More of Tohora

Another excerpt from Tohora! These few words may make you hungry for the whole story?

All in good time!


More of Tohora mountain slips
The road was blocked in many places by the Midnight Earthquake!

So the Tuesday saw me hiking around the point, which was blocked off completely by the collapsed mountainside, and by a squad from the NZ Armed Forces who wouldn’t allow me try my luck in Grant Stafford’s Landrover, to the wrecked Camry. I collected as much of our stuff as I could carry and making full use of our suitcase’s wheels hiked the two odd kilometres to Camp Kekerengu, where I was greeted like a long lost friend by Diane and the whole camp! Diane’s booze supplies took another knock when we all insisted on a dop to celebrate our survival! We were reduced to Bacardi and Coke though as her Whisky supplies were decimated!

Eating serious humble pie, I toasted Russ and Claire who were stranded, like the others, at Camp Kekerengu until the roads were opened up.

Russ, you are a true hero who almost paid the ultimate price for simply helping your fellow man!” I said with a tear in my eye, “Claire you have got one special man here, I’m recommending him for a Medal of Honour!” I said to Claire, who had entwined her arm in Russ’ at my words.

“The wall of water that took you and the rubber duck was massive!” “How you managed to hold on must be a testament to your tenacity and indomitable spirit!””And then that absolute chance dumping on the side of the road as the Tsunami receded, you must have a choir of angels looking after you Russ!”

De rien!” said Russ “It was nothing, you would have done the same for me and they build ‘em tough where I come from!” “I’m not sure if I believe your whale story though!” We all laughed.

The crew of the Coastguard boat has evidence in the form of photos, and they have promised to send them through to me. I’ll forward them to you on Whattsapp!” “And, no they are not photo shopped!” I added. We chuckled again as we swapped contact details. We were now inextricably linked by more than the Earthquake and Whisky stories!

They both received a longer than long hug!


More of Tohora Richie McCaw in Chopper
What were the chances of Rugby hero , Richie McCaw being the pilot!

I rode the Kawasaki back to Picton, where Motorent had arranged to collect the boney. I then hitched a lift in a rescue helicopter, (unbelievably the first time in my lifetime I had flown in a chopper), that was headed in Kaikoura’s direction, and the crew very kindly dropped me back at the Landrover. The chopper was on a mercy mission to air lift cows that were stranded on hillocks where the ground around them had simply disappeared!

Stay calm my baby! Help is on the way!
Stay calm my baby! Help is on the way!

That ride back to Picton via Blenheim was a sobering experience and I had to ride gingerly past the many slips that had been cleared and just as we had seen from the Pukaki, whole mountainsides had slipped into the sea! Just out of Seddon there was no way through close to the highway, so I had to test the KLR 650’s off road capabilities as I carved a route around the slip through the native bush and rocky terrain. The Kawasaki passed with flying colours and I was quite chuffed with my new found off road skills!

More of Tohora Kawa SLR 650
The Kawasaki KLR 650 proved a useful tool!

The road crews must have been busy 24/7 to try and get the roads open again and in places a new route had to be carved out of the crumbled rock! My idea of an adventure had come to fruition as an epic story of survival, and to get anyone to believe that a whale had virtually carried us to safety had become a near impossible task! The crew of the HMNZS Pukaki had pictures to back up our story though!


1984 saw the release of the unforgettable movie, Never Ending Story! Tohora took so many twists and turns, as Phillip and René were challenged, it seemed that their story might just never end!

St Vincent School For The Deaf helping the hard of hearing to listen:

Down Durban way The Fulton School for The Deaf:

Abraham Kriel Childcare group, caring while we work:

The Avril Elizabeth Home for the Mentally Handicapped was opened in 1970, and for the amazing work they do for the less fortunate they deserve great accolades: