Archive for April, 2013


April 28, 2013

The van NOT the occupants are classed as Heavyweight vehicles, and this last weekend there was a rally held at Little Waihi so we thought we would pop long and find out what it is all about.

Before we left Otamarakau, on Thursday night we had Keith & Deb round for a very enjoyable evening and dinner.  Although there are eels in the creek, we left them where they are and instead settled on T- Bone steak for dinner.

 eelsand to prove it, here are the eels still swimming in the creek.

barnacleFound this example of a Goose Barnacle attached to a piece of pumice.  Based on the length of the barnacle shell the piece of pumice must have been floating in the sea for some five years.

Friday morning we headed off to Little Waihi which is further along the Bay of Plenty coast toward Tauranga, not far from Maketu.   It sits on a small peninsular on the inland side of the estuary, with  Pukehina on the ocean side of the peninsular.  We got a great view of the motorhomes all lined up from the hill coming down into Little Waihi.

waihi 1Motorhomes lined up in the centre of the picture. Pukehina is the collection of houses on the ocean side at the top of the photo.

As we had a few errands to run, we headed off into Tauranga once the van was all parked up and settled and before the weekend activities began.

little waihiA close up view…oh, and that is our van parked facing forward in the centre front of the picture.

We arrived back from Tauranga only a little late for Happy Hour, the shopping was quickly put away, poured ourselves a drink, grabbed our chairs and headed over to the marquee to meet some new people and find out what lay ahead of us for the weekend.  We arrived in time for the final two quick fire raffles of the day, and guess what? We won both of them!!  The first was a breakfast pack consisting of bacon, eggs, sausages and pancake mix, the second was a meat pack.   Score!


Saturday; morning tea, meeting new folk, checking out other vehicles, fishing competition, silly games afternoon, and a surprise visit from John who was passing on his way home from Rotorua.  A quick catch up before he left and it was time for Happy Hour.  Bernice remained in the van to watch the netball whilst Roy headed off to be sociable, it was not long before he returned with… yes, you guessed it, another meat raffle win! The freezer is now very full.

As an aside, we have been pouring over the latest editions of both the Cuisine and Dish magazines, both of which have a focus on all things Italian.  We have picked out a number of dishes to try and had stocked up on our Friday shop with items required to make a selection of menu items.  Saturday evening we enjoyed from Dish; Lemon & Oregano crumbed Lamb Cutlets with Potato rosti and salad – divine.

Lemon and Oregano Crumbed Lamb CutletsDinner


sunrise 1Early Sunday morning looking across the river estuary to the Little Waihi settlement. sunrise Sunrise on Sunday morning

litle waihi 3Some of the 47 Heavyweights lined up.

Sunday and after friendly farewells, we headed off to Tauranga. This time to Fergusson Park where we had been told was good free parking right on the waters edge.  After first visiting the dump station near Tauranga Airport, we settled into our very nice parking spot before Jenna came for a quick visit.  After more netball watching, time for another delicious dinner, this time an item chosen from Cuisine,

photoan Italian Sausage Ragu with Polenta.

Rolling on out

April 25, 2013

It was previously mentioned that we had some issues with maintenance on our awning.  To recap, some time ago we had scraped the rolled up awning on a tree and over time with sun and wind, the material had started to delaminate.  We undertook to take the awning off the van and have the piece of material cut off and then reattach the awning to the van.   We took the awning off with only some slight hitches, and on Roy’s birthday we attempted to put it back on the van, after the delaminated section had been removed. As John put it, Roy had a birthday and a near divorce all on the same day! 

It did not go well, however Bernice did find an excellent ‘how-to’ You Tube video on the correct way of re-installing the awning.  Once we had managed to get the material back onto the roller plus slide the material plus arms etc back onto the van, which is definitely a three person job, the next thing is to tension the roller.  Each end of the awning has a tensioning spring which enables the awning to be rolled out and then roll back up into the locked position.  This is where we had the major issues. 

