Archive for October, 2012

Crossing the void

October 30, 2012

On a blustery Picton morning, we nervously waited in line to board the ferry. Quickly and efficiently we were ushered onto the ship and expertly manoeuvered into position.



Once on board we wandered around getting our bearings, whilst admiring the view. We saw these poor fellows going for a ride.

Then we were off through the Sounds,


Some people played on their iPad!


It did not seem too long before Wellington came into view and we had to make our way back to the van ready to drive off and find ourselves somewhere to park for the night.


I must say that the service and assistance from the crew on Bluebridge was excellent, especially to those of us on crutches! Our parking spot on the boat was tight, those guys really know how to stack us all in.


Once we were off we decided to head out of Wellington central, and headed 20 minutes north to Paremata, and this wonderful, free, parking spot. Bliss. The fishing rod had been taken out and the line wetted, although locals are not catching anything either. The view at dusk was not bad either.


So here we sit and watch the comings and goings. It’s a tough life, but you will be pleased to know that we are taking care of the tough jobs.



October 28, 2012

And wouldn’t you have guessed it?  The day we changed our duvet from the winter weight to summer weight, we get a cold snap.  Typical.  However, we have persevered and now quite comfortable.

We left Tahuna and Nelson on a bright sunny Wednesday and headed to Blenheim.   An uneventful, relaxed trip with the odd stop for a cuppa and a bite to eat.  We both commented that this was a much nicer way to travel rather than long distances in the car, as we take our time, can stop wherever we like and have a cuppa. 

Roy was keen to catch up with his cousin Michael who lives in Havelock, so we arranged to meet up with him in Blenheim on Thursday.  We had a pleasant lunch with Judy & Michael, before we bade farewell and headed back to our parking spot at the Blenheim racecourse where we met up with fellow motorhomers Robin & Alan whom we’d last seen at Pohara.  A very pleasant evening or two was spent with them as well as Jeff & Phyl.

We have been raiding our wine cellar and came up with these three beauties, a Matawhero Pinot Noir from 1979 (we think), a Chianti Reserve 1981 and a Chianti Ruffino 1982. Most would have made a good base for vinegar however one of the Chianti’s was very drinkable.  It must be noted that all three had real corks in them, to add to our collection.  Corks are very rare these days, particularly for NZ and Oz wines.


We are staying at the racecourse in Blenheim but this has to be the surprise of the area.

centre  jetty 1

In the middle of Blenheim they have this river flowing through the centre of town.  There is a walking path along the riverside that extends for at least six kilometres out of town.  There is also the Marlborough Queen that runs along the river.  Although it is not steam nor a paddle wheeler.


These murals are on the backend of a stock agent building adjacent to the river.

 mural 2 mural 1

Although it is difficult to relate this one to Blenheim, Marlborough or New Zealand!!

mural 3

Although this is more like it and a common sight!!!!


Left Blenheim on Sunday afternoon for Picton and we are crossing the ‘void’ Monday afternoon.  Keep your fingers crossed for calm waters.

Labour Weekend

October 22, 2012

Its Labour weekend, traditionally the time that we plant up our gardens (done!), and swap the duvet form the winter weight to summer weight….done, today, so we must be due for another cold snap. 

We also decided to move from our parking spot in Richmond, and move into Tahunanui nearer Nelson for no other reason because we can.

parkedAll parked up and settled.

And what else does one do at Labour Weekend?  Well, you catch up with friends, namely Kevin & Faye and Kevin’s Mum June Wilkinson, and volunteer yourselves to help out at a Bowling Tournament – specifically a women only tournament where the men run around after the women,  pouring drinks, feeding them, cleaning up after them, oh and they play a weekend of bowls where the triples teams are drawn.  All in all a great weekend where fun is the main theme.  It started on the Friday evening where everyone registers, then teams are drawn, sponsors are also drawn for each team.  Drinks are drunk, food is plentiful, delicious and varied, raffles are sold, songs are sung and a bit of dancing is done.  Roy and I helped out where we could, doing dishes, sorting out food,  selling raffles and doing more dishes!

Saturday and the bowling begins, they say it is all for fun but there is serious bowling being done here with competitors form all over NZ including current and past World Champions.

 bowls 3 bowls 2 

Bowling underway

 bowls 9bowls 4

June Wilkinson (in blue)

bowls 5 bowls 8

More bowls

bowls 11bowls 6

Umpire, Kevin (blue top) and in right photo Bernice

The early morning wanderer took a walk across the inlet in front of the camp through to the Tahunanui beach. 


The dry inlet at low tide allowed a quick walk straight across to the beach.

At eight in the morning there were a large number of early risers and their dogs making their way along the beach.

 totaranui 1

An unusual sight on the beach were these tree root systems.  The tide had, over an extended period, washed all of the sand from around the roots of these substantial pine trees.

root 1 roots 2 

The trees themselves had been felled before the final washing out of the sand around them.  There were several other trees in the process of ending up in the same state.  They would make good models for alien life forms!!

