Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 14, October 1970
By CHRISTINE HANDLEY
In April 1969 forty one members of the Waihi Historical Society were blessed with a perfect day for their successful visit to Mayor Island. Their enthusiastic reports - (especially that the sea was as calm as a mill-pond!), together with the fact that they were accompanied by Mr. L. Adams, (whose article about "Tuhua" was featured in Journal 11 [see Journal 11: Tuhua - Mayor Island - E]), spurred the Paeroa Society to arrange a similar trip in February this year.
Leaving Paeroa at "the crack of dawn" our party of 70 duly arrived at Tauranga to embark on the "Edward C." and the "Reremoana" at 7 a.m. Amidst the hubble of excited voices and the splashing of waves our boats plunged forward out of the harbour and over the bar - but where was the sun? The Mount soon disappeared into the mist and water spouts dropped out of the grey clouds into the choppy sea which despite our hopes soon produced a squirmy sensation in our stomachs.
Tuhua, island of peace and beauty, lay ahead and after three hours, a feeling of gladness swept over us when both boats came together and paused beside Honeymoon Bay, one of the few landing places with the old Maori Pa towering above it. Mr. Adams related historical incidents and drew our attention to the famous obsidian, the volcanic glass from early lava flows. Sailing on, we had a magnificent view of rock Arches, the Cathedral rocks occupying a great cliff wall, their vertical layers meeting to form an Arch. And there was the stalwart Maori Chief standing apparently detached in the ocean. We noted Te Aranui Plateau its flatness extending from the lip of the crater out to the cliffs with everywhere thousands of Pohutukawa trees, clinging to otherwise bare rocks. At Crater Bay the vertical lower walls of the crater were obvious.
Then at last we landed, somewhat precariously, at Opo or South East Bay. The steel hull of the "Edward C." was able to run nearly on to the beach but the "Reremoana" had a wooden hull, so anchored, and its passengers were rowed to shore in local dingys, our packages being taken separately. The picturesque buildings among the trees comprised the fishing lodge and amenities with cabins for tourists - mostly deep-sea fishermen. The weather held but the wind was cool and still no sun shone.
A hurried lunch was eaten in the shelter of a building used by camping parties and one was there at the time - a group of geologists from Auckland busy erecting multi-coloured pup-tents. Some of our party remained to listen to a talk by Mr. Adams or to see a giant Pohutukawa Tree but the more energetic set off to conquer the peak - (Tutaretare 1,271 ft.) - via beautiful bush and entertained by the song of numerous bell birds. At a point where the track branched we had a magnificent view of the large "Green Lake" and the smaller "Black Lake" at the bottom of the Crater. Photographers were busy. Our leader, Mr. Phil Jones, explained that the Boy Scouts had been asked to ring-bark 300 exotic pine trees so that the island might revert to purely native bush. Continuing to the "Look Out" we enjoyed a great view - in the distance the white shore-line of Whangamata and the eastern beaches of the Coromandel Peninsula while below us lay S.E. Bay where we had landed two hours before, the water ominously green to almost black where it was hundreds of fathoms deep.
Our descent was speedy and after a short swim we picked up our possessions and gathered on the beach ready to be rowed out to our waiting boats, both now tossing off shore in an angry sea. It was a challenging situation, the most anxious moment being when a dingy was submerged leaving two of our members clinging to the edge of the boat they were to board. Willing hands helped them but a precious camera sank to the bottom of S.E.Bay, and dry clothes posed a problem.
No-one looked forward to the rough return trip and soon there were many "pale faces" while heavy seas periodically drenched us. We were accompanied by a school of dolphins which reached fantastic speeds weaving in and out of the water in front of our boats, their bodies seeming to meet no resistance. They helped to keep our minds off our miserable insides. Once over the bar of Tauranga Harbour we became more cheerful and viewed our adventure in a new light. It was certainly a day with a difference to be remembered and cherished in spite of temporary regrets. But note – "Watch that sea!"
OUR CONTRIBUTOR: CHRISTINE HANDLEY, at present a Student Teacher at the Waikato Training College, is the eldest daughter of Matt and Dora Handley who farm at Netherton. She is a grand-daughter of Kathleen and the late Bill, and great-granddaughter of the late James Handley who came to Paeroa about 1902 and farmed first on Puke Road and then on Mill Road and Old Netherton Road. He later returned to Puke Road and managed his farm properties from there. In his family of ten there were three daughters, Kate (Mrs. R. Clark), Maude (Mrs. T. Masters) and the late Penelope (Mrs. W. Taylor) and seven sons, Wilfred and Ned and the late Jim, Frank, Bill, Claude and Bert.