Wednesday 6 June 2018

Mt Maunganui Roundup


Well, so much for catching up, I've had all the time in the world but somehow I've managed to get further behind! Oh well, no worries, I'm back here now and I should be able to move through the last month or so quite quickly due to us having stayed put for longer periods and not exploring so much.

It was great to be back 'home' at the Mount and parked up on the harbour side of the Mount Campground. We would have preferred to be in the section just below us but as it was the end of term, the bottom section was reserved for a number of school camps. 

Our Tauranga family towed their caravan across the bridge and joined us for the first weekend which was fabulous; we didn't have to fight the traffic back and forward to catch up with them (we had enough of that later in the stay- the traffic problem has grown ten-fold since we left the Bay over 5 years ago and we even noticed a big difference in just the few months since our last visit). 

It was lovely to see Maddie & Joel again, they've growing up so fast. Here they are watching the smoker do it's business; our tenting neighbours caught a kahawai of the Pilot Bay wharf, they were going out for dinner so passed it on to us which was very kind of them. We smoked it and shared it around at happy-hour.

The weather wasn't the best for the first couple of weeks; cloudy, cold and very windy but it often cleared each evening just as the sun went down; a golden strip of sunshine lighting up the ships berthed across the harbour.

There were  a couple of days when the prevailing westerly wind turned gale force and created a bit of havoc in Pilot Bay, blowing the hire catamarans out onto the road and crushing a couple of signs in the process. A hire boat company's trailer was also blown across the carpark and into the side of a parked car and a dinghy washed ashore from one of the moored yachts. 

There was a mad scramble in the school camp below us to get their 20 odd tents down before they were blown to smithereens. They managed about a half of them before the storm and heavy rain hit with full force. Sadly the camp was cut short and they had to call up the buses from Rotorua to come and pick them up.

Once the school camps had finished and school holidays started we were able to shift down to our preferred site on the lower level and that is where we stayed for the duration...

...watching all manner of RVs and boats coming and going around us. And as much as we love being out the back of beyond there's nothing quite like being right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of a busy Mount (for a short time anyway).

Photos; Clockwise- 1)What a beast! A brand new American job, 2) The ocean-side camp was full most nights, a definite trend with more RVs (both private & hire) on the road year round now, 3) A ute & trailer combination camper for a family of four, 4) Another beast, it's not often you see a tractor and trailer unit with a large boat travelling down Pilot Bay, it's mostly tinnies and jet skies. 5) A school group prepare to cross the harbour (just before another storm blows in) & 6) The car-carrier Courageous Ace came and went several times during our stay.

This Sealegs needed it's own photo story; it was parked on a small traffic island near the boat ramp, the occupants had climbed out and wandered off down the road. I saw them later at one of the cafes on the Main Beach. I like to think they motored over from Tauranga (beating the traffic), pulled up on the kerb and met friends for lunch!  

The Mount Hot Pools were busy morning, noon and night helped along by cool weather, school holidays, regular aqua aerobics and 'Soak'n Sunday Sounds when patrons could enjoy a relaxing soak while listening to a live music from a local artist. I took this from up the top of the camp when I went to check the moon rise (clouds in the way).

We were due to leave the Mount the week before ANZAC day but had an appointment change which meant we'd have to stay a little longer, something I was secretly pleased about. I'd always wanted to attend an ANZAC Dawn Service at the Mount but had never managed to do it when we lived in Tauranga. With the campground just around the corner from the Cenotaph it made perfect sense to finally attend. 

My girlfriend who lives just across the road from the camp said she'd come with us and invited us back for breakfast afterwards and I made ANZAC biscuits to have with our coffee later. Whenever we stay at the Mount, I text her and say 'Howdy neighbour' and she knows I'm back in town and there's a wine waiting.

It was a very mild morning (even though most came wrapped up warmly) with thousands of people quietly making the pilgrimage through the dark streets towards the glowing red Cenotaph which sits on the sand dunes opposite Mt Drury, overlooking the most perfect beach and coastline.

The parade was led by a lone piper, Angela Dixon and Mt Maunganui College's Ella Cox sang the New Zealand national anthem and later a beautiful rendition of Chris Skinner's 'Sons of Gallipoli'

"We sang - God of Nations at thy feet.
As we stood on that sacred shore
With a heartfelt pride
Somewhere deep inside
For the sons of Gallipoli...."

The 6am service was shorter than we'd expected and there were a few chuckles from the crowd for such a sombre occasion- it started 5 minutes earlier than stated and one of the singers hadn't managed to push her way through the crowd to the stage. Then a sound speaker died and crackled in and out of speeches. And later when it did spark back into life, a stage whisper was caught from the 'top table' which set us all off giggling. 

Shades of blue and black gave way to a deep orange sunrise as dawn broke over the horizon and the service finished as a lone Harvard bomber with its throaty roar, flew in from the ocean straight over the top of us. 

Later in the afternoon, with many people out enjoying the sunshine,  I wandered back along the Main Beach...

...back to the Cenotaph to check out the floral tributes that had been left.

There'd also been a 9:30am Memorial Service and more planes had flown over while we were having breakfast.

Later in the week, and feeling sorry for myself because I was missing Central Otago's wonderful autumn colours this year, I thought I'd head up to McLaren Falls to see if there was some colour up there. 

Fifteen minutes from Tauranga and just off the Kaimai highway, McLaren Falls Park is 190 hectares of beautiful parkland popular for camping, fishing, kayaking, picnics and bush walks. It is also home to one of the best botanical collections of trees in New Zealand.

There are two branches to McLaren Falls, one is fed over a dam wall from Lake McLaren which is inside the park (above) and the other from the nearby Namuwahine River (below). Three days after I took these photos there wasn't a rock to be seen as a raging torrent of brown water roared over the falls as another rain storm hit the Bay of Plenty- a video of it was posted on a Facebook page I belong to.

And just to get perspective did you see the children playing on the rocks in the first photo (there are four- look for the boy under the girl in blue) and the two boys on their bikes in the photo above. Click on the photos to enlarge.

There was some subtle colour inside the park.....or perhaps I have just got used to the amazing golden yellows, bright oranges and fiery reds of a Central Otago autumn.

Even the Swamp Cyprus' didn't seem as rusty orange as I remember them.

Coromandel here we come...

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