Archive for January, 2013

Auckland anniversary weekend

January 30, 2013

This last weekend was a long weekend for those who happen to be gainfully employed, and for us it was a weekend of family get together with fishing. Steve arrived Friday night and Saturday morning the three (Roy, John and Steve) were up at 4am to head out for the day fishing. The Whakatane river bar was proving to be temperamental so plans were made to head up to Opotiki and head out from there. The morning was spent fishing however the fish must have decided to to head off somewhere else as not many were being landed in the boat. The bar at Opotiki had presented its own challenges i.e. being very shallow even at full tide, therefore a phone call was made and Bernice and Julie hopped into a car and headed up to Opotiki to collect John’s car and trailer and bring it back to Whakatane.

It was a beautiful day, and with stunning scenery along the way, and I spied many a good spot to explore on another day. We soon arrived in Opotiki, collected the car and trailer before setting out on our return journey. The blokes arrived back empty handed, but with resolve to head out again on Sunday morning, allowing themselves a bit of a sleep in until 4.30am this time!!

Late Sunday morning and other members of the family started to arrive, first Sue & Jeff followed shortly after by Hilary. Not long after the guys arrived back from fishing, this time having had much success. The rest of the day was spent cleaning fish, catching up with family and generally enjoying the sunshine.

And to prove that Roy can actually catch some fish, here is the proof. Actually under size by 7 centimeters.

back row: Jeff, John, Steve and Roy
Front row: Sue, Bernice, Hilary

John with his daughters Jenny and Julie

Sunday afternoon and everyone left going in their own separate direction, Sue & Jeff to Putaruru via Rotorua, Hilary to Tauranga and Steve back to Auckland but with an extra passenger….Julie! And all with a good quantity of fresh fish.


January 29, 2013

We were captivated by the comprehensive and professionally delivered presentation given the other evening by our niece Jenny. Jenny was putting forward a case for a new phone, as her other phone was broken. The presentation was to persuade her Dad of the obvious benefits of purchasing an iPhone5 for her use. The presentation included comparing androids and iPhones and different versions of each phone.

First was the PowerPoint presentation with the accompanying talk, going into technical detail of each phone and the pros and cons of each. Then came the handouts, one on each phone variation including pricing and comparisons. It was a compelling presentation done by a 16 year old who was obviously intent on attempting to persuade her dad to invest in an iPhone5 !

Finally, was the contract that she had drawn up to sign between her and her Dad, which included the promises of keeping room tidy, cooking, cleaning, even to the extent of offering pedicures!

And the result? Well, after much contemplation, Dad decided to have repaired a broken screen on an iPhone4 that they already had.


January 25, 2013

On some occasions, the bar across the Whakatane River entrance is deemed too dangerous to cross and today was one of those days. So a day of no fishing, however, I do have one shot of John coming back into the wharf yesterday.


Roy and I headed into town to attend to a few chores and on our way in, we saw a Mirada like ours parked in the Bunnings carpark. This is the first one we have seen like ours with the owners around so we dropped by to say hello. After a bit of a chat, we said that we may well meet up over the winter months somewhere in Northland.

Shopping done, we headed out to the entrance to see for ourselves why the coastguard had labeled the bar ‘unworkable’. We now know why, decent sized waves were breaking over the bar and rolling through the entrance, not a safe place to be.

Today was our turn to host drinkies, so as per usual with our motorhoming life, we set up the table and chairs, prepared a few nibbles and sat down to duly host afternoon drinks with John, Jenny and Julie. The weather has been outstanding whilst we have been here, and it was very pleasant sitting under the awning of the van, telling tall tales.

20130125-095932.jpgJulie, John, Roy and Jenny

20130125-095943.jpgJohn and Roy sorting out the important things.

Today was also John’s turn to cook dinner, so whilst he attended to the preparation and cooking of the Bluenose, Roy decided that it had been some time since he had mown a lawn.

Well, sitting on a lawn mower constitutes mowing a lawn does it not? Only one slight hiccough when Roy got too close to a tree and one of his hearing aids got flicked out. A search party was gathered, grid pattern search about to be instigated when lo and behold, John found it! Thank goodness as it would have been a time consuming, not to mention expensive, exercise to have it replaced (see December 31 2011 for a similar exercise!).

After dinner, a few games of Sequence before it was time to hit the hay.

Today, 25th January, and happy birthday to niece Natalie. Hope you are greatly spoilt, as you deserve to be. And today is also the birth day of our friends Anne & Paul’s new grandchild. We trust all goes well for Michaela and Brad for the birth of their much anticipated baby.

