Reprinted with permission from ACP Media (Motorhomes & Caravans)
Located in Central Otago, the Maniototo is an alpine plain surrounded by mountains: the Ida and Hawkdun Ranges, the Kakanui Mountains, The Rock and Pillar Range and the aptly named Rough Ridge.
The harsh mountainous backdrop offers the plateau scant protection from the southerly gales which can blow in snow and ice as early as May. Winter temperatures for the region regularly plunge into the minuses.
In summer, north-westerly gales can howl over the Southern Alps. Annual rainfall for the area is a mere 400mm and summer temperatures can soar above 40°C.
Whatever the season there is a respite from the extremes of the elemental forces that dictate the pace of life on the plateau. Ranfurly, the rural Art Deco town of New Zealand, is located in the midst of this landscape of extremes and the town itself presents the visitor with some contrasts.
Graham Sydney’s wonderful paintings of the Maniototo hang in the public bar of the old Ranfurly Hotel, while directly across the road you will find a treasure trove known as Decollectables.
From our very first visit to this wonderful Art Deco shop, we were transported to another time and place. While browsing we got talking to Edna McAtamney, the owner of Decollectables, and found out that she also owns Moyola, an Art Deco guest house on the main street.
When Edna asked us if we wanted a different kind of accommodation experience for the night, we readily agreed. She gave us the keys and told us to go and make ourselves comfortable.
As soon as we opened the front door we knew we had made a wise choice. From the tea trolley in the hallway to the stained glass mirrors in the bathroom, the guest house was a breathtaking testament to Edna’s love of Art Deco and to her dedication and attention to detail.
When she arrived after closing her shop, Edna showed us around the house. She then prepared a wonderful meal and entertained us with stories of her battles to promote the town as the Art Deco capital of the South and her efforts to win over the hearts and minds of the more conservative locals.
We sat in her drawing room, talking and drinking brandy as the last rays of the Maniototo sun shone in through the stained glass windows. We listened to Marlene Dietrich and Edith Piaff as we devoured a bottle of Central Otago pinot while Bogey and Bacall looked down on us from a Casablanca poster.
It turned into one of those evenings where the ambiance became palpable. If the Great Gatsby, Jean Batten or Bonnie and Clyde had walked into the room, we would not have been too surprised.