Matai Bay

August 24, 2016

We’re back at one of our favourite places in New Zealand, Matai Bay on the Karikari Peninsular in Northland.  We left our previous parking place, albeit reluctantly, and headed into Kaitaia for a day to replenish the larders, book in for some work to be done, cross a few things off the shopping list, and catch up with a few people before making our way out to Matai Bay.

We arrived at the DoC campsite to find that there had been considerable rain over the previous few days which resulted in lots of boggy ground with evidence of others having being stuck in the mud. We parked up in the top entrance on the hard gravel in behind Pat & Sue,  so then Roy and Pat could walk around the camp site, investigating options and checking out ground conditions, including testing it out with the cars first.  After about a good 45 minutes of deliberating, they came to the conclusion that yes, we could get into our favourite parking place so long as they followed the route that they had determined.  

Roy led the way.  I have to admit that I could not watch as he drove around the perimeter of the camp to our desired spot but we were soon parked up, ready to relax,  closely followed by Pat in their van.

And the view of the bay

Once settled in, it was time to go fishing.  It seems like forever since we have had the kite out fishing but with the wind blowing in the right direction for getting the kites out off Karikari Beach, we all headed off over to the other side of the peninsular.

Away off in the distance along the beach is Pat & Sue fishing, and just past them is Jim. 


We put the line out, hauling it back in after an hour or so with two fish on the line, one on the first hook and one fish on the last hook.
The smaller snapper was 33cm and the big fella was 48cm.
Perfect, enough fish for dinner for the next couple of nights. 

 Actually, that brings me to an aside that I have been pondering for some time now. The spelling of Snapper has changed over the years, once upon a time it was always spelt Schnapper, I wonder why or when it changed?  Anyone care to enlighten me?

Back to the present, this is what it looked like for dinner last night 

Snapper with tomato, avocado and orange salad with olives and coriander
And damn delicious it was too!


Every morning Roy goes off for an early morning wander, walking quite some distances at times and he always comes back with some ‘treasure’ of some kind that he finds along his meanderings.  But this particular morning he came back with this offerring found washed up on the shore

I think it may be a little on the small side!!

Hidden Gem

August 18, 2016

We have found a lovely spot here in Northland, where we are allowed to park courtesy of local iwi (tribe) for a little Koha (donation).   It is a beautiful Bay with lots of other little bays within the bay with many of them private with no public access which is why we feel very privileged to be able to stay here at this particular spot. 

The day we arrived we were welcome with an amazing double rainbow with one of the rainbows so bright and vivid it was almost like a neon light reflecting on the calm waters.We had just the one afternoon and evening of rain before the clouds gave way to some lovely sunshine, which remained for the rest of our week long stay.

The view from the van.

There has been no wind so the kite fishing was a no go.  However, Pat & Sue have a new inflatable boat perfect for those windless days which has meant that they can tow out our long line to deep water, drop it off  and we can winch it in from shore which proved very fruitful.

Here they are returning to shore

Days have been spent fishing in one form or another, relaxing, eating said fish and generally enjoying our surroundings.  However, we had to give up on the long line fishing as our reel had a meltdown.  Along with Roy losing the end of his brand spanking new surf casting rod into the tide, it ended up a bit of an expensive exercise. 

Along with snapper and a couple of kahawai, these two beauties were landed which ended up as delicious sashimi.

We enjoyed breakfast in the sun along with the lovely views.

I know that some of you may want to know exactly where this little hidden gem of a place is located, but we are not going to advertise its exact location. Nothing would spoil this little patch of paradise more than a whole hoard of motorhomes turning up.  But if you would really really like to know then drop me a line and I may just let you into our little secret!


August 13, 2016

It was a busy old time in Kerikeri this visit.  We parked on the old tennis courts in front of the RSA as the NZMCA park at Rainbow Falls was totally unusable due to the soft wet ground.  Such a shame as it is a pretty spot but since it opened we have never managed a stay there as the ground has always been too boggy.  Hopefully they will get it sorted one of these days.

