Success is getting what you want; happiness is liking what you get

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Next stop - Ngongotaha

It is always a treat to travel along a “new to us” road as we did today, the  Old Te Aroha Road,  on part of our journey from Paeroa to Ngongotaha.  The towering Kaimai Range looked down over us as we travelled along the undulating road through lush green dairy country, with quite a sprinkling of bee hives too, we noticed.  We passed by a  memorial to the Kaimai Air Disaster.  On 3 July 1963 a DC-3 airliner crashed in the Kaimai Range,nd all 23 passengers and crew were killed in what remains the worst air crash within New Zealand.  This memorial, at Gordon, about 4.3 km southwest of the crash,  was dedicated on 5 July 2003 to mark the 40th anniversary of accident.

Memorial to Kaimai Air Disaster

Leaving the meandering county road behind, we travelled a short distance along SH29, before meeting up with SH5. The trees on either side of the road made such a pretty drive as we approached Fitzgerald Glade.  It had been quite some time since we had passed by the Glade and it was just as lovely as we remembered.

P4190006 Almost at Fitzgerald Glade

We made a quick stop at the cafe to pick up some lunch time goodies, and then I noticed a standing stone circle.  These would not be as ancient and historic as those scattered throughout the UK, but someone went to a lot of effort to put them there, balancing a smaller one on top of the base stones.  There must be a story behind them, but I couldn’t find a plaque nearby.  But I did find something to gladden my heart – a kune kune pig.  And was he/she pleased to see me – the pig came rushing up to the fence making little piggy grunts.  Which probably meant, feed me, feed me!  Maybe the pig's job was to be "Guardian of the Stones".

P4190009 Standing stones at Fitzgerald Glade

P4190008Guardian of the stones - a cute pig!

We caught up with Geoff and Eileen for lunch at a rest stop not too far from our destination.  The striking “Toi Tu Whenua” sculpture in brushed aluminium was made by Lewis Gardiner and seemed to have a touch of Easter Island about it.   A graduate of Rotorua Waiaraki Institute of Technology, this artist has exhibited internationally and is well known for his innovative style.

P4190014 Toi Tu Whenua sculpture at the approach to Rotorua

P4190019Parked at the lay-by with the aluminium sculpture behind

Then it was not too far till our stop for the next few nights, the brand new NZMCA park at Ngongotaha, which had it’s official opening in the weekend.   We have a busy time planned for our stay here in Rotorua – exciting plans which should be fun.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Rainy Day in Paeroa

It’s been a bit of a “do nothing” day today in Paeroa.  The rain has been coming down in sheets, and the temperature dropped considerably – much too miserable to go out sightseeing, we decided.   So we stayed in camp all day and socialised with the others at morning tea and 4zees.  The rain was pouring off the corner of our awning, and we placed our large pink bucket underneath.  In no time at all it was full and overflowing.  It seemed almost a shame to throw all that lovely fresh water away.
  P4180032The pink bucket was filling up fast with rain water

The Paeroa RV Centre has a large social hall where residents meet for Happy Hour, with a cosy fire to keep things nice and warm.  Someone was drying an item or two of clothing on the fire safety rail, I noticed.

P4180034 Fire place in the hall

There are plenty of seats and tables,  a small pool table, plus a very extensive library.  I took a few books over to swap – and came back with a couple to read, just the thing for a lazy rainy day.

P4170029 Inside the large hall

P4180035Buses and vans both big and small at the R V Centre

The rain finally eased as the day drew to a close.  Here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow when we travel down to our next stop at Rotorua.  The sun shone gold as it slipped down towards the horizon in the west.

P4180037 Sun setting in the west after a day of rain

Bowentown to Paeroa

We had previously travelled the Karangahake Gorge by the Goldfields Railway, and this time it was by road, driving along quite a bit faster than the Heritage train had travelled as it had carefully chugged it’s way along the track.  Across the river at Waikino we could see the remains of the historic Victoria Battery, the largest quartz ore processing plant in Australasia.  It was the country’s largest producer of gold and the plant was in operation from 1897 to 1954.  Giant tanks were filled with potassium cyanide and crushed ore, then compressed air bubbled through the mixture.  This maximised gold recovery and the technology was exported and used around the world.  Cyanide  was discharged into the river until 1954 when the battery closed – hopefully this practice would not happen these days as we are much more environmentally aware.

