Organised picnics have long been enjoyed at this time of the year and though the mode of conveyance to such events has changed over the years, the formula of ample food and drink, sunshine and good cheer in a congenial location is tried and true. Many picnics became a part of the social calendar, eagerly awaited each year.
In the early 1920s, the children attending Warkworth school were taken to Waiwera each year for their picnic. An early start was essential as boats such as the Hauiti needed to leave Warkworth on the full tide. Parents and children would gather on the wharf as early as 7am and such was the popularity of the outing, that local businesses would advertise in advance the closing of their premises on that day.
With stops at the Cement Works, Red Bluff and Mahurangi Heads to take aboard more passengers, a full boat load would be landed at Waiwera, where swimming in the sea or hot pools was enjoyed and justice was done to an abundance of fruit supplied by local orchards. A cargo of watermelons brought by Capt. Emtage was especially appreciated. After races on the beach came the inevitable lolly scramble and then around 5pm a whistle would summon all aboard for the return home.
Times were changing and by 1928 the venue chosen for the picnic was Dacre’s Claim, at Whangateau. This allowed the children from Ti Point and Big Omaha to join with Warkworth children in a programme of races and competitions. Motor transport proved somewhat unreliable as one bus broke down, a lorry ran out of petrol and two cars had punctures. Railway workers and their families were one of the largest groups to hold an annual picnic. Two special trains, one from Helensville and the other from Maungaturoto, brought about 500 picnickers to Kaipara Flats in 1928 where a sports day took place. Dome Valley settlers began meeting for their annual picnic in the 1870s and for more than 50 years made use of the same place on Grimmer’s farm. Visitors came from far afield making it something of an anniversary gathering. An energetic committee arranged the catering and entertainment each year. Lunch and afternoon tea were served and while the young people took part in activities, older folk could find a shady spot to reminisce and listen to gramophone selections. It was noted in 1926 that a number of motor cars had taken the place of horse transport but it was still the call of cows waiting to be milked that drew picnickers homeward at the close of the day.