Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Room 3 Camp March 2012 - Day Three

I had spent the Wednesday night fretting about the rain and checking the Met Service forecasts for the next day, and woke up on Thursday morning to glorious sunshine!!!

This made making breakfast and feeding the children a great experience.  We had a feast.  And then we made our lunches, jumped in the cars and drove down to the wharf.

We took the ferry from the Whitianga Wharf over to Ferry Landing.  As you can see from the photo above, the harbour water was very brown.  This was from the extraordinarly heavy rain the day and night before, washing mud, dirt and debrie down the hills, into the streams, rivers, harbours and out into the bay. 
The view back over Whitianga from the path up to Whitianga Rock.  That big block of buildings is opposite the Whitianga Hotel (to the left) and contains Dinos Pizza and Pasta Restaurant.

Then we walked up to Whitianga Rock, where once a fortified pa (Maori village that was used under attack) once stood.  The path was slippery after the rain and does need some maintainence.

We then walked down to Back Bay (not a bad track), where I made a stupid decision to walk up and over to Front Beach.  Not a good idea.  The track from Back Bay up to the top where there is an excellent lookout is hideous!!!!  It is poorly marked and maintained, and after the rain from the previous days, was down right dangerous.  That and the fact the teacher was far too unfit and nearly died from loss of breath!!!!  (Yep, that was me!!)  It was also a bit of a mistake because it took a lot longer than I had anticipated.  I had planned to do the walk several weeks before to confirm timings... but it rained the day I was to do that.  Oooops. 

After a brief morning tea stop, it was pretty much downhill on a well maintained track/stairs to the road at Front Beach.  Then we walked over to Flaxmill Bay where some indulged in a toilet stop, before we began the ascent to Shakespeare Cliff.

There is more than one way to get to the top of Shakespeare Cliff, and to go up we took the path on the edge of the cliff.... it's mostly stairs.  Great for the butt and thighs.  We got to the top to take in the view and have our lunch and fill out the relevant page in our camp books.


And then we came back down, made our way back to Ferry Landing (via the shop for an ice block) and onto the ferry.

On the otherside, after more toilet stops, we went into the Mercury Bay Museum, housed in what used to be the dairy factory in times long gone.

This museum is a treasure trove, covering everything from the exploration of Kupe (Maori folklore says Kupe was the first navigator to come to Aotearoa), Captain Cook's visit to observe the transit of Mercury, the sinking of the HMS Buffalo in the bay, kauri logging, gold mining, flax milling, farming, conservation, early life in Whitianga, school history...... and there is also a video that is pretty good to watch.  We got there later than anticipated... my recommendation is to give a good two hours to go through this museum.

We took the kids back to the holiday park to change into their togs and headed out to Simpsons Beach (aka Wharekaho), where Wendy from Swim Safe talked to the kids about safety at the beach.  There were no rips at Simpsons Beach, which is why we went there, for Wendy to show them, but we did actually have surf for a change!!

Finally it was time for a swim.  The kids had a ball in the surf and on my cousin's kayaks.  I loved getting in the water with them and have a swim.

When we got back to the holiday park, the kids warmed up in the shower and then we prepared an awesome bbq dinner.  Afterwards we went back to the Whitianga Wharf to fish off the wharf.  Unfortunately, due to the dirtiness of the harbour, the fishing wasn't so flash.  The children were given a handline each to keep, and lots of smelly bait.  Even though we didn't catch any good fish the kids had a good time. 

After getting rid of the fishy smell in another shower, we had a midnight feast (at 9:00pm), overloading the children with sugar before we sent them off to bed for a big sleep for the last day.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Room 3 Camp March 2012 - Day Two

The day dawned grey but not raining!!  Whew!!!

We got the kids packed up, fed them breakfast, got lunch made and distributed.... meanwhile I popped down to the District Nurse's office and had my final IV antibiotic and the lure removed.  Freedom!!!

And off we went for the day.

First stop was the awesome Goldfields Railways.  We went to the station in Waihi town, paid and hopped on.  I love going on this train as it shows its history and goes through some great landscape out to Waikino in the Karangahake Gorge.

The lady conductor gave us a history of the train and the kids we able to either sit inside or go out onto the open truck (carriage).

After morning tea and toilet stops at the Waikino Station (and coffee for the teacher and grown ups), we trekked across the carpark, under the road and over the river to the derelict site of the Victoria Battery.

It is amazing to think that this battery was responsible for processing most of the rock from Waihi and parts of the Gorge to get to the gold, silver and other salvagable minerals.... and was also responsible for a fair amount of pollution.  The battery was huge in its day, probably very noisy and functioned until the early 1950s.  We wandered around the battery and had set a time to meet up by the Victoria Battery museum... which we were fortunate to find open. 

After a quick trip up to the pits, we came back down to the museum to have a guided tour.  It was a real eye opener, and after our guessing at explaining to the kids how the battery worked, this old gem of a museum volunteer rounded out our best guesses, demonstrating how it works.

As we marched back over to the Waikino Station to catch the Goldfields Train back to Waihi, it began to rain lightly.  So lucky it wasn't earlier!!  This rain got a bit heavier while we were on the train, and by the time we got back to Waihi to hop in our cars it was very steady.

Luckily our next visit was (mostly) an indoor one.  We were off to Martha Mine to their Education Classroom to learn from their educator Phil Salmon (former University classmate!).  Phil did take us out in the rain to the Martha Mine pit rim to talk about what they do.... but then we went back into the classroom to learn more before Phil set the children to activities. 

The kids loved the variety of activities.

There were creative activities.....

.... making a movie on the computer....

and using I-Pods to find out more information to solve a puzzle and unlock a secret treasure!

At the end of the time, the rain was pelting down!!  We then set off to Whitianga (via Whangamata).  It was not a fun drive in the driving rain, and I was a little worried about the fact that high tide was at 7pm and that brings a risk of flooding either side of it over roads leading to Whitianga.  I was also a teeny bit stressed about the fact that all but one of our activities the next day were out of doors!

When we arrived in Whiti City (as those of us who have lived there call it), the rain was raining like it rains in Whitianga - hard out!!  The area outside of the cabins we were staying in at Mercury Bay Holiday Park was flooded to our ankles, meaning it was bare feet or jandals to get everything in and out of the cars and cabins.

Once we had got as much out of the cars as we could, got the kids and ourselves reasonably presented, we scrambled through the rain to the cars to drive into town to go to Dinos Pizza and Pasta Restaurant for dinner.  This was a god send as it would have been a nightmare to cook and feed kids in that rain!!

Luke, the proprietor, is a karaoke mate, and he did a great deal for us.

My main ambition for taking the kids out to a restaurant was for them to use their manners, use good table manners and order from a menu.  I really got a tickle out of watching the kids read the menus intently and discuss their options.  And then I had to laugh as each one of them told the waitress their order:  MVP (Most Vital Pizza), essentially a meatlovers pizza.  It cracked me up how they practically all ordered the same thing!!

At this point, if you asked the kids what their favourite part of camp was so far.... they said Dinos!  The tummies rule!!!

Then we bundled back into the car and went back to the camp ground - the rain meant that my plan of going to play at the park was drowned.  The dads took the kids down to the tv room to watch a bit of tv while the ladies sorted some kids and food out.  I went to the supermarket and got us some fresh buns and ham and stuff for the next day.

And it was early to bed for the kids that night.  All settled in before 9:00pm to listen to the rhythm of the pouring rain.... and hear the fire station horn go off to tell us that someone had lost control of their car in the flooding on the way into town!!!