Auckland Baptist Tramping Club


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The Club decided to hold what had become a tradition during the 1990s - a weekend away in Rotorua. This time we stayed at the Thermal Holiday Park, fourteen people who had booked before the official deadline of two weeks before shared two self-contained units, and several more people who were late in booking were able to book their own cabins at the same holiday park. Our day tramps included Mt Whakapapataringa and Ngatamariki Hot Spring on the Saturday and the Rotorua Walkway on the Sunday. During the weekend a number of spot prizes were won, with clues to a person’s name being drawn from the hat.

Friday

We left Auckland at varying times in the afternoon and evening, as either car loads were pre-arranged or people made their own travel arrangements. First to arrive at the park were Gill and Mary, who hadleft home at 11am and after seeing relatives arrived at 5pm. The next lot including leader John left at 2pm and arrived about 6pm. The rest of the gang did not arrive till later in the evening.

Saturday

Phillip, his clue based on his name meaning a lover of horses, won a book in the first spot prize, drawn before we left the holiday park.


We set out soon after 8:30am for our tramp up Whakapapataringa and to the Ngatamariki Hot Spring. These two features are on private property west of State Highway 5 about halfway between Rotorua and Taupo. We checked in with the farmer who had already given us permission to cross his land, and after leaving our cars outside his home we walked approx 1km along Tutukau Rd before entering a private road to begin the climb up Whakapapataringa.
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Base map extracted from NZ TopoOnline September 2007. Crown Copyright Reserved


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It was a steady climb through farm land at first. We had a quick rest about halfway up, where the pasture gives way to pine forest. We were at the summit shortly before midday, a broad plateau that contains the microwave tower (for communications, not for heating our lunches!) and the trig marking the highest point. There was a panoramic view to the east, out to the Reporoa district and the forest-covered Kaiangaroa plains in the distance. We could see Rainbow Mountain and Mt Tarawera to the northwest, and could just see Mt Tauhara to the south. And, of course, we could see the “nuclear” power station at Ohaaki with its distinctive cooling tower. Did we hear a steam train in the distance?

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It was Gary B’s turn to win the spot prize - a booklet Feats and Firsts from Readers Digest, and a booklet on peace.
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Our intention was to continue southwards along the ridge of Whakapapataringa and try to bushbash down to the hot spring, but in the interests of the group and safety we decided to return the same way to the farm land, then cut across to Ngatamariki. We crossed a paddock and negotiated an electric fence to follow a farm track coming out at the cowshed, joining up with the main vehicle track, which went southwards over a hill and dropped down towards the pine forest area.
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At the end of the vehicle track a track led into the pine forest, beginning as a wide track as it descended towards the Orakonui Stream before continuing on as a rough track, crossing several fallen pine trees, to eventually come out to the springs. Phillip was humming the well-known Puccini opera tune Nessan Dorma as we negotiated this section. The Ngatamariki Hot Spring was a large steaming pond surrounded by bare earth, evidence that the spring had erupted about two years before in a violent four-hour early morning episode; before this the spring was surrounded by bush and scrub.
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Twenty years ago (1987) the area around the spring was accessible along a forestry road through recently felled pine forest; today this road is now completely overgrown by mature pine forest and there is no easy access to the spring through public land even though the Ngatamariki Hot Spring Scenic Reserve is clearly signposted on Tutukau Rd.
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Margaret won a grey leather wallet purse and a fancy key ring when her clue I am the Queen’s sister was drawn.
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We returned to the homestead and our cars, then drove on for a welcome soak in the Butchers Pool at Reporoa. This not-so-well-known hot pool stands directly over a hot spring and is free of charge, compared with the $17 one now has to pay to visit the Polynesian Pools in the centre of Rotorua city.
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Jo stood in the warm waters to receive her spot prize, a book on the Bay of Islands Maritime Park.
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That evening most of us dined out at the Italian Cafe restaurant in the centre of town; a few went to the Fat Dog instead. The Italian Cafe offered a wide range of pastas, risottos, lasagnes and other Italian mains ranging from about $18 to a bit under $30. While we waited for our dinners to arrive we had two more spot prizes. The clue I have something in common with George W Bush led Club president Barbara to a tube of sunscreen; and I help fishes breathe earned Gill a booklet on preparing for special occasions and a Readers Digest booklet Dinkum Oil. Later Mantovani had a hit tune Charmaine in the 1950s - swap the M for an L caused Char to come away with a CD of photos and music from the ABTC 25th jubilee weekend at Rotorua three years before.
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Sunday

