Backpacking Pensioners travel blog

A view from the base of Mt Maunganui

Port of Tauranga from the base

Mt Maunganui

Doreen of Tauranga

Enjoying the hot pool

A view towards Bowentown from Athenree


Last night we were rocked to sleep on the lowest part of Mount Maunganui. It is only just over 800 feet high but it stands out around here and the top is covered in cloud. Today the weather will be wet and windy. As we eat breakfast walkers and joggers are passing our van and going up the trail of the mountain. We would also like to go up the mountain but our purpose is to see the wonderful views. All that effort with no reward is not for us. Our walk today will be round the base of Maunganui with views we can see.

Before walking out of the camp site grounds we stopped to speak with our acquaintances from Redding who we met on the 6th June at the Hamilton camp site, mentioned in our blog. On Tuesday he will have a telephone interview for a post at Nelson Hospital; we wish him all the best.

We took an hour over the 45 minute walk around Mount Maunganui and enjoyed the views. Despite threatening rain we kept dry. Then we walked into the town and went to the Tourist Office to enquire for ‘Tath’ at Tauranga, the very big port/town about 5 miles away. A young lady aged about 86 named Doreen lives their. She and her deceased husband have been long term friends of my parents, and my mother and she still write to each other. It seemed to me, my mum told me on the phone that Doreen lives at 63/19 Tath. Unfortunately there is no such road or street at Tauranga. Armed with street maps we left the helpful tourist worker.

On our way back to the camp site we checked our loosing lucky dip lottery ticket and bought a new one for $11, (£4.50); the prize this week will be almost £6 million which is a lot for NZ. When we win there will be a number of nice people funded from Australia and New Zealand to visit our home at Coupar Angus. Before we got back to the van the rain started to fall, and continued to do so for the rest of the day. We stayed in the van and caught up on some blog writing.

I don’t think I mentioned that this site has a thermal hot pool and spar next door, and we get a discount as camp members. We booked a private pool for 9.15pm and after lazing in 39 degrees C of hot water for a half hour we were exhausted. It was a struggle to walk back up the hill to our van but what a sleep. If the van rocked we did not feel it.

We awoke on Monday to yet another bad weather day. The mountain top is again covered in mist and joggers, (I’m sure they are doing it to make me feel bad), are still going up the path. Our day was spent in the van watching the rain and using the internet which on this occasion works from our van. It had been our plan to contact Gerard and Enica who we have met twice before; they live in this area. Due to our arrival at a weekend, and the poor weather since then, this has not happened.

Before going to bed I telephoned my mother to ask about Doreen’s address. At 11 pm here, it is 12 noon in the UK. My mother got out her address book and this time the word Avenue was mentioned. The address now seems to be 63 19th Avenue. How about that, Tath is Th, (Silly Me), or in this instance nineteen (Th); and there is such an avenue on our street map.

Mount Maunganui proved to be a nice place despite the poor weather and the hot springs were a definite bonus. We left in rain and crossed the harbour causeway to Tauranga. I had written to Doreen two weeks ago but received no reply. No doubt the post man is still looking for Tath. With Sylvia’s help I introduced myself to Doreen without upsetting her; I do look like my father did when he was a good looking 62 year old.

Over cups of tea and cakes Doreen explained her husband had been a close friend of my father and one of the group that attended the Saturday night dance in his early 20s. The decision to immigrate to New Zealand had been her husbands and Doreen still has fond memories for England; ‘home is always home’. Given the life style she and her family have, and still enjoy in New Zealand, I was surprised to learn she would prefer to be back in Yorkshire. My parents never made the long trip to New Zealand despite the many invites by Doreen and her husband on their frequent visits to England, so it was a nice surprise for Doreen when Sylvia and I turned up; and an enjoyable visit for us.

We said goodbye to Doreen and her dog. What breed? What else; a Yorkshire terrier.

The rain had turned into showers and we enjoyed some coastal views as we drove north along SH 2 for 28 miles before turning right. There was a choice of two camps down this road. One was by the coast and the other was at Athenree on an inlet and had ‘hot thermal’ pools. There was a hot pool for swimming and a hotter pool for lazing in. What a difficult decision. Athenree Holiday Park, (camp site), turned out to be one of the nicest we have visited on our travels and the small pool was delightful; why bother swimming? The only draw back was that because the outside thermal pools are not quite as hot as the private pools, we had to laze in the water for about an hour before we were exhausted.

Next morning we awoke to sweet music and discovered a plethora of bathing beauties enjoying water aerobics in our swimming pool; about 30 feet from our van. It seems this is a regular occurrence for the local senior citizens club. Today is a nice and windy day so we booked another night and did three loads of washing; well Sylvia did. I made her a coffee. Before lunch we spent 1 ¼ hours in the hot pool and after lunch went for a walk along the side of the inlet, turning round at the Mangroves. The temperature began to drop after 3pm and by 4.30pm it was cold so time for another hour in the hot pool. If it wasn’t for the high price of electric at home I would be after a spa pool. What chance is there of me digging down in Scotland and finding a thermal spring?

It will be a wrench tomorrow when we leave this lovely camp site but our journey must go on if we are to see as much of New Zealand as we would like.

NB. (The address of Doreen has been changed to protect the innocent).

I left our card. It will be nice if Doreen’s children get in touch with us.

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