Wednesday was not a good day to be meeting up with our SLG friends. But I was in charge of the day, plans had been made, and it was all just too hard to change to another day. The weather in the South Island was atrocious – roads closed with ice and snow, the Inter Island Ferries were not running, and the polar blast was coming north, we were promised. And just look how cold it was in our neck of the woods – the temperature dropped down to 4 degrees. That’s really cold for us!
Brrr – it’s only 4 degrees outside
Six of us met for coffee at The Perching Parrot in Paekakariki - quite a small gathering of our friends this time, the bad weather and a bout of laryngitis depleting our numbers. But we settled down for coffee and a chat, thankful that we had arrived when we did to claim a table, as the small café was full to overflowing in no time at all.
The showers had stopped so I decided to go ahead with my plan to view the new exhibit as part of the US Marines Memorial at Queen Elizabeth Park. But the icy wind was blowing relentlessly, numbing our fingers and chapping our faces, so it was a quick visit indeed.
Reconstructed four man hut
This little hut doesn’t look much at all, but was one of many hundreds dotted around the park in three camps during WW11 to accommodate 15,000 US Marines as they trained here before being sent off to do battle in the Pacific. The huge building project took just seven weeks to build three military camps containing 2728 buildings, 1590 huts, construct all roading, and erect 3401 tents. After the war the buildings were dismantled, reused, or just disappeared. This particular hut spent time as a beach house and was recently gifted to the US Marines Trust. Using original plans, it was carefully deconstructed and rebuilt by the Waikanae MenzShed to live again as a four man hut.
Peeping through the window into the hut
With my curiosity satisfied, and with us all absolutely freezing as the vicious wind slapped our faces (ugh, it was horrible) we quickly hopped back into the cars and drove to Fisherman’s Table for lunch. In the car park I spotted a plaque – just had to go and check that out. We have dined here many times but I’d never noticed it before.
The plaque commemorated the Centennial Highway (Ngauranga Gorge to the southern-most end of Paekakariki ) and was officially opened on 4 November 1939. While many of the workers on the road came from the local area, public works camps were also established. The workers at these camps were responsible for the construction of the road alongside the Taupo Swamp, through Pukerua Bay and along the coast to Paekakariki. A one mile long coastal seawall was constructed as part of this project. The workers faced two major challenges; digging down to 20 feet to find solid ground next to the Taupo Swamp and working night and day on the coast to construct the seawall then back filling it to create a platform for the road. This challenging work took three years to complete.
Plaque telling the history of the Centennial Highway
Walking briskly up the steps to get away from the weather, we presented ourselves a little early for our lunch booking. No problem at all – with a couple of large groups booked in, I think the staff were pleased to get our group settled before the hordes arrived.
Fisherman's Table Restaurant, Paekakariki
We were soon settled at out table, perused the menu, and ordered our meals. I took the chance to wander over to the windows to snap a photo or two of the coastline. Oh look, Kapiti Island is just visible trough the clouds.
Views from the restaurant windows
The waiting staff were so busy with the large groups that I didn’t have the heart to ask them to take a photo of our table. So instead, we did it ourselves. We look all nice and warm in our cozy woolen garments.
Helen, Calvin and Ashley, Yvonne, Jenny and Robin
Our SLG friends always have plenty to talk about and we had a nice long leisurely lunch before we headed out in the cold again. It was great to catch up with everyone again, and we hope our absent friends are soon feeling much better. We drove back to Levin and our friends headed back to the Hutt Valley, so this was quite a convenient meeting point.