What a beautiful place the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand is! The Bay of Plenty Beauty! I took some visitors to Te Puna Quarry Park on the weekend and I was reminded of not only the beauty of the Bay, but also what a collective bunch of inspired souls can achieve when they work together to create a place of stunning ambience and tranquility, that is the Quarry Park. The history is quite impressive! This was land originally confiscated from indigenous Maori in 1864. Then in the early 1900’s, rock was mined here for roading purposes.
Without going into too much history, as this is all available on the website https://www.quarrypark.org.nz/about-us/quarry-park-history for further info, whenever I go to the quarry park, I feel a sense of pride, of connectedness and community strength. When mining operations ended in the late 70’s, what was left was a great big scar on the landscape. Some locals decided to form a trust and to create a place of beauty out of this ugly scar. I met one of the original driving forces, Shirley Sparks (originally from South Africa) – a deeply dedicated lady with abundant energy and enthusiasm, when I joined a two day adobe workshop in the park, building a small enclosed “sacred space”.
Within the park, several community groups have worked together to create areas of interest, for example, the rhododendron garden, the NZ Natives, the Bromeliad gardens, orchid gardens etc. Several local artists have also created works of art and gifted them to the park, for visitors to enjoy. Tucked away in bushes, one catches glimpses of sandstone sculptures or recycled household or garden object artworks. There are several “found object musical instruments” for children and adults to “create music” of sorts while jamming around in the great outdoors.
All through the park are pathways leading in different directions. I have been several times and I don’t think I have explored even half of the pathways yet! For the fit, paths leading upwards take you to some incredible views across the valley toward the ocean, with the Mount, a small mound on the horizon to the right. Benches thoughtfully placed at strategic points allow visitors to catch their breath or sit in quiet contemplation.
What astounds me while in this breathtakingly beautiful space, is that it has all been lovingly created and maintained by volunteers! And the best thing is, Te Puna Quarry Park is open all day, seven days a week! Entry is FREE, however, there is a donation box one can generously tip, as this just ensures ongoing costs of operating are met. Please give generously! It strikes me that elsewhere on the planet, this would definitely be a healthy entry fee gathering mission. There is a lovely shaded picnic area near the children’s dragon slide, where families can gather or even hold children’s parties.
This is definitely an inspirational place to be, somewhere you can go to and marvel at the great creative energy and generosity of community spirit that has led to this MAGNIFICENT space. A testimony to all the folk who have donated time and resources freely, a real model of turning something ugly into something admirable. Make sure you take time out to witness the Sacred Beauty that is Te Puna Quarry Park, between Katikati and Tauranga.
Enjoy! Kia Ora,