Fishing and swimming

January 24, 2013

After many tales and enticing photos sent to us extolling the prowess of the fisher persons in Whakatane, we had high hopes of lots of fish being caught. Roy, John and Julie headed out early Monday morning and were back by midday with some Terakihi. Delicious it was too.

20130124-100715.jpg heading out through the bar

20130124-100827.jpgRoy fishing

Tuesday and another day spent around Whakatane, we did head off for a drive up the coast a little as far as Matata and checked out the DOC campsite there. We were reliably informed that they would be full this weekend as it is Auckland anniversary weekend, which means a day off work for most on Monday. This combined with the end of the school holidays, plus a fishing competition this weekend, it will be fairly busy all along the coast with most parking sites full. We are staying put at the “Kotanga Camp”, where we will be joined this weekend by Steve. Hilary is also joining us for a few days of R&R and Sue will be visiting for a day. Lets hope we have continued fine weather.

Wednesday and another day out fishing, this time Roy and John went out, after some time of no luck they headed back into the wharf to enable Roy to get his ‘land legs’. After dropping off Roy, Bernice and Julie headed back out with John for a very pleasant afternoon out by Whale Island. Bernice did catch a reasonable sized Kahawai, but it was not landed on the boat…apparently they are good bait! It was some time before Julie managed to land a small snapper however he was sent back to sea to grow a little. It was such a lovely day, some went swimming…..

20130124-101406.jpg only a little ‘encouragement’ required, a gentle push from Dad was all that was required.

20130124-101512.jpg Julie swimming in the deep blue sea

I must say I was sorely tempted to leap in with her, however, goodness knows why, but some form of sense prevailed. Next time I will throw all caution to the wind and leap in with her.

Once returned to the wharf, we noticed that they launch boats a little differently here in Whakatane.


These boats had obviously been in dry dock for some repairs before being craned back into the water. It was all done very quickly and efficiently, the whole process taking around 5 minutes per boat.

I have been playing with my new/old phone (thanx Antony) and have taken a few pics with it, this one I thought was rather good.


On the 20th January, we welcomed Beatrix to the ever expanding family clan, a beautiful daughter to Frances and Clive, and granddaughter for Steve & Leslie. All well and now at home. Congratulations.


January 21, 2013

What does one do on a very hot Sunday afternoon when the temperature in the shade is reading 31C? You decide that the guest accommodation wing (aka tent) needs a good airing. What with the pending arrival of Alex home from London shortly, she is going to have to sleep somewhere!!!! It seemed to have started something as John thought it would be a good idea to also air out their two tents. Under the blazing afternoon sun, we set out to put up, not one, but three tents.

Roy pegging down the base and John reading the instructions!

John’s tent up, easy it was too.

Our tent up….hmmm, a little more difficult to put up!

Another easy one

Tent city!

Now it looks like a camp ground, what with the three tents up, plus our van complete with awning out!

Now after all that hard work, we deserve a drink…..and what better than to use up some to the fruit from the trees lining the driveway.

Delicious blood orange drink, next we will try the lemonade fruit.

On your bike

January 19, 2013

Friday was spent around John’s place on the outskirts of Whakatane, dealing with the day to day routine things such as laundry, filling with water, cooking, cleaning, oh and lots of talking. A trip into town to see the sights and do a bit of shopping before heading back to the house and van.
Here we are all parked up.

We also made a trip to a Motorhome store where we bought a large groundsheet to go under the awning, hopefully this will mean that there will be less dirt traipsed into the van as well as making it a bit more comfortable for sitting outside. And it will also make up for one of the mats that Chum, the dog, ate for breakfast yesterday!

Some negotiations have been taking place, amidst much mirth, and Roy is now the proud owner of a bike….thanks Jenny! We have the red bike for her, and the blue bike for him. We have no excuses any more, it’s on your bike for us.


Saturday and we are back into housesitting mode as John, Julie and Jenny are off to a wedding in Rotorua. A quiet day for us, just a bit more of the usual daily routine. Although I do admit to raiding the proliferation of citrus trees here, and I am enjoying drinking the juice from grapefruit, blood oranges, lemons and mandarins…oh and limes! I may even become inspired to make some marmalade or some citrus syrups/cordials over the next few days. Then I will have to get on my bike for a bit longer.

Auckland to Taupo to Whakatane

January 18, 2013

Ok, so we have started the year off very slowly in keeping up blog entries.  Now we are back on the road, we should get ourselves back into some semblance of routine and ‘normality’.  Dont hold your breath though!