P4170006 Remains of the Victoria Battery

The road through the gorge narrowed and the rocky cliff faces towered above us.  There was only a small lip on the river side of the road to keep us from falling off the edge.  Luckily that doesn’t seem to happen very often and we made it safely through the gorge and out the other end.

P4170009 Karangahake Gorge Road

Then before we knew it, we had reached Paeroa, where we were stopping at the RV Centre for the next two nights.  This is a very  busy place to stay, almost full to the brim with motor homes and buses, and a sprinkling of caravans.  With a bit of juggling, we slotted into three adjacent power sites.


P4170014Parked at the  R V Centre at Paeroa

After lunch we drove up to the main street to sample the delights of Paeroa.  With Anzac Day fast approaching, (25th April) poppy sellers were out in force.  We certainly don’t mind supporting the RSA (Returned Services Assoc) with their annual fundraising and stopped to purchase a poppy each.  This couple volunteering their time were interested to know where we were from, and what we were doing in their town.

P4170022 Selling poppies for Anzac Day

I spotted a lovely little timber church just off the main street – it was the Paeroa Co-operating Parish, and their slogan was  “Arohanui – Love is the Key”.   It certainly is a very attractive church, but sadly I didn’t get a peep inside.

P4170019Paeroa Co-operating Parish Church

P4170021 Goodness knows what this painted cow is doing in the main street

Paeroa’s claim to fame is the production of the “World Famous in New Zealand” Lemon and Paeroa soft drink, known to Kiwis as L & P.   The Paeroa Natural Mineral Water Co began bottling the refreshing water bubbling up from an underground spring, and added lemon flavouring.   The iconic NZ soft drink  was manufactured in Paeroa until 1980, but is now bottled in Auckland.  The Big Bottle was created from concrete manhole ring sections and a plaster bottle neck.  It quickly became a favourite with visitors to the town, who just had to have their photo taken in front of the Big Bottle. There was a family group snapping photos of their youngsters when we arrived at Onehinemuri Park, and the Mum kindly obliged by taking a photo for us too.  
P4170024 Posing with the Big Bottle

Friday, April 17, 2015

Heritage Goldfields Railway

Toot, toot, here comes the train.  That looks like fun – I’ll just nip in to the booking office and buy a couple of tickets, I thought.  We hadn’t planned on going on a ride, just arrived to check out the station.  But it must have been fate that the train arrived just as we did - and we got such a good “Gold Card” discount for being a couple of oldies too. 

P4168758 Here comes the train

Would you believe that the Waihi Gold Mining Company had to loan the New Zealand Government 75,000 pounds back in 1905 to finish building the railway after the project ran out of money?  And today we got to ride the only remaining section of the railway from Waihi to Waikino, where the stamper battery was housed.  Lots of happy family groups rode along too, in the old vintage carriages.  Others preferred the wind in their hair in the open carriages, and shouted and waved at the traffic as we slowly chugged along – many of the big trucks tooted their horns at the train, much to the delight of the kids on board. 


Our ride took us through farmland and into the Karangahake  Gorge along side the Ohinemuri River.  The scenery was lovely with naive bush and lots of ferns.

P4160056 View from the train

Pulling into Waikino Station we had a short time to have a look around, and purchase an ice-cream from the station shop, while the driver changed the engine around. 



P4160050At Waikino Station

Then it was “All Aboard” again, and time for the return trip.   The train went especially slow as it approached a bridge crossing over the highway - workmen were hard at work painting it in-between the train excursion trips.

P4168761 Workmen on the track

P4168760Standing in the doorway watching the world go by

All too soon our journey was over and  we were approaching Waihi Station.  Our trip on the Heritage Goldfields Railway had been a great little train ride. There is overnight parking available at Waihi Station for Caravans and motor-homes – it would be fun to stay there for a night or two in the future.

