Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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The flagship event for the Club year and the Club’s 25th Jubilee - a special celebration weekend at Rotorua, complete with a formal Jubilee Dinner, Thanksgiving Service, Silver Social and Celebratory Procession, plus the usual offering of tramps and walks, of course. Attendance varied a little between the various events, the largest being 57 people at the jubilee dinner held at Kingsgate Hotel.


State Highway 27, commonly known as the Matamata Straight, glided effortlessly under the wheels of many cars loaded with photos, memorabilia and excited souls for a wonderful weekend celebrating how God had provided such a unique opportunity of enjoying His creation in both exercise and Christian fellowship.

A lovely supper greeted these souls as they arrived at Lakeview Bible Camp, and June was poised ready to collect remaining monies and allocate sleeping possies. Unlike previous years of staying at the Lakeview camp where we had used the lodge, we had the use of the main camp with its kitchen, dining room and large hall. Single men slept in the Luke cabin; single ladies had the use of John; and couples and families used cabins on the far side of the hall.

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Heads off the wentilillos early - a cooked breakfast was awaiting us in the dining room at 7:30am. After breakfast our musical group, with Roger on guitar, introduced the Jubilee Theme Song which was written specially for the weekend.
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Suitcases full of photos and memorabilia were opened and their contents displayed on tables at the back of the hall. A shop selling Jubilee merchandise including monograms, calendars, plastic drink bottles, thermos-style steel bottles and mugs was set up just inside the door of the hall. Peter Y manned the shop for short periods throughout the weekend
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After morning tea, we had the choice of several trips including a canoeing option.

Garry, Alison and Katrina took a group canoeing on Lake Rotoiti. The lake was flat and calm, providing a pleasant paddle to the hot springs on the southern shore of the lake near Tikitere Forest.

Phillip D took several people up Rainbow Mountain. The one-and-a-half hour track passed steaming fumaroles and craters before continuing the steady climb to the summit. The trampers were rewarded with a panoramic view of the Waiotapu and Waimangu/Rotomahana areas.

Phillip’s brother Roger showed a group the Ngahopua Lakes, two small lakes at the bottom of deep volcanic craters north of Lake Okataina, and the Tarawai Track, a nature trail through dense podocarp forest nearby

David W led a walk around the lovely Blue Lake followed by a walk through the Redwood Grove of Whakarewarewa Forest.

John took a group of 8 people through the Waiotapu Forest, starting with the natural thermal pool of Kerosene Creek, followed by a walk along a private road to a large boiling mud pool. After lunch on a grassed area beside the mudpool, the group continued along sealed public roads to see the Lady Knox Geyser, complete with terraces but not necessarily natural ones. A further walk along private forestry roads brought the trampers to the finish point at the spectacular milky Echo Lake.

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During this time, more excited souls and photograph albums made their way down State Highway 27 in time to join the rest of us at Lakeview for the first of two Speakers’ Corners, starting 4:30pm, where anyone was invited to share tales and anecdotes of Club tramps over the years. The first tale was just over an hour old - Judith told of her car load browsing the antique shops at Tirau on the way to the camp. Phillip D told how the goulash a group staying at the Waitawheta Hut in Queens Birthday 1981 was cooking had spilled onto the ground - as they had no other food they had no choice but to scoop the stuff up and put it back in the billy. John M spoke of how a group he was in, trying to cross the Moehau Range in April 1988, could not find the track across the summit, and had to go down the way they came - only to be caught out by darkness and forced to sleep on the track overnight with no food or bedding and only a fire to keep them warm. Phillip recalled how he saw the late John Burns on the summit of Mt Egmont, his trousers on fire from a the remains of a fire lit by another group to celebrate New Year 1981.  David W told us of stepping on what looked like a bit of track near a hut in the Horomanga Valley (Urewera) only to find himself in a hole full of water up to his ears. Peter O told of a pack-carrying trip in the Whirinaki Forest where another tramping club had also arrived at the start - the other club did the trip in the opposite direction - when the two groups met up halfway the other group warned us to “watch out for the Auckland Baptist Tramping Club people, they stop all the time to hold prayer meetings”.
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Many other tales were told before it was time to shower, don glad rags and pile into cars for the formal Jubilee Dinner at the Kingsgate Hotel in Rotorua, the same hotel we dined at on our Rotorua tramp in June last year. This time we had a room at the back of the hotel, especially decked up for the occasion.

