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.
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".
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.
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.