P4160061 Back where we started from

Martha Gold mine, Waihi

Imagine having a huge open pit mine gold mine right in town.  The huge hole, known as the Martha Mine, has been giving up it’s precious gold  since it was first discovered on Martha Hill in 1878.  Workers flocked to the area, living in tents and huts, and eventually building small miners cottages.  Martha Mine quickly became a very important mine indeed, producing 174,160kg of gold and over 1,000,000kg of silver up to 1952 when the mine was closed.  There was a workforce of 600 men, which increased to 1500 in the early 1990s with men also working at the stamper battery at Waikino.  In the late 1970s a resurgence in the gold mining industry led to the first major hard rock mining operation to be commissioned.  The open pit was extended in 1997 and the Favona underground mine on the outskirts of town began operation in 2006.  After a recent rockfall work has stopped on the mine until it is cleared up.

P4160029 Martha Mine

P4168743Rockfall in the mine

An uncovered mine shaft from a time when mining was underground. The top of which can also be seen in the photo above .

The mine has started being backfilled, as is modem practice these days.  This will prevent subsidence events which have happened in the town over the years which caused substantial damage to parts of the town,  a direct result of unfilled historic workings.  The life of Martha Mine is coming to a close in a few years, and will be turned into a recreational lake. This will happen naturally over 5 years or so, as once the pumps stop operating,  the water level will begin to rise in the open pit.

The Cornish Pumphouse was built in 1903 to house steam engines and pumping equipment to remove the water under the mine, pumping out 7000 litres of water a minute.  It was retired from use when it’s steam power was replaced by electricity, and some years later it was stripped of machinery and left derelict.  Land movement from old mine workings almost brought the historic pumphouse to it’s knees.  But it was saved by an engineering feat in 2006 by moving it 300m to it’s current position.  The building rested on Teflon pads which slid along a stainless steel plate on concrete beams, and moved by hydraulic rams.  That must have been a sight to see indeed.  Now strengthened and braced, it should stand proudly for many more years.

P4160028 Cornish Pumphouse

The  Poppet Head is an exact replica of those used in the early underground mining at Martha Mine.  Erected over a vertical shaft, it had a steel cage which carried men, materials and the quartz rock by a winch motor.  Bell signals were made to the operator by those working underground at various levels.

P4168757 Replica Poppet Head

Members of the local Lions group were busy attaching 400 or so named metal poppies to the fenceline surrounding the mine, in time for Anzac Day celebrations, one for each person from who went overseas in WW1.  Many of them were miners and went on to the battlefield of Arras where their skills were used to dig tunnels.  The Lions members were on the path side of the fence and were busily attaching the poppies.  Two maintenance men from the mine were on the dangerous side of the fence, and were kitted out in hard hats and attached by safety lines to the fence.  They wouldn’t be allowed to work on the mine side of the fence  without using their safety equipment,  they told us.


P4168746 Poppies for Anzac Day

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Bowentown Beach

After two days in the avocado orchard we left D & D waiting the arrival of the AA technician to check out their battery problem and continued on to our next stop at Bowentown Beach.   When we purchased our new Leisureline and Southern Star caravans last year,  we, together with Geoff and Eileen qualified for a free night staying at the camp.  So to use our voucher,  Bowentown Beach Camp was made part of our current trip. This is a very nice 4 star camp, with great facilities.

P4150014 Bowentown Beach Motor Camp

Soon after our arrival my laundry buddy Geoff and I checked out the laundry.  The clothes and gold coins were put into the machines, the button pressed for the complimentary detergent, and we were away.  As the afternoon was running away from us, we decided to use the driers too – so more gold coins were fed into the slots.  I seem to spend quite some time in various laundries, but it is so much easier than doing the washing in a bucket by hand while we are away and travelling around.

P4150007  Spending quality time in the camp laundry

There is a lovely beach close to the camp, with a board walk to protect the dunes.  Damage to sand dunes seems to be an ongoing problem at many beaches these days – and plantings are made to help bind the sand together.


