Wednesday 3 January 2024

Tongaporutu - a blessing, as always

 When we left Hamilton City Holiday Park - definitely a good place to stay, if anyone is looking for recommendations - it was quite early in the morning. Not too early, because we wanted to arrive at Pio Pio when The Fat Pigeon Cafe was open, and prior to that, at Te Kuiti when New World supermarket was open so we could buy 20 litres of water, in case we ran low at Tongaporutu.

But before we left HCHP, we filled with water and emptied the cassettes and the grey water (no capacity for any of those at Tongaporutu). And given it was early, we did it as quietly as we could. But in the early morning stillness, every noise seems so much louder...

David's cough was still noisy and frequent and phlegmy, so he was armed with a large box of tissues and under instruction to blow his nose every couple of minutes to remove said phlegm and reduce the cough frequency to a level that reduced my noise sensitivity readings to 'able to be lived with'. TMI, I know, but someone may find it helpful.

I had also shown him the hollow pressure point either side of the nose on the upper side of the eye socket bone which, when pressed on, helps to drain the sinuses - very effective. Not sure where or when I learned about it, but it's a goodie.

As we left Hamilton, I was struck by how much the exit/approach to the city had changed since I lived there back in 1968-70. There were some bits that seemed familiar, but without road signs (Māori and English...) and/or the GPS I would not have had a clue which way to go!

But once we were south and trundling along on SH3 things became more familiar.

Te Kuiti New World is a lovely shop, staffed by really helpful people, and on the morning I went in (leaving the invalid in the motorhome) the customers were cheery too. 

The Fat Pigeon Cafe in Pio Pio is wonderful with one of the best breakfasts we've had - and there's been a few really good ones on this trip. Because of David's cough and it sounding very suspicious, we sat outside. And as we do, we chatted with one of the staff who was opening up the transparent side panels on the verandah. Discussion re being vegetarian and how it had come about, passing on information about the book Chris Beat Cancer for her to pass on to her aunt, and finding out her partner comes from Tongaporutu!! Two or three degrees of separation strikes again, this time in the wilds of the South Waikato/King Country.

As always happens when I travel that road (and did way back when I caught the Gibson's Black and White bus on Fridays - bunking off TeaColl ...), as soon as we got to Awakino I felt like I was home. And when we came down the hill where the Tongaporutu River, the river mouth, Patangata Island and the baches come into view, my heart lifted.

There was a space for us at the freedom camping area looking out at the river mouth, and we took it. And we sat, and David slept, and I sat outside in that cloudy hazy sunshine that is deceptively hot and burning - and I was there without sunscreen. Too bad. I needed to be out in it.

From my chair beside the motorhome I could see the river mouth.
And later at closer to high tide, the oyster catchers came back.

David was still coughing lots, so we decided to head in to park up in Jim and Judy's driveway at Onaero - they were away (Judy is still in the Acquired Brain Injury Unit at Kenepuru). That way, David could sleep in the house and I could sleep in the motorhome. They have a very good and informal neighbourhood watch thing going on there (lovely community) and so I let one set of neighbours know who we were and that we had permission.

Before we left Tongaporutu in the late afternoon, I had spoken to the people who were parked next to us in prime position. They said they were leaving about 11am the next day; so in the morning, we headed back up to Tongaporutu with a brief stop at the 4 Square shop in Urenui (Big Penis for anyone who needs the English name instead of the Māori one ...) And we arrived at Tongaporutu at about 10am, and parked alongside the leavers. Had a chat with them and told them there was no hurry, but anytime in the next five minutes would be fine 😁😆😘. A lot of laughs and they were off soon after.

Once we were parked in prime position, we headed off for a walk around the front beach - David had found our reef shoes and got out the sticks. I used to run, jump, skip over those surfaces in days gone by but now I need to have a stick to help me maintain my footing! What has my world come to?

Apparently the gas company installed the steps - it used to be big rocks to clamber down - the ones I also used to scamper down ...

 There has been a lot of heavy rain over the last few months and it has caused slips.

This is pretty recent, I think, because the pohutukawa has flowered.
Also recent I think - because of the colour of the rocks and rubble behind where the tide gets to.
When the bank comes down with growth on it, you know that the rain has been very heavy!


Patangata Island - used to be a Māori fortress on the top of this. It was a great lookout point to keep an eye out for invading war parties from the north or the south.

That view blows me away every time! Taranaki above the clouds in the distance.

We get lots of tourists (domestic and international) coming here just to see this view.

The terns nest on the middle 'sister' - have done for as long as I can remember. They did seem a little less dive-bomby  this time. Maybe they don't have babies in their nests at the moment.

