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

Monday, February 28, 2011

What’s on at Onga Onga?

There is a handy little book called “Worth a Detour” in the caravan, which I frequently consult while planning a trip. The blurb on the front states that it shows the unusual attractions and hidden places of our country.  There was something quite unusual to see just a 15 minute  car trip away.  Visit the public toilets at Onga Onga, the book suggested.  Now that’s a different sort of sight seeing trip, wouldn’t you say?  So we hopped in the car, and drove through rolling farmland, bordered by the magnificent Ruahine Ranges in the background.
DSCF5562 On the way to Onga Onga
Onga Onga is now an historic village with many preserved buildings from its heyday.  Farming dominated the area from the 1850s and businesses grew in Onga Onga to service the community.  Many of these early buildings have been preserved and form the historic village.  
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The Coles Bros building must be one of the most photographed buildings in the area, we were told by a local.  Edward Coles arrived from England with his wife and 12 children, going on to expand to a family of 15.  He built the Cole factory, which employed 20 men.  Many of the churches, schools and early houses in the area were built by this firm.  The factory also built coffins and provided undertaker services.
DSCF5546 Coles Bros Factory
There is a pioneer’s bush settler’s cottage on site, which is a replica of the first dwelling erected on the Lunesdale farm.  The timber used in this cottage had been gathered from derelict bush dwellings built during 1872-1880.
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The old School Museum has had quite a varied life.  Built in 1874, it was used as a school for 12 years.  After 1886 it was used as a library, then as the  Roads Board Office.  Another change came when it was taken over as a Telephone linesmen’s bach, and then as the club rooms for the Country Girls club, before becoming a museum in 1966.  That’s a lot of changes in the life of the little red school building.
P2281306 The Old School Museum
Now just where were those public toilets?  They were not really where you would expect to find them, tucked away as they were in the old police cells.  The sturdy wooden cells have been built to last, and do in fact have fully functioning modern toilets inside, complete with tiled floors, just waiting for the public to “spend a penny”.  There are barred windows over the heavy doors, but don’t worry, those peepholes in the doors are firmly welded shut, so there is no peeping!
DSCF5549 The public toilets at Onga Onga

Sunday, February 27, 2011

River’s Edge Holiday Park at Waipawa

In keeping with our aim on this safari trip to stay in camps previously not visited, our next stop was River’s Edge Holiday Park in Waipawa.  This camp is delightful, and is set in lovely surroundings with good facilities.  A mosaic sign welcomes campers, and show the way into the men's and ladies ablution blocks.  The fees were excellent value, reduced to $20 a night with a member discount.
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A quartet of alpacas were happily munching grass in the paddock behind the camp.  These pretty animals were rather shy and not at all keen to pose for a photo for me.   Keeping them company were several hens looked over by the resident rooster, clucking around and pecking for insects.  The camp owners have two large Boxer dogs who have the run of the camp.  Luckily these dogs were very well behaved and removed themselves when we told them firmly to “go home”.  Tuis kept us entertained with their song as they hopped from branch to branch in the tall trees.
DSCF5535 Pretty alpacas behind the camp
The couple who own the camp are the proud owners of a lovely old homestead, which they told us, was moved onto the property several years ago from a farm out in the country.  The house has been beautifully restored and the garden is a delight to behold. 
DSCF5538 The beautiful house and garden of the camp owners
We woke up to heavy river mist in the morning, the first touch of autumn weather perhaps?  But the hot Wairarapa sunshine soon took care of the mist, and it was another lovely day in paradise.  There is nothing nicer than having a large shady tree to relax under.  This camp was so pleasant that we re-arranged our schedule to stay on for another day before moving on.
DSCF5533 Our sites at River’s Edge Holiday Park

