Another boat trip faced to come ashore throught the surf at Timaru, the Benbows found shelter for the first night at Timaru. They were able to purchase stores, and next day by ox-team to follow the track north with their possessions. The night was spent at the Arowhenua Inn so that a daylight river crossing of the Opihi River could be made the following day. Mary would have had little idea of the difficulties which lay ahead but we can be certain her first anxiety on reaching their journey's end, would be housing the family.
In 1863 surveyor Samuel Hewlings, bought an area north and west of the present Main South Road adjacent to the Government town of Arowhenua and laid out a town which he called Wallingford after his Berkshire birthplace. Wallingford – this eventually became the principal business part of Temuka – and Arowhenua was later created a town district. By 1866 the name Temuka came into more general use as a collective name for Wallingford and Arowhenua, and the latter came to be identified with the new Maori pa.
The Benbows would likely have made a canvas covered temporary shelter or a make-shift raupo whare close to the river within easy access to water. The month of May meant winter was fast approaching and a start would have been made immediately to get a more substantial home constructed of cob to house the family and protect their few treasures brought from home. They first lived in Georgetown close to Temuka and it became known as "sod town". Timber was in short supply so turf was cut with a sharp spade and skinned off, was rolled and taken for use to the house site. Cut into pieces it was laid like bricks - the pieces continued to grow a little and became inter-locked. Walls were given additional strength by using sticks and any crevasses were filled with a creamy mixture of clay, fern, tussock and water. Some large cob constructions used animals to tramp the clay and tussock mixed with water added to it making a pug for use. A water butt that harnessed water from the roof saved laborious cartage from the river and with basin and hip bath brought in a bedroom or placed before the fire, a wash centre for all. Wash-hand stands equipped with a basin and jug were kept in the bedroom.
Everything available to the family was utilised to furnish the home - the narrow bunk mattresses and bolsters which were their bedding on board ship, planks made the table, crates and packing cases as cupboards, beds and chairs and proudly displayed linen and plates in their first new Zealand home Cooking during those first weeks would have been done outside and the home likely had the kitchen chimney built as a lean-to against the back wall. Clothes were washed at the river and the first floor would have been dirt becoming hard and smooth with continual use - later it was covered with boards which could be scrubbed to remove dirt from muddy boots and rag mats were made from old woollen clothing cut in strips and knitted with cord or pulled through sacking to give a pile on one side. White-washing walls gave a clean, bright appearance.
The kitchen hearth was the central focus for the family - a social centre providing warmth, for drying wet clothes and a heavy iron bracket projecting from the fireplace side (swey) with hooks held the bare essential cooking utensils brought from England. The principal utensils of the pioneer cook was the camp oven, kettle, cauldron and grid-iron - all weighty items requiring a strong back and arms. Using long handled iron cooking spoons and forks, it was possible to stir a stew or cook a roast without Mary burning herself. A hand-turned spit was may have been used to turn meat roasting over the fire with an iron pan below on the hearth caught the "drippings". The surface fat was poured off, set and clarified and carefully stored to be later used for cooking or for making candles and the meat juices in the pan were used for gravy. Tea for a family was rationed and manuka or dried bidibidi was sustituted for a brew.
Candles were made from tallow or wax either in a mould or painstakingly made by hand - a slow and tedious job as the fat had to set on the wick which in those early days was made of flax - the result was mishapen gavea porr flickering light but mould candles burnt well.
Lamps although available, kerosene was possibly not. Mice were a constant nuisance.
Soap was home made using tallow (cooked animal fat) and caustic soda which changes the fat to soap.
Food was not plentiful for the early settler - - a shop but a dream for a woman.and everyhing was made by hand. Fish, pork and potatoes and bread made from maize meal with just enough wheaten flour to make it stick together.Green vegetables were rarely plentiful and settlers would substitute by using the young leaves ot of the head of the cabbage tree. In times of plenty, produce was preserved in james, jellies and by pickling
The priority would have been a home garden so the family became self-sufficient in vegetables. One of the Benbow's first expenses would have been a cow giving milk . The milk would be be left in a cool place for the cream to rise and be skimmed off and put in a large crock. A churn - there were several varieties would be scalded with boiling water and rinsed in cold, and a handle turned until the cream thickened and turned into butter. The buttermilk would be drained off to be drunk or used for animals, Salt was added to the b and it was worked by hand before being made into shapes with butterpats - made possibly once a week. Mary made cheese also and she later consistantly won prizes for her skill dairy products and bacon sides at A and P shows.
February 1864 saw the arrivel of son William Charles and he was followed at 2 yearly intervals by Mary and Lucy
Improvisation was a way of life for Mary - sewing to clothe the family was mostly done with flannel material - underclothes, nightshirts , white cotton and calico for shirts and moleskin for trousers - to own a sewing machine was the dream of every woman and recyling a necessity.