We finally left Auckland on Monday 14th January, Jacky & Chris arrived home from the UK late on Wednesday evening, they had Thursday at home before they left again Friday morning for a weekend with friends on Waiheke Island.  Brother Mike arrived back on Friday as he was flying back to Dunedin on the Saturday completing his sojourn in the north.   We spent the last few days in Auckland trying to remember if we had done everything we had wanted to achieve before we left the city.  We had a quick trip over the the English food shop to pick up a few bits and pieces, including some bits for James at Pen-y-bryn. Whilst there, we took the opportunity to purchase a few goodies for ourselves! 

We also went to a few Asian markets, including a Korean mart and a Chinese Supermarket.  Earlier in the week, we had been out for a Chinese meal along Dominion Road, Balmoral, where we chose one of the restaurants to eat at.  We were the only European faces in the place, the staff spoke limited English,  the menu was pictorial with some interesting English translations of menu items. We duly chose a couple of dishes, helped along by the waitress and proceeded to wait.  Whilst waiting we were given a pot of green tea, it was delicious and refreshing, we polished off the whole pot in a very short time.  Our meal duly arrived, and we are still unsure of what we actually ate, but it was all delicious.  One dish was a pork belly dish with chillies (read that as at least 2 handfuls of dried chillies in the dish), on crispy rice.  Another dish was a spicy lamb dish served with what they called pie, it turned out they were very soft dough-like pockets which you filled with the lamb….and of course I had to have some dumplings.  It was all a bit too much for us so we ended up taking enough home for another meal.  Which brings me back to the Chinese supermarket, we tried to find some green tea like we had had and even after ringing James to try and assist, Roy ended up back at the restaurant to try and find out what sort of tea it was.  Through translations and hand gestures, it turns out that they import their own tea from China so we were unable to buy any in NZ, however, the kind lady packaged up a container full for us and gave it to us, free no less.  Now we have our own supply.

Whilst in Auckland ,we have also managed to see a couple of movies, the first was when Mike was with us when we went to see The Intouchables.  A fantastic movie that we can all highly recommend, it is a French movie (subtitled) based on a true story.  It is very, very funny and one I could happily watch again.  The next movie was The Quartet which Bernice went to see last weekend by herself.  It was a ‘nice’ movie, I would not rave about it however it was a nice way to spend a very hot afternoon in an air-conditioned theatre!!

Monday morning, we left Auckland and headed to Putaruru, staying with sister Sue for the night.  It was nice to get to sleep with cooler temperatures and half the humidity that we had been experiencing in Auckland. Roy’s cousin Robert called in for a catch up and we arranged to meet up with him again in a day or so.   Tuesday and we headed off to Taupo and to our home which was safely parked up at Barry & Sandra’s base at Taupo airport.  It was so nice to get back to our own bit of space and put away all our belongings. We called in to say hi to Jeff and Jason in Taupo before they headed off up to Putaruru. Tuesday afternoon and evening we spent at sister Hilary’s place, she had picked a few bags of plums so I helped her make plum jam and plum sauce.  Wednesday and we spent the day with Robert, assisting him with his recent purchase of an iPad.  Hilary and Rebekka came round in the evening for a final catch up before we left town.

Thursday morning and pack everything up and get ready to move on, we go through our pre travel checklist to make sure everything is complete.

 Mirarda PreflightMirarda on the Move

hitching up the car,  ready to go, NB: nicely polished thanx  to Barry

 Mirarda Crewand the crew ready to leave.  

Now it is a few years since we headed through this part of country and it is interesting to see how the landscape has changed over the years. 


on the road past Wairaki, all of this land was covered in pine forest the last time we were through here. 

55 54

Seeing this cooling tower on the horizon reminded us of being in Britain, however, this is just out of Reporoa, and no it is not a nuclear power station but a geothermal power plant.

We stopped in Rotorua to empty the waste tanks, then to fuel up the van as we noticed that petrol was 13c/litre cheaper in Rotorua than it was in Taupo and Auckland.  Then it was off through past the Lakes to Whakatane. Along the way we drive through what is known as Hongi’s Track.


Driving through Hongi’s Track.

Legend has it that the track was used by  Hinehopu. She travelled regularly between her two homes, one at each end of the track. It was also halfway along this track that she met her future husband Pikiao II; the precise spot is marked by Hinehopu’s magic tree. Hinehopu planted the tree as a sapling to mark the spot. The tree is today more generally spoken of as the Wishing Tree. It was over this same track that Hongi Hika and his Ngapuhi army hauled their canoes in order to attack Mokoia Island at Rotorua. Much later, and probably as a result of a blossoming tourist industry, the roadway became known as Hongi’s Track.  Today the highway follows the track and is serene and beautiful native bush.

61We stopped along side Lake Rotoiti for a bite to eat and a cuppa before heading to brother Johns place just outside Whakatane.

