On our way

November 29, 2016

It’s time we started our journey south ready for us to take up our camp hosting duties at Shakespear park for the summer.  We were due to leave Rarawa this week, however on Monday we were told that we had to leave that day as DoC were about to start their latest assault on the Argentine Ants (See previous post).  But before we left we thought we would have one last fish off the beach.


And just along from us are Pat & Sue


Not too many fish were harmed in this exercise.

From Rarawa it is a short 60km journey into Kaitaia, as we had also heard that our brake parts had arrived.  However through mutual agreement between Roy and Kaitaia Tractors, they are not fitting the part this time.  We have ordered a matching part to come from the USA, and the pair will be fitted early next year after we have finished at Shakespear.  Meanwhile, we are assured everything is safe and we are good to go.

So now we shall meander our way down to Auckland, stopping off at a few selected  places along the way and endeavour to get ourselves into the Christmas spirit.  Thanks Northland for a wonderful few months, we shall be back soon. 

Rarawa – Auckland – Rarawa

November 25, 2016

We left Matai Bay on a Sunday afternoon for Kaitaia as the van was booked in for the final bit of work to be done on the brakes as the parts had arrived from the USA, as well,  a couple of other jobs  were being completed.  However, things never seem to go smoothly, the parts that we had had sent out were not the right ones.  As you were folks, put everything back together then spend the next day researching and checking on hopefully getting the right parts.  It would be so much easier if there were part numbers, or if the size matched what was supposed to be on the van.  Anyway, in the end  it was all sorted, more parts ordered and we were sent off to return at a later date.

Off we went to Rarawa and the DoC camp there, where Pat & Sue were already parked, we set ourselves up, this time in another location, tucked into a corner on the upper level. 


The weather has been pretty good, although we have had a lot of wind with some of it even from the right direction for some kite fishing. But more on that later.

A large part of the camp is roped off as they had recently closed the whole camp whilst they dealt with an infestation of Argentinian Ants.  Who knew that these tiny creatures could create such damage.  

According to the DoC website Argentine Ants  are one of the world’s most invasive and problematic ant species. They are very aggressive, and although they are not poisonous, they do bite. Unlike other ant species, Argentine ant colonies cooperate with each other, and can combine over winter into super-colonies. They reach enormous numbers, which means they have a huge appetite. It also makes them more aggressive towards other insect populations through their sheer numbers.

The best way to tell Argentine ants from other ants is by their colour and trails. Argentine ants are small (2-3 mm long)and honey-brown in colour, while most other common household ants in New Zealand are black.  

Argentine ants can have a massive impact on the natural environment. While they are one of the major household and garden pests, they pose a serious threat to the conservation values of our reserves and natural areas. These threats include:

eliminating other species of ants

competing with kiwi for food such as insects and worms

competing with other native birds and lizards for nectar

displacing and killing native invertebrates

Argentine ants are now known for many parts of Auckland and Northland, as well as Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Nelson 

The camp will be closed again from next week so that DoC can do a secondary bait laying process to make sure they are all dealt with.

Meanwhile, I (Bernice) have been to Auckland and back for a few days.  A trip which is around 5 1/2 hrs driving time each way, plus of course you have to allow more time for stops for refuelling both the car and driver as well as the odd traffic hold ups.  An interesting sight on the way down to Auckland was this convoy of three four wheel drive vehicles which were absolutely covered in mud.  

A muddy convoy which I followed from north of Kawakawa to where I turned off the motorway at Albany, a distance of over 200kms

Why was I doing this trip? Well, our son Antony had had a bit of a mishap whilst playing bubble soccer – yes, it is a ‘thing’ – with a group of mates on a weekend away in Queenstown.  Bubble soccer

Actually, it was a bit of a serious oops as it seems he has torn his MCL and ACL ligaments in his left knee. Ouch.   I went down to give him a hand with a few things and also to provide moral support when he went to see  the surgeon and make sure we asked all the right questions.  His leg is very swollen and bruised from above the knee right down to his foot, and of course rather painful.  But what I didn’t realise was that before he can have surgery to repair the damage, he has to have regained the full range of motion in his knee.  So today he starts physio.  

Meanwhile Mum did her thing, by washing, cleaning, tidying, cooking, shopping, transporting.    Oh and even a bit of ironing…some of the 17, yes that right, 17 shirts I ironed!!

Once I had done as much as I could it was back up to Rarawa. We have been fishing a few times off the beach with some success as well as a good failure when on one outing our line got caught on something and we lost all our traces, sinkers and hooks.  Luckily this all happened before I went to Auckland so I was able to call into the store to replace all the lost gear. 

