Archive for May, 2013

The things we do

May 30, 2013

All day, everyday, there is always something that needs to be done whether it be chores, tasks that need attention or just do the things we like doing. All of the aforementioned seem to be on our to-do list of late. One wet day, we decided it was time to clean the roof vents, as ours have covers over them to enable us to keep them open in all weathers, the cleaning of them meant a large scale operation from the inside of the van. First remove fly screens, but to do this you have to remove the outer vent casing, then remove the fly screens. The taller member of the touring party ‘volunteered’ to reach up to clean the vent cover and surroundings, whilst the other member was left scrubbing the removable parts. Who would have thought that doing such a simple thing would make such a difference by letting in more light! Oops, that means we must do it more often.

That led onto the decision to spray the van for spiders as we seem to collect a reasonable number of the little devils. Suitable spider spray was purchased and the inside of the van has been dealt to. The outside is next on the agenda before we tackle the cleaning and polishing of the van.

Another day and time to spend some time in the kitchen; beetroot has been bottled, feijoas have been bottled in a delicious vanilla citrus syrup ( feijoa chutney in reserve from last year). And a day spent baking, filling the tins with date & walnut loaves, gingernuts, chocolate chips & almond cookies, feijoa lime muffins and today will be a rhubarb & ginger upside down cake perfect for dessert tonight.

Roy spent a day cleaning and tidying out cupboards and storage containers. “What was that you found?” “Oh, is THAT where that is.” Were familiar catch cries all day. Lots of treasures were found and the labeler got a workout, especially labeling all those pesky cords and charging devices.

Another day and its haircut day, Bernice headed into Whakatane for a haircut, whilst Roy allowed Bernice to attack his hair with the clippers….no, not a number one, but a good trim!

A wet day and we collect fresh water from the awning. We do this by lowering one end of awning to allow the water to run off one end and collect in buckets, however for sometime now we have been pondering the best way of getting water directly into our tank. So another trip into Whakatane and the purchase of a 12v bilge pump along with the connectors required. Call in on John on our way back to Matata to avail of his shed and services to join together leads/wires. At this stage I am told to go off and make myself scarce and leave the blokes to do their thing…what? You don’t want my helpful advise? Sheeeesh. Back to the van to try it out, however once the hose is attached to our water inlet, the pump struggles to push the water in. A bit more investigation is required and we finally figure out that the water inlet into our tank enters at the base of the tank therefore the pump is pushing against the large volume of water already in the tank. More simple mods will be made over the next day or two and fresh water will soon flow into the top of the tank.

My next project is to make a headboard for the bed. Our window frames are metal, therefore they get very cold and sometimes attract condensation . We have a window at the head of our bed which has a good thermal/blackout blind inside the frame, however, a bit of a gap between our pillows and the window frame would be good idea. Off to the recyclers where I found a suitable headboard, just a small modification to make it fit i.e. cut off the legs is all that is required. Oh, but I have some material that would be perfect to cover it, next I just need a bit of foam to act as padding, cover it, and voila, a stunning headboard will be made (photo evidence will be provided once completed).

So there you are, we keep ourselves busy. In between there seems to be time for fishing, entertaining, playing cards and of course the odd bit of knitting (hats and gloves now under way), as well as exploring the region we are in.

Alien, Alian and a-line-up

May 27, 2013

Silver Foil protects you from an Alien invasion doesn’t it?   After much measuring, cutting out newspaper patterns and measuring again, we have made the double layer insulating covers for the front windscreen and side windows.  With extra material left over, inserts have been made for the vents to stop draughts sneaking their way inside.   We are now safe from any pending Alien attack.

  alien attack protected from Aliens

We have been parked up here at Matata for nearly a week now, we have been enjoying the company of Pat & Sue who are parked up next door to us.  Speaking of parking up, we have noticed that when others come into the camp, rather than parking anywhere in the large parking area, they tend to come and park up either directly next to us or directly in front of us.  What is it with people that makes them want to cluster around us?  Maybe we are super popular and attract people toward us?  We have noticed this phenomena at a few places now,  sometimes it is rather annoying particularly if they block out our sun.  It is also appears to be a phenomena particular to caravan folk!

