Summer camp an annual family ritual

By Dee WIlson

When Rex and Lorna Tatton first started camping at Motutere Bay on the eastern shores of Lake Taupo in the mid-1960s they had five children aged 4 to 17, one camp site, a hired caravan and a jet boat.

Forty eight years later now 91-year-old Rex and various members of his extended family, including his four children, 14 grandchildren and eight great grandchildren, still make the annual summer pilgrimage from Masterton to Motutere for the annual camping holiday.

These days the family takes up three camp sites with several boats, kayaks and a lot more camping gear.

After 66 years of marriage and a lot of camping, Lorna opts to stay home in Masterton, leaving her husband in the capable hands of family members.

Rex's visits are now restricted to the occasional long weekend in January rather than the month-long summer breaks of the past when the family left home just after Christmas and stayed for most of January. And although the keen angler no longer gets out on the lake he still loves the place.

``The world has a different view at Motutere,'' he says.

He first started holidaying in Taupo in the early 1950s after going half shares with his brother in 32 foot launch Okataina, originally a Government boat used on Lake Okataina near Rotorua.

``You could only trawl along the surface in those days and we used to catch plenty of trout.''

When his brother purchased Rex's share of the boat the family started camping at Bulli Point in a converted mobile trailer before shifting to the Motutere camping ground.

The top of the range Crusader caravan Rex bought 47 years ago has only been on two sites at the camping ground.

After the first seven years at Motutere, Rex was offered a permanent prime site at the southern end of the camping ground, just metres from the lake edge.

The Crusader has been parked up on the site since then and apart from a new awning purchased two years ago, it is in original condition, which is no surprise to Rex.

``The average caravan cost around 650 pounds back then and that one was 990 pounds!''

While the camp has more than doubled in size since the family first started holidaying at Motutere, the essence of their summer holidays remains the same _ boating, fishing, swimming, relaxing and some friendly family rivalry in the form of kayak races.

A highlight of the family holidays has always been the beer battered trout that used to be caught and cooked up for breakfast every morning by Rex.

``It was an absolute ritual,'' he says.

``Dad always made sure that some beer from the night before was left over for the batter mix the following day,'' recalls his daughter Trish, who is now charged with making the batter.

This year, on the final day of his holiday, Rex was thrilled to be presented with a trout caught by his grandson and his great grandson from a kayak.

``I'm just so lucky to have the family living close and bringing me back up here,'' he says. ``And when I kick the bucket they'll still have the use of the caravan!''

- Rotorua Daily Post

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