But with days like this in the picture below, what could be nicer than spending an afternoon on the beach?

Somewhere out there is a kite, and of course some fish on our line too.
Next week it is back to Kaitaia to have the last bit of work done on the van before we move southward ready to start our camp hosting duties at Shakespear for the summer.

Shaken

November 14, 2016

NZ woke this morning to the news that there had been a large earthquake in the South Iasland.  I was woken in the wee small hours by my phone going off – it was our daughter Alex texting from London checking that we were OK and that we weren’t near the sea. Luckily,  we had moved yesterday from Matai Bay into Kaitaia as we were due to have some work done on the van, but that’s another story.   Yes, we were fine, in fact I had no idea what was happening so I quickly checked the news web sites to see what was going on before settling back to sleep.

We later heard that the Tsunami warning sirens had sounded at Tokerau Beach and friends were evacuated to higher ground which must have been a little unsettling.   

Looking at the news, it look like there is lots of damage especially around Kaikoura and inland around the Hurunui district, with State Highway One impassable.  We feel for the people affected and cannot begin to imagine how stressful it must be. Kia Kaha.

A Gorm weekend

November 10, 2016

Many, many years ago, when we all lived in the big city of Auckland,  a group offriends  all of whom had a keen interest in good food, excellent wine and having a good time, formed a group which we called The Gourmet Society. Every month each of the four couples put money into a dedicated bank account for which there was a cheque book for the ‘Gourmet Society’.  For those of you young things who have no idea what a cheque book is, talk to your parents or grandparents and ask them!  Suffice to say that paying our bill at the end of a night out with that cheque book raised a few eyebrows.   After a while the name was shortened until we became known as the Gorms, a much more appropriate title.  The group consists of Roy & I, Jacky & Chris, Anne & Greg and Colin & Edwina, most of whom we see on  a reasonably regular basis. 

Over the years we; went out for dinners, had weekends away, did everything from camping to 5 star, involved our children in some of our weekends of fun, had themed parties – who could forget the garlic themed night?, did all sorts of crazy things like rock climbing, abseiling, and other nerve wracking events,  but we always had lots of laughs.   

Recently, some members of the Gorms were celebrating significant birthdays so we thought it was time for a get together.  It was to be held at Jacky & Chris place at Whakapirau on the Kaipara harbour, regular readers will know that we have  housesat for them over the past  few winters and spent a bit of time there.  Somewhere along the line, probably over a red wine or two, it was decided that we would have a Hangi (NZ underground oven cooked meal) with local man Grant offering to set it all in place and be in charge of proceedings.

First the hole had to be dug and the fire started.

Grant digging the hole, the fire started in the pit, then as the fire  gets hot more wood is added before adding the rocks to heat up.  All this takes time and patience, and is of course thirsty and hungry work.

Colin and the left, Roy on the right and Chris in the foreground, digging in to some ceviche and some smoked fish
Meanwhile, we girls lined the hangi basket with cabbage leaves, peeled lots of potatoes, kumara, pumpkin and carrots which once seasoned are tied into muslin bags and placed in the basket.  Chickens and a large piece of pork are then placed over the vegetables which are then all covered with more cabbage leaves before finally topped with well soaked towels and sheets before being lowered onto the hot rocks.  Then it all gets covered with topsoil to steambake for the next few hours. 

Top photo Chris, Colin and Greg look on as Roy helps remove the ash and unburned charcoal just before the food goes in.lower photo is Grant checking all is well – or is he doing pressups?  

There is of course a lot of skill involved with getting the fire right, using the right stones, using the best wood to provide the heat and getting everything to the correct temperature  but we were assured all was in hand and under control.

There was as well all the fish we had caught; some to be eaten as fish fillets, the big fish was being smoked and the rest was made into ceviche.

The smoked snapper.

A whole scotch fillet was prepared with a tasty rub and cooked on the barbecue, nicely rare of course and there were plenty of salads too.  From here on in, I neglected to take any more pictures, so there is none of the hangi being lifted or any of the food ladened tables laid out for all to help themselves, nor any of the subsequent party as neighbours and others from the local community had been invited to come and share in the feasting.  The hangi food was fantastic, and later in the evening the desserts came out for all to share.  It was lovely to meet lots of new people and enjoy a great night together over fabulous food and wine.

All in all a great weekend and fantastic  to catch up with the Gorms.  Till next time. 