Over the last weekend we were invaded by Alian’s, as in Ali and Ian whose vehicle is called Alian!  We met Ali and Ian last year whilst in Golden Bay so it was a great surprise to see them drive into the camp on Saturday.  We had a great afternoon over Happy Hour(s) catching up and generally having a few laughs.

meeting of the committee 1 meeting of the committee 2

Bernice, Ali, Pat & Ian……………..and again, in front of Pat & Sue’s 5th wheeler

An afternoon drive to the mouth of the Tarawera River showed a possible fishing spot for when the sea had calmed down a little.  It was very rough with a large rip going out from the river.

Tarawera mouth

And a shot looking North showed the hills behind Matata in the distance.

norgth from Tarawera mouth

However this pair of Oyster Catchers were quite happy with the wind and sand being blown around

Oyster catchers

And to prove that sand does get moved around here is what happens when it really gets windy and wet.  These low growing bushes are about four metres above the beach level and about 20 metres from the sea but they are covered in sand after a nights heavy rain and wind.

sand encrusted

And this is the early morning sunrise from the beach 


Managed to walk to the river entrance and spotted this fish being taken from the mouth.  So I now know there are fish around.  So an expedition will be mounted for a fishing foray.

yes there are fish

And to prove that Bernice’s hands have not been idle, here are a couple of pics of the grandchildren wearing their hand knitted  hoodies, made from wool dyed by their Mum Erica. 


Andre, Rose, Dante and Theo

Attachment-1the three musketeers.

We have decided to stay here at Matata for at least another week, until after Queens Birthday weekend.  The weather forecast for the rest of the country looks a little grim in places so staying in the sunny Bay of Plenty is a no brainer.

Round and round we go

May 20, 2013

Sometimes it seems like we go round and round in ever diminishing circles. We did leave Rotorua on Sunday and we headed off to the NZMCA park just out of Tauranga to await the arrival of friends and fellow motorhomers Pat & Sue. 

But first a last couple of shots from Rotorua and the lake front where you can decide what sort of transport you wish to view the Lake.

float paddle

Float Plane                                      Paddle Steamer

Sunday night at Tauriko and the only company we had was a small flock of sheep.

 lambs 2

Pat and Sue arrived on Monday along with a couple of other motorhomes and we all enjoyed a lovely late afternoon happy hour.  I had taken the large leg of pork we had won in Rotorua out of the freezer so we could share with Pat & Sue.  The rest of the evening was spent playing Sequence – girls reign supreme!   One thing that is very noticeable since our move from the Central North Island to the Bay of Plenty is the change of temperature.  Off came the winter woollies, and back to t-shirts and shorts.  From there we headed into Fergusson Park for a couple of nights as it is close to where Pat & Sue were having some work done of their van. 

fergusonThis is morning tea at Fergusson Park.  The weather was stunning.

ferguson 1And another view of our fantastic waterfront park.

And not to be outdone, the sunsets were equally stunning

sunset 3

sunset 1 

Whilst we were at Tauriko, a fellow motor homer Jean showed us the windscreen shade she had made from under floor silver lined insulation joined with a silver tape. We have been contemplating getting one made but this seemed a much better AND cheaper alternative. So the next few days were spent making patterns, cutting large pieces of material to shape, including making them all a double layer for extra insulation. 11 metres of material later, we have the front windscreen insulated and front side windows almost completed as well.  This should make the van a lot warmer in the winter particularly as there is a decent gap of around 12inches between the front curtain and the windscreen due to the shape and angle of the glass.  

Thursday and time to move, Pat & Sue suggested we all head to Pyes Pa and a great POP where we spent the next few days through until Monday morning.  Unfortunately, we neglected to get the camera out whilst we were parked there so you will have to take our word for it that it was a great spot.  Mind you the amount of rain we had kept us inside a lot of the time so there was not the same opportunity to look around and take photos.  There were plenty of other people parked up there, and a great central room for all to gather and socialise.  Many more games of Sequence played as well as Rummikub.

