Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tauranga Travels

The trip down to Tauranga was uneventful with the morning fog still clinging to the hills. Following State Highway 2 from the southern side of the Bombay Hills we skooted across the Hauraki Plains, stopping for a  break at Ngatea.

I remember the Plains well as I had an Uncle who owned a farm at Kerepehi, near Paeroa. He was not an "uncle" in the strict sense of being a relative, but was an old army POW friend of my father's.  Brian Wiggins and his wife Buster had three daughters and they treated me as a son during my holidays with them.

The second of these when I was 11 or 12 could be termed a "working Holiday", as I worked as a farm hand learning to milk, hay-make and take an active part in the day to day routine of dairy farming. Throwing hay bales and stacking them on a truck, or in the shed, was also a great muscle building activity,

Earlier holidays on the farm had seen me roaming the hedge rows looking for birds eggs to add to my collection. This I might add was well before the days of conservation so a Pied Stilt egg was highly prized as was the art of being able to 'blow' and egg to remove the yolk inside without damaging the shell.

Two other memories I have of these times were learning to ride a motorbike - a Norton 500CC - and doing a 'ton' (100 MPH) as a pillion passenger on the same bike; clinging on, literally, for dear life to the jacket of the farm labourer who was the proud owner of the machine. This was also without any form of crash helmet which in hindsight was foolish in the extreme.

Church - Waihi
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This trip to Tauranga was much more sedate and we left the Hauraki Plains and went through the gorge that intersects the lower Coromandel Peninsila to Waihi, the site of New Zealand most intensive, open cast goldmining operation.

The Martha Mine started as an underground digging but later in its life open cast methods were used.  With the high price of gold it was reopened in recent times.

White Shed - Martha Mine
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