What a strange name – what on earth can it mean? The small township of Ongaonga, named after the nearby stream, shares the Maori name with the native stinging nettle Urtica ferox, a tall plant sprouting fine poisonous hairs on the leaves and stems. Reportably described in an 1892 newspaper as “a more ferocious affair than the English nettle”, the early settlers would have discovered to their cost.
Ongaonga was founded in 1872 by run holder H Bridge – he built a school and church and provided land for a recreation ground. Some of the old historic buildings still remain in the town centre, but it looks rather like a town which time forgot, with only a small store and pub seemingly still in business. Sadly there were many “For Sale" signs dotted about, including one on the pub. The well photographed Coles Bros building was recently featured in the Historic Places Trust magazine. We last visited this lovely little village several years ago – read more info about it here.
Coles Bros Building – they used to do it all from funerals to plumbing
General Store and Tea Rooms
Lovely little church
There were back roads to explore too, and we drove along looking for a DOC “Free Parking” area off the rather posh sounding Ashley Clinton Road. When we arrived, we came across a fellow putting his clothes on while sitting in the back seat of his car. Robin was sure he had a lady friend in there with him, but I wasn't going to peer in the windows to make sure. Goodness – no sense staying around here, we felt, although we did have time to notice that the ground was rather undulating and not really suitable to park a caravan on.
Driving along we came to an abrupt halt – Christmas was obviously well celebrated out here in the rural countryside. Looks like all the family names are written on the car, so Santa knows whose stockings had been hung up.
Good children live here, Santa
That’s a very festive sign, but can you see what is hidden in the grass? Looks like Santa’s sleigh has been grounded, and we know why!
Santa sleigh down in the long grass.
Just look at this – we watch enough History Chanel on TV to know what a Trebuchet (Siege Engine) looks like. And this household has a great supply all lined up, ready and waiting, to hurl at anything passing by, such as poor old Santa on his sleigh. Perhaps we should tell the authorities?
Great big grand-daddy catapult
Quite a selection of smaller ones
Perhaps it is not as bad as it looks, and the family is into medieval war games? But we weren’t taking any chances and high tailed it out of there. Especially when we noticed the neighbour over the way seems to build armour for his protection.
The iron man