30 April 2014

Going For A Walk: Rotoroa Island {Or Why Weren't We Invited To The Wedding?}

Rotoroa Island was another one of those places I really wanted to visit while we were cruising in New Zealand this summer. I had done some research on it previously and was really intrigued by its history as a Salvation Army alcohol treatment center (along with the neighboring island Pakatoa). The Salvation Army have since closed their facilities on both Rotoroa and Pakatoa Islands. Pakatoa was turned into a resort complex and I believe it is still for sale if you have a lot of cash on hand. Rotoroa has been leased from the Salvation Army and transformed into a conservation island where you can learn about the history of the Sallie's operations on the island, as well as see the efforts that are going into restoring the native flora and fauna. They have a regular ferry service, so if you don't have your own boat, you can still visit and enjoy the island.

When you land on the island, this is the first sign you see. There is a NZ$5 per person visit landing fee to help contribute to the operating costs of the island. One of us really balked at paying to visit the island, especially since there are so many other islands you can visit for free in the Hauraki Gulf. His name might begin with the letter "S". And while I admire his frugal approach to cruising (every penny counts in the cruising kitty!), I really wanted to see the island, so we did. I figured for the price of a bottle of cheap wine, it was worth it to see where people who drank way too many bottles of cheap wine were treated.

You can see that they have separate bays for ladies and men. I've seen this on other historic islands. Personally, I think it is a great idea to have separate places for swimming. Less time spent worrying about how you look in your bathing suit and trying to remember the last time you shaved your legs. Unfortunately, nowadays, the beaches are co-ed.

On the wharf there is what looks to be an old run for sheep to be loaded on and off of barges. Sheep make for very handy lawnmowers.

This is the new exhibition center on the island. On the ramp leading up to the entrance are 12 panels reflecting the Salvation Army's "12 Steps to Recovery". This isn't the kind of island where they encourage visiting boaties to start partying and binge drinking. You can drink while you're having your picnic or barbeque on the island, but they ask that you do so in moderation. Inside the exhibition center is the honesty box where you pay your landing fee.

There is a very interesting exhibit on the history of the island inside the center. I liked this old photograph which shows how it used to look back in the day. Although some of the buildings have been preserved, the island looks very different today.

This is one of the old buildings still on the island. You can see some of the restoration plantings on the hillside.

This was the holding cell where they put people to dry out if needed when they first arrived on the island.

The steps up to the chapel.

Which was surprisingly locked. I thought that it might be open so that people could have a look inside and perhaps a quiet moment of meditation, prayer, reflection or day-dreaming.

After checking out the chapel, we wandered over to Ladies Bay where we got to see this bride and groom having their wedding shots. It looks like they had their ceremony on the beach. They lucked out with the weather - nice and sunny for their big day.

While the newlyweds were having their photos taken, it looked like everyone else was at this cottage setting up for the reception. You can see a guy pulling a wagon which looked to be full of food and drink. They have a number of cottages you can rent, as well as a hostel, on the island.

After spying on the newlyweds and their friends, we walked up to the cemetery.

You can see the graves of former staff and clients and take in some great views of the neighboring islands.

Next we climbed up to the top of North Tower where we saw the bride and groom again having another photo opp. By this point, I was beginning to feel like we were quite good friends and thought we were going to be invited to the reception. The bride looked so pretty - nicely done hair and make-up and her dress was spotless. Me on the other hand - frizzy and unwashed hair, sun cream smeared all over my face and pretty mangy looking clothes. Perhaps that's why we didn't get invited down to raise a glass of bubbles and toast the new Mr. and Mrs.

We headed back down the hill to make our way back to the boat and we ran into these folks. Clearly they weren't invited to the wedding either. They definitely had that look of cruisers about them - the backpacks and shoes that you can wear both in and out of the water was kind of a dead giveaway.

And this is how we ended the day. Some Snappy Snapper Chowder made with the snapper Scott caught earlier that day. You can find the recipe here.

Walk on Wednesday, 19 March, 2014

Linked up to Travel Tuesday with Bonnie, Melanie & Tina. 

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