One of the pleasures of summer is a tiki tour to some of our quaintest corners of the country – and the pretty village of Outram just 28 km south-west of Dunedin is one of them. As well as enjoying the village itself, there are sights to see and places to explore, all just a stone’s throw away.
A horse and cowboy rider meandering down the main street wouldn’t be out of place in Outram, a town dotted with historic buildings, and with the beautiful Taieri River meandering close by. Flanked by fertile plains, and with the handsome Maungatua range as its backdrop, the township is home to just the sort of shops we love to poke around in when on holiday – and all contained within glorious red brick – an old post office and a vintage brick bungalow. Be sure to look for the iconic tea cosies and bolts of fabulous craft fabric as you browse, and take note of the original ‘Bicycles for Sale’ signage preserved on the wall nearby.
When you’re through with shopping, stop for a bite at the Wobbly Goat Café. Sitting outdoors on a sunny day is a treat, and the service (and the coffee) is rural hospitality at its best. An adjacent honesty-box flower stall offers fresh peonies in spring and bright posies in summer.
When coffee is over hop back in your vehicle for a short drive south to the picturesque hamlet of Woodside Glen. It’s from this little village, with its historic school buildings and barns, that you’ll find two popular trails. The Woodside Glen trail is 2 hr 30 min, 4 km (return), and follows bubbling Lee Stream to a rocky outcrop above the bush line, before doubling back. For a full day’s walk, the track to Maungatua summit takes you up into a world of alpine vegetation including fascinating Raoulia rubra (vegetable sheep). If you plan to climb to the summit, remember to bring cold weather gear and the environment is exposed.
If you’re heading north on your way home, don’t go past the Taieri Historic Park, just a couple of kilometres north of Outram. Open on Sundays from 2-4, the park is a wonderful collection of historic buildings lovingly lifted from the plains and relocated above the Taieri River. Visit its courthouse, school room and museum and you’ll be sure to leave with an appreciation of what life was like in this little-known part of the country in the nineteenth century.
Just when you thought the treats were about to end, McArthur’s Berry Farm, only a few minutes away, offers up a real fruit ice-cream for you to enjoy as you head for home. Known for its excellent berry growing fields, the land around Outram is a horticulturalist’s dream and Macarthur’s raspberries, boysenberries, red & black currants, and gooseberries have been enjoyed by the locales for decades. Nothing beats the Taieri Plains for fresh vegetables and waxy new potatoes, either, and you’ll find them at the berry stall as well!
Otago-ites are shy about promoting themselves in this green and watery part of the region. If you discover Outram, you’ll be one of the few who do – but you’ll be keen to spread the word about this country day out in one of the prettiest parts of the country.