The Karamea ANZAC service was held mid-morning. Town folk gathered to hear a story about three Baker’s leaving the area to go fight and to fortunately return as five. The rumble of restored army vehicles echoed across the basin and made the experience just magic – who needed a fly over? Trying to convince the farmer to load up the turret machine gun and fire off a volley didn’t eventuate as much as me trying to convince BClaire to volunteer as the target.
It was a further 17kms north by road till it ran out. We had now driven the last of it as far as we could. It ended at the start of one of NZ’s Great Walks within the Kahurangi National Park – the Heaphy Track. I walked it back in the early 90’s and what takes 4-5 days by foot can now be mountain biked over 2-3 days.
A land line phone rang in the shelter, so I answered it. The person on the other end asked for Martin. Calling out his name, this lanky Irishmen came running over. It was his transport call to organize his pick up. Just the fact the phone rang like that had joking comments about his Mum calling to see if he was okay through to his pizza order confirmation – it had heads shaking and laughter abound and allowed new connections to be made.
Martin had just walked the Heaphy from the Collingwood end and was now getting ready to tackle another tramp from west to east called the Wangapeka Track (52 km). It’s a tougher one with saddles over 1000 metres, the highest 1701. Another seed sown for us to add to our ‘adventure’ list.
The second bedroom handled the 14 km steep winding gravel road to the Oparara Basin Walks exceptionally well. More spectacular was the Oparara Arch, a limestone formation at 219 m deep, 43 m high and 29 m wide. Back at the carpark where a mum and dad were trying to bribe their moaning and groaning young children to walk up to it was made easier when I mentioned that you can find a pet rock to take home as big as Dad can carry. And off they trundled!
Our final sortie of the day ended at the ‘Last Resort’ for an ale. The world is a small place when you connect with total strangers that are linked through personal associations – the camp caretaker knowing my Dad as the shuttle driver from Kaiapoi; the ‘Last Resort’ owner going to school with our friend Mandy in Greymouth; a woman girl friending a cousin from Amberley; and a woman from Picton remembering BClaire’s family when BClaire lived there aged 6. It made for un-expected conversations, banter, laughter and too many re-hydration ales!
The camp kitchen during our time in Karamea allowed us to meet four young German tourists holidaying in New Zealand. The dialogue around ANZAC Day and its significance made for all to make a comment about how they are not proud of their history when it comes to peace time commemorations about war. They needn’t be. The couple who joined us at the service were there of their own volition. Although it was hard to imagine their emotions that they were feeling as the service was being given, we were pleased to be standing shoulder to shoulder with them.
The young fella had also walked the length of New Zealand, completing the Te Araroa Trail. Little did he know that his presence had inspired us. We now shift our focus to visit all our Face Book friends in person where ever they are located on the planet.
Karamea – a place where new konnections were made.
And the place where we celebrated the 100th year ANZAC Day commemorations.