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alley cats café: Stop for coffee and take a break from shopping.
Not entirely obvious from the street, this very nice café can be found out the back of a busy, cluttered, lovely knick knack shop.
You can sit either outside or inside, and take coffee and cake.
See the travelogue for more pics.
What to buy: And in front, beside the street is a gift shop with amazing items for sale. It's a small area with a LOT of items for sale, so it can be a bit restricted for movement inside.
What to pay: Not the cheapest giftshop around, but it maintains a good degree of quality.Related to:
- Road Trip
- School Holidays
Soft merino wool and possum fur
Just along from the tourist info office which is built as a corrugated dog is the main souvenir and gift shop, built this time as a corrugated sheep! They seem to specialise in merino wool and possum fur items.
What to buy: Merino wool is very soft, luxurious and hard to resist. Quite expensive, it is becoming very popular when used in outdoor clothing as it is warm, light and breathable. Possum fur is a by-product from culled possums. Possums are not native to New Zealand and are very destructive to the native bush. The fur is very soft and you will find it lining slippers, as comfy cushions and, on occasion, as novelty nipple warmers....I kid you not.
What to pay: Prices will vary.
Tirau Shell and Jade Co.: Greenstone at great prices!
This is probably the best shop I've seen in New Zealand for greenstone jewellery, with a very extensive selection and good prices.
Also known as jade, or by the Maori name of Pounamu, greenstone jewellery is worn with pride by New Zealanders and is often carved into symbolic shapes. It can be found in varying shades of green, and is very slightly transluscent. Most New Zealand greenstone comes from the West Coast of the South Island.
Still held in very high regard by the Maori people, Pounamu was used by them not only as decoration, but as tools, weapons, and as a means of trading.
What to buy: Buy whatever 'speaks' to you....jewellery is very personal, and I think there is something particularly special about greenstone. Most reputabel sellers will be able to explain to you the menaing behind some of the shapes - the lady who served me in Tirau was very helpful - and English!
What to pay: Even at good prices, a nice piece of greenstone isn't cheap. You can get small uncut pieces from about $10~$15NZD but for a nice, carved pendant expect to pay a minimum of $45NZD for a small, relatively plain piece and rising to hundreds of dollars ~ the larger and more elaborate the piece the more you will pay, (naturally).Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Intriguing shops in a small rural town.
What to buy: As already mentioned, one of the slightly astounding features of Tirau is the quantity of antiques shops. However, there are also slightly odd things like a Teddy Bear shop and a Christmas shop in this small rural town. As I've already said, there's plenty to divert your interest in this little town.Related to:
- Road Trip
Tirau Shell and Jade Factory.: Cheapest jade around!!
Factory shop where they actually produce the carved jade. They also sell shell products and other very fine jewellery. This is the cheapest place I know for both these unique New Zealand items (Greenstone and Paua shell).
What to buy: Paua shells - unique to NZ, with their outers polished to reveal the gorgeus blue/green colours. A must from NZ!!
Greenstone jewellery - This is the unique New Zealand version of jade, called "Pounamu" by the Maoris and found only in the South Island of NZ. Nephrite jade.
What to pay: You can get more expensive pendants $NZD100 plus, but you can also find very nice pieces not so intricate, for between $10 and $20. These are great for gifts. Paua shells are generally around $14.
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