As we had had some of the material removed, the number of turns that the awning roller requires to roll up needed to be adjusted, plus you have to ensure that each end is tensioned EXACTLY  the same number of turns….well, lets just say that we managed to get the awning back onto the van with one end rolled up very tightly and the other end, shall we say, loose.

It was decided at this stage that we may require an experts advise and assistance so a quick trip to the local motorhome store only to be told that they could not fit us in for another week or more.  Oh well, it was now secure to the side of the van and we agreed to leave it until another day. 

After everyone had left on Sunday afternoon, Bernice & Natalie headed off into town to partake in a little retail therapy. Whilst they were away, the blokes decided it would be a good time to have a go at fixing the awning without the helpful advice of the female member of the touring party!   The girls arrived back before the job was finished, which enabled them to get a couple of pictures of the work at hand.  

174_thumbHow many men does it take to turn a crescent? John, Mike, Stuart and Roy.

164_thumbNote that the youngest bloke was sent up the ladder!!!

After a couple of attempts, they eventually got it wound the correct number of times to efficiently roll out and wind back up. Phew!

We left John’s on Tuesday and headed on up the road to Otamarakau.

OtamarakauHere we are parked 20 metres away from the beach, and about the same from the railway line, plenty of noise when the train comes rumbling through. We have been here before, in fact it was just over two years ago when we had just purchased the van. 

sign 2 sign

A new addition at the parking spot is this sign which has two unusual features.  The first is that it not only provides distances to local and remote locations but it also shows the direction and angle for setting satellite dishes for TV reception. The second unusual feature is the Christchurch indicator which reflects the nature of events there by being rippled.  Someone’s good sense of humour.

bikingAnd a rare event captured, Roy trying out his bicycle to prove that they are just not ornaments on the back of the RAV.

Early morning wandering shows the usual bird life with Shags and Dotterel.

shag 1 dotterel

And two unusual items.  One is two spirula shells.  These are commonly found on beaches in both islands. 

barnaclesThe unusual aspect of these two is that they have been colonised by barnacles, in fact they look like the young of the goose barnacle.

The second unusual find is the 20cm long example of an unusual ‘organic’ item.  It is light in weight for it’s size and when broken the interior has a quite strong ammonia smell.  I would be interested if anyone can tell me what this is.  There were several smaller pieces around in the same area. 

mass 1  I have asked here and been told by someone that it may be a residue of something from the wreck of the Rena as plastic beads, clothing, timber and other wreckage has been cast up on the beach here. But this item appears to be organic in nature.

Today is our grandson Andre’s 3rd birthday, Happy Birthday Andre, and hope you have a wonderful day.  Today is also of course ANZAC Day.  Unfortunately we are some distance from a dawn service but we still paused to consider those that have gone before and those whose lives were and are affected by war.

Part two

April 24, 2013

Next morning, after one last swim, we all made our way to John’s home in Whakatane to continue the celebrations with morning tea and the cutting of the cake which was made by Amy & Rebekka.


The following are a few photos of the morning tea….

131 132 133 141 142144

      Eldest & youngest – Mike & Hilary cut the cake                      

147 149

Shaun & Asher                             Leslie & Finn

150   156

Amy, Jason, Stuart, Bernice, Antony    Greer, Sue & Jeff

158   162

Natalie (& bump) enjoying cake!    Antony, Sarah & Caleb


The six siblings lined up for photo opportunities before we all headed off in different directions.


Back L-R  Steve John Mike

Front L-R Sue Bernice Hilary

But we got our own back on being the photographed….here are the photographers


L-R Leslie, Stuart, Jeff, Antony, Roy, Jason, Sarah, Natalie, Rebekka

Slowly but surely, everyone gradually left leaving just Roy & Bernice and Mike, Natalie & Stuart at John’s. A lovely weekend and a great chance to meet up,  with only a handful of people unable to attend.  Thanx all for coming, till next time.

Gathering of the clan part one

April 24, 2013

This last weekend was a gathering of the Coatham Family as it was 50 years since we arrived in New Zealand emigrating from England.  Our journey was of course by ship, the P&O liner Oronsay, from Tilbury Docks London, via the Suez canal to arrive in Auckland on 22 April 1963.