Fishing and Catching

November 8, 2016

I didn’t think it would ever happen, but it has.  I have had enough fish for a while!!!  Last week was one of those weeks,  we were hoping to get out and catch a couple of  fish and it certainly started off well  as last Monday we caught 8 good snapper when we went out with with Gary & Marg.  Then on Wednesday we went out for a fish off a Tokerau Beach with Pat & Sue.  The wind was proving to be a little fickle which made putting out our lines a bit  difficult as the kite stalled getting  the line out through the breakers, then it only went out very slowly to end up only half the distance off shore that we were looking for, never mind. Meanwhile  Pat & Sue had put up their big kite and got their line out to a reasonable distance, ending up about 1.2km off shore.  

Now when we fish off the beach with Pat & Sue  (some distance apart from each other so that the lines do not tangle), we have a set little routine of helping each other bring the lines back in.  We brought our line in first as we thought that there would not be anything on the line as we were not too far offshore. The routine is that  I wind the handle on the reel whilst the three others take turns in taking hold of the the line and walking it up the beach toward the reel. We do this as if we didn’t, the pressure on the reel would be too much by winding it in directly, as well as being far too difficult for the winder, so one by one, they grab the line with glove protected hands and walk it up the beach whilst I reel in the slack line.  With three people walking the line in it doesn’t take too long so long as the wind is not too strong  or a lot of weight on the line.

We did have one good sized fish on our line so we were happy, so we quickly tidied up all our gear, put it into the car before it was our turn to go and help Pat & Sue. The only difference being that Sue winds in their reel and I take my turn walking up and down the beach along with the blokes.   We were thrilled to see that on their line they had 7 good sized snapper and a gurnard, a fantastic result and their best catch to boot.  It was then back to base at Matai Bay, clean up and leave the fish on ice overnight ready to fillet the next morning.  

Thursday morning we filleted all the fish, cleaned up and gave the fish heads away via the same process as before, through a contact made at   http://www.freefishheads.co.nz    

Roy and I were heading away on Friday to a get together of  a special group of friends but more on that in a later post – and we were keen to take some fresh fish with us to share.  So on Thursday afternoon , the four of us headed out again to Tokerau Beach to try our luck.

We each sent out our lines, this time in a good strong off shore wind, and then we sat back to wait for the fish to jump on our hooks – yeah, right!!!  This time, Pat & Sue brought their line in first so we went off to assist.  The wind was still  very strong so it was a good trek up the beach with a very strong pull on the line, it was rather strenuous exercise but all the more pleasing when we pulled in three good fish on their line.  Then it was back to our line to pull in our fish, well,  we hoped there would be fish.    It was damned hard work dragging in our line, with each of us saying that we hoped there was at least a couple of fish on the hooks as it was the hardest pull-in we have ever had.

Oh my goodness, were we ever in for a shock. One fish after another was appearing on the line as it was pulled ashore. One, two, three, four, five……twelve!!  Not only were there 12, but the were all big fish and to top it all off a few of them had become a bit cross at being caught and had got the line into a huge tangled mess.  

I should have taken a photo or two at this stage. But we were just all so busy trying to sort out the line and remove the fish. Next minute Pat  calls out to say he has a bit of a problem…..he has a fish hook well and truly embedded in his finger. Ewwww it does not look good, he and Sue head up to the car to try and sort it out, whilst Roy and I pull the fish and the remaining line in out of the surf before I check on Pat to see what we can do.  Getting the glove off his hand is proving difficult, but my trusty Swiss Army scissors on my key ring proves just the thing to cut off the glove around the hook, which is looking like it’s well and truly staying in his finger.  Hmmm, I’m not the best with this sort of thing,  made me feel rather queasy and yes, I know, imagine how poor Pat was feeling.  Between the two of them, with brute force and strength, they managed to extract the hook from his finger.  Ouch ouch ouch!

Meanwhile it was back to getting all the fish safely off hooks and into the chilly bin loaded with salt ice, putting away all our gear and heading back to Matai Bay.


All a good size (all over 40cm) with the largest one was over 5kgs.  

We think that there may have been another three on the line as three traces had broken and with the tangled mess of lines we had it was more than possible.  

So what did we do with all this fish? Well, that’s another blog entry. 

Matai Bay

November 3, 2016

We are back at glorious Matai Bay. 


 After spending a few days in Kaitaia last week to have some scheduled maintenance done on the van, we escaped back to the coast, although we are now awaiting some more parts to come in from the USA to complete the R&M.  So in between, time for a bit more fishing.
 It was a glorious afternoon Monday, with friends Gary & Marg we headed off to Puheke Beach which is over on the  opposite  side of the Karikari Peninsular from Tokerau Beach where Gary & Marg live.  Gary has a torpedo so I was interested to see how it all works.  The boys headed off in the buggy whilst Marg & I went in the RAV4. Here come the hoons

Parking up

Setting up ready to put the torpedo out
Out it goes

Then it’s just a matter of waiting for an hour or so before bringing it back in , plenty of time to tell tales, have a drink and a few nibbles before bringing the line back in to reveal these 8 beauties.

