On to Eketahuna for one night, ready to make the final hop to Masterton and get to the showgrounds early for the famous Wings Over Wairarapa airshow. The organisers have made a special parking space available for motorhomes and caravans, which means we will be able to see the show in comfort and Penny does not have to go to a commercial kennels for 3 nights.
The Eketahuna Club provides a nice flat POP site with water and a dump station, an ideal location for travellers on the road from Rotorua or Taupo down towards Wellington. The clubhouse is an interesting old building with a photo of not the Queen but the Queen Mother in the foyer and a beautiful richly furnished billiards room with wood panelled walls. The popular dining room served good fish and chips. Luckily the Clubhouse appeared to have been undamaged in the earthquake which struck the region a year or so ago.
This photo above shows Graeme and Barbara’s caravan next to ours. If a new number plate is issued every one minute in NZ (actually I have no idea, just making this up) then G&B in Tauranga bought their vehicle just 23 minutes before we bought ours in Christchurch!
While based at Eketahuna we visited the Pukaha Mount Bruce sanctuary, home of the unique white kiwi Manukura and various endangered birds, plus some tuataras and gheckos. It was difficult to see the kiwis as their nocturnal house was even more dimily lit than any other kiwi house I have visited. However, the white kiwi certainly stood out amongst the gloom! Apparently not an albino but the result of the parents both carrying a rare recessive gene, Manukura is now a big girl who is hoped to mate with her brown male companion before too long. Her name is a very old and noble one meaning ‘of chiefly status’. She was hatched at Pukaha; her parents came from Little Barrier Island. Her hatching made world-wide news and even now she has her own Facebook page.
We arrrived at the sanctuary right on Kaka feeding time, and the girl at the desk kindly directed us straight to the feeding area via a ‘Staff only’ entrance. Kaka are large birds and it was a little alarming to be dive-bombed by several as we entered the area! Although endangered, there are over 140 wild Kaka flying free at Pukaha. As usual both Dave and I could not stop taking photos.
A Kaka breeding ‘nest’ ….
The sanctuary has several large aviaries containing at risk or endangered birds – the Stitchbird, Kokako, Kakariki etc. The aviaries are huge and it was a pleasure to walk along the trails within native bush. At one place we spotted a young rabbit and were later told that it was a good sign that there were no stoats and ferrets around. The sanctuary is surrounded by a predator-proof fence, of course.
Next day, on to Masterton via the chalky cliffs of Vinegar Hill and the winding Rangitikei river. We stopped at Stormy Point to take in the incredible views. The notice board said “Stormy Point lookout offers you the chance to view one of the best preserved sequences of river terraces in the world…..”
And off we go again ……