Over the past week Bernice has managed to meet up with 4 of her siblings, next week we will also catch up with Steve.  It has been fantastic to catch up with everyone.  We are in the midst of planning a bit of a family get together in April as it will be 50 years since we emigrated to NZ from the UK, more on that in a later edition.

Here we are parked up for the next few days with the hope that we will be able to get in a bit of fishing. Last night and John has some smoked fish which Bernice turned into a tasty smoked fish pie for dinner before she and his girls, Julie and Jenny, went off to the movies to see Les Miserables. Wow, I have been to three movies already this year, more than I have been to in the past 3 or 4 years!!!

New Year

January 10, 2013

Happy New Year to you all, a little late but we have been very slack in keeping up with blog life!  Although now trying to think back on what we have been up to, I fear we have not been up to much apart from catching up with family and friends. 

Antony hosted a BBQ on the 28th December so we all wandered out to his place for the evening.  Mike left us the following day for his sojourn northwards. 

As I had received a small bike for Christmas, as in a 6inch model of a bike with the promise of a real bike,  we headed out to the shops to find a suitable model. This is because we in a moment of weakness I agreed to be part of a family team in the next Round the Taupo Bike race!!  Hence, I have to get fit ….and get a bike.  We found a lovely bike shop nearby where with the shop owner, along with Mike, gave me helpful advice.  So I ended up with a “Comfort Mountain Bike” which will be suitable for all sorts of biking, and not just one suitable for the race.

bike  Set up in a training frame for practice

Antony had given me a nice pair of headphones for Christmas, so now I can bike along merrily whilst listening to an audiobook.  This is of course very good for me and also helping with the rehab on my ankles, for which I am still having physio.  Whilst we are at Jacky & Chris’, I have the bike set up on a trainer so I can happily bike in situ without having to worry about negotiating traffic.

Just before New Year, friends Kevin & Faye from Nelson came to stay and we spent a lovely afternoon wandering along the waterfront,  checking out the views from the top of Mt Eden and other general sightseeing around the central city.  We ended the day with a relaxing dinner at home.  They left on New Years Eve,  and after all the excitement of the previous few days we did not stay up to welcome in the New Year and  we were in bed by 10pm. 

The following are some views of iconic Auckland sights;

iconic 2iconic

Boat Sheds                                     Sky Tower

rangi 2victoria

Rangitoto                                       Mt Victoria and Devonport


Pohutakawa’s                            And of course the queues of traffic,

Another day and we headed out to Howick to the cemetery and the Columbarium where Roy’s parents ashes are kept.   The plaque was a little tarnished so we spent some time giving it a polish.  

plaque 1

From there we headed out for a tiki tour (or trip down memory lane) around Howick and Cockle Bay, as this is where Roy grew up.  We passed many of his old haunts and we also called in at his parents old property in Cockle Bay where there are now two houses on the 1/3 acre section.  We also called past his aunts old property in Pt England where a new house is currently being built.  On our way home we called in to see Bill & Estelle for a cuppa and a catch up.   

And a few days later we were back at Bill & Estelle’s for a BBQ with some of the old crowd.  When I say old crowd, I mean Roy’s friends from his early days around Howick.  These evenings are always fun, and always end up with ‘do you remember…’

bill Bernice listening to another one of the stories at Bill & Estelle’s.

Another day and another trip out and about, this time to Warkworth to meet Roy’s cousin Delyse and her husband Graeme. We had not been on the new highway north on the toll road and through the tunnel, so after sorting out payment (all done via the internet) we headed north.

tunnel 5tunnel 2

Approaching the tunnel                Heading through the tunnel

Delyse has also been doing a bit of genealogy so she and Roy were able to compare and swap notes. We spent a lovely afternoon with them before heading south again, this time via the old coast road.  This time we called in to  Wenderholm and Shakespear Parks to view them as possible sites for a camping weekend with Alex and her friends when she is home from London next month.  Shakespear Park is looking the most likely spot as we are constrained as to where we may park our van due to size restrictions.

As you can see from the photos, we have been experiencing amazing weather, it has been very warm and humid with a surprising lack of rain – very unusual for Auckland!  Long may this weather continue.

We have also managed to catch up with Robyn & Alan, friends from when our children were at school together at Parnell Primary.  We spent a lovely evening with them reminiscing, catching up with happenings and we will not mention the bottle of rum that Alan and Roy demolished!

We are now into our last few days of being in Auckland, as we plan to head off on Monday down to Taupo and back to our van ready for a couple of weeks of tripping around before heading  back to the Auckland region for Alex’s pending arrival.

Now for the interesting photo of the day we have the following;

 crash landed goose  It’s a patch in the tarseal but the shape is interesting…Roy says it looks like a goose that made a bad landing but I say it looks like the map of Tasmania.