Caught up

October 18, 2012

Before leaving Oamaru we were somewhat delayed by somebody falling down.  Trying to carry our potted garden down some steps, missed the bottom step, severely sprained both ankles (chip off one), twisted knees, bruised backside and dented pride.  Hence the need for crutches and bandages.


However, we finally left Oamaru and headed for Ashburton and a catch up with Jason, Erica, and grandchildren.  The following day we headed for Christchurch where we stayed with Pat & Sue, fellow motorhomers.  Off we headed back to Nelson and to the van.

On numerous occasions we have passed the Maruia Falls when travelling between Murchison and points north. This time we took the opportunity to pause and have a look.

maruia falls

Quite spectacular, particularly as we had had some rain in the past few days.  These falls were created as a result of the magnitude 7.8 Murchison Earthquake in 1929.  Not by upthrust of land but by a landslide in the Maruia Valley, diverting the course of the Maruia River  forcing it to cut a new channel over an old river bank, then washing all the old sediment out of the river bed to create the ten metre high falls.

new path

The river continues to erode the surrounding old river bed.

And now here we are back at Richmond Racecourse, we had left the Motorhome here when we took off back to Oamaru.

We had previously stayed here in March/April this year prior to returning to Oamaru for our house sitting winter over.  It is an ideal spot for getting things done at the top of the South Island.  Handy to Nelson and also handy to great sources of fresh fruit and vegetables.  There is also a very good physio across the road so Bernice can hobble over everyday to get the ankles and knees moving again.  

Somehow we managed to acquire the two items below and these clearly show how the Aussies, particularly those we know, stick together.

aussies together

Whilst staying here we were treated to a display of young riders and horses on Sunday morning.  I am not sure whether the show was for ponies, young riders or mothers but there was a high level of involvement from all concerned.

fashionsmall 2

small horses small

The size of some of the competitors was certainly in proportion to the size of the horses!


These three however were in no way involved, all they wanted to do was join in the day at the Farmers market in Nelson.


And finally the food shot of the week.  Lunch consisted of a soft boiled free range egg with added butter and a drop or two of cider vinegar (instant hollandaise) using fresh asparagus, lightly steamed, as soldiers.

Catch Up 2

October 17, 2012

We left Pakawau and headed back to Takaka and to the lovely parking spot at Pohara overlooking the Tarakahoe Harbour where we met up with fellow motorhomers that we had spent time with at Pakawau.   We had a lovely couple of days catching up and spending time together.  However, we were woken early Friday morning by the phone call to tell us that Mum had passed away (28th September).  So it was a quick tidy, pack up and hit the road down to Oamaru but not before heading into Takaka to pick up our A-frame which was in for some minor repairs. 

Oh, did we not mention earlier that we had had a bit of a mishap the previous day?  Someone forgot to replace the key in the ignition of the RAV4 which disengages the steering lock for towing.  Luckily the same person (Bernice!), noticed that things did not look quite right in the reversing camera, so we pulled over to find that two of the locking “lugs” on the A-frame had been bent out of shape.  So a quick un-hitch and a trip back into the engineers in Takaka to get it sorted.  Friday morning our first stop was to the engineers to pick up the repaired frame.  Hitched up and headed out of town, however, all did not seem well.  After some serious nagging about things not looking ‘right’, the driver agreed to head back to Takaka and the workshop to get them to check it all.  After much looking and debating, we all finally agreed it was not indeed right, and with some fiddling, we realised that the positioning bolts had been put in backwards and were not locking correctly.  Phew! A simple fix and we are on our way back over Takaka Hill and onto Richmond where we know we can safely leave the van for a week or two.  We travelled as far as Springs Junction where we stayed the night.

 tarakohe harbour europe in nz

Tarakohe harbour as we leave.  Motel stop at Springs Junction looking much like a European scene.

mistsunrise springs junction

Early morning mist and sun lighting the mountains behind Springs Junction.

We arrived in Oamaru Saturday afternoon where we headed out to stay with friends Helen & Don. 

The next few days were filled with tales, tears, talk and more talk.  For the first time, us six siblings (without spouses, children et al) sat and talked, laughed and cried, and got to know each other a whole lot better. 

After the funeral service, we went out for dinner, with John staying at home with Dad to keep him company. 

Below are photos of the family.  Now for those of you who are not familiar with my family here is a quick run down of my siblings.  We are Mike, Sue, John, Steve, Bernice and Hilary, then there are the wives and husbands, their offspring and their partners, and their offspring!  Yes, there are a few of us…….. but have I mentioned that Mum was the 17th of 19 children? Yep, we have a few relations, however all of that side of the family are in the UK!

people 2    people 5

(L-R)Natalie, Hilary Sue                        Amy, Steve, Fran

 erin antony      girls

Erin, Antony                                       Jeff, Erin, Julie, Jenny

hilary   people

Natalie, Hilary, Sue                       Leslie, Sarah, Natalie, Hilary

oh jeff people 4

Jeff, Erin                                      Emma, Toby, Stuart, Amy (obsc)

 people 3    grandad

(L)Bernice (Blue shirt left), Jacky next to her.(R) Mike holding Maggie

sas julie Julie plaiting Sarah’s hair. 


tobyToby with his “Hot Dog, Hot Dog, Hot Diggety Dog”….ask our son Antony for the significance of this 🙂

Catch Up 1

October 16, 2012

Time to catch up with the past few weeks and the places we have been and seen.   Whilst staying at Pakawau we took the opportunity to explore as much of the upper reaches of Golden Bay as we could.