OK, you're allowed to get bored with this view and variations on it. But I do not get bored, so there!

Climate change has brought about these new 'sisters' and at the same time, significantly lowered the acreage of the farms on the top of the cliffs!

The seagulls perch on the seaward 'sister' and keep watch on those pesky terns...
Back towards Urenui, Onaero, Waitara, New Plymouth with beautiful Taranaki in the background.
One of the new 'sisters' with a very short woman beside her. That sister used to accommodate grazing sheep and cattle when she was part of the mainland!
There's that short woman again!

The northern side of the rivermouth at pretty much low tide. The channel changes constantly, but I've never seen it so far over to the north before with the bar way over by Patangata Island to the south.
This freedom camping area is very very popular at this time of the year. Lots of young people in people movers that are converted to campers, and older motorhomers. And in the parking area across the way, there are lots and lots of day visitors.

Later in the afternoon, I left David resting and walked down to see James and Joan. Lovely to catch up with them. They live next to our former bach and across from our first bach; they used to come for holidays too when their place belonged to Joan's mum and dad, so our kids grew up together. They suggested I call in to introduce myself to Jan and Mike on my way back so I did. Jan's family had been coming to Tongaporutu for longer than my family - not surprising as the baches on Clifton Road had been there well before the Hill family subdivided and sold off sections on what became Hills Road where our baches are. The latter happened in about 1956 or 57, I think.

Lovely to meet Jan and Mike. She is an artist and he is a bone carver, and they are lovely people. The next day I took David in to meet them because Jan had old slides that she wished she could view more easily. So I got Mr Weaving Memories on the case... Check his work out here: This is David's only ad.

The people we didn't catch up with (and should have) were Lee and Gordon. However they had family staying so we stayed away. Next time though we will be descending on them!

When the tide was coming in that evening and the sun was going down. It moves me.

We needed to do some shopping in New Plymouth, so we were going to go straight past Waitara, into town and then come back. But the Waitara By Pass was shut because they are building a big roundabout, so we went right through the middle of Waitara - only a kilometre from our destination a bit later on that day...

David needed to get some anti cough meds and sort out changing his mobile from Skinny to 2 Degrees, and I did supermarketing. Amazingly, I managed to find two parking spaces side by side at the far end of the car park - good! I could fill them both with the motorhome and be out of the way of other shoppers... That's always a good look on one of the last shopping days before Xmas!

And then it was back to Waitara to be part of Dee's family for the festivities. Such a lovely warm place to be.

I had to take photos for Olek - he misses them and they miss him.

The lovely twins - Olek tells me it's Luca on the left and Ziana on the right. I tend to call them Twin 1 and Twin A. I struggle to tell them apart even though Luca is taller. But using that method only works if they are standing obviously...

The lovely Charlotte

The lovely Kurt on turkey carving.

And the amazing Nicola.

And Ollie who is now 8 and a delightful kid.

We had rain before Xmas...

I needed some bits from the supermarket so I went down the walkway alongside the river.

Towards the river-mouth. Shipping (small) did come in here, I think.

Kurt, Debs, Ollie and Jonathan playing petanque. I think Kurt won.

David won the brightest shirt competition. But there were only two competitors with courage to participate!

David wanted to put up the bug (blow up gazebo) again. I tried attaching the bottom sheet before it got blown up, but forgot that it has straps across the bottom and got some straps above the bottom sheet and some below - SNAFU...

And there it is

The twins' grandparents bought the snorkel and flipper sets, so of course they had to be tried out. Twin 1 or Twin A - who knows?

Christmas with Dee's family was lovely. Kirsty says she is coming over for Xmas 2024, so I think we will be up there again.

Marta sent us this photo of their Xmas before Olek and Karol went over to Bulgaria to be with their dad. From the top of the stairs, there's Darby (Trev's daughter) and her friend, then Olek on the right with Mickenzie (Trev's son) and Olek's friend Ben, then Karol on the left and Krzys beside him, and in front are Kamil and Elif (Olga's two sons and daughter). And Elif is holding Yogi.


Olek, Mickenzie and the lovely Trevor

Jola in the centre with Olga on the left and Marta on the right - 3 beautiful women.

We came home on Boxing Day and I was surprised at how light the traffic was. The time was that people headed away on holiday on Boxing Day, but not this year. Apparently traffic was huge on 27th instead. So I am glad we came home early! And blobbed lots - well, I have. David has been busily active, as he always is. I'm not sure where he gets the energy from!

And when we got home, the garden had thrived over the 7 weeks we were away. Caitlin's rose looked beautiful as it always does at this time of year.

And when we left back on Nov 11, most of these plants were about 150mm high - now look at them!

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