Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 16, June 1972


Great were the opportunities for adventure around Waihi, probably better favoured with variety than inland towns. Hence hikes to distant enchanting bays, inviting river swimming pools, hills to climb, trips to the bush lavish with tree-fern, nikau, stately kauri and rata, wild pigeon and bell bird and always the thrill of exploring the noisy, pulsating, steam-belching area of the gold mine, situated as it was at the top of the main street with many points of access to view the varied activities.

With my brothers and sisters I looked forward to a long holiday in a rather remote setting. Close to the seashore on the lovely Kati Kati harbour was an isolated early pioneer's cottage, the fields abounded in wild life, many attractive birds were to be seen and the fascinating calls of the tuis and the lilting songs of the skylarks were a day-long delight. Orchards of plum, peach and pear, grape and fig, - fields of corn and wheat - where could a place more like paradise be found?

As preparations were being made to depart, boxes of food and sacks of clothes seemed to fill the passage way. On waking it was an exciting scene I witnessed with everyone rushing here and there. Before long father had all the gear nicely packed in the waggonette at the front gate only yards from the house, and mattresses were laid out flat on top to provide a comfortable resting place for us over the long journey.

Drawn by two reliable greys, Billie and Silver, and all aboard and snug, we rattled off on the Tauranga highway. Once over the Plains section we descended a long hill, stopping near the bottom to give the horses a drink from a unique water trough dug out under a high wet bank, the slow seepage of which kept a nice quantity of fresh water available. The next few miles through the Hikuranga [Hikurangi, now the Athenree Gorge – E] gorge had many exciting sharp corners. After climbing up the last long rise an amazing sight met the eye; green fields, a lovely land-locked harbour and the vast blue Pacific Ocean stretching to a distant horizon gave a panorama of rare beauty, and here the horses were rested awhile.

A smooth highway lay ahead which made the last few miles fairly easy going. With journey's end in sight the road dropped to a ford crossing with a foot of salt-water to splash through. Away over on the far side could be seen a large white gate on the farm boundary. Once through it, the lonely cottage came into view, beyond a great row of exceptionally tall pine trees. Coming to a halt at the verandah the tired horses were unharnessed and left to roam and rest.

It was exciting to run through the rooms peering into every corner. There were the three tiered bunks in the kitchen, the open fireplace, the steep stairway to a loft above, lit by a solitary window looking out over the harbour, and the old well. Nothing seemed to have altered since our last visit. The logs were still there at the beach. When night descended we were lulled to sleep by the incessant drone of mosquitoes - a pest in pioneering days.

When washing day arrived we would set off with mother, carrying tubs of clothes between us to the old home over the hill to get the washing done at the big iron pump where the only spare water could be obtained. This was one of dozens of hikes always enjoyed about this interesting old property first settled by the founder of KatiKati, George Vesey Stewart in 1875, nearly 100 years ago, (40 years before our occupation). [probably Tuapiro or Ongare Point; Tuapiro Road used to be called Mt Stewart Road. See "My Simple Life in New Zealand" – Adela Stewart – E]