Our memories of Tahuna begin in 1956 with our parents, Herb and Hazel Pattinson, taking us on a Newman’s bus to spend Christmas holidays in a old caravan at the park close to where number four kitchen is now. While we were in Nelson that year, Dad brought the first family car and a tent and camping gear. This was the start of our camping experiences.
In a those early years, families from Dunollie and Runanga travelled in convoy, setting off in the small hours. After stops for toilets and lunch we would arrive some eight hours later. I often think of the fun we had in those early years. The men trawling for fish and yelling at Ag Daziell to bring the bag when fish were caught. We camped with some lovely Dunedin families and great lasting friendships were made. I have a Weekly News photo from 1960 showing my family and some of those friends on our way to the beach.
In 1960 my brother David was born so for him the Tahuna experience started when he was six months old. There was always so much to keep us busy with days at the beach – talent shows, magic shows with the “Great Benyon”, outdoor movies, and bike and car racing on the mudflats.
In 1966 my parents brought their own caravan, and moved to E Block where they once again made lovely friends. My son was born six weeks early while I was on holiday that year, and so he became the third generation to enjoy camping. Over the next 10 years, he was joined by three sisters. For many years we spent our holidays in the cabins next to where the present day function centre is.
When the centre was built we decided it was time for another change. We bought our caravan with the intent of moving with Mum and Dad to the site we still camp on today. Sadly, Dad didn’t live to see that, but Mum still came camping with us right up until the year before she died in 2012. Over the years my children have had children of their own. We’ve had four generations of family on site ranging in age from 3 weeks to 87 years old, each person adding to the family’s collective memories of Tahuna. Just like my Mum and I, my daughters love watching the younger family members enjoy the same things we enjoyed when we were young swimming on the beach, feeding ducks, long walks in the evenings, train and boat rides and berry picking – the list is endless.
As time has gone by, the simple tents, basic camping gear and Tilley lamps have changed to the luxury of powered sites, and all that electricity makes possible. We have shared births, deaths, weddings, love and laughter with the wonderful families we have met throughout the years.
Again this year, we will get up early and travel about four hours to get to Tahuna. As we turn the corner into the camp we will remember the camp staff who have been and gone, and we will be greeted by the lovely new staff who work there now. Thanks Mum and Dad for starting a journey of 60 years of wonderful memories.