Monday, 1 April 2013


As we’d been told it would be busy on the roads and in popular areas, we decided to keep out of the way as much as possible, so went to a small camp in a place called Te Awamutu which we guessed may not be too popular, yet not too far from things.

An outdoor Good Friday church service in Te Awamutu
    The campsite was small and nice and we got a powered site without problems, but we guessed wrong about it not being popular! It was pretty crowded with families coming down for the National BMX championships in nearby Cambridge (about half an hours drive away). It apparently is THE event for aspiring BMX’ers as it gives entry to the World Championships to be held in Auckland later in the year. The fact that they were in Te Awamutu is an indication of how popular it is, as obviously nearer campsites were full. Anyway, it was a small site and they were all really friendly and chatted to us, while their kids (the real competitors) ran around, some of them as young as 4 or 5. They take it really seriously and, in no time at all, we were caught up in their enthusiasm and decided we would have to go and have a look.

On top of Kakepuku Mountain
Best day was on Sunday they told us, when the finals were on so, on Saturday we got up at 08:00am (after they had all left at 07:00am) and drove out to climb a mountain! Kakepuku Mountain it was called, an extinct volcano (last erupted 2.5million years ago) and, like most of them, it stands alone, giving great panoramic views all round. This ‘mountain’, however was only 400m high and we were up at the top in an hour and back down at the van in just over two. 
The summit platform (so you could see above the trees)
     Great views though and we met a group of 4 on the way up who turned out to be a nice group and told us all about the surrounding mountains.


A plaque on the summit platform
We decided to go back to the campsite, picked up the weekend newspapers on the way back and were sat outside reading when they all returned (just as we had been doing the previous day). We did tell them we had climbed a mountain and hadn’t been sitting there all day, but not sure they believed us!

Cambridge. English? Maybe colonial English
Today (Easter Sunday), we again got up late after they had all left and drove into Cambridge (which has Leamington attached to it – all very strange and familiar). One of the fathers at the campsite, originally from Coventry UK (we never knew his name) told us how ‘English’ Cambridge was, but when we got there we didn’t totally agree. 
A walk down by the lake amongst the Oak and Chestnut trees
     More Colonial English, as most building were single storey and in wood, but it nevertheless was a charming place and we liked it. Built in 1864 by Lord Cambridge as a garrison for a famous battle against the Maori (300 Maori apparently held over 2000 British troops at bay for 3 days!) and was laid out as an English city and planted with oak and chestnut trees (we collected a load of chestnuts fallen from the trees to either roast in the oven or make some kind of loaf or cake, if we can find a recipe).


The BMX racing in full swing
Around lunchtime we went to the BMX track and had a really good few hours watching all ages of children and quite a few adults (the oldest being 70 apparently) competing over a fixed course of a very bumpy terrain of concrete and tarmac (get it wrong and you’re going to break something – as we saw one or two do). We saw Mr. Coventry who came last in his race, but was really excited one of his kids came 7th, but the other came 3rd, enough to qualify for the world championships. He was thrilled!


Whatever you do, don't fall off!
We stopped to watch some of the quarter finals and cheered on some of the kids of people around us who were very verbally willing them on, but then left as it was getting all a bit ‘samey’. 

We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and were glad we’d gone, but we decided to set off well away to a campsite in a place called Matamata, which has pools thermally heated by natural springs. It’s a bigger impersonal site with lots of families here, so we haven’t spoken to a lot of people. Did go in the main pool (29 C) and the two hot relaxing pools (37 and 39 C) which was very nice and, this evening it’s started to rain, quite heavily. It appears the high pressure has moved away and has been replaced by a series of cold fronts, so maybe autumn is upon us (the leaves are starting to fall from the trees). We can’t complain though, it’s been a fabulous summer and the farmers do so need the rain. Not so the wine producers though, the newspapers were full of their excitement over the great vintage 2013 will be. They think it may be the best in 30 years, so go out and buy vintage 2013 New Zealand wines as soon as you can, they tell us the flavour will be superb!

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