|The co-owner serving tea|
|Hot Water Pot|
|Our Group for Tea and lunch|
|The Tea Plantation|
|Dairy Cattle in the Padock|
We drove straight to the home of Rotarians who live in the city of Tauranga, but have a farm of kiwi orchards in the country. When they visited us in Iowa they told us all about their kiwi fruit orchards, and we have always said that “if” or “when” we get back to New Zealand, we definitely wanted to visit their kiwi fruit orchards. Well, the day finally arrived!!
We first had a cup of tea, followed by a light lunch, and of course were chatting the whole time. This couple has built a beautiful home at the top of a hill overlooking the city. At one time the area around the house was kiwi orchards, but it has since been developed. After lunch we drove to the coast (across town) to Mt Maunganui. It is simply a mountain coming out of the sea. There is a walking trail around the mountain just above the coastline. This was a beautiful walk with waves, directly from the sea, crashing against the rocks below us. This walking path is a very popular place for locals to walk – it was busy. You are also able to hike to the summit of the mountain, which we did not do – we needed to get to the kiwi orchards.
|Walk around Mt Maunganui|
Kiwi fruit orchards are totally different from other kinds of fruit. The kiwi fruit plant is actually a vine that needs to be supported, thus there is a system of wires that are approximately 6 feet overhead. The wines are tired to the supporting wire structure. The kiwi fruit hangs down from the vine on which it grows. All kiwi fruit are picked by hand as they are a very fragile fruit. The vines are grown in small areas surrounded by a ‘shelter belts’ or what is a row of tightly grown trees that are at least 20 ft high. These trees are trimmed so that they are a narrow row growing between areas of kiwi vines. These trees are necessary to reduce breezes blowing over the vines. Winds would cause the fruit to be rubbed by leaves and branches which would bruise this tender fruit making it unmarketable. As you drive down the road, when you see these tall trees (shelter belts) there most likely is a kiwi orchard there. They also do plant trees around some paddocks for the animals.
As I said, kiwi fruit is a totally different kind of fruit. We normally see a lime green color of kiwi fruit, but there is now a golden colored kiwi that is sweeter. The Japanese market for golden kiwi fruit is very strong. They have also developed a kiwi fruit with a red center inside the ring of seeds – these add a lovely gourmet touch when served.
These orchards finished picking kiwi fruit last week, and within a day there was a frost. Right after frost the leaves drop, so that we saw mainly stems and fruits that were too small to sell. The kiwi fruit we buy in Iowa are definitely the runts (throw aways) by New Zealand standards.
After lunch today we tasted the golden kiwi fruit, and they definitely are sweeter. When we left the orchard we had a whole bag full of kiwi fruit that we must eat before we leave New Zealand. Guess what we will be eating in the next week. In the last hour we learned a lot of about this delicate kiwi fruit.
|Weather Protection Barrier (shelter belts) with Kiwi Orchard|
|Fruit on the plant - too small to harvest!!|
|Newly picked fruit|
|Looking under the vines|
|Picking some Kiwi|
|Picked Fruit in Bins|
|Newly Grafted Vines|
|Newly Grafted Orchard|