6pm Mangere Bridge at the Coronation Restaurant and Bar
Well, I’ve made it across the Coast to Coast Walkway which traverses the City and I’m now over the Mangere river. I’m a bit weary as I decided to have a detour to visit Hillsborough which is where we lived when Dad brought us over here in 1975/6. We lived at 507 Hillsborough Road and Helen and I went to Waikowhai intermediate school. I’d started the Coast to Coast pretty early leaving the vacant again shop and getting the 7am Devonport to Downtown ferry (sorry John I couldn’t say anything to Willy, I saw him and waited around a bit but he was full on in conversation with a lady and to go up and say he was a “good F$%k” just didn’t seem right….next time maybe!). I even left my dads blue shirt tied to first railing on right hand walkway and came back but willy was still chatting.
The Coast to Coast wasn’t as straight forward as I’d hoped (big yellow signs with arrows everywhere) and I managed to end up on the wrong side of the express ways which bisect the city when I was going through the University. Missed the domain all together before I looped back to it. The climb up to Mt Eden was good with views everywhere across this huge but beautiful cityscape. I listened in on a kiwi guy explaining things to an american couple. I got the impression they were “doing” the whole country in a couple of weeks and flying everywhere. Well let me tell you “I am doing the whole country” not you with your chauffeur driven cars and guides talking about the best Pinot noir wines in the south Island …oh no indeed”
I was trying to take it pretty easy pace today as was only 14km across the city and then another 6km to the Ambury head regional park and camp. I even stopped at a burger king to get on the free wifi (far better wifi than MacDonalds by the way) and it would have been rude not to have bought something to eat while there! I also bought some fruit in royal Oak and sat and ate these for lunch in Jellicoe Park (about a pound of cherries, 2 plums, apricot and an apple!). It was all rather pleasant in the shade from the hot afternoon sun and I could see the bridge across the river by now so I got the old map and GPS out to see how far would be to Hillsborough. Hillsborough Road looked about 2-3km away do it depended on which number this was (it is a long long road with many a winding turn) so off I went. Turned out it was number 92 so had 400 houses to get through to 507! Getting pretty hot by now and feet aching on hard pavement but I was determined to
The school was about 10mins walk and I kinda remembered it from the outside. I decided to go inside and ask if I could have a look round as a “former pupil” Nice office lady was chatty and said she’d just check with the principal. A few minutes later Liz Wood the deputy principal introduced herself and kindly gave me a full guided tour!. I told her about my memories like getting the strap because “my mate” had made me laugh in assembly (no he wasn’t chinese) and that I always wanted to be able to get across the monkey bars which were over hard tarmac (alas all that remains of them is the filled in holes where the posts were) .I recognised my old classroom and the toilets round the back where my classmates had told me to hide when there was a uniform inspection (i never had the proper uniform….ahhh) Also the art room was what I remembered (the kiln had gone though). I suddenly remembered my teachers name was Mr Ibbotson and that Helen had done a cracking impersonation of Mrs Skivington. Alas Liz had only been there for 17 years and these teachers were long gone. Liz was really proud of the school and I could see why. there were some fantastic facilities with soundproofed music rooms, IT suites, a new library was going in that week. They have children coming in from all over the city. Apparently NZ is one of only 2 countries that has the intermediate system (the other is Haiti) this is 2 age groups Year 7&8. the idea was that it would help differentiate those pupils who would go on to do academic work from those who would be more vocationally trained. Not so relevant now but the system remains with a 50% turnover every year! The school had expanded a lot with new classrooms but the policy was not to have more than 400 pupils in total.There was a special school for pupils with cerebral palsy attached to the school and a kindy and primary school adjacent. the school is called Waikowhai after the beautiful NZ flower the Kowhai which grew in abundance on the site when it was marshy. If you translate Waikowhai it means “yellow water” which perhaps isn’t quite so nice with other less pleasant connotations! I thanked Liz and the office lady very much and they said to look them up on the web where they had archived some earlier photos of the school
My laughing friend at the dairy was on the phone when I got back so we said goodbye and good luck without a titter.
So onward to 507 and finally got there. It was even more built around than I remembered when visited it with Mum and dad in 1998. There was a house to the side (507A) and another house behind it where the back garden had been. Some hideous switchgear equipment was housed outside the front and just so different. The tree at the front was about the only thing still familiar. I had planned to put dad’s shirt there but it just didn’t feel right. Dying for a pee I walked back up the road to see if I could get a bus back to where I’d detoured. Asked at another dairy (no laughing chinese chap this time but a nice indian chap he thought I’d need to get 2 buses back) so went to next stop. Busting at this point so went behind shelter and was just emerging when bus arrived.
Driver confirmed I’d need to get another bus back to Onehunga but let me get on his bus to take me to the stop without charging me. Caught next bus with all the kids coming out of school so was packed, felt sorry for girl who had to sit next to me as I must have ponged a bit. Got to Onehunga and saw the library so decided to go in and see if can use the free internet service all libraries over here seem to offer. Chatted to a lady at the bus stop who gave me directions for where I’d need to go to get to the bridge from the library which was nice of her. Library a bit frustrating as only get 30mins at a time so had to keep logging in and saving before it shutdown on me. Only managed one blog before library closed at 5.30. So half an hours walk over the bridge and here I am. tucking in to a steak and chips plus a “little” side of crostini….yummy. Got a few kms still to do so hope I get there before dark. will get a few supplies from superette across road as completely bereft of anything but coffee. think will be opportunities to resupply over next day or so as I will still be going through yet more of Auckland!