Our first job was to get the WoF sorted for the RAV4, on Friday morning it went off to get it done only to be returned with some work to be done on the brakes which was scheduled to be done on Monday as parts had to be delivered from Auckland. But that’s OK, we are not in any hurry and we wanted to go to the markets at the weekend in any case.   And I desperately needed a haircut so off into town to get that done.

Brian & Marj arrived later in the day to stay for a couple of nights before they headed back to Houhora where we will meet up with them again in a few weeks time.  But first we all go to the RSA for dinner where Roy ran into an old school friend so a bit of a catch up was planned for Sunday with Roy and Fairfax. Oh, and I won the meat raffle too so the freezer is well and truly full again. 

The Saturday market is a great market held mostly under cover which was just as well as the weather threw the odd shower at us throughout the morning.  We managed to fill our bags with plenty of fruit and veg as well as  our tummies with an excellent bacon & egg filled focaccia with hollandaise made with locally made bread, free range eggs,  and the bacon is homemade too  and damn delicious it was as well.  Just as we like it – flavoursome and crispy.  From there it was back to the vans and a bit of further retail therapy before settling in to watch the Super Rugby final on Saturday night.

Sunday and a quick visit to the Sunday market to top up with bits we couldn’t get the previous day, before we said toodle-loo to Brian & Marj.  Then it was off to Opua for Bernice to attend to the laundry (as the laundry in Kerikeri recently burnt down) whilst Roy caught up with Stuart and later in the day, Fairfax.   

The car was duly fixed in Monday but could not go for its WoF retest until Tuesday morning, but by 10am Tuesday we were ready to leave, first via the dump station and then to the petrol station to top up with LPG before hitting the road to our next destination, a hidden gem!

Visits to Waitangi & Tutukaka

August 6, 2016

It hasn’t all been lazing around in the northland sun, we have been out and about whilst we were based at Otamure. 

 Last Sunday we took ourselves off to Waitangi for the afternoon as we had seen that Roy’s cousin Stuart was giving a lecture at Waitangi Museum on NZ Studio Glass.  We thought we would surprise him by turning up unannounced on the day.  

 1995 cast glass Crucible by Ann Robinson
Some of Stuart’s examples of studio glass.

 Stuart in full flight

As usual, Stuart gave a very informative talk which was very interesting  and I learnt an awful lot about glass, the people involved, techniques and where much of New Zealand’s studio glass is made.  Stuart has a very good collection and he also writes a very good blog  here

 Friends Ron & Janet came to visit on Monday afternoon as they were up staying near Tutukaka for a few days.  In between other commitments they came for a scenic drive to visit us at Otamure.  It was lovely to see them again and catch up with all their news.  Then on Tuesday we returned the compliment and went over to Tutukaka to visit them.  They  were staying on the southern entrance to the Tutukaka harbour entrance and what a stunning location and view from their unit.

  This is the view from their accommodation.

Fishing boats return to harbour at the end of the day.

In the distance you can see the Poor Knights group of islands, they are a nature reserve and popular underwater diving spot. The Poor Knights Islands Marine Reserve surrounds the island.  The islands’ name is said to derive from their resemblance to Poor Knight’s Pudding, which, from what I can gather looks very similar to a bread pudding.  And no, I don’t see the resemblance at all!

Otamure Bay

August 4, 2016

Rather than take the long windy coastal road from Ngunguru making our way north, we instead headed back inland to State Highway One but only for a short distance as we soon turned off to head out to the DoC camp at Otamure Bay over the hill from Whananaki North.  We planned to stay here until the end of the week, Friday, when we will then move on to Kerikeri as we need to get a few jobs done including aWoF for the car.

Otamure is a lovely bay with a sandy beach. 

The camp is a very nice grassy, well kept area with very few people around at this time of the year so we basically have the place to ourselves.  

Here we are all parked up and settle in for our stay.

The view to the other end of the camp. 