Views of Bowentown Beach

While four of us are staying at the motor camp, Dot and Derek are not too far away at a freedom camping site, with several other vans for company.  Robin caught up with them later in the day and with the purchase of a new battery, their worries have all disappeared.  The six of us went out for a delicious Wednesday roast dinner at  the Bowentown Boating Club.  The nicely appointed restaurant was humming, and much more crowded than we expected for a mid week meal.


At only $23 for three courses, it was great value indeed.  We started with mushroom soup, followed by a roast pork dinner, we all agreed that the crackling was divine.  And for dessert, the men had a big plate of pavlova each, while the ladies enjoyed crème brulee.  It was a great meal in lovely surroundings, very much enjoyed.

P4150020 Eileen, Geoff, Derek, Dot, Robin and Jenny

Bowentown is situated at the  southern end of Waihi Beach, a headland reserve of 128ha of secluded beaches and historic sites.  Bowentown,  like Mt Maunganui was once a volcanic Island. The joining of these two to the mainland by sand (Tombolos) along with the Matakana sandspit formed the Tauranga harbour.  This area was fought over by several tribes through many generations. There are remains of fortified pas on several hills and headlands.  These days it is a very peaceful place, popular with holiday makers, and full of quite a variety of homes, from modest, to the absolutely magnificent. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Papamoa and Mt Maunganui

It was time to move on from Kawerau, so we packed up while trying to dodge the rain.  Our next stop was to be Tauriko, just out of Tauranga.  Arriving at our POP, we were welcomed by the very friendly owner, who helped us get parked up amongst the trees in his avocado orchard.  And what a lovely place it is, so nice and peaceful here, but goodness, was it cold overnight!  Thank goodness for my soft and cuddly Arctic sheets  on the bed, and power on site for my electric blanket.  Our host came armed with a large bag of avocados to be shared amongst us all, that was so kind of him.  These were the last of the season’s crop, he told us.  And although we could see small fruit growing on the trees surrounding us, these will slowly mature and will be picked next season, we were told.

P4140035 Nestled amongst the avocado trees

We took a trip to Papamoa today to visit some old friends.   The town of Papamoa is very popular with retirees, and is the largest and fasted growing suburb in the city of Tauranga, practically bursting at the seams with retirement villages.  Our friends invited us for lunch, so Robin set his trusty Garmin and away we went.  But it had a bit of a hissy fit as we neared our destination – the massive earthworks and new roads were all too much and the Garmin didn’t know quite where we were.  Common sense  sorted out the last of the route and  found our friend’s house, and we spent several very pleasant hours there.  After a lovely lunch, several cups of coffee, and much chat, it was time to say goodbye.  Robert and Louise are campers too, and have a lovely Kea Dreamtime motor-home.  We were lucky we caught them home, as they are away on another trip in a few days time.

P4140031 Louise and Robert with their Kea Dreamtime

Waving goodbye, we headed towards Mt Maunganui – known affectionately as The Mount.  This a very popular spot indeed, with a lovely beach, plenty of cafes and accommodation for holidaymakers to suit all budgets.  The young and fit like to walk up Mauao, Mt Maunganui’s dormant  cone shaped volcano which sits at the end of the beach.  You can just make out the motor camp full of holiday makers in their caravans at the base of the mountain.

P4140032 Mt Maunganui Beach looking toward Mauao, the dormant volcano

P4140034Another view of the beach

By the time we left Mt Maunganui and started our drive home we were caught up in heavy traffic with all the workers trying to do the same thing.  Once past all the traffic lights and various round-about, we were back on SH29 and travelling at a reasonable speed again.  Almost home, there were just a couple of quick stops to make.  The first was to check out the NZMCA site at Tauriko Park, which is quite near to where we are currently staying.  Two vans were on site on the roomy grassy area.  This is a basic site, with no facilities or water, and is pack in and pack out for rubbish.  Last stop was to have a look at an intriguing sign we kept seeing out of the corner of our eye as we drove past.  Anyone for a rooster – we know where they are going for free!

P4140029  Spotted on the road side