Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Hunter and Waitahanui B&B, New Zealand

Hunter Shaw is a special guy ... in fact the Shaw family are special people. I met them while I was living down in Fiordland, New Zealand. He and his wife Claire became friends; a friendship that has lasted despite my many geographical relocations. I knew they were working on bed and breakfast plans but I haven't been home for two years ... of course life goes on anyway and they're open for business at Waitahanui Bed and Breakfast. They live a couple kilometres from the magnificent Lake Manapouri, out on a glacial plain, ringed by mountains ... it's a stunning location. I remember arriving there one day and Claire asking if I was scared of heights ... I said not really and followed her up the ladder onto the roof of their farmhouse. It was unbelievable ... the view, the air and just that feeling of being someplace perfect.
If I had to nominate a man who most defines my idea of a good Kiwi bloke, then Hunter would surely be that man. I had the luck to spend a couple of days interviewing him before leaving the country. We spent hours out on his farmhouse veranda going through his life and recording his stories. As you can see from the photograph we had company ... his dog and cat only abandoned us when the sun moved on. Politeness demands that I don't send people to the homes of my friends just because they're really interesting people ... Dave's photography is stunning while Jude, his business partner and wife, cooks like an angel however having strangers rock up to the house might surprise them. Hunter and Claire are open for business so, if you find yourself over in New Zealand, see if you can make a little time to visit their place ... it's an incredibly special corner of New Zealand and you won't regret it.
Hunter is up in the valley as I write this - the Red Stags are roaring and so it goes that "the roar" is on back home in New Zealand. Many hunters consider March and April the most exciting months for deer hunting, and it has to be said (apologies to vegetarian readers) no one, but no one cooks wild venison like Hunter.

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