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Two days at Porangahau

After moving on each day we decided to take a rest day and spend two days at Porangahau, another small town on the east coast.  We turned off the main road and drove down the road to the coast looking for the motor camp.
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The camp sign was hard to see on the road side and Peter drove straight past.  He soon turned around and the three of us looked around blankly wondering if we were in the right place after all. 
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Where was the office?  One of the residents appeared and soon assured us.  “Open the gate and come in, and ring that bell”, we were instructed.  What bell?  Oh, that one hiding around the corner!
DSCF5523  Ring the bell for service
The owner soon arrived, and we were booked in.  We thought the price of $30 per night was a little high, especially in a rural area. The camp was rather “tired” and a  bit run down.  We were parked up in a pleasant area under large gum and macrocarpa trees, and the bees were buzzing amongst the hedge of lavender bushes.  It wasn’t too long before we had the caravans set up, and our chairs out to enjoy sitting in the dappled shade.
P2261290Beach Road Holiday Park
A trip down to the beach was the plan for the afternoon.  This is another very broad beach and once again, we had it almost all to ourselves.  It seemed surreal to find this beautiful sandy beach practically deserted.  The sand dunes along this coastline are fragile and in need of protection, and the Community Coast Care Project has been put in place to replant and maintain the sand dunes.  Boardwalks have been built to allow access to the beach and the dunes fenced off  to protect them damage. 
P2251285 Porangahau Beach
We dined out that evening at the local pub, the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel, on the recommendation of the camp owner.  My Scots blood warmed as I looked all around the walls, hung with many prints and posters showing the Scotland from centuries ago.
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After checking the menus, we finally made our choices.  The kitchen was kept busy with many customers enjoying outdoor dining, or eating their meals in the bar.  We were seated in the dining room, under the gaze of a red deer sporting a fine set of antlers.  We heard one of the diner ask the waitress, “Does the Scotch fillet come over from Scotland?” Perhaps a reasonable query in a hotel boasting a Scottish name.
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Most of our group fancied one of the variety of the burger meals on offer, while I ordered a sea food pizza.   Perhaps a shared sticky date pudding to finish?  Why not, surely half a dessert isn’t as bad as a full one, I told Robin.
DSCF5530 Dining at the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel
(After a week in the wilderness without any internet connection, TV reception and very limited cell phone coverage.  We are now at Waipawa and able to upload our blogs at the public library.  So do check out our earlier posts to follow us on our trip around the Wairarapa.)

Friday, February 25, 2011

The longest place name in the world

The longest name in the world, that’s what the sign said.  This was another “must see” on this trip.  We had heard of it, but none of us had travelled this road before.  We hoped that there would be safe off road parking for our three cars and caravans travelling together. 
DSCF5522 We’re nearly there
Luckily there was just enough room to get us all safely parked off the road.  Not that this road had much traffic travelling up and down, but we wanted to be safely parked and out of danger. 
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And there it was, not only the longest place name but surely the longest sign as well.  It was the longest sign we had ever seen, that’s for sure!  How many letters in that name?  We counted 84.
P2251276 The longest place name in the world
It tells the story of the chief Tamatea, of Ngati Kahunguna people, whose warriors entered into battle with the Ngati Hine as they traversed the Porangahau area.  Tamatea’s beloved brother (not named) was killed in the battle.  Tamatea was so grief stricken at the loss of his brother, that he stayed on in the area for some time.  Each morning he sat on the knoll of the hill, playing a lament on his koauau (flute) to the memory of his brother.
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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Herbertville Campground

