Where We Be
|The Flying Fox -- Wanganui, New Zealand
The Flying Fox may be one of the most unusual and out-
of-the-way lodging options on the North Island. You
need to take an aerial tram (called a “flying fox” in New
Zealand) to get to the two quaint cottages located across
the Wanganui River. The remote setting makes for a real
get-away-from-it-all feel. We stayed in Brewhouse
Cottage, a funky, rustic, two-floor cottage with an old-
fashioned woodburning stove. The floor is made of
ancient red bricks and the walls and ceiling from
recycled wood. Antique coffee grinders and old blue
bottles decorate the kitchen. It feels like a frontier cabin.
Avocado, walnut, and citrus trees grace the green yard,
which is tucked in between the Wanganui River on one
side and treeclad hills on the other. Billy the Jack
Russell Terrier tags along happily as you explore the
grounds. We had an hour or two of sunshine on the day
we arrived, then the rains started coming down and
never really stopped. But that was okay, because this
was the perfect spot to stay indoors and ride out the
storm. We curled up on the couch under a quilt reading
books, fed wood to the stove, chopped kindling with a
hand ax, ate a home-cooked steak dinner by candlelight
(with fresh strawberries for dessert), and listened to the
patter of rain on the roof during the night, all cozy under
our electric blanket. It was a quiet, relaxing interlude.
|This is Brewhouse Cottage at the Flying Fox
|"How Green Was My (Wanganui River) Valley"
|Robin is cozy because of all the wood we fed into that woodburning stove!
|Antique coffee grinders and pots
|I can still hear the patter of rain on the tin roof
|Billy greets us at the aerial tramway platform
|What a unique way to get to your lodgings!
|Driving Backwards Uphill in the Mud...
When it came time to leave, we faced a serious
dilemma. Continuous rain had turned the steep
dirt-and-gravel driveway at the far side of the
flying fox into a mudslick. We only made it a
quarter of the way up to the top of the steep
hill on our first attempt.
John, the owner of the Flying Fox, suggested
we try going up the driveway IN REVERSE (!) to
turn our front-wheel-drive car into a temporary
We tried it and made it halfway up the first time,
two thirds of the way up the second time, then
got stuck in a slick spot only half a dozen yards
away from pavement and freedom.
I’ll never forget the feeling of looking over my
shoulder, trying to see out a fogged-up rear
window, as I backed up a steep, winding mud
road, tires slipping this way and that in the
muck, trying to find purchase. That we didn’t
end up in a ditch or over an embankment is
something of a miracle!
Instead, the tires finally caught on a small patch
of gravel and we powered our way backwards
up to the top. What a relief!
|We loved the rustic feeling of this kitchen
|Looking into the cabin from the trellised brick porch
|At least we didn't have to pull ourselves across (like we did at Kennecott Glacier Lodge in Alaska)