Auckland Baptist Tramping Club

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Thirteen people enjoyed a social trip to the northern Waikato, the first-ever Club trip to an area outside the Auckland region that consisted of visiting the local attractions instead of a full day’s tramping. Our social officer Lin came up with an interesting smorgasbord - we started with brunch at a riverside cafe, visited a museum, walked around a lake, enjoyed devotions in an outdoor chapel, saw candy being made and finished with a late lunch at a country restaurant. Her theme in publicising the trip was JAFFA - Jolly Absolutely Fabulous Footwork Action by Joyful Aspiring Fun-seeking Faith-filled Adventurers.

We left The Bracken at 8am headed for the Riverhaven Cafe beside the Waikato River in Huntly, a great place to get to know one another over brunch.
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The Waikato Coalfields Museum made for an interesting hour of seeing old coal mining equipment, browsing displays of home living in days when music came out of gramophones and pedal-powered organs, and learning how coal was retrieved in the years before opencast mining. We watched a 40-minute video presentation of how coal was mined, how the township of Rotowaro was given just seven more years to live in 1979, and the more recent tragic disaster at the Strongman Mine.
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The weather forecast, for “periods of rain” was absolutely wrong. We had a calm and cloudy day for a walk around the mirror-smooth Lake Hakanoa, following a paved path in a clockwise direction.
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Base map: NZTopoOnline, extracted July 2004, Crown Copyright Reserved  

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About 10 minutes into our walk we stopped at the Green Cathedral, an outdoor chapel that is available for wedding ceremonies etc. as well as a handy place for such things as informal devotional stops on tramping club trips. Lin took the JAFFA theme one step further with a third acronym - Jesus A Faithful Friend Always. As a friend Jesus went as far as laying down His life on the cross for us; in James 2:23 Abraham was described as a friend of God; Jesus was a friend to the tax collectors, and said to Judas in Gethsemane as he was about to betray Jesus “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for” (Matthew 26:50). Lin invited those who wished to, to pray out aloud, and during this time a further thought came out - that God had made each one of us in such a way that we would interact with, and be dependent on, one another as friends.
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We continued on around the lake till we came to a church on a hill above the lake. A large white cross on the church lawn made a prominent sight when viewed from the Green Cathedral and other parts of the lake shores. There were some miniature horses grazing in a nearby paddock.
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Further on we passed the Pacific Global Rim Gardens where there were groupings of plants from various continents, as well as a group of New Zealand plants. We then entered a patch of wetland bush before arriving back at our starting point
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Back in our cars, we headed to Gordonton and Candyland in time for the candy-making show, arriving about 1:15pm. We watched as the raw candy material was kneaded and turned, then fed through a machine to be processed ready to be sut up and handed out for us to make lollipops on wooden sticks we had been given
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We could not resist temptations by our palates and wallets in the candy shop afterwards with its wide range of chocolates, sweets and fudges. Our final port of call was a late lunch at the Cooks Landing country restaurant just north of Te Kauwhata. We spent a couple of hours enjoying a delicious choice of chowders, pizzas and salad mains before heading home arriving back at The Bracken about 5:30pm concluding a very enjoyable and interesting day with a difference.
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COSTS: travel $16; Huntly coalfields museum $3; Candyland show group rate $6-50; Cooks Landing $13-$30 depending on meal items ordered.