Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

A Pied Stilt at Otaki Beach

Fishing on Otaki Beach

The Moana Lisa Smile

Warrior Jeff

The Dutch Windmill at Foxton

A local stripper

The winning poster at Foxton - number 5

Murals at Foxton


Our stay on this camp site had been very nice. We had been parked alongside the camp manager’s caravan and he and his wife were good neighbours; it is time to move on. The much needed rain for New Zealand allowed us settled time to complete 4 blog entries, and our first port of call was to our high speed internet shop. We uploaded the blogs, 56 photographs, sent and took down e-mails, and download the programme for the web cam we bought at Porirua. It was now 2.15pm and time to park somewhere for lunch.

North along SH1 is our route to where ever. There is no need to go back south so it is all new territory for us to explore, however due to the late start, today’s journey will be short. A few trips to our left to check out some beaches soon made us aware that this long length of coast line is really all the same beach with a few rocky outcrops breaking it up. Gulls and small waders huddle in inclement weather on the beach at the mouth of streams and dog walkers say hello as they pass by. There are many access roads to the beach areas and during the summer months it must be great for the local population to bring their children to play on the sands; and there is nothing to spend money on.

Above Otaki, (where the hobbits were filmed leaving the shire at Otaki Gorge), we drove west to a beach camp site and made ourselves comfortable for the night. We were amongst many resident caravan homes and one weekend visitor told me you need to have your name down on the list for many years before you get a chance to move to live on a camp site like this one.

Next day we continued north to Foxton, a town which had been recommended to us by Wensley and Roger, our friends from Invercargill with whom we spent Christmas. There are many fine buildings dating from the 1920’s and quite a few have interesting murals on a side wall. Two years ago the town held their first ‘Poster Competition’. Entrants submit a small picture of what they intend to paint and a description of the theme. The town provides the big poster frame and paints; during the competition time of 3 days the artists work. Three renowned judges choose the winner of the £1,200 prize and the town claims a commission for selling the posters which have to remain in situ until next year’s competition. Five of the eight entries had been sold. The public also have a chance to vote but we don’t know what influence this has on the result.

A retired man who was painting the squares of a giant chess board was pleased to explain the above. Before meeting this man I had posed at a stand, firstly trying to emulate the Mona Lisa smile and secondly as a warrior. I’m not sure if I got the smile quite right.

Next we visited a windmill run by descendents of Danes who settled here in the early days. They seem to think they have a bit of a claim to be here since Abel Tasman came long before Captain Cook, and had the Tasman Sea named after him. We bought a few items of food including a Danish Honey Cake, drove the 6 miles to Foxton Beach for lunch and found it was like the other beaches south of here. I should have mentioned, like the others, the surfing is very good with large waves rolling in before smoothing out on the steep shelf leading up to the shallow area.

Before lunch I had seen signs stating, ‘Have you ever been scutched’, (well not lately), and ‘See our stripper at work’, (obviously a sight not to be missed). We were back in time to join a bus party at the local Flax Museum. The only working Flax Stripping Machine left in New Zealand, (so our guide claimed), was inside the museum. Our guide, now using a very smart Zimmer frame, was a retired engineer from the big operation that provided many jobs in this area during yesteryear. Pictures of the mill showed it on a par with the old cotton and woollen mills back in the UK. It was a very interesting museum and a privilege to listen to our guide answer the questions and tell of how it used to be.

Oh by the way, we watched the machine strip flax leaves into shreds and another machine scutch them by battering the shredded leaves into a much softer pliable material.

We continued our drive north and stayed the night at Bulls. The brochure informed that a nice river walk was available from the camp but we were unable to find it. When I had the opportunity to ask the manager he agreed that the information was a load of Bulls.

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