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Dreams come true in Pongaroa

Most couples would celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary with a fancy meal and gifts.

But not Gary and Allie Fursdon.

They bought a store instead. In Pongaroa.

Having previously lived in Hastings, Masterton, Upper Hutt, and Wellington, they said the move to the small rural township was never really on the cards.

All they knew was that they wanted a change of scenery – a quiet rural lifestyle they could both enjoy.

So, when the Pongaroa general store and café came up for sale recently, they put in an offer and the wheels were set in motion.

Gary, a Country Calendar fan said he always thought small villages looked “romantic and idyllic” – “and we wanted to give it a go”.

“We’re probably too much of a townie couple to live on a farm, so this is pretty close.”

Gary, who has worked in the grocery industry for more than 30 years said he wanted to build up the general store side of things, “because there’s not a lot of stock on the shelves”.

“We also want to develop our menu because it is very much a takeaway menu… we want to give it a real kick in the pants and start to make it into more of a café.”

When the Pongaroa Fuel Stop opened in the village earlier this month, the Fursdon’s had been working in the store for six days.

It was probably the busiest day they would see in the village for some time, and they took advantage of the celebrations, getting to know the locals and giving the kids free ice blocks.

“It’s this rural lifestyle we wanted where you know people, and they know you,” Allie said.

“When you’re in a city, you can walk past people and not know them, and not see them ever again.

“I’ve been told that people in Pongaroa know more about us already, than we will ever know about them.”

Allie’s vision for the store was to make it “vibrant and alive”, while also spending quality time with her husband.

“A lot of people say on their death bed that they wished they had done more and spent more time with their family,” she said.

“We thought, why don’t we have a change of lifestyle now?

“Why wait for later when you’re too old to do things, and too tired to do things?

“Now, we can spend our time together.

“We’re also excited about building the business up and being available for the community for the right hours, and providing a service to them they have been longing for, for a long time.”

The couple joked that working together again would bring back memories of when they first met 30 or so years ago.

“We met in a grocery wholesaler place,” Allie said.

“I was upstairs and he was a pleb on the floor.

“He was putting himself through university working part time and I was the dolly bird blonde in the office.

“We really liked each other, but nothing ever happened. We each got married to other people and then years later we found ourselves both single.

“We began chatting one day and I found out he was on his own and of course, I had been on my own for about 11 years.

“Once we started talking and we were engaged in three weeks, and married in 20.”

She said they had “never looked back” since.

The Pongaroa General Store, Café, Takeaway, and Post is open every day except Sunday, and is the only general store in the village.



  1. John Watts July 25, 2019 at 11-45pm. I was born in pongaroa and it has a lot of history i still love the place hope to visit Pongaroa one day soon

  2. Hi Gary and Allie, congratulations on your new venture in life. If we ever up that way we will definitely call in.

  3. Hi all the luck ? in the world to you both in your venture in Pongaroa i was born there and brought up there i love the place best community in nz they will get behind you i love seeing all the news from pongaroa on Facebook as i now live in england uk

  4. Congratulations. Grocerie shop and Drapery shop owned by my parents Merv & Eunice Robinson about 60 years ago. So very pleased you have taken up residence. May visit you in February when I’m over there. Good luck to the both of you

  5. Pongaroa <3 <3 <3

    Where everybody knows your name,
    and they're always glad you came.
    You wanna be where you can see,
    our troubles are all the same
    You wanna be where everybody knows your name

    You wanna go where people know,
    people are all the same,
    You wanna go where everybody knows your name 🙂 🙂

    All the very best for your new venture, onwards and upwards!
    Enjoy our little slice of paradise 🙂

  6. Cool story, seems this place is in the news a lot lately what with the petrol station and all, might be worth the drive to see what all the fuss is about.

Comments are closed.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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