner Shop For your honey and apitherapy products visit Honey Corner Shop, on the Woodbury Road corner. Valerie and Noel Trezise will offer you a wide range of pure sweet natural honey free of additives or preservatives. You can choose among clover, manuka, native bush, rata, kamahi/manuka, and thyme honeys and select creamed, liquid or comb honey - or you may decide on a honey healer and tonic, manuka honey with deer velvet.

The apitherapy products include the natural anitbiotic Propolis in a number of products. I have found that the throat spray and lozenges are excellent remedies for a sore throat. Royal Jelly, a highly concentrated food helps the immune system and is good for the skin. The Trezises have a range of royal jelly products. Bee pollen products are also stocked.

Visit Honey Corner and talk to Valerie and Noel about honey products and also look at the Working Observation Hive. You and your children will find the visit really instructive.

For the garden lovers
There are five nurseries or garden centres where you can buy plants, but first you may like to look at some of the private gardens that welcome visitors. An excellent pamphlet listing the gardens, the garden centres and the nurseries is available at the Information Centre in Geraldine. It gives you the names of the gardens. the addresses, the plants featured, the hours and the months of opening and the admission costs. Some cater for morning and afternoon tea.

Tea or coffee break
If you've wandered around the shops and want to sit down and relax with a cup of tea or coffee you can choose among three options. Plums Cafe on the main street is open during daytime on weekdays and evenings only on weekends. Riverside Cafe which is open only in the daytime, is a new cafe with a lovely garden outlook and very attractive premises set back off the main street, next to Murch & Dice. The Berry Barn Bakery (Cafe) is next to Barkers.

Enjoy your leisurely shopping in Geraldine!

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