The ferry crossing was again in calm sunny weather so we could enjoy the sights of the hills surrounding the sound on the way out. In Wellington we set the GPS to Bill Knoef’s house in Lower Hut which was some 10 km further up the road. Bill and my cousin Frances were waiting for us with dinner. The boat was a bit delayed so they were worried that we had eaten before coming. This was again a great reunion between family members who have never seen each other. Bill cancelled a course he had in the evening and went to work late the next day so we could have an extensive breakfast together. Heart warming.

The 570 km drive from Wellington to the West Coastal holiday town of Raglan was beautiful. First along the busy State Highway 3 along the coast. It was slow going because the bypasses of the medium size towns we drove through had not been built yet. In Whanganui we turned north from the coast and drove up SH 4 following first the wide Whanganui river and then through the mountains to the “National Park”. The park is on a high volcanic plateau of Mnt Ngauruhoe and Mnt. Tongariro. The road winds over grassy (tree cut) hills and along some steep river valleys. In the early evening we arrived at the “Farm Cottage” in Raglan where we met up with the “Ebury street gang” (Dave, Libby, Karin, Robin, Rudy), their partners (Christine, John, Paul, Jamaliah) and children. In total we were with 9 adults and 5 children. The farm has a large deck overlooking the sea estuary. Once the bottles were opened all stories from 30 years ago started flowing. People have not really changed. The voices and mannerisms are still the same. Besides a few kg’s you could say that there depth/wisdom has become a bit deeper due to life’s experiences.

Friday was spent with a drive/walk to the “bridal veil falls” and a visit to some of the beaches around the large bay where people were wave surfing. On Saturday the girls went to investigate the town while Dave and Rudy checked out the beaches for good fishing spots (for Dave) and played a game of tennis at the local sports fields. The evening meal was the world famous Raglan fish and chips before driving to Hamilton to watch a rugby match between the Chiefs (Hamilton) and the Blue’s (Auckland). Before starting a Hakka was performed to frightened the Aucklanders. With success because they lost (23-13). Back at the farm, we could see through the clouds, a lunar eclipse.

On Sunday David, Paul, young Lachlan and Rudy went for a game of golf. It was similar to 27 years ago. You walked over grassy hills, where the grass was kept short by sheep, and you had to try not to step in their droppings or hit them with the golf balls. After a relaxing bubble bath we had another extensive barbeque meal.

The fantastic reunion was rounded off with a final brunch in the local coffee shop. After goodbyes we drove to the Waitomo caves to float under the star like glow worms against the cave ceiling. By sunset we made it to a DOC camp at Ngaherenga (173 km) and enjoyed for the first time the songs of birds in the nearby forest.