There are more sandy bays both to the north and the south of Otamure,  some are accessible by walking around the rocks  a couple of hours either side of low tide, or via a walk over the hills.  There is also some good fishing off the rocks, well, when I say good, I mean that the fish are there but we have had varied luck in enticing them onto our lines.  The wind has been in the completely wrong direction for successful kite fishing so we have made do with fishing off the rocks.  

Pat & Sue have bought themselves a small inflatable boat to use to take the lines out when the wind is non existent, they had their first outing in it just the other day but returned with no fish but no bait left on the line either.

Roy has had some luck fishing off the rocks, with this lovely snapper caught ending up on our plates for dinner that evening.  

As the end of the week neared, we decided that we would stay on for another week as it is so nice to stay put for a while and great to be parked on firm grass (not mud!).  It has also given us an opportunity to go through all the lockers and cupboards and have another clearout of non essential items and other ephemera that one of this touring party tends to collect.   Or more specifically, get rid of all that stuff we have been hanging on to because “it may come in handy one day”, you know, all those handy pieces of wood or lengths of rope that we seem to accumulate, not to mention the collection of golf balls and tennis balls that seem to magically appear in one of the lockers, which I might add, have now found much more deserving homes.   Although I do have to admit that some of that stuff we have been hanging on to for some time has had its uses.


In fact some of the handy stuff was put to good use this last week.  We decided that our trace rack that we made last year was too large, too bulky & heavy as  it was made of wood with a solid back to it, and we felt it needed to be redesigned. So those handy aluminium box sections that we rescued from a broken stand of some kind, have been repurposed and made into a lightweight, double sided trace rack.   

Oh and the large extending poles that Roy found last year and we have been carting around ever since, have been put to good use to attach and raise the Yagi aerial for our internet connection to good effect.

Now we just need some clever little device to easily attach the pole to the ladder allowing us the ability to raise the aerial without the need to climb the ladder and do away with the gaffa tape currently used.  We don’t always need attach the aerial to the ladder, sometimes it’s better for it to be positioned at the front of the van, or off to one side, so the solution has to be something that is not a permanent fix.  However we think we may have just solved that conundrum as we just so happened to see the perfect solution for this just the other day.  We came across a building site that was ring fenced with sections of tall wire mesh panels joined together to keep the public out.  The panels were linked together with a clever little clamp arrangement that is just the thing we need……so building supply store here we come.  
Our time at Otamure has come to an end, although the weather has been fickle with lots of wind and just a little rain, it is  at least still relatively warm compared to what the rest of the country is experiencing, with shorts and t shirts making an unexpected return on some days.  We  left today, Thursday,  after a 12 night stay (thank goodness for our DoC pass) however we will be back on our return journey south in late spring. 


July 27, 2016

We were on our way from Uretiti in good time on Friday morning with a quick stop at the new dump station at Ruakaka then off to Tikipunga (a northern suburb of Whangarei) where we needed to fill up our LPG tank for the first time since getting the tank recertified.  We know that the petrol station in Tikipunga  has auto LPG with easy access for our rigs.    Soon enough both Pat & Sue with us in front,  were lined up ready to fill up.  That done, we headed just around the corner to the Golf Club which was where we were staying for the night.  With gale force winds and torrential rain forecast for the weekend we thought is would be a good place to hideaway, as well as be close enough to Whangarei township so we could go to their excellent Farmers Market early the next morning.

Whangarei Farmers Market
The forecast winds and rain had not eventuated so we made the decision to pack up and move on, next stop Ngunguru out on the coast on the northern side of the Whangarei Heads.  We knew we could get parking on the hard as well as being reasonably sheltered from most winds plus it was only a short 20km drive.  Yes, we know, we don’t travel too far in a day but you know what they say? It’s all about the journey not the destination!!!

Parked at the hall in Ngunguru

We did a bit of a tiki tour checking out bays and beaches along the coast from Ngunguru and found some spectacular places to stay sometime later.  