I made a delicious ceviche with a few of the fillets to share with Pat & Sue and Craig & Glennis whilst we watched the Melbourne Cup the following afternoon.  

Hopefully we will get more fish to share with friends this weekend but that’s another story.

The things you see…

October 30, 2016

We were quietly minding our own business and had just put out the fishing line on Tokerau Beach.  I had just moved the car back up the beach away from the incoming tide when I spied a vehicle coming along the beach toward us.  What is it, I wondered ?


Yes, it’s a motorhome.  

I wonder if Roy has seen it?


Yep, he sure has seen it and probably is wondering, just as I was, where they are off to along the beach.


There they go, I didn’t see where they went or where they got off to beach but I presume they were not going to be camping on the beach otherwise they may well have been getting a close encounter with the tide around their wheels. 

Ninety Mile Beach

October 25, 2016

Ninety Mile beach is in fact 55 miles (88km) but it sure does seems like it’s a 90 mile stretch of beach when you get onto it.  From Houhora, the beach is only 10km away on the west coast and as we have not yet kite fished off a west coast beach we thought this was an opportune time especially as the wind was in the right direction.  The beach becomes somewhat of a race track at weekends and holidays, and with yesterday being Labour Day and the first long weekend for some months, it seems as though quite a few other people had decided that they would race up and down the beach in their cars.  The beach is an official part of the highway network therefore the usual road rules apply, however, sometimes common sense does not!

The warning signs are everywhere

In 1932 the beach was used as the runway for some of the earliest airmail services between Australia and New Zealand. 

Long stretch of beach

 Tour buses as well as cars and motorbikes travel up and down the beach, although a few have succumbed to the elements 

Time for us to put out the kite to see what we can catch and in particular, the difference between fishing the east coast versus the west coast.      

That’s Roy in the distance, keeping an eye on the reel whilst I moved the car back up the beach, well away from one of those rogue waves that take many people by surprise.

The surf and wash on this beach is vigorous which means we have to try and get our line out as quickly as possible through the surf so as not to tangle up the line.  That done, we settled in to wait, not too long though as we have been  told not to leave the line out for too long as sharks are known to chew through lines.  After 30 minutes we pulled the line in to find two good sized snapper and a trevally.


An excellent result.  

Rarawa – Kaitaia – Houhora

October 21, 2016

The weather gods decided to play in our favour so we could finally get out to do some fishing.  Roy and I had good success over the first couple of days with one or two snapper caught each day which meant we could enjoy fish for dinner nearly every night.  It’s just a short drive from the camp to the other end of the beach where there is vehicle access onto the beach

An overview of the camp area wedged between the curves of the river. 

Last Friday Roy and I decided that we would go down to the beach and have another fish, the weather was overcast with the odd shower coming through but we thought it was worth going to the beach and having a try, besides, it’s better being on the beach than finding jobs to do in the van.  So off we went and we soon had our kite out flying, not too far out though as we know that there is a reef about 900m off shore and we don’t want to get our lines caught on the reef.  We text Pat & Sue to let them know that the wind was going in the right direction for kite fishing so they came down as well and set their kite out further along the beach.  

Once the kite is safely locked off its just a waiting game, when we play the guessing game of trying to determine how long we should keep the line in the water – usually we figure about an hour is good.But what do we do for an hour?  sometimes one of us will  wander off for a walk along the beach and a beachcomb, other times is just a matter of sitting and waiting.  This time however, we came prepared. As we can drive the car onto the beach and sit in the car to wait we had brought with us with our wifi router and iPads with headphones so we could both watch/listen to our individual choices of programmes and dodge the showers.

Waiting….
For this lovely lot to be hauled ashore

6 snapper ranging from 36 -40cm plus a 55cm Trevally

 
Not to be outdone, Pat & Sue caught 3 snapper and a small trevally.  With all this fish to deal with We thought  that it would be a shame to waste the fish frames and heads as there is plenty of edible fish left behind. We sometimes smoke the heads and wings and have lots of smoked fish but this time we thought we could give them away.  I had read about a web site that puts you in contact with people who are happy to pick up heads and frames for their use so we decided to give it a go.  I rang a lady on the list and yes she would love to come and pick up the heads and frames. Within an hour she was at the camp delightedly taking away all the heads and frames.  The website is Free Fish Heads a fantastic initiative as it means there is no waste.   The lady rang me later that evening to say thank you, that she really appreciated having such lovely fresh fish heads and her family really enjoyed them. 

