Wednesday, January 2, 2008


We've just had a couple of nights away camping. I remember how hard it was going camping with four young children, but now we are down to just Mac and I and our 'baby' who is, at 17, a young adult. It is so easy. so relaxed. We have all that extra room in the van, so we can just throw our stuff in and go. There's no special cuddly toy that has to be turned back for, no need to think of toys, nappies, special food. Jeff packs his own stuff, though the last couple of times we've gone somewhere I haven't thought to remind dh Mac to take his togs and towel, so I did do that this time!

When we were ready, I rang the friends we were going away with, and discovered they had had a late night Skyping relative overseas until 2am, so they weren't leaving until oneish. So rather than panicking as I would have done 10 years ago, we just went and had lunch with ds#1 and our grandchildren who live not far off our route to Marakopa. It is so great to holiday in such a non-urgent way!

Once our friends texted to say they were on the way, we too headed off, meeting up with them at the Waitomo Caves Museum, and we enjoyed a browse around the museum despite the film show having 1/3 of the screen showing upside down: I went and told the young woman at the counter, only to be told, "Yes, we KNOW!" in a very annoyed manner! Say what?

Our next stop was the Mangapohoe Natural Bridge, which is the remains of a cave, with a limestone arch with stalactites forming the 'bridge' which you walk under.

Then it was off to Marakopa Campground, which proved to be like stepping back into the 1950's. The camp was basic, but okay. People had modern tents, and top of the line fishing gear, trailers with freezers, four wheeler bikes, so it was modern in that sense, but the atmosphere was old-time: people were friendly, and the fun was fishing, playing tennis or cricket, rather than fun being tied up with electronic gadgets or expensive boats (and no cell phone coverage!) As in my childhood memories of Ruatoria, young Maori boys rode bareback through the streets on piebald horses, and the place was full of those other kiwi icons - pohutukawa, palms, and norfolk pines. Small children honed their bike riding skills around camp, while older kids (8 - 14 year olds) practiced riding the four wheeler motor bikes with old-fashioned disregard for things like registration or licenses.

In the evening we all went for a walk along the beach and met people carrying huge amounts of fish. Some were throwing their catches back because they had so many! The fisher folk were land based, unlike most Raglan fishermen who seem to spend most of their times playing with their expensive boats, some of which almost qualify as ships! The Marokopa fisher folk were surf casting and reeling in fish with almost every cast. A couple of people had new-fangled torpedoes to carry multiple hooks out into the sea, but they were actually catching fewer fish than the others.

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