Scorched forest farm – Wildbore cache no.7

No. 1 Line
The Neilson Farm on No. 1 Line, Awahou in 1896. Photographed by Charles E. Wildbore. Palmerston North Library.

Number 7 in the Wildbore geocache series is on No. 1 Line on the eastern side of the Pohangina Valley.  It was on No. 1 Line that Charles E. Wildbore took one of his earliest surviving landscape photographs, in 1896. The photograph starkly captures the brutal transformation of the landscape by fire. A farmhouse is surrounded by the incinerated limbs and trunks of the forest trees, that until only a few years previously covered the hills and river terraces of the entire valley. While we cannot see this from the photograph, this would likely have been a landscape of oppressive silence – any birds that were able to escape the conflagration would likely have taken refuge in the nearby Ruahine foothills, while introduced birds, such as the sparrow, thrush and blackbird were yet to colonise the valley in substantial numbers. Continue reading

The church that moved: Wildbore cache no. 4

St Aidans Church Awahou.jpgThe fourth cache in the now “Wildly-Famous-in-Pohangina” Wildbore geocaching series is at the top of Church Hill, near the site of the eponymous church.

By the end of the 19th century, the  population of Awahou, on the eastern side of Pohangina River, had grown to a healthy number, and the community felt it was high time for a church to service the Awahou community.

St. Aidan’s Church was opened in November 1902, a modest but attractive timber church accommodating 74 people. Continue reading

Hauling logs across Te Awaoteatua Stream: Wildbore cache no. 3

Hauling log Te Awaoteatua Stream.jpg
Horses pulling a milled log across the Te Awaoteatua Stream bridge at the bottom of Church Hill, Awahou. The man sitting on the front of the log is Mat Mai, Wildbore’s brother-in-law. The brakeman at the back is Trevor Madson. Date unknown. Palmerston North Library.

The third cache in the Wildbore geocache series is hidden near the site of this photograph, taken by Charles E. Wildbore, showing two Valley men  pulling a milled log across the Te Awaoteatua Stream bridge at the bottom of Church Hill, Awahou.

The road down to the stream was realigned in the late 1960s/early 1970s, but it can still be seen in the face of the hill when looking north from the bridge (it is also visible as a contour in Google maps). Continue reading

“Ghost bridge” – Wildbore cache no. 2

Old and new Raumai Bridge 1973.jpg
The old and new Raumai Bridges in 1973, before the old bridge was demolished. This view is looking north-west from No.4 Line. Palmerston North Library courtesy Manawatu Evening Standard

Those who have travelled up the eastern side of Pohangina Valley, to visit Totara Reserve, for example, will have crossed the Raumai Bridge. Those with more life experience may also the old Raumai Bridge, a bridge with a troubled past. Continue reading

The school that moved: Wildbore geocache no. 1

Awahou South School 1909
Teacher and pupils at Awahou South School, No. 4 Line, 1909. Palmerston North Library. Left to right: Norah Callesen, Annie Millen, Eileen Lynch, Kate Henson, Agnes Spelman, Kathleen (Gay) Spelman, Adelia (Delia) Spelman, Olive Hunt, Mary Leamy, Eileen Spelman, Mary Wellock, Albery Henson, Oscar (Tui) Callesen, Bernard Spelman, Unknown (Delph Spelman?), Tom Leamy, Cliff Spelman, Unknown x2, Henry Hunt. Teacher: Mr Lewis.

In 1977, an entire school house moved from its existing location on a country road in the shadow of the Ruahine Range in the Manawatu to the main street of Palmerston North City, nearly 30 kilometres away. To be fair, it was just a one-room school house, one of just over 40 square metres. The school was built in 1902, to take pupils within a 10-mile radius, who travelled to school by foot or pony. When it opened, it had a roll of 20, and by 1907, the number had increased to 32. Continue reading

Treasure in a charred survivor

Bruce Park Reserve06
The kahikatea in which the geocache is hidden. Note the brown char marks around cavity.

On our way back from a recent trip to the Ruapehu Mountain district, we stopped at Bruce Park Reserve, near Hunterville. This was a forest reserve that I had read about in David Young’s conservation history of New Zealand Our Islands, Our Selves, and I had long wanted to visit it. To help entice my husband – an avid geocacher – to stop, I declared “there is sure to be a geocache in there!” Somewhat reluctantly, he relented, but his acquiescence paid off, because this turned out to be his favourite geocache of the trip. Continue reading

The waterfall of Waterfall Road & other treasures

Waterfall of Waterfall Road, Kapiti.
Waterfall of Waterfall Road, Kapiti.

Longtime envirohistory NZ followers might remember how my husband and I stumbled upon the international phenomenon of geocaching entirely by accident (see Hidden treasure at Otaki Gorge). Geocaching involves searching for caches that have been hidden by members of the worldwide geocaching community, using GPS coordinates and other clues. Continue reading