It’s not all fishing and relaxing when we are on the beach though, one day Roy and I were just settling down to wait patiently for the line to do it’s thing when we see a young lady come walking toward us with purpose in her stride.  When she finallygot to us, she was so out of breath and in between sobs, she struggled to talk.  We sat her down and tried to calm her somewhat before she could tell us of her tale of woe.   It seemed that her car had skidded off the road back at the entrance to the camp. She had already walked into the camp area to try and find help but as there was no one around she had then trekked down to the beach to find us.  Poor thing was beside herself. I took her back to her car to see if we could tow it out, but it was too difficult and I did not want to create even more damage to her car by attempting to move it so after much discussion we called a local towing company.  They were with us pretty quickly after only waiting 20minutes, in that time I discovered she was visiting from Argentina and was hoping the car was not too badly damaged as she only had a week left in New Zealand.  Once she was sorted I left her in the capable hands of the tow truck driver and returned to the beach to help Roy pull in our line.

Ooops!
This is not the first accident we have seen on this particular corner, as on previous visits to Rarawa we have seen a couple of vehicles on their side either in this ditch or the one on the opposite side of the road.  

We had to leave Rarawa on Sunday as we had the van booked in at Kaitaia Tractors on Monday to have its annual service, and to have the brake linings replaced and for it to have it’s CoF done Tuesday morning.  So what are we to do all day whilst the van is in the workshop? We go out to Tokerau Beach to catch up with Gary & Marg.  To cut a long story short, we ended up staying the night with them.  During the afternoon we headed off to the beach and collected a bucket of Tuatuas which we will shell and eat later as fritters.   That evening, we all thought it would be a great idea to watch a movie…Gary  & Roy – both of whom spent their working careers in IT – spent a good wee while trying to sort out TV, connections, PC and cables with lots of muttering and mumbling going on…it looked like this

We picked up the van on Tuesday afternoon, initially we had hoped to return to Rarawa but the camp had been closed that day for the next 3 weeks as DoC are treating the campsite for Argentinian Ants.  So plan B was instigated.  Instead we headed back up to Houhora where Pat & Sue were already parked and here we will stay for a week. 


 Pat & Sue wanted to go and do some fishing in their wee boat, and with Houhora having a safe harbour they can easily launch it and go off fishing in and around the harbour.  But it’s only 15 minutes from here to Rarawa so yesterday Roy & I went up to have another fish off the beach.  We sent the kite up, attached the long line and proceeded to wait.  

Roy baiting up the hooks.

On hauling the line back in we only had one fish on the line, a reasonable sized Kahawai  which we decided to use as bait and immediately sent the line straight back out again.  The next retrieve was much more successful with these two beauties landed to take home.

44cm and 62cm
Needless to say we have had fish on the menu most days and as well, the freezer is full of vacuum sealed packs of fish fillets, enough to keep us going for sometime.

Onto Rarawa

October 7, 2016

It had been fine for a few days, the ground had dried out nicely but with some heavy rain forecast for the weekend, we decided it was time to make a run for it and leave Matai Bay whilst the going was good.  Roy & I packed up the van and he and headed out of the camp to return to the PoP at Tokerau Beach for a few days.  I stayed on at the campsite to wait for Pat & Sue to return from their fruitful fishing trip over the hill so I could help them pack up and head on out before the rains came.  We stayed at the PoP over the weekend and sure enough we did get plenty of rain which would have made it almost impossible for us to be able to get out for bother week or so.  

We headed off into Kaitaia early on Monday morning as the van was booked in for a service and wi lots of little jobs and shopping to get done we managed to wile away the day nicely before spending the night at the Kaitaia RSA.  With everything done by lunch time on Tuesday we were all soon on the road heading to Rarawa, a DoC camp north of Houhora.

The ground at Rarawa was also very muddy and soft in places but after a good walk around, we settled into our chosen spot.

here we are parked, with some shelter on three sides from the wind.

With Pat & Sue parked at the far end.

The beach is a short walk through the dunes or a ride in e car down the road to the northern end of the beach.  Rarawa has beautiful white silica sands and at this time of the year we mostly have the beach to ourselves

 A busy day on the beach

We’ve had some good amounts of rain and some very strong winds since we arrived here, we are hoping that the winds will die down enough to enable us to get the kite out for some fishing to be done over the next week or so.  

Meanwhile, with all this inclement weather, we are making full use of our upgraded Internet, all of which will be the subject of a later blog post.  Watch this space.