Jenna came for a quick visit with some yummy salami courtesy of her Dad, yum.  And not forgetting the early morning rendezvous Roy had with Jenny to receive a very welcome parcel of freshly caught Bluenose, smoked Gem fish and smoked Bluenose throats.  Oh my goodness, we are so spoilt.  The freezer is full and we have enjoyed lovely fresh bluenose, and I made some lovely smoked bluenose pate and a couple of smoked fish pies.  Thanx John.

To complete our journey in a circle we have now returned to Matata for a few days.  And onto where from there we are not too sure, as although the winterless north may be warmer, it is also wetter and we are not too keen on the wet!


May 11, 2013

Someone, who shall remain nameless, left the lights on in the RAV overnight so a push and a shove was required to get the RAV in front of the van to enable us to jump start it.  However, we had just managed to get it in position when Bill & Estelle came to visit.  They are in Rotorua for a week, but popped over to Little Waihi to join us for morning tea of freshly baked scones with jam and cream. 

 photo(1) Roy, Bill & Estelle

Once fed, the blokes sorted out the car and went for a drive to get the car charged up a bit.  Meanwhile, Bernice made lunch of Broccoli & Blue Cheese soup accompanied with some Pepperdew savoury muffins.  Just what was required on a cool wet day.  An afternoon of reminiscing and laughter before Bill & Estelle headed back to Rotorua.

And now some observations of the bird life around here


Seagulls along with a number of other birds have a tendency to sometimes stand on one leg as if the other is missing.  Of course as soon as one approaches they lower both feet and take off in a hurry.


However, the same does not apply to Oyster Catchers.  They all tend to stand on one leg and when they are standing around in large groups of fifty or more one ends up with a collection of off apparently off balance birds   the real difference is as one approaches them.  Their first move is not to lower the raised leg.  They proceed to hop on one leg, provided the approach is not too fast, this they will do for some distance and if one withdraws they simply stop hopping and remain standing on one leg.  This looks quite hilarious as one sees twenty or more birds all hopping out of ones way.  If one approaches closer they will then lower their leg and walk/run away on two legs until they decide you are too close and finally take off.

Tuesday morning we packed up and headed off out of Little Waihi to Rotorua through Paengaroa.  We stopped half way through our journey for a morning cuppa where we were joined by a lively wee group of colourful chickens which emerged quietly form the bushes.  Couldn’t find any eggs though! 

3 Chickens

We have previously only passed through Rotorua in the van and have not stayed anywhere but we had been told that the Rotorua CT Club offered parking.  First we headed to the dump station where we unhooked the car and took a recce to check out parking at the Club.  We were back with the van 10 minutes later and parked in the corner out of the way. 

4Here we are parked up, Nigel-no-mates yet again.

We spent the next day catching up with Bill & Estelle and checking out the town.  Over the next day or two we had a number of other motorhomers parked up around us.


Directly behind us is a large park like area recently planted with many walkways.  It appears to be the start of an arboretum.  At present the major plantings are Maples  from prostrate to tree forms and these are under planted with azaleas and prostrate forms of a number of other species


The plantings are in a gully with a small stream running through


The stream has been partially dammed with a small pond being formed with a jetty and a lot of aquatic plantings


One of the azaleas still had a few flowers


Wednesday and Bernice & Estelle took themselves off to the Polynesian Pools for a soak and a massage, what a blissful way to spend an afternoon. First there was the hour long soak in the pools, there are 4 pools of increasing temperatures – 38C, 39C, 40C and 42C, once suitably relaxed Bernice had an Aix massage, this is a massage done under jets of warm water, meanwhile Estelle treated herself to a de-stressing massage.  Bliss.

cidImageSoaking in the pools


Thursday night and we all went to the CT Club for dinner, Roy did buy a couple of raffle tickets on the way in and guess what?  Yes, another meat raffle won! This time a leg of pork which has been carefully placed into the freezer to be enjoyed when we have company one night.

Bill & Estelle left Rotorua on Friday morning,  we were going to leave but….there were a couple of things we wanted to get done, time slipped by and we decided that it was too late in the day to move so another night in Rotorua,  A good excuse for us to sneak off to the Polynesian Pools again on Friday night for a late night soak. 

