Fairlie’s Gems

Do you like pies? Do you eat them regularly? Have you ever eaten a ‘Fairlie’ pie? I could have answered No, no, no to all three questions until recently when after eating a Fairlie pie, I am a pie convert!!

Apart from making the occasional ‘meat’ pie myself and having made many delicious bacon and egg pies for family picnics over the years, I would not have eaten a traditional bakery pie for over 50 years. Honest. My memory of eating a bakery pie would be of the ones we ordered on a Friday, at primary school, as a ‘takeaway’ lunch treat. In those days (1950s) they were mostly soggy pastry with minimal filling.

Street signs so no one misses out; and my Peppered Steak pie (r)!

Not so with a Fairlie pie. The pastry is flaky, golden, and crisp and whatever filling you choose, it is sure to be just that with no additives to make it seem full. Our good friend Ann Bastion recommended we check out the Fairlie Bakery if we happened to go that way, which at the time of our catch up, we had no idea where we were going. Later that day we ended up in Geraldine as a base, and the next day drove through to Tekapo.

As we drove into Fairlie a large group of people congregating in the main street, caught my eye. Immediately I thought being a holiday weekend, some form of entertainment was happening. Then I saw the sign, “FAIRLIE BAKERY” and immediately realised Ann’s words rung true. The line-up was for the bakery… stretching about 40 metres down the street!

We were tempted to join the queue, until I walked around a small courtyard and found a side window for coffees…. and pies – if you were smart!!  So, on this day, Chris and I not only enjoyed a much-needed coffee, but one of Fairlie’s “Pepper Steak’ pies. It was the most delicious pie we have ever eaten. In fact, it was so good I bought two more pies which we had for dinner the following night.

Imagine that – no pies for 50+years, and then two pies in two days!!  My mother would have a fit if she knew that!

All I can say now is thanks Ann for the extras around the waistline… but at our age who is counting anyway?!

Feeling satiated, we drove through to Tekapo, which was overly busy, being Easter and school holidays. Having only seen photographs of Lake Tekapo and the iconic Church of the Good Shepherd, the colours equalled everything I had seen in print. It was a perfect blue-sky day, although the lake seemed very low. I had not envisioned having to tread precariously over the uneven rocks and pebbles to get to the lake, or zigzag through the formations of rock stacks built by visitors. The Church of the Good Shepherd stood proudly in front of the lake. From a photographer’s viewpoint, you wonder when there would be a break in the number of people walking into and around the church to get a good photograph. By chance, as we walked back from the lake, we suddenly realised we were facing a blank canvas, i.e., the Church and Church alone, with no people anywhere. Almost unheard of; we sprinted to make use of the open spaces.

The Church is an impressive building in an impressive location, set in the majestic setting of the lake and mountain. Pre Covid the Church of the Good Shepherd attracted visitors from all over the world, in fact it would have been on every tour group’s itinerary, without a doubt. For two years, there has been breathing space around the Church – a chance for New Zealanders to enjoy the peace, quiet and tranquillity a place of Worship offers, regardless of one’s beliefs.

Driving through to Tekapo we were amazed at the constant flow of returning traffic on a holiday weekend, more so than we would see in Auckland, with most pulling boats, jet skis, caravans and other toys.  We subsequently learned that it is a requirement that all boats, caravans etc. in the lakes area are removed by 2 May.

For ease of travel, we returned to our freedom camping site at Woodbury Domain just outside of Geraldine. Another beautiful site recommended to us by fellow travellers in Hanmer Springs.  For $10.00/night the Domain was in a tranquil country setting.  Surrounded by bush and walkways, the Domain offered fresh running water, clean bathrooms, a rose garden and next door was the most serene cemetery (if they can be that?).  The facilities at the Domain are serviced daily by local Woodbury resident ‘Frank’, who then pops over to the cemetery to visit his late wife.

Looking from the rear of the cemetry with all headstones facing towards the large trees.
The gate leading to the cemetry.

The following morning prior to heading further South, we stopped in at the Barker’s food store – home of relishes, pastes, soups, jams, spreads. You name it, Barkers made it, as well as a selection of recipes to choose from, then of course purchase the Barker’s own sauce or marinade. Another iconic spot on the tourist route, and one also recommended to us by another foodie.

Spoilt for choice in the Barker’s of Geraldine food store, cum cafe, cum tasting shed!

2 thoughts on “Fairlie’s Gems”

  1. I have had some incredible blueberrie cronut there, beautiful fresh. Except the next time we were down in Geraldine I went straight back for my morning tea and you guessed it with a cronut, only to be disappointed by an stale cronut and cream I will try again them again next time we’re back in Geraldine!!!!!

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