The view from the lookout down to Ngunguru Bay

Window shopping at Tutukaka!

We stayed for a couple of nights in Ngunguru, managing in that time to also meet up with anther couple of fellow motorhomers – Gail whom we spent time with in the north last year, and a Pat & Steve whom we met up with at Ngawi earlier this year.  Lovely to see everyone again and catch up with all their news.  But soon it was time to move on, next stop…..?

On the road again – sort of.

July 24, 2016

We’re back on the road after finishing our housesitting stint at Jacky & Chris’ in Whakapirau.  Although we haven’t really hit the open road as yet, as we had the van parked up at Uretiti DoC camp whilst we were away from it, we then moved the van from its storage position to a parking site within the camp which is a move of around 500metres.  

We stayed with Jacky for a couple of days after she returned from her travels and caught up with all their news and gave us a chance to finish off a few bits and pieces.  However, we were pleased to be back in our home again although we did note that our TV looked awfully small compared with the very large screen we had become accustomed to and  our shower also did not quite measure up in terms of water pressure and volume of water,  but these are things we can look forward to next time we housesit.

We quickly settled back in to van life at Uretiti, Pat & Sue were also there as well as another couple fellow full timers we have come to know over our travels.  The weather hasn’t been the best, with lots of wind and rain but I guess we are to expect that in the winter time.  After a couple of days Helen & Don joined us at Uretiti in their motorhome and over the next few days there was lots of talk, shared meals and laughter.  

Jacky & Chris visited one afternoon, and it was not long before we had arranged for the six of us (Roy & I, Pat & Sue and Helen & Don) to go out to Whakapirau for a meal and to all stay the night and for Don & Roy to reduce the sheep numbers by one! As a retired sheep farmer Don is quite au fait with the protocols and methods required, and Roy also has done this a few times over the years as well as portioning off the final product.   The deed was done quickly and efficiently and for those of us who choose to know as little as possible about the whole procedure, it was done with respect for us as well as respect for the animal.  Enough said. 

Time for a afternoon drinks before a local, Grant, joined us for dinner.  The afternoon quickly progressed into a great evening of good food washed down with a few drinks before developing into an evening of talk, tales, much laughter and lots of singing!    There is a video or two of the evenings melodious antics  which will not be available for public viewing,  you know what they say, what goes on tour…stays on tour.  Let’s just say it was a great night.

Pat desperately trying to get his hand on the coveted Elvis Lamp!
Helen & Don left us to begin their return journey south whilst the rest of us head back to Uretiti to our vans, where it was a quick tidy and pack up before deciding on where to next.


July 13, 2016

We have been quite busy with visitors whilst here at Whakapirau.  The first weekend, Colin & Edwina came to stay, this was the weekend of the final All Blacks game against Wales which of course we all watched together.  Ed had brought dinner with her including a Love Cake.  I had not heard of a Love Cake until just the previous day when I had listened to a story on National Radio which involved the making of a Love Cake.  It was a delightful story by a new migrant to our shores, giving their perspective of life in a new country and trying to fit in.  This lovely story was read by a good friend of ours Marguerite.  There was a week of the stories which we can highly recommend listening to on National Radio, this particular story was called Baked Slowly can be heard here.  

Meanwhile, we settled down to watch the game on tele….

Roy, Colin, Edwina & Bernice with the much coveted Elvis Lamp sporting his updated livery in the foreground.   The significance  of the Elvis Lamp and its relevance is known only to a privileged few and usually requires the imbibing of large quantities of fermented grape or grain, and has been awarded to the lucky recipient since the late 1980’s.   I am pleased to say we have been fortunate enough NOT to have it adorn our mantlepiece! 

A great weekend was had catching up with Colin & Ed before they returned to city life.  Just a couple of days later, Murray & Lynne from Oamaru called to ask where we were as they were exploring the north in their campervan.  It just so happened that they were in Dargaville heading south so it was a short drive for them to come and stay a night with us so we could catch up on all their news. 