This is how we were in 1963! 

Back L-R Mike, Sue

Front L-R John, Bernice, Hilary, Steve

Check out today…..


Back L-R Steve, John, Mike

Front L-R Sue, Bernice, Hilary

Not much change really after 50 years.

Family started arriving on Friday.  Roy & Bernice arrived at Awakeri Hot Springs to find that Mike Natalie & Stuart were already awaiting our arrival with Sue Jeff Jason and the twins arriving shortly thereafter. Steve & Les along with Fran and Clive were staying just down the road on Friday night but all turned up on Saturday morning.  Sarah Shaun and their boys arrived and of course John & Julie were not far away.  Hilary was next to arrive with Rebekka & Amy. Antony was the last one to arrive later in the evening.    

 55   59 

Stuart Mike John & Jeff                    Clive Leslie & Sue

Some of us had been for a swim on the Friday evening, oh what bliss, before too long on Saturday the pool was invaded by a good number of family members. 

 65 67 

Lots of children with adults             Leslie organising the bald ones

Of course food takes a major part in any gathering and lunch was put together before an afternoon of lots of chat with swapping of stories, photos and general catching up.  Some of the cousins (second, once removed, never sure which is which!!)  had never met before so it was a good opportunity to build relationships.

 74    80

 81  84

We were fortunate with the weather with just a few odd light showers falling, unlike some parts of the country which were being flooded. We had planned to use the facilities of the venue for our evening gathering however, another group was in residence so plan B was put into place.  We put our large outdoor mat in front of the van (we were parked under a huge oak tree which gave us some shelter from the rain) and John had a large pagoda under which tables were set up.


The decades in Coke! Oops..1983 went missing but an off course substitute was soon found.

127A toast was made to Hilda & Burnie (Mum & Dad) for bringing us all to NZ.  Let the celebrations begin!  A great repast was laid out for all with everyone contributing to a lovely evening of excellent food, drink & convivial company.  

109  122  

After dinner, Bernice ran a quiz for the family group, everyone was placed into teams, with the competitive spirit coming to the fore!  Quiz rounds consisted of sections with topics including;

1963, Pontefract, The Journey to NZ, First few years in NZ, Everything 50, Numbers, Dingbats, Food & Drink

Family members had contributed questions over the previous weeks showing that some have incredible memory for such things as car registration numbers, phone numbers, people, places, and events.  Scoring was very liberal leading to a generally agreed four way tie.  Some people could not refrain from answering questions in a somewhat loud whisper thus making it easier for their opponents.

All as quiet as a mouse

April 23, 2013

It’s true, it has been as quiet as a mouse…you know when autumn is here when you find evidence of a mouse in the house or rather a mouse in thevan We realised we had an extra passenger on board as we left Tokomaru Bay and we did indeed set the trap and catch two mice in very short succession whilst we were at Te Araroa. We thought that would have been it BUT no, back to Whakatane and parked at John’s next to maize crops, well, what do you expect!!! Another couple caught and quickly dealt with. It goes without saying that the male member of the party has to deal with the captured bodies, this woman runs a mile! All gone, but the traps are set, just in case.

We have been quietly getting a few things done on the van, we had the awning repaired which turned into more of a marathon than we anticipated but more on that later. Roy had another birthday, they seem to roll around fairly regularly and quickly these days, however, having birthdays is better than the alternative! Other chores have been dealt to and out of the way for the time being.

We have been fortunate with the weather as whilst the rest of the country seemed to be under water, the rain has been steady but not torrential and although we had our fair share, it did not hinder is in any way. We know some of our friends were nearly washed away at the Richmond A&P Showgrounds over the weekend, and others at Waihi escaped narrowly as well. Meanwhile we had a family gathering over the weekend and the rain did not manage to rain on our parade, it more of that later.

Normal transmission will resume shortly.

