It was a trip “back home” recently when we spent the day in the Hutt Valley, our old home town. With a couple of things on the agenda, we left home bright and early at 8.30am . A fine but chilly morning, with the temperatures hovering at 4 degrees C, it was certainly a cool start to the day. The roads were busy, with lots of workers heading off to their daily grind, and we slowed down for the never ending road works along the way.
We stopped briefly at the Pauatahanui Inlet for a photo stop. Self contained caravans and campervans can stay at this tranquil place overnight, very handy with toilets available. And while I was taking a few photos of the estuary, I noticed a keen photographer setting up his tripod ready to do the same.
Once over the Haywards Hill, we turned north and drove on to Upper Hutt, crossing over the Hutt River to the suburb of Totara Park. That certainly brought back memories, we lived in Totara Park for quite some years before moving up to Levin. Of course, we just had to drive past our former home and see if it still looked the same. The only difference we noticed was that the owner has a boat on a trailer parked up where our caravan used to go.
Totara Park Bridge
We were visiting Tony and Jeanette for morning tea. Tony is a Life Member of the Levin Menz Shed, and the pair of them recently moved from Levin to Upper Hutt. As we were passing by, so to speak, we took the opportunity to visit them. The family dog greeted us enthusiastically, woof, woof, with lots of tail wagging, then soon settled down as we caught up with each other’s new. It was so nice to see them again, and many thanks for the refreshments. We had a look around the garden, Jeanette has done a lot since they moved in. But you know what keen gardeners are like, there are still many plans she wants to get on with.
Jeanette and Tony
Two cups of coffee later it was time to go and head off for our next appointment. We were meeting up with our SLG friends for lunch. Trish was in charge of our day out and had chosen the café at Boulcott’s Farm Heritage Golf Club, somewhere we hadn’t been before. The area has an interesting history and was the scene of fierce fighting between the settlers and the local Maori people.
Our lunch stop
The Battle of Boulcott Farm took place on 16th May 1846. Disagreements over land purchases and opposition to European settlers led to fighting between the local Maori people and government forces. Te Mamaku of Ngāti Haua-te-rangi of Whanganui led the attack on the British outpost at Boulcott Farm, he arrived with 200 fighters to support the local Maori. The Maori warriors crossed the Hutt River at dawn and surprised the garrison. Six soldiers were killed and two more Europeans were mortally wounded in the attack, a demoralizing blow to the settler community.
George Page painting of Boulcott’s Stockade, 1846 (Alexander Turnbull Library, B-081-002)
Our group all arrived in good time, we found our reserved table in the café and settled down to peruse the menu. What to have is always a bit of a trial for me, I finally settled on a hot roast beef sandwich and Robin ordered a burger and chips. Everyone seemed happy with their choices, and we happily munched away. As usual, we had plenty of news to catch up with, so the talking hardly stopped. Sadly, not everyone could make it, so we wished our absent friends well. A kindly member of staff took some photos for us.
Yvonne, Ashley, Les, Robin, Jenny and Trish
Then it was coffee and cake at Trish's home, to help her celebrate her upcoming birthday. Not just any old birthday, our “young at heart” Trish will be 80 next week. Her family are whisking her away for a special family holiday next week, so we were pleased that our SLG friends could celebrate this day with her before she heads away. The carrot cake was delicious, and afterwards Trish was presented with our joint gift.
Happy 80th Birthday Trish
Then it was time to get started on the homeward journey – we had the longest trip so wanted to get on our way and not get caught up with the workers heading home at the end of the day. The road works are still progressing on the 27km Transmission Gully Project.
Driving on the homeward stretch up SH1 Kapiti Island came into view, situated about 5km off the coastline. Kapiti Island is now a tranquil island bird sanctuary and one of New Zealand’s most accessible nature reserves. It's a unique visitor experience in a predator-free paradise. Access is by approved tour operators only, well worth a visit if you are in the area with a little time to spare.
Once safely home our cat Gemma greeted us very warmly - after all, she had been left home alone all day! Another great day out, catching up with Tony and Jeanette, and so nice to help celebrate Trish’s Big Birthday with her.