The Road to MacKenzie Region: A Guide to Geraldine and Fairlie

The streets of Geraldine on a sunny day.

Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned day trip?

There’s a sense of freedom and discovery when heading to somewhere a little further from home, and with such wonderful destinations as the South Canterbury towns of Geraldine and Fairlie within easy reach, there’s no time like the present to head their way. There is much to discover in the hubs of these small communities, from quality art galleries to boutique shopping and characterful hospitality.

Morning in Geraldine

Breakfast at Café Verde

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45c Talbot Street, Geraldine

Begin your journey in the lush garden of the iconic Geraldine café, Verde. Tucked behind the Old Post Office Building off the town’s main road, the park like setting of this special café offers a tranquil start for a day of exploration.

Fuel up with a decent breakfast such as smashed avocado, which comes with sourdough bread, beetroot hummus, dukkah, sprouts and poached eggs, or a sweet tooth’s dream, French toast — cinnamon and sugar ciabatta served with berry compote, whipped cream, bacon and maple syrup. Top it all off with a cup of great coffee and you’ll be good to go on your merry way for the day.

Appreciate the creativity at Susan Badcock Gallery & The Mailroom

47 Talbot Street, Geraldine

You know that Old Post Office Building that you walked past on your way to Verde? Well, tucked around the back you’ll find perhaps the cutest gift store in town, Mailroom, while around the front and up the stairs is the wonderful Susan Badcock Gallery.

Mailroom, named with a nod to the building’s history, functions as the gallery shop and is a charming and carefully curated store. Discover handmade ceramics, jewellery, homewares and luxury accessories all beautifully displayed for your browsing pleasure. Once you’ve had your fix of this lovely store, head upstairs for a look through the gallery where you’ll find an impressive array of art by the creative Badcock family.

Expect to view the stunning hand-coloured photography by Susan herself, paintings by her father John Badcock and grandfather Douglas Badcock, plus more members of the wider family as well as other local artists. The building has also been lovingly restored by the Braddock family.

Find some culinary treats in Geraldine

It would not be a proper visit to Geraldine without taking the time to pop into some of the trademark producers of the town.

Geraldine Butchery

6 Wilson Street, Geraldine

Now that you’ve picked up a few preserves and a bunch of cheeses, it’s time to grab some meat from the Geraldine Butchery. The butchery has been running for 30 odd years, and continues to do business with the good old-fashioned values of supplying the best quality, local meat available. The knowledgeable butchers will cut to request, and share their expertise on how to cook a delicious meal for your friends and family. You can also pick up free range eggs and plenty of gourmet condiments here.

Finally, pack up all your shopping and jump in the car for a picturesque drive around the hills to the township of Fairlie.

Barker's Foodstore & Eatery

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71 Talbot Street, Geraldine

Begin your tour with a browse through the visually appealing, purpose-built Barker's Foodstore building. Glass jars galore await visitors, with practically the entire range of Barker’s production line from jams to sauces and beyond showcased and ready for purchase. There’s a tasting station and plenty of recipe ideas around too.

Geraldine Cheese Company

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76 Talbot Street, Geraldine

Next, head over the road to the Four Peaks Plaza and discover the Geraldine Cheese Company tucked in the corner. Makers of a diverse range of handcrafted small-batch cheese and retailers of quality delicatessen items, you’ll find everything for that perfect platter right here. Ever changing tastings of the more popular cheeses including blues and hard cheeses are available, and the fridge is full of such a selection that you will be spoiled for choice. Geraldine Cheese Company also produces a small variety of handmade fudge in distinctive flavours, for example, Liquorice Allsorts or Chilli Chocolate.

Tuck into a pie from Fairlie Bakehouse

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74 Main Street, Fairlie

That drive has surely made you a bit peckish, so first things first on landing in Fairlie: head to the famous Fairlie Bakehouse for a delicious pie. This family-run business is one of the most awarded and best-known pie makers in the country. Once you’ve sampled some of their flaky goodness, you’ll know why. Quality ingredients are of the utmost importance and the components of the pies are both fresh and handmade. The bakery even has its own butchery to guarantee the quality of meat. If you’re stuck for choice, we hear the most popular pie is the pork belly & apple, and for herbivores, the vegan pie is a real cracker.

Retail therapy time!

77 Art + Living

77 Main Street, Fairlie

Fairlie has an impressive number of quality boutiques, intriguing interior stores and an excellent dealer gallery well worth getting to know. Begin your browse at 77 Art + Living right in the heart of town. This gallery showcases predominantly local Mackenzie region artists with artworks by other New Zealand artist’s hand-picked for their uniqueness. At 77 you won’t come across the same works as many other galleries, as pieces have been purposefully chosen for their individuality.  Gallery owner, Bella Miller, takes pride in sourcing these artworks.

Once you’ve had your art fix, pop next door to Blank Space, a fashion retailer stocking some of the most popular New Zealand brands around - Federation, Huffer, Stolen Girlfriends Club and Thing Thing - together with a number of other brands that would sit nicely in any wardrobe.

Matilda & The Metalman

85 Main Street, Fairlie

After sifting through the fashion and perhaps having picked up a new outfit, stroll down the road to Matilda & the Metalman, where you’ll be greeted by stunningly styled interiors in calming earthy colours. It’s hard not to want everything sitting neatly here for your own home, and luckily for those who really love the look of the store, it also has a styling service.

If redoing your interior is not on the cards, you can always pick up a few items to freshen up your home. There’s also a collection of delightful books and gourmet edibles that are perfect for gifts.

The Little Red Fox

65 Main Street, Fairlie

Now, it’s time to cross the road and make your way to The Little Red Fox, and another great collection of popular brands of clothing, such as Elwood, Superdry, Antler and Cartel & Willow. The fashion on the rack at this store varies hugely and is always evolving.  There is a collection of accessories and handbags as well as shoes and hats, along with a number of cool clothes for kids. 

We’re just about done with the retail goodness of this cute little town, but before you walk away, make sure to pop round the corner to Mint Boutique. What was once a second hand store has evolved into a store offering a collection of new and pre-loved designer garments.

Last but not least, if you’d like to pamper yourself a little, Remarkable Beauty will gladly help. Whether you’d like a massage or need some hair removal help, this is the place to come. The beauty salon offers the latest technology and exceptional, friendly service.

Finish off the evening

Dinner at Silverstream Hotel

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762 State Highway 8, Kimbell

Finish the day with a visit to the historical Silverstream Hotel, just a fifteen-minute drive away in Kimbell. The pub is currently undergoing refurbishment in the hands of young new owners, who are dedicated to preserving the old while modernising the essentials. Expect a proper kiwi pub environment, with plenty of honest food options and a selection of craft beer on tap. Have a go at pool or find a sunny spot outside in the beer garden, perhaps engaging in a game of petanque. Silverstream is definitely the perfect place to wrap up the day.