Wednesday 4 January 2017

Camping at Pounawea, Catlins- Part 1; Partying


We'll have been parked up here at the Pounawea Holiday Park for three weeks this coming Friday and I can't imagine where the time has gone. We've had, and are still having, an awesome time enjoying the comings and goings of camp life during a very busy silly season.

It's helped that we had the park virtually to ourselves for the first few days. Then a few days before Christmas, campers started trickling in and filling in the gaps...

...including the family from Winton in their caravan and the 'Taj Mahal' (as Rachel calls their shelter). That's theirs the blue & yellow shelter; the caravan and awning are out of sight, tucked in behind it.

Boxing Day brought a few more in...

and the 27th December was the busiest day, with plenty of new arrivals squeezing into all available spaces; caravans, motorhomes and tents of all sizes and shapes along with a few boats, plenty of children's bikes...

...and a couple of dozen very well behaved dogs....or should that be very well behaved owners who kept them on leads and under control at all times. I think one of the reasons the camp is so popular is because families can bring all their family members on holiday.

Amongst the assortment of arrivals over the last 2 weeks has been this cutie...

...and these two behemoths.

They belong to two German couples who shipped their vehicles, first to Australia for 4 months to explore the country, and then onto New Zealand for another few months.

One of the men told me they hadn't had much luck travelling 'off-road' in New Zealand- I'm not so sure they'd fit through some of the backcountry station gates or along some of the narrow gorge tracks offroad, but I gave them a few places to check out when they got to Central Otago.

The weather has been far from perfect but we have had a number of blue sky and warm sunny days. This morning was the first day we've woken up to hear rain on the roof (although we've heard it regularly on and off during the night).

And we have had quite a few grey days with passing showers, often with a cold wind blowing. It helps that the camp is tucked into a sheltered corner and often, unless you move out onto the estuary, you wouldn't know it was blowing a gale. Lets just say the weather hasn't dampened the spirits of a resilient bunch of campers.

We had a very long and relaxed Christmas Day starting with brunch and present opening in the Taj Mahal...

...followed by a mid afternoon Christmas dinner.

It was wonderful to be able to share Christmas with Ruby & Ollie although we were a little sad to be so far away from our other two grandchildren, Maddie & Joel in Tauranga.

On Boxing Day we had a lovely treat when Adam (a fellow camper) brought us over some Koura to eat.

Koura, their Maori name, as in Kaikoura (kai= food, koura= crayfish), are small freshwater crayfish that live in streams and creeks. They can be caught in small yabby traps, set similar to crayfish pots, or be enticed out from their cover by a piece of meat on a line, but Adam is a 'Southern Man', he feels for them under the water, sometimes up to his shoulder, along the banks and under the tree debris, looking for holes and crevices that they might be hiding in. 

Sometimes they'll latch onto his finger and he can retrieve them that way or he'll pull them out by a leg or the tail. It's not only koura he finds in some of the holes; I've seen a photo of him cradling, 'hugging' and laying beside (to get a size comparison) the biggest, fattest and longest eel I've seen in a long while! Bloody hell, he has nerves of steel and the 'no fear' of youth. It was possibly even bigger than the ones we saw under the jetty at Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes. 

Ever since we've been on the road, I've been wanting to see some Koura, I have memories of Dad taking us hunting for them out the back of Hastings when we were kids. So everytime we are near a stream or creek that looks a suitable habitat I tell David, there'll be koura in there and I have a quick scan. I'm sure he thinks I'm pulling his leg because we've yet to find any.

Adam kindly cooked the tiny crays for us...

And David showed the kids how to break their heads off and peel the tails, just like oversized prawns. They taste much the same too. Although going by the look on Ruby's face, I'm not so sure she thought they were such a good idea. But, as her Mum encourages them to try everything at least once, she gave it a go, and ended up giving them the big thumbs up too.

There were a couple of photos I didn't include in the first post on Pounawea- one of them was of the Pounawea 'Dolphin' (just for you Jenny & Robin), a historic and slightly forlorn looking structure out in the middle of the estuary 

Now 135 years old, I hope there are plans to restore the 'Dolphin' or at least stop it from keeling over (click on the photo to enlarge).

Tucked around the corner in the Owaka River estuary is an old kauri scow that has seen better days. Scows have no keel and were therefore suitable for river trading early last century, the 107 year old Portland is the last hold scow in New Zealand. Many scows were used in the Pacific during WW11 and never returned.

The Portland is privately owned although I suspect the owner would rather wish he didn't own it now. After purchasing it from another private owner he moved it down the river to where it now lays after finding much of the rotting planking fell apart as it was being moved.

To be continued...

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