After a leisurely morning tea we started on the next stage of our journey. “How far shall we go today?”, we wondered. We had two options, either stop for the night at Pongaroa, or drive through all the way to Akitio down on the coast. It seemed easiest to drive to Pongaroa, and make the decision when we arrived. The scenery as we travelled is still very rural, with sheep and cattle in the paddocks, and lots of native bush covering the hills. Once we arrived at Pongaroa, we decided that this would do for the day, and we will move to Akitio tomorrow.
Pretty native bush on the hills
Pongaroa is another very small place, with a service station, a volunteer fire brigade, a pub, an engineering workshop, and a general store/cafe. The solo policeman is based in Pongaroa and covers a huge area in rural and coastal Wairarapa, over 1000 kms. We stopped at the store to pay our fees for the tiny motor camp, just a short drive up the road. At only $15 per night, it is very good value.
This small camp has only 4 power sites, and a tiny ablution block. There was a man doing some cleaning when we arrived. “If you run out of hot water”, he told us, “the gas bottle has run out”. Hope that doesn’t happen when one of us is in the middle of a shower. We had a bit of bother getting the caravans set up as the ground was not flat but had a bit of a slope to it. The men finally parked the caravans to their satisfaction, and then soon had the folding chairs out and set up in a shady space for lunch.
The barbecues were set up to cook our meals, which we ate “al fresco” style outside. Elaine produced a bottle of wine for birthday celebrations. This was for her major birthday just a few days ago. Happy Birthday, we chorused, as we raised our glasses in a toast.
Once again, there was livestock to keep us company, this time the sheep were behind a fence over on the rugby ground. Amongst the flock of sheep Robin spotted an animal which was whiter than white. “It’s a goat”, he called out excitably. Sure enough, it was, one lonely goat along with a whole lot of sheep. While the sheep were quietly munching away on the grass behind the fence, the goat decided that the grass was definitely greener over the other side. He deftly wriggled under the gate to get to the grass on the camp side of the fence. Once spotted, he raced away, crawled under the gate again, and rejoined his woolly companions.
While we were enjoying our afternoon in this peaceful setting, we were shocked and saddened to hear the news of another devastating earthquake in Christchurch. A whole lot more damage occurred, and sadly many lost their lives. We listened to the radio to get updates of the carnage, as unfortunately we cannot get TV reception here at Pongaroa Camp. Son Michael phoned through to let us know that he is fine, but understandably, sounded very shaken and shocked. The people of Christchurch have been through so much with the previous earthquake some months ago, followed by a multitude of after shocks. This latest earthquake was situated much shallower and seems to have caused much more damage to already weakened buildings. Our thoughts are with all those suffering loss in Christchurch.