We broke the club tradition of getting heads of wentilillos early - although it was light just after 6am we did not have breakfast till 8am. Joy’s clue about the Song of Joy in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony won her a copy of the slideshow presented at the recent AGM dinner.
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Barbara shared some thoughts about springs for a Club first - devotions taken by a female Club president. She had intended to present these at Ngatamariki Hot Spring, but she had pulled out from that tramp as she was feeling a little unwell.  God is our Spring of Living Water, our source of life in abundance (Jeremiah 2:13); His life is a spring within us (John 14:4); His life within us produces Good Fruit - the Fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

It was soon after 9am by the time we were completely packed and vacated our accommodation. Andrew and Char went to the Redwoods for some mountainbiking; Barbara stayed back at the holiday park to catch up with some personal work; Jill, Jo, Gary and Margaret wanted to try out the retail therapy of Rotorua; and the rest of us tramped the portion of the Rotorua Walkway from Whakarewarewa to Kuirau Park in drizzly weather. The cars were taken to Kuirau Park and the drivers returned to join the rest of us. Joy and Jocelyn was invited to a friend’s home for breakfast, but finished in time to join us for the walk.

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Base map extracted from NZ TopoOnline September 2007. Crown Copyright Reserved




Before we set out on our walk from the entrance to Whakarewarewa Village Michelle, whose clue referred to the Beatles’ hit song, won a book about the Tongariro National Park.

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The walkway followed the Puarenga Stream all the way from Whakarewarewa to Lake Rotorua. At first it passed a thermal area, being an extension of Whakarewarewa. In one place the white sinter terraces were spoilt by taggers, but God reigns over the devil and the whole area is one of the numerous and unique wonders of His creation.
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Further on the track went through redwood forest and came out to Te Ngae Rd.
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The track continued along the Puarenga Stream, now a wide river, and we soon came to the Sulphur Bay thermal area. Our first indications of this was a large silica flat alongside the river, dotted with hot springs and fumaroles. The track then continued through manuka scrub to the Te Arikiroa Point where we could look across through the haze to the Government Bath House in the distance.
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The clue of the third and nineteenth letters of the alphabet earned CS a spot prize - a Bible that once graced the pews of Eden Chapel.
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We came to another broad while silica flat, which we crossed along a boardwalk. This was the site of the Postman Baths that was officially closed in 1950 after hydrogen sulphide gas from the thermal waters had sent bathers to the pearly gates. The wooden buildings were bulldozed and no trace of the baths remains to this day.
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The Polynesian Spa cafe was a welcome stop for coffee and comfort, then we carried on along the coastal walkway behind the Government Bath House to Motutara Point. We looked out to some small islands just off shore - these islands were much bigger back in the 1860s when lake levels were lower, in fact one of these islands housed several Maori families. Now they are home to seagulls and other birds, and numerous ducks were bobbing in the waters.
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Past the point the walkway went through bush to come out the lakefront. This popular reserve was full of seagulls, and one man was sitting there with the birds feeding out of his hand.
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We passed the Lakeland Queen restaurant paddle steamer and carried on to Ohinemutu, and had a look inside the historic St Faith’s church, a Use Your Money Instead Of Your Camera To Take The Goodness Home With You Afterwards place. We kept quiet out of respect inside the church, and some of us spent a few minutes sitting in the pews for a time of personal prayer.
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There were more hot springs as we carried on through the Ohinemutu Maori village. As we carried on to Kuirau Park the drizzle turned to steady rain, and reaching our cars at the far end of the park was more on our minds than the thermal activity the park offered.
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The rain also put a stop to our final spot prize, as we got straight into our cars to head home to Auckland; by now it was about 1:30pm. As we headed over the Mamaku Hills the rain began to clear and by the time we reached Tirau and the start of State Highway 27 there was brilliant sunshine, and no more rain was to be had as we travelled the whole length of that highway with its views of the Kaimai Ranges, and home sweet home.

COST: travel Auckland-Rotorua return $40, travel Saturday $9, food (2 breakfasts) $8, accommodation $47