Gas crisis

April 9, 2013

Well you have heard of the Oil Crisis, the Financial Crisis and the Climate Crisis, (not forgetting Mid Life Crisis) well we have had our own mini crisis.  I refer to the fact that we were getting down on Gas (LPG), our indicator showing that we had an empty Gas tank.  This is the same gas that we cook with, heat our hot water with and run our refrigerator on.  The first two we can easily overcome with cold showers and use of the barbeque, however, the third cannot at present use any other fuel source.

There was no gas at Te Araroa and we were reliably informed that we had a choice between returning to Gisborne or going on to Opotiki as these were the nearest supply points.

A decision was required do we chance our arm and take a few more days on the coast, reckoning on there being dregs of gas sufficient or do we run for Opotiki.  The decision is made to cut and run.

We left Te Araroa accompanied by drizzle and strong winds.  On through Hicks Bay, quietly tootling along, when whammo, a strong gust of wind shunted us a good 2m sideways shoving us into the opposite lane…..we originally thought we had blown a tyre, but no, just a gust of wind buffeting us around.  Luckily there was nothing coming in the opposite direction!  The van runs on an 8tonne sticker so it must have been a decent blow although it did hit us directly side on. 

We stopped at Oruaiti Beach which is within Waihau Bay for morning tea.  


Oruaiti beach a very nice looking area, Waihau Bay village in the distance.  A place to stop at some time in the future.

Also seen on the horizon is White Island still steaming the same as it was the last time we saw it from one of our fishing trips.

White Island

There are just a couple of spots we thought looked promising for future stays along this stretch of coast and are on our “must return” list. 

We arrived at Opotiki where we made our way to the petrol station which had vehicle LPG filling.  Topped up we heaved a sigh of relief and then made our way to a POP that had been recommended just out of town.

Opotiki 3 Opotiki 

As can be seen it is positioned on a spur well above the river flats on either side of the Waioeka River which reaches the sea through Opotiki.   There were magnificent views out toward the sea, back inland along the river valley and looking down onto the river mouth and Opotiki Town.

One night on high and then it was on to Whakatane and to John’s.

We are in need of some maintenance on the motorhome, which we can find trades people for in Whakatane.    Although the temperature is now down to single figures overnight we are still having 20 degree days with no rain in sight so time to get all those little jobs attended to.

Around the Cape

April 5, 2013

Dawn over Tokomaru Bay, heavy sigh, as it is time to move on around the Cape. But what a wonderful stay we have enjoyed here with a lovely beach, stunning skies and an ever changing parade of people, animals and bird life.

dawn 2Dawn

We had noticed that our gas supplies were running low and as we have a built-in gas cylinder, we need to be able to find a garage that supplies full LPG services and as we were to discover, in this neck of the woods it is an almost impossible task.The gas runs our fridge and freezer as well as cooking and heating.Although we can always cook on a small butane camping stove we have on board or the BBQ with its separate gas bottle, heating is not required at this stage but it necessary for the fridge/freezer.  We headed off through Te Puia Springs and on to Ruatoria, however no luck at either place for LPG.  So on we pressed but first a quick stop at Tikitiki to view St. Mary’s church. 

The church is non-denominational but has historic links to the Anglican Church. It was built from 1924 to 1926 under the guidance of Sir Apirana Ngata to remember the Ngati Porou soldiers who fought and died in WWI.   The church, which integrates Maori architecture into its design, contains references to the fallen soldiers within its extensive carvings, tukutuku (traditional patterned latticework) and stained glass windows.  

memorialChurch glimpsed through the memorial gates to Lady Ngata


 memorial 2bell tower

Memorial outside church to Sir Apirana and the small bell tower


roof 3The extensively panel lined interior, including the ceilings

stained glass 1Stained glass window above the altar


lectern 2The lectern, heavily carved with detail at all levels down to the figures holding the piece up.

lectern detail 3lectern base

Every window has a different pattern in the stained glass

window 1window detail 1window detail 2window detail 3

There is a large memorial board for all of the local and tribal casualties in both world wars.  

memorial records 

Each of the pews is carved with a different character on each.    

 pew end 2 pew end

Both these doors are at the rear of the church one on each side of the area containing the font.

door 2side door 

fontThe carved font.

