The Rally Captains are keeping us very busy at Kahutara School over the long weekend. We gathered in the hall for a spot of horse racing. Suitable for everyone, we were told, even those who can’t bend easily, as the competitors can do it sitting down. Robin and Derek were the first to take a turn in the knock-out competition. The idea was to move the plywood horse along the string as quickly as possible to be first over the line. Not always easy, as the horses had minds of their own, and sometimes insisted on travelling backwards. The competition was eventually won by Graham, one of our visitors for the weekend.
Morning Tea on Saturday brought us more birthday goodies, this time it was a lovely chocolate cake. It was Barbara’s Happy Birthday shout for the club members.
“Let’s go exploring” said Robin, so after lunch we drove down the road to Lake Ferry, hadn’t been this way for several years. We drove past acres of bright green maize, the colour in complete contrast to the brown parched paddocks everywhere. And we just had to stop to admire the pretty little Burnside Presbyterian Church at Pirinoa. This church was officially dedicated on 15 May 1875 on land gifted by Donald Sinclair, and the local community contributed the funds for the church to be built. The gates were locked up tight so we couldn’t get into the church grounds for a closer look.
Lake Ferry is a small settlement between the shores of Lake Onoke and Palliser Bay, and today has a mixture of holiday homes and permanent residents. European settlers brought sheep and cattle into this area in 1844, driving their stock along the coastal route from Wellington. These run holders were the first to establish pastoral farming in New Zealand.
Just past the pub was a gravel track, just waiting to be explored. We hadn’t gone very far when we came across dozens of cars parked up at the end of the track. Of course, there was a fishing competition on, we remembered. It was quite a slog walking up the loose shingle until we reached the top of the bank. Right along the water’s edge were dozens of hopeful fishermen trying their luck in the competition. Some of the competitors seemed to have several rods each, some had brought folding chairs to make their day more comfortable, and they all had chilly boxes to put their catches in.
It was no fun at all trudging gingerly back to the car, with our sandals full of small stones, making each step an effort. Once back at the car our footwear was swiftly removed, the stones tipped out, and the sandals buckled on again – oh, the relief. Must be time for a cool drink, we decided, and there was only one place to go, the Lake Ferry Hotel, the heart and soul of this small community.
We settled down on the veranda with our drinks, with wonderful views across Lake Onoke and the Rimutaka Ranges. The Lake Ferry Hotel is the southernmost hotel of the North Island, and caters for local residents and farmers, day-trippers like us and foreign tourists. The original building was a cross between a Maori whare and a shepherd's hut mostly using timber from shipwrecks, and the current hotel building dates back to 1919.
Soon it was time to head back to the caravan rally, but first I wanted to check out what was happening about across the road. People were milling about, there was a whiteboard all ready to record the different catches. I had hoped to see some prize fish displayed, but the competition had not yet been completed. We arrived back at Kahutura School in time for 4zees, to find that everyone else had started before us. That’s what the rally captains do sometimes, declare 4zees at 3.30, and why not!