Branching off from Wimbledon, we soon arrived at our next stop, at Herbertville Campground on the coast.  The sites were nice and roomy but…….”Where is the water tap?” Peter asked.  The reply stunned us.  “We don’t have water taps.  If you really need water,  fill up a bucket from the kitchen”.  What is this, a camp with no water?  That is a bit like a pub with no beer, don’t you think?  And we were paying $25 for the night.  We really did expect an easy to reach water supply.
 DSCF5512 Herbertville Campground
One of the camp residents told us that the camp was now in joint ownership.  To prevent the camp ground going the way of so many other sea side properties and being bought by developers, the campers banded together and bought shares to retain their own camp sites.  Most of the permanent structures have water tanks to collect rain water for their own use.  There is a manager to run the camp for casual campers, and over the Christmas holidays the camp was full to bursting, we were told.  Wonder how they all got on for water?
DSCF5511 Gypsy style house bus with water tank under decking
Herbertville was named after early settlers Joseph and Mary Herbert.  They arrived in New Zealand in May 1842 on the “London”, and settled in the area in 1854.  The commemorative plaque on the beach was erected by their descendants 150 years after their arrival to these shores, in 1992.
DSCF5515 Remembering early settlers Joseph and Mary Herbert
Herbertville beach is beautiful, broad and wide and 10 miles long.  The sea vistas go on and on.  We spotted a lone angler trying his hand at surf fishing, but all he managed to catch was seaweed, he told us.
DSCF5516 Fisherman at Herbertville Beach
The deserted beach stretched for miles with Cape Turnagain  far off in the distance.  A few seagulls flew away squawking as we walked up the beach, and we noticed a solitary black oystercatcher in the water.  We were surprised to see  many Welcome  Swallows on the beach.  A check in our New Zealand Bird book back at camp told us that these pretty little birds collect their insect food near the surface of water, so they live close to lakes, rivers, swamps and the sea shore. 
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The wind must be particularly fierce in this coastal region.  Take a look at what the winds have done to this shelter belt of trees.  There are no guesses to which way the wind blows around here.
P2241268 It’s rather windy around here
One of the local gardens had an interesting feature.  Can you see what these clipped bushes are spelling out?  Keeping a garden looking nice so close to the sea side must be difficult for keen gardeners in such windy conditions with poor coastal soils.
P2241266 A local garden
Back at camp the still evening air was a riot of sound.  The black swans which we had seen earlier on our drive around the area made a great din as they settled themselves down for the night on the sea side of the camp.  A whole swag of magpies chortled away to each other from a stand of trees next to the camp in the evening, and woke us up again early the next morning doing the same thing.  Adding to the sounds of country living was the barking of sheep dogs as they moved a mob of bleating sheep down the hill into a lower paddock in the morning.  Life is never quiet in the country.
DSCF5510 Our camp sites at Herbertville

There were no Wombles at Wimbledon

A stop at the historic Wimbledon Tavern was a must see.  We had read all about this interesting building, which hails from 1889, and is still in reasonably original condition, with a few add-ons and updated facilities.  The original scrim lined walls have been heavily painted over, and the narrow front bar has been widened from the earlier “standing room only” width. 
DSCF5505 Wimbledon Tavern
The publican, known locally as “Dutchy” was interested to read the write-up of his establishment in the copy of my book, “Worth a Detour”.  The bar is lined with many interesting photos from years gone by.
DSCF5506 “Dutchy” checking out the facts in my book
The pub has a small, nicely appointed dining room.  An interesting feature is the circular pool table.  We had never seen one of these before.  The same rules apply, we were told.  Perhaps after a beer or two, the players wouldn’t be able to work out where the corners were.
DSCF5507 The circular pool table
Wimbledon takes it’s name from Wimbledon, in England, which was originally better known for rifle shooting championships rather than tennis.  The story goes that the name stuck after a farmer shot a cattle beast from such a distance that a local remarked that the shot was “good enough for Wimbledon”.  Sadly, wombles were rather thin on the ground the day we passed by.  Unless these two count?
DSCF5508 A couple of wombles at Wimbledon, perhaps?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Down the beach road to Akitio