We have been dithering with making a decision on when we will leave.  It was to be Friday, then Saturday and now we think we will leave tomorrow, Sunday and head for …..?  probably back toward Tauranga as we have arranged to meet up with friends Pat & Sue early next week.  From there who knows?

Up and Down the Coast

May 6, 2013

It had been suggested that the organic matter that was found on the beach at Otamarakau may well have been ambergris, a by-product of the whale which is used in the perfume industry and is highly prized.  However, not our luck, after looking up on how to test for ambergris, we were disappointed to discover it was definitely not ambergris.  Damn, we have not made our fortune, Lotto will have to do!

We left Little Waihi and the Heavyweights rally after one last get together over morning tea where prizes were given out and raffles were drawn (no more wins).

little waihi 2little waihi 3

Morning tea

Off to spend a couple of nights at Fergusson Park in Tauranga.  We were kept well entertained whilst at our premium parking right on the waters edge,  by a number of kite surfers showing off their skills right outside our door.  There were at least 6-8 surfers out each day we were there, being sped along by some very strong winds.

surf kitesKite surfers viewed through the front windscreen

Whilst there, I managed to bottle some feijoas, using a recipe that Natalie had given me some time ago.  They are delicious, in fact so delicious that the remaining liquid was saved to pour over our morning yoghurt and muesli.

feijoa 1Feijoas

After two nights at Fergusson park we had to move on  as although it is a freedom parking spot, there is a limit of parking for two consecutive nights in any one month. This is being well managed by council and/or security which patrol the area, taking note of registration numbers, leaving flyers and locking gates.

From there we moved the huge distance of 4 or 5 km round to Sulphur Point, another one of the freedom camping spots with a 2 day limit.    A few chores were attended to, shopping was done, laundry done – thanx Jenna for the use of your washing machine.

sulphur pointsulphur point 1

Parked at Sulphur Point.

Our next big decision was where to go next.  We are heading toward Rotorua to meet up with friends Bill & Estelle who are there for a weeks holiday but have a few days in between to fill in.  Looking at the map there are a couple of options of routes to reach Rotorua, one through Pyes Pa which we have done many times before, the other option is from just south of Te Puke.  The latter being the route of choice as we have not been through this way.  In the meantime, we decided to head to Maketu for a night or two at a POP.   

But before we left Tauranga, we headed to a tyre shop to have the pressures on the van tyres checked and the air bag suspension.  Having only just realised we had airbag suspension, we had no idea that it requires topping up AND that it needed regular monitoring (thanx Stuart!!), we now ride a little smoother. 

We arrived at Maketu and spent the rest of the afternoon looking around the area (without camera!). 

Maketu Parked at Maketu

After one night in Maketu we decided to head back over the hill to Little Waihi for a few days where we know we can park right by the water and Roy can continue to feed the fish with his bait! Saturday morning we were woken by a rally of shots being fired, this was opening day of duck shooting season.  There were plenty of shots being fired so we presume that a few ducks were on the menu for dinner that night. We headed off for a drive around to the other side of the estuary to Pukehina as it is some years since we were last here. Although Pukehina is directly opposite Little Waihi, the road trip covers some  20+ kms. 

Little Waihi entranceOcean front Pukehina looking to Little Waihi entrance

,little waihi from pukehina us from pukehina

From Pukehina looking across to Little Waihi and the van.

We are parked on the inland estuary side of Little Waihi where the views are ever changing.  

boat Some walk their boat

There is plenty of birdlife here, with a large colony of spoonbills along with oyster catchers, dotterels, and pied stilts.  The size of the flock of Royal Spoonbills is surprising.  In most places where we have seen them there have been a maximum of ten birds, here there are 32 or more.  

royal spoonbill 2royal spoonbill 1  

Royal Spoonbills feeding in the shallows

We have enjoyed another couple of successful dinners from Dish magazine….a sausage, spinach and pepperdew pasta (we have to do something with the sausages we won in the raffles!), and a smoked corn, bacon and potato soup.  Both will be added to the must-do-again list.  Tonight we will be having homemade pizza with simple toppings including fresh buffalo mozzarella, taking inspiration from both Cuisine & Dish.

We are staying here at Little Waihi another couple of nights before heading to Rotorua then…..well, like the birdlife, we will probably head north for winter.