Plenty to do for ageing boomers

Last updated 10:48 11/03/2014
Early Settlers Memorial Wall
NAME-CHECKING: The Early Settlers Memorial Wall at Wakefield Quay.

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The 2013 census showed New Zealand's population is 4.2 million and is getting more ethnically diverse and older. The baby boomers are hitting what used to be called retirement age and Nelson is the perfect place to live, or visit.

Two wonderful older visitors recently stayed with me, endearingly referred to as the Great Aunts (GAs), and they wanted to see what the region has to offer.

The GAs weren't content to sit around drinking cups of tea and reading the newspaper. Well, actually they did want to do that, at least until the sun had warmed the earth.

Couch potatoes, the GAs are not. Although they weren't after a three-hour bike ride on the Coppermine, they did want gentle exercise, shopping, lunching and fine views. So with car, walking stick and maps, we diligently headed out.

As movement didn't start until 10.30am, and we had to be home by 5pm for pre-dinner drinks, it was a mission to pack everything in.

Day one was spent around the Nelson CBD. We are blessed with excellent parking and didn't begrudge the $1 fee to park right next to our chosen destination.

The CBD has interesting art galleries, such as the Craig Potton Gallery and Store on Hardy St, the Fibre Spectrum Co-operative on Trafalgar St and the very good gift shop at the Suter Art Gallery. I'd assumed the GAs might want to use a real bank in town, but they just whipped out their tablets and performed all the necessary transactions online.

The CBD has loads of options for coffee in sunny spots, which was a basic requirement of the GAs. While my current favourites are Ford's and the Red Art Gallery and Cafe, I opted to take the GAs for a sea view. We enjoyed watching the boats, birds and sculpture from Styx on Wakefield Quay, but the verdict was that this is probably a better afternoon location for full vitamin D input.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed showing off our impressive sculpture collection nearby: Tim Wraight's Navigator, Grant Palliser's bronze Seafarers memorial and the Early Settlers Memorial wall. It's fun to check the names and see if you recognise ancestors that arrived on the first ships from 1841-1850.

Day 2 was spent in the country. The GAs wanted lunch in a winery. They had spent several days in Marlborough tasting wines and I was determined they saw Nelson's superior offerings. With more than 25 wineries, we are spoiled for choice.

Fossil Ridge - where I have enjoyed superb lunches and wines - was rejected because the GAs felt the name of the establishment might reflect poorly on their great ages. Nonsense, of course. Anyway, the winner for lunch was Woollaston Estate and they weren't disappointed.

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Food, wine, art and panoramic views converge at Woollaston. This winery has a modern four-level gravity-fed winery with a living roof of native tussock and shrubs. The landscaping is superb and the sculpture in the grounds is awe-inspiring. The GAs like beautiful things.

The incredibly helpful staff helped us decide on a bottle of riesling to accompany our lunch platter, which comprised local produce: Wangapeka cheese, Mapua Smokehouse salmon pate, Mahana gold extra-virgin oil, Doris's famous Polish sausage, Neudorf sheep's cheese, and freshly baked bread.

After lunch it was a leisurely drive to Mapua for more shopping and coffee. We only headed back because I had to tend to the children, and not because the GAs had finished their to-do list.

We ran out of time for: Melrose House, the venue for an excellent lunch last time the GAs were in town; buying new Skechers shoes (excellent support for weak ankles); the day cruise on the Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle; walking on the sand at Tahuna (also good for weak ankles); and we didn't get to see the work that is happening at the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary.

"Next time," they said. We did a drive-by of two houses bought by the GAs' contemporaries for retirement, so I hope that one day they might join us on a more permanent basis.

Statistics released by the Ministry of Social Development show that by 2031 nearly one in three people living in Nelson City and Tasman District will be aged over 65. That is 13,500 wrinklies (out of a predicted population of 49,300) in Nelson and 14,900 wrinklies (out of a population of 53,200 in Tasman).

Our older whanau, and their visitors, are keen to get out and about. Many are happy to spend money and all the ones I know don't think of themselves as old.

Businesses can easily make sure their needs are met, with beautiful things, food and activities, well-designed facilities such as toilets and ramps, even walking surfaces, warm seating areas and exemplary service. Our sunshine is free.

- Nelson


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