After an introduction by vice-president and MC Nelson, and a performance of the Jubilee Theme Song, we had our soup and main course, a delicious smorgasbord of all sorts of delectables.
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A power point presentation made up by Simon was shown, then Garry S launched Stepping Out, a very informative and entertaining book he had written for the Club jubilee. Straight afterwards, the first excited ones to grab their own copies did so, leaving their $15 cash on the table as they helped themselves.
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A game of Table Topic followed. Each table had to tell and act a tramping tale beginning with a set phrase of words given to them.
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After a yumptious smorgasbord dessert the founder of the Club, Jon Collins, gave a toast to Past Memories, and the current Club president Peter Osborne toasted to The Future.
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Three of the Club’s Life Members, Jon Collins and the Donnell brothers, cut the Jubilee Cake. All the Presidents over the years (except one who was overseas and one who is in heaven) then lined up alongside the cake.
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We once again sang the Jubilee Theme Song before rising to our feet for Amazing Grace.
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Peter and Val performed a tramping version of the well-known Undertaker skit thrashed over the years at various church and children’s camps, in which a movie director does several “takes” of a tramper collapsing on the track, his colleague calling a doctor by cellphone, and the doctor arriving - only to find after all that he had no film in the camera!

The dinner finished with votes of thanks to all those concerned.


After breakfast we went into the large hall for our Thanksgiving Service, a one-and-a-half hour time of praise, worship and thanks to God for setting up the Club, and for the blessings it has been to everyone. The musical group was joined by Marian on piano for a selection of hymns and praise-and-worship songs, concluding with a tramper’s version of How Great Thou Art written by Phillip D.
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Phillip N told us how he was indebted to the Club for non-demanding non-conditional fellowship - he had stopped going to church, wanting his friends to “bring church to him”, when Nelson told him about the Club and invited him to go on a trip to Lake Waikare-iti. He was amazed by the fellowship and eight weeks later decided to join a church, sensing the Club had enabled him to do this. He also acknowledged fellow-members of the Club who had encouraged and helped him to go out with the Club at a time of unemployment and lack of income.

Ruth said that the Club was a good way to get away from everything, including busy Auckland, into nature. In tramping, such as reaching huts etc, she finds a sense of achievement. There is a need for perseverance - getting to a far-away hut step by step - and a sense of comradeship illustrated in Galatians 6:2 bear one another’s burdens  and 6:10 do good to all people especially fellow-believers.

The theme of Warren Prestidge’s sermon was Tramping With Jesus. Being a Christian is like tramping, one has to be prepared for the long haul, and make one’s own discovery and exploration as a pilgrim or tramper, rather than a tourist, does. The tramp with Jesus goes on in all aspects of life - work, school, leisure, etc. To be a tramper one needs vision and faith. We need to learn from, help, contribute to and receive from one another. Life itself is a journey of discovery in the light of Jesus Christ.

After morning tea we prepared for another choice of tramps and walks. Cold windy showery weather was a bit daunting, but as we set out God rolled back the clouds and let the sun shine through.

Paul took a group up Rainbow Mountain. It was cold and windy on the top, but there was a place to shelter from the wind. Some of the group soaked in the Blue Baths in Rotorua afterwards, while others went off to Waikite Hot Springs nearby.

Peter and Val took another group to the crater lakes and podocarp trail north of Lake Okataina, following the footsteps of Roger’s group the previous day.

Marian and David K was in charge of the walk around Blue Lake and Redwood Grove that David W had led the day before; their group soaked in the Polynesian Spa hot pools in Rotorua afterwards.

Nelson took a sizeable group down a to the Onaia Stream where a population of kokako birds had been established. None of the birds were seen, but the one-and-a-half-hour return hike was worth it for the dense native forest, the beautiful green moss-covered stream and crystal-clear waters. Some of the group went to the Polynesian Spa pools afterwards.

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Phillip N led a group from Kerosene Creek, the same walk John had led on the Saturday.

We were back at Lakeview camp in time for the second instalment of Speakers’ Corner, hosted by train-whistlin’ David K, who introduced the session with how he found the Cape Brett trip was 8 hours each way, not return, and one of God’s magical moments was a hillside full of blazing glow worms. June told of how she was asked to take the two leaders in her car for her first weekend in Rotorua, where we stayed in a church hall - each of her two passengers brought along bulky mattresses as well as their personal gear. Joy related a tale from a trip to D’Urville Island led by Paul, where his wallet went missing - after hours of fruitless hunting, asking around and even stopping his credit cards, he found it next morning - in the toe of one of his boots. Kay, a young girl back in the early 1990s, told of how John M was a good friend to her and her fellow children who went on Club trips, keeping them entertained while they were walking and making up names for various Club members - Blacktootsie Sue, Mr Pickwick, Turbo Legs, Diddums, Dame Edna, Hammy Hamster, Womble, etc. She also told how John had helped her up a waterfall inside one of the Waipu caves.