We had our first aid course to attend in Auckland, and on our return friends Helen & Don, also from Oamaru, called to say they were heading north in their campervan so we invited them to come and stay for the weekend.  Helen & Don have a hazelnut orchard and we have done housesitting for them in the past as well which you can read about here and here.

At the same time, fellow full time motorhomer Jim also came to stay for the weekend,  Jim’s wife Judy recently died.  The weekend passed very quickly with a bit of fishing done by the blokes off the wharf, some netball watching, and generally catching up with lots of talking.  NB all three blokes wear hearing aids, each to varying success so you can imagine the volume at times!   Monday morning and Jim headed back to his bus, and later in the day Helen & Don coninued on their travels north.  We hope to meet up with Helen & Don once we are back in our van somewhere in the north.

Pat & Sue were the next to arrive on Tuesday. Regular readers will know that we travel together quite regularly and as well, they took on our Housesitting duties here at Whakapirau last year when we had a break in Melbourne.  You can catch up on that reading here.   Whilst here, we got Pat to do a bit of a rabbit cull as the rabbits seem to have been active doing what rabbits do best.

They left on  Wednesday to return to their van, and it was only the next day that we went over to our van at Uretiti to do a few chores and catch up with them again.  Friday night a local, Grant, came to have Friday night drinks with us.  He tells us it’s a regular event with Jacky & Chris so who were we to argue?  Besides, it’s great to meet new people and learn a bit more of local life.   

Saturday Steve & Les came to stay bringing with them their three young grandsons Ben, Asher and Finn for a weekend of fun on the farm.  The boys loved getting out and about collecting eggs, helping to move sheep, fish off the wharf, and get muddy!  

Teaching the kids how to eat s’mores.
With all these visitors anyone would think that we had run a Lodge or something at some point in our lives!


July 9, 2016

We seem to have experienced all aspects of weather over the past few weeks.  We of course love the sunny days when the reflections on the water are perfect and the sun warms the chill from the bones but we can’t expect every day to be like that, it is winter after all, but we have been experiencing unseasonably warm weather for this time of the year

Same view, different days, looking across to Pahi.  One day the reflections are glassy and the sun is out, another day it’s grey and moody. Then a squall of showers will pass through changing the view and dampening any outdoor activity.  Then of course there are the tidal changes which dramatically change the view.

We have had an awful lot of fog too, some days it lingers for most of the morning, some days it clears quite quickly, and another it will lift momentarily before decending to cloak us in a grey blanket.

Oops where did the view go?

Layers of fog coming and going.

And of course there has been the rain.  

The rain on this particular day was coming in horizontally, bouncing off the roof in large misty sheets leaving behind muddy puddles and small riverlets running down the driveway.  

Then there was the spectacular thunder and lightening storms, which put the power out for short periods of time,  but shook the house and rattled windows not to mention the nerves.

And we did have one frost but nothing like what other parts of the country has experienced and it certainly has not been as cold so far this year as it has in previous years. Perhaps the cold weather is yet to develop.

Look what blew in

June 21, 2016

Oh dear, the corner of the deck looked a bit messy this this morning with a  large pile of cabbage tree scattered over the floor.  

But don’t panic, we did not have a major storm or wild winds, nor was it a giant bird attempting to build a nest, it was just Roy!  

He had collected up a pile of cabbage tree leaves (cordyline Australis)  from the paths the day before and spread them out on the deck to dry.   You can just see a bit of one of the trees on the other side of the deck rail.   Once dry he tied them into bundles as they make great kindling/fire starters for the fire.  

They are not much good  in the garden as they don’t break down and they are particularly strong and are especially annoying anywhere a lawnmower has to go as they are tough little b*****s and they tend to get caught up in the mower blades and wrap themselves into a tight knot around the blades choking them up causing the mower to stop.  Then comes the painstakingly difficult  task of trying to unwind them from the blade mechanics.  

The start of the neatly tied bundles.  

But tied into neat stacks they will serve as the perfect starter for the fire. 


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