A trip along Farewell Spit was an absolute requirement.  So we took a trip with the longest existing Spit tour operator.  We were a  small party consisting of a couple from Singapore, the bus driver and ourselves.   Talk about coincidence, his name was Roy and he worked in the IT industry in Singapore!!!!

We were picked up at 7am and then proceeded to spend the next six hours exploring the Spit and surrounds.

Farewell Spit is some 27 kilometres long and between 700 metres and one kilometre wide for much of it’s length, much bigger than we had envisaged.

cape farewell

Looking back along the ocean Beach toward Cape Farewell.

farewell spit

The ocean beach disappearing into the distance looking toward the ocean end of the spit.  The ocean beach is all sand for its whole length.  The inner beach is more mud and sand as it accumulates the debris brought down the rivers emptying into Golden Bay.   There is also significant ground cover, trees and grasses over much of the Spit on the inner side protected from the ocean by a long range of sand dunes.

seal on beach

Wild life on the Spit was somewhat restricted at this time of year as we were too early for the return of the migratory flocks of birds returning to New Zealand and the Spit.  We saw a number of seals, young and old.

baby seal  

No this is not a dead baby seal, just one protecting itself from the wind and sunburn by allowing the blown sand to form a barrier.  It did acknowledge our presence by turning its head to follow our movement.

Toward the end of the Spit there is a lighthouse and the remnant buildings used by the lighthouse staff and farm owners in later days.  We had our muffins and tea break at this point.  The lighthouse is still operating but is now totally automatic.

lighthouselighthouse 1

Some idea of the scale of the lighthouse can be gauged from the height of the person at the base of the lighthouse.

fresnel 3

The light in the lighthouse has also been modernised.  As a result the original Fresnel lens is now on display in a hut at the base of the lighthouse.

lighthouse keepers house

The lighthouse keepers house is still in good repair and is used by DOC, naturalist, biologists, and other scientists interested in the wild life, geography and geology of the Spit and the changing nature of the Spit


Visitors in front of the skeleton of a pilot whale at the lighthouse area.  Whale strandings are common at the spit occurring every year, often more than once per year, all of these occur on the inner beach rather than the ocean beach.


Patterns etched by wind and water in the sand on the top of the sand dunes


On the return trip we paused by one of the largest sand dunes and climbed it to view the outlook and gauge the size and extent of the dunes.  The above view looks toward the inner side of the spit and gives a perspective to the width of the spit

   skiing downhill skier

Some people were practising their skiing, not quite so expert at arriving at the base of a face of the sand dune.

After returning from the far reaches of the Spit we made our way to Cape Farewell the northernmost point of the South Island.


The hole in the rock at Cape Farewell

spur wing plover

On the way back from the Cape we saw this Spur Wing Plover on the side of the road.  She was protecting her off spring who can be seen in the background.

The following day we decided we would see what the road down the West Coast looked like from this end of the island.  On the map we were to progress to Whanganui Inlet and then follow the coast down to Anatori which was about as far as one can go.

 Wanganui inlet entrance

The Whanganui inlet is immense!  the above picture is the outlet to the sea, but it gives no idea of the size of the inlet. It is a huge area that is virtually dry when the tide is out so that there is on immense movement of water every tide.


An old wharf structure on the shores of the inlet.  Still used by a couple of fishing boats

how to build a wharf

How to build another wharf at the same spot by grounding an old barge

old man ti tree

Around the inlet there are significant wetlands and old stands of cabbage trees a lot of which are unique looking.

We stopped for a picnic lunch at the mouth of the Paturau River.   Obviously the locals welcome visitors but make clear the standards with which they are expected to conform!!


The clear list of expectations.

seat at

This unique seat is set up on a small rise giving a panoramic view of the beach below.

the road to Anatori

The road from Paturau River south was a relatively narrow metal road following the coast, very scenic showing a lot of tomos and caves and sink holes in the limestone which underlies the whole area.

limestone peaks

Lime stone cliff faces and ranges at Mangarakau Swamp where we found a well set up swamp restoration project.


Looking down on River mouth between Paturau and Anatori.

anatori camp

Part of the collection of camp vehicles and huts for whitebaiters at the mouth of the river.


A great display of native clematis seen on the way back home to Pakawau


October 6, 2012

It is with much sadness that we must tell you that Bernice’s Mum, Hilda Coatham, passed away on Friday 28th September. A wonderful Mum, Grandma, and Great Grandma who will be lovingly remembered by us all.