We continued on our journey heading to Te Araroa where we would probably spend the night.  However, no LPG available here either so hopefully the gas will continue running through to tomorrow.

north te araroaeast te araroa

North Te Araroa                          Looking toward the East

Te Araroa is the birthplace of Sir Apirana Ngata (1874-1950) who was a member of parliament for 38 years.  We found a POP to stay over for the night, parked the van, unhitched the RAV and headed out to have a look at the East Cape Lighthouse 20kms from Te Araroa.  Although a reasonable portion of the road is sealed, there is some “interesting” sections of gravel road.

flat stone   Flat rocks along the shoreline

lighthouse from afar 2The Lighthouse seen from the carpark at the bottom of the steps leading up to it.

We duly arrived at the parking area for the walk to the light house and set off on the climb. After going through the farm gate we came across an old farm building with this sign.

steps 2sign

Then came the steps, 729 all told.  Onward and upwards we went, round the half way mark, the steps become steeper with a higher rise which made it even more difficult for the knee disabled member of the party.  Roy went on ahead whilst Bernice carried on slowly before deciding that this was just too painful to continue and turned around and started the slow decent (it also started to rain). 

stepseastape 3

Steps                                           and more steps

lighthouse 1lighthouse 3

Roy continued on to the top, and here are the pics to prove it.

islandeast cape 1

View from the cape to island     And the sign

Back down the base and back to the car park.  Along the way this Moa nest was spotted.  However  it turned out to be a roll of fence wire that had been overgrown after having been left in the paddock for some years.

moa nestold hut

Back to Te Araroa and by now the tide had gone out a reasonable way exposing these rocks

stonetulip rock

Not entirely dissimilar to Moeraki Boulders.  Perhaps these should be called East Cape tulips.

Back in Te Araroa and a visit to the school grounds where there is a Pohutakawa Tree reputed to be the oldest and largest of its kind in New Zealand.  The tree is estimated to be over 350 years old, over 20 metres tall and 40 metres wide.  

 pohutukawa 1 pohutukawa 2

pohutukawa 4  

Details of the Pohutukawa

And finally “Worlds Deadliest Roads” eat your heart out.  This is part of the road out to the lighthouse.


Keeping it clean

April 4, 2013

We like to keep things clean around here, especially the clothes!  Laundry, a chore but a necessity of life even when you are living on the road.  How do we do it?  Do we have a washing machine on board? Allow me to explain. 

We have toyed with the idea of having a washing machine on board, however;

1.  I am reluctant to forgo a cupboard to store the said machine, 

2. we then have to ensure we have adequate water on board

3. which then means we have to allow for extra grey water storage

4. extra power usage

5.  and finally, all the machines I have seen for use in motorhomes have a small capacity i.e. a 2kg load

So what do we do?  Sometimes, we make use of Laundromats in towns around the country, other times we use and abuse friendships and turn up at friends and family with laundry in tow and beg to use their machine. 

On the road we use the following tried and true method.  This method is totally Eco friendly as it requires no electricity, it involves:

  • a receptacle 
  • an immersion apparatus
  • hand operated twin roller squeezing device
  • drying implement  to effect efficient evaporation of moisture
  • effective tethering equipment

First, take the said receptacle aka a  large tub, partly fill with fresh water (captured rain water is good for this), pop into the tub Live Simply Laundry Balls see for an explanation of how they work. Then effect use of the immersion apparatus (made efficacious by drilling large holes around the circumference) by the use of generous amounts of elbow grease – ask at your local hardware store for a tube of this!).

washday2_thumbStep one

Secondly, after much effort on behalf of the operator, the clothing is then prepared to be put through the hand operated twin roller squeezing device, which is attached to the work platform by two clamping contraptions NB said platform is used mainly by the male member of the touring party to reach high places .  Again, apply a good measure of the elbow grease mentioned above to rotate the handle whilst feeding the clothes carefully between the rollers.  If this operation is done with care and consideration, it negates the requirement to press items of clothing with a heated ironing device.

washday1_thumbStep two

Thirdly, erect a rotating drying implement to effect efficient evaporation of moisture whilst tethering clothes to the said device with colourful fastening contrivances.  This step is best done under clear blue skies with large yellow orb looking on down from above, and a gentle zephyr will improve efficiency of evaporation.

washday3_thumbStep three

It has to be said that a rotating device is not essential, a length of appropriate line placed between two suitable uprights may be substituted.   Of course this is the deluxe model complete with operator, be very aware that overuse or abuse of said model is ill advised.

