Thursday 23 April
We took a couple of days off work while the kids were still with us, and decided to visit Omokoroa. Omokoroa is a small peninsula out into Tauranga Harbour back towards Tauranga itself. The weather wasn’t much good, but a change of scene seemed a good idea. We took both Suzi and the car, to give us a bit more flexibility. We headed over in the early afternoon, and found the camping ground which has hot pools. We had a look around the camping ground while waiting for someone to come to the office. It would have been the cleanest camping we’ve seen. We meant to find out how they got their stainless steel bench tops and shower trays so shiny, but forgot to ask.
The camp charges were quite hefty, but included access to the lovely hot pools. And they were one of those places that charge for 14-year olds as adults. And one of those places that charge by the person, not by the site. So two couples in two motorhomes on two sites would pay exactly the same as two couples (or one couple with two teenagers) in one motorhome on one site. We had a bit of bother fitting ourselves onto one site and keeping Suzi reasonably level. So I went back to the office and asked if we could have two adjoining sites, and how much more would that cost. She spluttered a bit, and had a bit of trouble figuring out whether and how much more she could charge. In the end she let us park slightly over the boundary into the adjoining site – which wasn’t needed by anyone else anyway. But my question remains; can they stop four people booking two sites when the charge is no different? We could have said that we would park Suzi with the boundary across her middle, the kids would have been sleeping on one site, and we’d have been on the other. I have previously booked two tent sites for the family at a camping ground down south that also charged strictly by the person. This after previous times of using only one site with the kid’s tents squished up around the family tent.
Anyway, in the end we were parked and level. The internet access was better than at the packhouse, so the kids were content. We went and tried out the hot pools, and they were wonderful. Real thermal water, the woman in the office said the water contains a lot of zinc that was good for skin. Whatever it was, it left a pleasant slimy coating after a while. There were three pools, with the smaller ones being warmer. The smallest one had a sign saying Adults Only and I wondered if this included 14-year olds who were being charged as adults. Wyn and I went for a drive to explore the rest of the rest of the peninsula. We found the wharf and shop – a car ferry goes across to Matakana Island from here. It was wet and windy so we didn’t stay long. We had thought about using the great kitchen and dining area in the camp, but the weather wasn’t very nice, so it was tea in Suzi again. And after tea, all four of us went for another soak in the hot pools. The teenagers didn’t stay long; I guess it is a bit boring just sitting around soaking.
The Big Shop Friday 24 April
We slept well after being cooked nicely in the hot pools. And after breakfast Wyn and I had another soak for good measure. But not too long, the kids were keen to go shopping. We’d decided on a trip into Tauranga, or more specifically to the Bayfair shopping mall at Mt Maunganui. We took the car, and were away by 9.30am – sort of the equivalent of a pre-dawn start for us with the kids. We found the mall, and eventually found a spare park in the car park. Once inside, we split up. The kids were off looking for birthday presents for me, and we were looking for birthday presents for Andrew who was ceasing being a teenager a couple of days later.
We met up again for lunch at the food court. The kids reported they were all done, but we’d been a bit sidetracked here and there, and needed more time. So with one more burst we were done as well. Andrew had definitely had enough by then. We headed back to the camp, via downtown Tauranga so at least the kids would have some memory of the city centre. Back at the camp the kids crashed in the lounge in Suzi, wanting to sleep. So Wyn and I had a lie-down in our bedroom, and did have a sleep. We woke to find it dark, with a note from the kids saying they’d gone off to play pool in the rec room. So we had a clear run to wrap presents.
We had talked of going down to the boat club for drinks to celebrate birthdays, but it was fairly crowded and busy. We headed back to the camp via the fish and chip shop, and had an easy tea. Then it was time for presents. The kids had done very well after I’d struggled to suggest anything I wanted, other than maybe some shorts for sleeping in. They found some of them. And some house socks for wearing in Suzi – which are now hardly off me inside. Aannd… a DVD of Leonard Cohen’s concert in London last year. This is the same show and performers that we saw in Wellington this year. After that concert I’d wished there was a DVD to have as a permanent record of a special moment in my life. And now I do. Wow! Wow for getting it! Wow for the kids for finding it! Then it was time for presents for Andrew from us. And cake and candles. This was their last evening with us, and a nice ending to a busy day and to their week with us.