Muffins and redoubts

Muffins We have discovered that the holiday park we are living in has a vast and largely unused commercial sized kitchen, usually only opened when large groups pass through. As well as rows of shiny steel cookware, it has a store cupboard filled with all manner of things. Those huge tins of baked beans, for example, for the time when you just feel the urge to splurge out on a 2.7kg epic beans on toast marathon.

It also has a huge quantity of flour and butter, and as we are currently in competition with the chickens regarding the egg production to egg consumption ratio (they are winning thus far), it was decided that we may as well bake muffins, ostensibly to sell in the cafe which we open in the morning to cater to the caffeine wants of Tongariro hikers.

Armed, therefore, with all the ingredients required to bake, and having discovered the key difference between baking powder and baking soda, an initial batch of 12 was created featuring banana and walnut. These were mostly eaten within about an hour of them coming out of the oven, to ensure quality, and we deemed the muffin creation a Mount Ngauruhoe success. More muffins were created, and we figured these would probably be saleable. Only, we hadn’t quite had enough actual muffin ingredients to make them taste of much other than muffin dough, so we decided that sadly this tray would have to be given away free to guests checking in. Next time, we will fully prepare ourselves with all sorts of muffin ingredient goodness, and hope that the standard will be sufficient such that we won’t have to eat them all again. Which would be a tragedy.

Of course, it hasn’t all been muffin related. The fun of working in a small holiday park is the variety of experience. It reminds me somewhat of growing up on a small desert island – there is always something different happening to engage the interest, plus it is almost as isolated. From lying under someone's hire car trying to figure out the value of the large piece of metal that is Mount Ruapehudangling off, to poking at the hot water system with a screw driver, to simply explaining the walk (that I still haven’t done yet, although it is pencilled in for next week), there is always something to keep us interested.

As well as that, it’s not all work. The busy summer season hasn’t really appeared yet, so the park is fairly quiet. This means that most afternoons are entirely ours, and the area is ripe for exploration. Recently we took a little wander from the park to a nearby redoubt. This, from what I can tell, is some sort of earthen fort, and in this case it was the site of a battle between colonial forces and a group of Maoris, including the, at the time, infamous Te Kooti, who had been on the run from the Crown for over a year.View from Te Porere Upper redoubtThe battle took place on the 4th of October 1869, and comprised over 500 government soldiers and their Maori allies. Despite what was presumably fierce fighting and the crown force being equipped with both rifles and heavy artillery, at the end of the battle – in which 41 people lost their lives - Te Kooti managed to slip away.

Nowadays the site, known as Te Porere, is regarded as sacred by the local people, both as a place where many lives were lost, and as one the last major engagements between the Maori people and government forces.

The site is set across two redoubts, a lower and an upper, both of which feature small earthenware forts where the Maori fighters made their stands. These are set against the Te Porere Memorial Stoneabsolutely staggering backdrop of Mt’s Tongariro, Ngauruhoe and Ruapehu, which are  still snow covered. Steam is visible coming from the hot pools on the side of Mt Tongariro. All in all, it’s a pretty spectacular place to be and to wander around, with a palpable sense of history, with the story being told via some informative signs. And all only a few hundred metres walk from where we live. Where soon, there may be more muffins. If you’re in the area, do drop by, we may even have some recently baked to try ;)

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