Tarras, Je T’aime

In his 1947 poem Night in Tarras, poet James K Baxter described the “hot white road by Tarras” as “where a shadeless sun beats down on range and river, scorching snowgrass brown”. Wanaka writer JULIA ATKINSON headed up highway 8A to see what she’d find in Tarras today.

The Tarras Country Store

Just a casual 25-minute cruise through the rural landscape east of Wanaka will bring you to the deliciously rusticTarrasVillage. Historically a hub for the surrounding farming community, providing the basics of fuel, groceries and a tiny primary school, in recent years Tarras has undergone a considered rejuvenation set in motion by a longstanding local farming family, the Perriams of Bendigo Station.  The village has become a destination as popular with passing tourists as regional locals for good reason.

The compound is host to the richly stocked Tarras Country Store, offering plenty of local produce as well as the best cookbooks, kitchen equipment, gourmet ice cream and general danger to your bank account!  The Merino Shop stocks every merino product under the sun, which couldn’t be more appropriate considering the best of that fibre in the world is grown on the surrounding schisty high country. Christina Perriam, the major driving force behind the village development, has set up a gorgeous flagship store for her self-titled label of merino knitwear, producing seasonal collections in easy to wear designs. The Country Coffee Shop is gaining cult status with its quant setting and, among other things, the amazing “Torpedo” filled rolls.  This can be followed up nicely with a cheeky visit to the wine cellar featuring the best drops from 13 award-winning vineyards in the Bendigo/Tarras region. An absolute must is making the short stroll across the carpark to the treasure chest that is Mrs Robinson’s. Featuring by far the best collection of vintage homewares in the region, you’re unlikely to leave empty handed.

Coffee, food, wine, history, shopping and sweeping majestic views make for an easy and relaxed couple of hours or quick 10 minute stock up. Tarras is bound to satisfy, if not make you fall in love … just a little bit.

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