Akitio, down a road not yet travelled by any in our group,  was next on our list to visit.  There were two roads leading to Akitio from Pongaroa, but as one was a sealed road and the other merely a rough gravel road, we took the easy option and travelled on the sealed road.  After an easy hour’s drive, we had arrived at the seaside settlement of Akitio.
DSCF5479“A”  for Akitio
We had phoned through the previous day and booked three power sites, as we had been told the camp could well be quite full with an upcoming fishing competition.  The fees at this rugged seaside camp were $24 per night.  The motor camp is just across from the beach and there are many  caravans permanently on site, with annexes attached.  Many sites had boats and trailers, and we also noticed crayfish pots on some sites. 
DSCF5481 Entrance to Akitio Motor Camp
They do things a little differently in this camp.  Robin was rather amused to be handed a fuse to place in the fuse box.  Perhaps this is the way that the management ensures that all campers pay for their power connection? Our three caravans had a bit of trouble squeezing into the allocated area, which being uneven, added to the difficulty.  With a bit of too-ing and fro-ing and the placement of blocks under the wheels to level the caravans, we were finally settled.
 P2241264 All squashed in at Akitio camp
Happiness is clean laundry, I always say, so it was my mission to find out where the washing machines were.  My heart sunk when I was told, “We don’t have a laundry”.  But they did have a single washing machine, tucked in a corner of the kitchen/dining/lounge area.  Thank goodness for that!  With my load done, Geoff came over to attend to his washing duties.
DSCF5484 Happiness is clean laundry
It is obvious that there are a lot of keen fisher folk in camp, as I saw this sign above the laundry tub, stating quite clearly that fish should not be cleaned here.  I imagine that this practice must have been a problem in the past for the sign to be needed at all.  The combination laundry, kitchen, dining room and lounge also boasted a bucket for pig scraps.  Guess the fish scraps go in there.  Recycling is taken very seriously in these out of the way places, so it makes sense for the food scraps to be used as pig food.  Wonder where the pigs were?
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We took a walk around the local area and there is no doubt that this is a fisherman’s dream place.  Tractors were everywhere, lined up on the beach all ready to drag the fishing boats out of the surf.
DSCF5489  Tractors on the beach
These days Akitio is a small fishing and holiday village but it is obvious that it was a thriving place in earlier years.  We found this plaque commemorating the enterprise of Frank Armstrong from Akitio Station who had built several landing sheds on this site to store his export tallow and wool.
DSCF5491Historic site
The rock formations on the beach were very interesting and seemed to show an up thrust of the rocks, no doubt as a result of the land moving during a long ago earthquake.  The rocks on the beach clearly show two layers of rock  laying horizontally on the beach, a lighter sandstone amongst layers of darker rocks.  This is merely one sign of New Zealand’s violent and tumultuous past in earlier times.
DSCF5502 Interesting rock formations on the beach
Decorating a fence back at camp was a collection of colourful jandals (also known as thongs or flip flops in other countries).  A camp resident must have started this for fun, and it has been added to over a period of time.  The collection now stretches along the full length of the fence.
DSCF5503 Any old jandals?

Sightseeing around Pongaroa

You would think that in such a tiny place as Pongaroa, there wouldn’t be a great deal to see.  Not so.  A “Welcome to Pongaroa” sign greeted us as we drove into the village.  It’s true that the area around the sign was a little overgrown, but the sentiments were certainly there.  None of us had visited Pongaroa before and we found it a very pleasant place to camp.
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There were several rather nice murals painted on buildings.  Sheep farming and dog trial competitions are part of rural  communities everywhere in New Zealand.  This mural painted on the wall of the general store shows Stan Herbert, the founder of the Akitio Dog Trials in the late 1940s. 
DSCF5461 Stan Herbert and his prize winning sheep trial dog
Another mural shows how the country looked when it was covered in bush.  The loggers arrived with their saws and bullock teams and made a huge impact on the forests covering this area.  The mural shows Tom Yeoman’s bullock team hauling huge logs from the native forest in 1901.
DSCF5475 Tom Yeoman and his bullock team
We are all familiar with the double helix shape of DNA, and there is a Pongaroa connection here.  Maurice Wilkin, born in Pongaroa in 1916 was instrumental in this discovery. Together with colleague Rosalind Franklin, they studied the structure of DNA using x-ray diffraction techniques.  Their discovery of what appeared to be a double helix enabled Francis Crick and James Watson to deduce a structure for the molecule.  Wilkins, Crick and Watson were awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for this work.  This monument was erected by the citizens of Pongaroa in 2001 to honour their famous son.
P2231258 Erected in honour of Maurice Wilkin
We drove around a few corners and discovered the tiny one man police station, and the cemetery up the hill.  We found the kindergarten, and the local school, the pub and a newly built public toilet block, complete with a handy dump station for campers. Pongaroa may be small, but it appears to be in good heart.
P2231259 Old Post Office building, and pub, in the main street