We took a leisurely Sunday drive to Foxton, about 20km up SH1 today for Sunday lunch and to allow me to check out a new quilt shop. Foxton Villa Cafe is, as name suggests, housed in an old timber villa, which is full of character. The brightly coloured cup and saucer made from good old corrugated iron showed that we were in the right place.
Not quite sure what we would find on the menu, I had my mind set on soup, or something similar. But when I discovered seared scallops and king prawns on the blackboard menu, I made an instant decision – that would be my Sunday lunch. And Robin thought the slow cooked leg of lamb served with roast veggies was too good to pass up. We were both very pleased with our choices.
After that delicious lunch we needed a little exercise, and went for a walk along the Awahou Bush Boardwalk. This Boardwalk is a project of ‘Keep Foxton Beautiful’ and has been constructed with the help of many local citizens. After reading the sign warning us to “beware of overhanging vegetation” (PC gone mad, perhaps?) we bravely set off along the walkway.
The ground is very boggy, and the boardwalk meandered through native bush and tall flaxes. Birdlife abounded, including one of our favourites, the beautiful tui with it’s iridescent blue/black plumage.
Soon we arrived at the Manawatu River, and sat down in the sun on a handy picnic table for a photo or two, with the river behind us.
The boardwalk is only about 0.5km long, with plans to extend it in the future. We wandered back to our car along the site of the old Foxton Railway Yards. The sign mentioned that there was an old ship’s boiler nearby, and we finally found it, almost hidden from view in the nearby bushes.
Foxton was named after Sir William Fox and produced huge quantities of NZ Flax (Phormium tenax), used for rope, wool sacks and floor coverings. During the mid to late 1800s Foxton was a bustling port, with over 10 steamers making regular visits. But sadly the bustling port is no more. By 1908 problems with river silting and a dangerous bar which led to many ships stranding meant that coastal shipping was avoiding Foxton. Deforestation of the inland Manawatu District in the late nineteenth century caused increased flooding and led to the creation of stop banks, floodgates, and the Whirokino Cut. Completed in 1943 as part of the Lower Manawatu Flood Control Scheme, it was intended as a spillway but an unexpected flood broke through the upper end and diverted the river down the spillway, cutting off the Foxton loop of the river. The Foxton Loop now only has a tidal flow and isn’t connected to the river at its top end, the upper end of the Loop having silted up during a flood in 1953. Local groups would dearly like to get the Foxton loop open again.