Many more tales were told before we sat down to a yummy dinner then shower and don silver for our Silver Social starting 7pm. This was a full-on evening of fun and games in the large hall, staring with a competition for the best silver costume. The 6 finalists were paraded in the middle of the room, and Eileen took away the prize.

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We were each given two balloons to tie to our ankles. With our shoes off, we had to run around trying to pop as many balloons as possible without having one’s own popped and put out of the game!

Five tables were set up each with an activity. We were numbered off into five teams, each team had a 5-minute turn at each table. The games included: guess who the owners of 10 pairs of boots are; identify by feeling the items tied into 10 socks; how far can you do a 100-piece jigsaw; Kim’s Game, the scout observation game in which 30 objects are shown for just 5 seconds and the team then has to remember what they are; and a tramping version of Scattergories.
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A relay race was held in which each person in the four teams had to put on several items of clothing (over their normal clothes), including a pair of pyjamas, get into a sleeping bag and hop to a chair at the other end of the room, touch the chair, hop back, take these off and give them to the next person, and so on.

Four teams each had to dress a “model” from materials given to them, including balloons, crepe paper and a cardboard carton, as a pack-carrying tramper.

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The social finished soon after 10pm, a yummy supper was served in the dining room, and then heads headed for wentilillos


We allowed our caterers to sleep in an extra half-hour, serving breakfast at 8am.

After morning tea, about 10am, we drove to the Hamurana Springs carpark for a 15-minute walk through lovely tall redwood forest to the Hamurana Springs, one of the country’s largest coldwater springs. The strains of Handel’s Water Music wafted from Phillip D’s radio as we admired the crystal-clear water from the two viewing platforms, gushing forth at 4.5 million litres per hour. Starting a devotional reflection, Phillip said that Hamurana is a Maori translation of Smyrna, one of the churches mentioned in the Book of Revelation. He commented that water covers three-quarters of both the earth’s surface and the human body, and that earth is the only planet where water can exist as liquid. We need water to quench thirst, cook, wash and irrigate the garden. In the Bible, God uses water to illustrate the provision of spiritual needs. Just as water satisfies physical thirst, so does God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Bible satisfies the thirst of the soul.

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We returned to the carpark to get ready for a Celebratory Procession along the Rotorua lakefront towards the Lakeview camp. Young Tim W headed the procession holding an ABTC jubilee flag high in the air, followed by the large red jubilee banner that had been displayed on the wall at the Jubilee Dinner and the Silver Social, borne by three people. The rest of us walked behind.
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We made three stops on the way. Our first stop was to remember the past 25 years with a prayer of thanksgiving, the declaration Thus far the Lord has helped us (1 Samuel 7:12). We sang He has brought us this far by His grace before cheering hip-hip-hooray for the Club’s past.
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We remembered the Club’s future at our second stop. We read a prayer for the Club’s future before singing Guide us, O our great Redeemer. Our hip-hip-hoorays were for the Club’s future, and we tossed our hats (John M had a multicoloured tinsel wig) into the air twice.
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The procession proper finished with us joining and raising our hands to the strains of the classical song Glory to you Christ Jesus by Lecot, played on Phillip’s radio.

We continued walking towards Lakeview camp, banner and flags down. The drivers were taken back to collect their cars, then offered rides to those carrying on with their walk. Little Tim W chose to walk the whole way, entertained by John M (who was acknowledged in Speakers Corner the previous day for entertaining children on Club trips in the early 1990s), two of just four people who chose to walk the whole 4km, even refusing the last lift that would have been only a hundred metres or so!

A yummy lunch of soup and pizza rolls was awaiting us as we arrived about 1pm. The thankyous to everyone who put the whole weekend together, and to God above. Then it was Sadie’s time as we packed up and hoovered the camp back to its original clean state.

State Highway 27 once more glided effortlessly under the wheels of many carloads of photograph albums, memorabilia and happy souls having enjoyed such an important milestone in the Club’s history. Back seats of cars would have hosted armchair journeys through the Club’s 25 years as people browsed the new jubilee book Stepping Out on their way home.