Pre Christmas is such a busy time, isn't it. We had another caravan trip planned, about 8 days this time, to attend the ICA Christmas Rally, up at Te Aroha and Matamata, quite a drive away for us. Most of the ICA members live much further north than us, so depending on where the rally is being held, we generally have the longest drive. Our first stop was at Turangi, a well known fishing area. There was a tap on the door, and a lady asked us if we would be interested in a trout fillet. My goodness, of course we would, and she didn't want any payment for it either. (I have since found out from another fisherwoman that it is illegal to sell trout in New Zealand – I didn’t know that). They had obviously had a good day out fishing as we saw her take fish to several other vans as well. Our dinner that night was already underway, so I carefully wrapped it up and popped it in the freezer to enjoy another night.
Free fish at Turangi
We passed through Tatuanui, and just had to stop here for a photo. One of the small silos was masquerading as a can of Dairy Whip Cream outside the Tatua Dairy factory. Very clever indeed.
The next two nights were spent at Te Aroha (meaning love or affection) and we were one of two caravans amongst 20 or so motorhomes. It was great to catch up with everyone again – this group only has 3-4 rallies each year. We were parked up on a freedom camping area, and just about filled it all up with our group.
Parked up at Te Aroha
We were parked next to a sports ground, used by many locals to exercise their dogs. We made sure to keep Gemma safely inside away from all the dogs.
Any dogs out there?
I was delighted to discover a quilt shop in Te Aroha. “Want to have a look?”, Robin inquired as he parked the car outside the shop. What a silly question, of course I did. Aroha Quilts was a lovely shop, with a wonderful supply of quilt goodies. I wasn’t really after anything in particular, but after a good look around, I purchased some more pink and green fabric for my daughter’s Big Birthday quilt. This is yet to be started, but I have a good selection of fabrics now. Also spotted was sock yarn, so two balls of variegated blue was purchased too.
Te Aroha Quilts, and my purchases
Back at the rally, we were sitting outside enjoying the sunshine when a man from one of the nearby houses approached us with a basket of goodies. His wife makes jams and pickles so he wondered if our group of campers would be interested. Yes, I certainly was, I bought a jar of lemon honey and another of passionfruit spread.
Yummy stuff indeed
Moving on the next day we stopped at Wairere Falls carpark, plenty of room for us to park for lunch. There were plenty of cars parked up in the middle car park, full of keen walkers and trampers off the climb the tracks to see the Wairere Falls up close. We took the easy way out and took a photo instead of these magnificent falls, they must be even more beautiful after heavy rainfall in the ranges.
Wairere Falls in the distance
Even though we are on holiday, the laundry still needs doing. I took my latest pair of socks (knitted flat on two needles is the way I do them) along to work on while waiting, and waiting….
At the laundromat
Our next stop was two nights at the Matamata Club. The Maori name Matamata means “headland”. This was the name of a new pa (village) established in 1830 by Te Waharoa on a ridge of high ground. These days Matamata is a very wealthy horse breeding town, and is also well known as the area where Hobbiton is situated. In fact, the Information Centre is a replica Hobbiton House, and is the most photographed info centre in the country. Tours to Hobbiton are very popular, this is where the Hobbit’s Village was built for the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.
Matamata Information Centre
The catered meal at the Matamata Club was the grand finale to our rally. Father Christmas and his helpers welcomed us all into the dining room and gave us all a Christmas gift bag.
The meal was wonderful, hot ham, roast lamb, plenty of salads and veggies, plus a huge dish of prawns in a very tasty sauce, I really enjoyed them! A delicious selection of desserts too, with tea and coffee to follow. But the meal wasn’t over yet, there was the Christmas cake to cut. The cake was delicious, chock full of fruit, just how I like it.
Merry Christmas to us
It was a wonderful evening, the food was great, and we congratulated the chef and his staff when they popped out to see us all.