She spent much of this childhood roaming the hills and exploring the stream valleys around the busy construction town that was just below the slowly forming Benmore Dam and lake.
It was a place of harsh weather and beautiful geography.
I said in yesterday's blog that we hadn't experienced this environment on a human scale...we'd only just zipped through it in cars. Well I was wrong.
This was Whiona's territory.
Rosehips. Dry valleys. Big government engineering. Skinks and tussock.
Just across the road from the backpackers we were staying in were three reminders of her upbringing.
A massive bulldozer. A huge earth moverscoopy thing. A big green truck. They sit in a neglected field...a big boys' toys playground.
Twizel is the town they built after Otamatata. It's where the workers lived who built the network of canals and powerstations that make electricity from lakes Ohau, Pukaki and Tekapo.
Much of Otamatata's infrastructure and many of its workers got uplifted and sent to Twizel when Benmore was finished.
Whiona's family moved to Wellington, so Twizel is a bit of a "could have been town" for our family.
The modern Twizel is a kind of support centre for the new economy - tourism.
It's not really a tourist centre in its own right. It doesn't have much attraction. But the place is full of the usual suspects. Young backpackers looking at their black mirrors. Busloads of Asians. Puzzled middle aged Europeans wandering the aisles of the two Four Squares (two Four Square supermarkets only a couple of hundred metres apart? Weird).
Our lodge played host to a few of these tourists while we were there. A couple of other TeA guys - Arnaud and Charles from Belgium, and a small tour party from England who were being transported around the area for short tramps by a couple of kiwi guides .
In the A-frame chalet next door there was another TeA couple, Rose and Peter, NZ Sobos from Christchurch. They were nearing the end and in desperate need of a good meal...no...a hundred good meals.
They had some worrying news for us.
They were using the same lightweight ExPed mattresses as us and had had three fail on them. Not good when you're half way up a mountain and a week away from the nearest Bivouac store. Gulp.
Anyway...back to Twizel.
Electricity is still being made around the place but it's being made quietly...almost automatically. Only a handful of people run the system these days. A handful of Homer Simpsons sitting at their consuls...feeding water here...switching circuits there.
Whiona's hydro past is a distant memory.
But there was a relic of Whiona's past that we were keen to catch up with.
Mrs Bailey...her primer two teacher from Otamatata Primary School.
Francie and her husband, a Ministry of Works engineer, moved to the new town when Otamatata shut up shop and Twizel opened up for business.
Her husband is dead now but Mrs Bailey is very much alive. She's a stalwart of the local golf club and was practicing her putting in front of the TV when we arrived. I forgot to ask her what her handicap was. Damn.
She remembered Whiona and they talked about old Otamatata. Her kids had also roamed the hills behind the town.
"We could go anywhere and do anything we liked as long as we didn't rip our clothes or lose our shoes", reminisced Whiona.
Mrs Bailey said one of her children had recently accused her of being a terrible mum.
"I made them go out into the hills to play," she said.
Strange, but I think that's exactly what Whiona and I are doing at the moment.