So there you have it, simple really.

Easter in the East …

April 1, 2013

Waipiro Bay was the next intended point of call, Friday morning rolled around and we decided that we may just go for a drive in the RAV and check out what we were to find there.  It turns out not a lot!  The drive took us through Te Puia Springs, another small settlement that does have a small base hospital, school, shop and pub.  However, the pub looks closed, apparently the hot spring pools are closed and have been for some years so perhaps a name change is coming for the town.  Waipiro Bay is further along off the main road, a small settlement which included a large marae and a small school, but no shops or commercial activity of any kind but plenty of derelict buildings alluding to much better times.

waipiro 2waipiro 3waipiro 1Waiprio Bay

Back to the van, pack up and head down the road to the dump station, empty the tanks, fill with fresh water and……..head back to our spot on the beach front at Tokomaru Bay!  Well, why move when we don’t have to?  It is such a lovely place, we have good phone and internet reception, the beach is lovely, the fish are biting for some, so why not stay another day or three?  We have watched other people come and go as there are a number of parking places along the beach front, however, we have remained “Nigel-no-mates” in our particular wee spot, that was until this weekend.  We now have two other mates and further along the beach, the other spots have at least two or more campervans parked.  


Time to attempt a bit of fishing, one of our neighbours has a motorised torpedo which he can send out with a long line through the surf to catch fish, whilst the male member of this touring party casts his line off the beach.   

fishing 1Casting off the beach.

Helping Ivan  & Aaron bring in their long line,  with two snapper and a small shark caught!

fishing 3fishing 4

Aaron jumping for joy                    Untangling lines

There is plenty of activity around the place to keep us amused, horse trekkers wander past daily…

horse 2

And Saturday was the local rugby match against Tolaga Bay. rugby 1rugby 2

The Uawa (Tolaga Bay) team in blue versus the Tawhiti (Tokomaru Bay) team in Red and Black

rugby 5rugby 9

No sign of the usual rugby accompaniment, mud; instead a very hard dry ground with plenty of dust.

rugby 8rugby 3

Bring on the heavy brigade!  Officials confer before the game starts.

In wandering around one sees some unusual sights.  These small circular mounds were spotted beside the track from the beach into the town.  Late afternoon heat brought out the occupants who turned out to be a very industrious ant colony.

ant 1 ant 2 

These were two of about six entrances within a half metre radius.  All actively being used, some smaller that these and some much more carefully disguised in or under weed growth.

dawn 2 dawn     

Dawn from outside the van door

moon 2moon 3moon 4 moon1

The moon, on a couple of different nights, reflected in the ocean.

On our travels around this part of the country, we have noticed a few small shelters along the sides of the roads in out of the way places.  They are in fact bus shelters for the rural school kids, which are obviously donated or sponsored by Totalspan.  Good on them for providing a facility for rural children  who have early starts and late finishes often in bad weather.


We have been surprised at the number of schools there are in small communities around the region, for example here in Tokomaru Bay there are three schools, one of which is Te Kura Kaupapa Maori language school, all three cater for Years 1-8.  Secondary schooling is in the larger population areas and centralised for shorter travelling distances.  Some tell us that the proliferation of junior schools is to ensure that youngsters do not have to travel far to school, thus ensuring that they will actually attend.

Spotted nearby was this old School Bus, now a home for itinerants such as us!

yellow 2Old School Bus, now a motorhome


Slightly unusual flora, a giant Yucca which had just completed flowering and was in the midst of dying off and a large Datura plant beside the road to our camping spot. 

We will eventually head off from here, but no promises of when as we will make up our minds on the day, as the mood takes us.