Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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Base map: NZTopoOnline, extracted January 2004, Crown Copyright Reserved  

Anniversary weekend, the end of January, a great chance to have a relaxing weekend away after the summer tramps. Nineteen people proved this on Slipper Island off the eastern Coromandel coast in a time of relaxation, tramping and fellowship under fine hot summer weather.


We left The Bracken at 8pm and drove to Tairua (no undue delays at the Kopu bridge surprisingly) to arrive by 10:30am at the wharf beneath Paku, the prominent hill overlooking Tairua and Pauanui.

We were ferried to Slipper Island in two runs as it was a small runabout boat, and there was a large amount of luggage - not only tents, mattresses, food and personal gear, we were also encouraged to take items to share such as games and snorkelling equipment. At South Bay we were met by a tractor and trailer which ferried our gear to the nearby camping ground, then up went the tents, including three large Club fly tents plus a few private tents.

By now it was midday and we had our lunch at the campground overlooking a beautiful sandy beach.

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As this was more of an informal weekend rather than a formal tramping trip, we had the afternoon to ourselves. Some of us opted to relax at South Bay, under a sun umbrella, playing games, sleeping, etc; others put on their hiking shoes to explore the island.
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The island could easily be explored in an afternoon - the tramp to the highest point on the island, an old Maori pa site on the northern tip, taking just one hour. The steep climb through open pasture was rewarded with panoramic views of the Coromandel coast northwards, plus views looking back to Home Bay and the rugged cliffs of the islandís ocean side. The other highlight of interest was the lighthouse on the eastern tip of the island, with views out to the Aldermen Islands.

Back at the campsite after dinner Judith drew on her recent trip to Roumania to show how God cares for us as individuals. She worked for ten weeks as a volunteer caregiver in an orphanage for special needs children (mental and/or physical difficulties), where the principal need was to deal with boredom - although the children were well fed and the rooms were pleasant, the children had to spend much of the day confined to their beds. Each week the caregivers would meet for prayer and Bible study; on one of these occasions Judith shared from John 3 about Jesus preparing His disciples for departure, and that God would take of the children once she had finished her time at the orphanage.

In the twilight hours people relaxed, did walks, played games etc. but by nightfall everyone wanted to get themselves into a horizontal position for a good nightís sleep - not so for Judith and John who enjoyed a walk to the other end of the beach to gaze at the millions of stars in the cloudless sky and wonder at the One who made all these.


In the morning John led a walk around the island for those who did not explore the island the previous day,  and those who wanted to explore the island a second time. We went to the highest point on the island, accompanied by a tame black and white dog whose favourite pastime is keeping island guests company as they walk around.
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Some of the group just wanted to visit the highest point then return to South Bay the way they came; the others carried on to the lighthouse, some choosing to follow the clifftops while the rest opted for an easier route sidling around. It was midday when we reached the lighthouse.
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We carried along the eastern clifftops before cutting across to the campground at South Bay.
It had been decided to have a picnic lunch at another bay - the original intention was to find a beach at the far end of the island, but as there were no suitable beaches we had to settle for Home Bay, a delightful spot just 20 minutes away with a few trees and picnic tables.

Home Bay was a delightful sandy beach with pleasant swimming. There was good snorkelling at the south end of the beach - that was until someone spotted a sting ray!
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Later in the afternoon Terri, Gail and Ruth went on a guided horse trek through nearby paddocks.

We had a BBQ dinner back at the camp, the bangers being cooked on a wood-burning BBQ. Afterwards Ruth told us that God has a really caring and open heart towards us, illustrating that with how she had to make a connection with a bus from Featherston after leaving the summer tramp and how God provided her with transport when everything seemed impossible. Matthew 23:7 brings out the heart of God as our Father, or Dad, and 2 Corinthians 6:16 tells us we are the temple of the living God.
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Paul organised a walk to Cannibal Point at the far end of the beach as the sun was about to set. It was lovely just to sit on this old Maori pa site seeing the sun go down behind the Coromandel Ranges and view the rugged coast of Paua Bay in the fading twilight. Even the dog enjoyed the experience!
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When we came back to the camp we enjoyed our suppa-cuppa around a bonfire on the beach, underneath the stars, moon and Venus.
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Most of us went to nearby Stingray Bay in the morning for a time of snorkelling and relaxation, having broken camp and packed the tents and luggage away. It was nice to worship God by lying face downwards with snorkel and mask admiring the variety of fish, seaweeds, sea-eggs and other marine life. And one person spotted a stingray at the far end of the beach!
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At 11:45am we met back at South Bay for lunch, and Kelvin brought the weekend to a close by sharing some thoughts on how we can pray for each other and our groups - family, church, Club circle of friends, etc. 1 John 5:13-15 carries the promise that if we ask anything in accordance with Godís will He will hear us and answer. Referring to a book he had been reading on how to pray for oneís children, Kelvin said that when we begin our time of prayer, we should ask God to tell us what to pray for. Paul shared about applying this principle at a YWAM outreach in Whitianga some years ago, and Linda said that she had prayed for the salvation of her children and within one year not only were they saved but carried on to be keen Christians.
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The boat arrived at 1pm to ferry us back to Tairua where the cars had been looked after in a safe carpark on private land. Before the two-hour drive back to Auckland we stopped at an open-air cafe in the main street of Tairua for a final bout of fellowship.
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We again had no hold-ups at the infamous historic bridge at Kopu, and arrived back at The Bracken at 5pm bringing to an end an almost-heavenly weekend away together.

COST: $110 (travel $20; boat return $60; campground $20; food $10 subsidised by leftovers from the summer tramps)