28-29 September 2020
The September school holidays were approaching and the grandparent group agreed on an overnight stay at Parawai Lodge for Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 September. The forecast for dire weather over the preceding weekend and into Monday was a concern, so we delayed the trip by a day. But on the Friday we received news from a concerned parent that the Ōtaki Gorge Road was closed.
A hasty email conversation ensued as to alternatives. To our surprise, given it was the school holidays and at such short notice, we were able to book 15 bunks at Turere Lodge for Monday night. This turned out to be an excellent alternative as the Ōrongorongo River was dirty and fast-flowing but we didn’t have to cross it. So seven grandparents and eight grandchildren between the ages of five and ten set off from the Catchpool in cold, windy but fine weather.
Apart from two windfalls and some decent mud there was little evidence of the bad weather that had been passing through. The children find the positive in everything, including windfalls and mud, and never stay still. It can take some persuasion to get them to stop and eat. Lunch was down at Turere Stream by the bridge with constant stone throwing into the water and fish hunting by children with food in hand.
We reached Turere Lodge early afternoon and the children grabbed all the top bunks. A trip down to the river occupied the afternoon. Grandparents threw logs into the racing waters and the kids tried to hit them with rocks as they bounced through the rough water. We got back to the hut just as drizzle swept down the valley. Were the kids bored? No, a very noisy game of tag erupted that entailed climbing through bunk room windows so a useful circuit was created. A screaming ban was enforced with a modicum of success. Marshmallows were toasted in the fire, dinner was consumed in a blink of an eye and eight children retired to bed with grandparents not far behind.
Tuesday was sunny but cold. It did not stop another trip down to the river. The children got wet feet and eventually rather cold so we trooped back to the hut, had lunch and departed soon after. As we were leaving, a large party of teenage girls arrived. We all agreed that we had been extremely lucky to have been able to book into Turere Lodge and that we hadn’t had to cope with teenagers, as well as our young ones.
The children walked back somewhat more slowly than on the way in. The two youngest at five and six were great little walkers. It was a very happy group that arrived back at the cars and there is no doubt that grandparent trips are a success. I hope that the next one will be camping up the Waiotauru near the end of the summer holidays.
- Party members
- Peggy Munn(scribe).