Archive for November, 2013

Some More Sights

November 30, 2013

From Tapotupotu we headed south (or probably more correctly East) to Spirits Bay. 

Pat and Sue took the lead leaving us to follow in their dust. 

43 follow

After 15 dusty kilometres we arrived at the DOC Camp and settled in for our stay.  Not too many others in when we arrived and in fact there were never a lot of people in the camp during our stay. 

44 Spirit

The south end of the bay with a small island just off shore, able to be reached at low tide for fishing.

45 spirit 

Looking toward the west and Cape Reinga.

52 spirit

On the hillside opposite the DOC camp there was this well balance rock. Looking quite different from different angles.

51 stone62 stone 

Well out in the open in the middle of one of the larger paddocks in the camp was this Plover nest which had been plundered by some predator.

54 eggs

There are a large number of German tourists in the various DOC camps we have been in.  This one was very keen on hang gliding but the wind was too strong for him to be able to fly so he was practising on the ground.

55 Practice

After the stone fields at Te Paki it was interesting to see a similar feature of the sand dunes at the west end of the bay  The wind was obviously eroding the dune by blowing away the sand.  This has left the heavier stones so that the dune is slowly being eroded to a stony ridge.

56 stone

Another tropical day in the Far North

58 spirit

In parts the beach is covered with a deep layer of these coloured shells.

61 shell

And some people found the sand and sandcastle making irresistible.

63 sand castle

On a day that was less than perfect the brooding clouds provided a cover for Cape Reinga and a gloomy backdrop to the beach.


On one of many exploratory walks along the sand dunes I came across these bushes that had been reduced to mere stalks on the front and top of the dune but had hidden their leaves and fruit on the inland lee side of the dune.  They are obviously very tenacious and manage to live in what must be for them a very hostile environment.

 03 windblown04 windblown

Another day and another fishing expedition along the beach.  This time just in time to see the sun set.

 05 sunset 06sunset

Pat continues to fish on!!


Sooner or later the week marches on and it is Sunday again and time for brunch.


Next morning there is a very dramatic sky to start the day.  Not often if ever seen by other members of the group, so I guess this is the first time they have seen this time of day for a long time.

09sunset 11 sunrise

And then the day wakens to improve the spirits at Spirits Bay


A heron on the lookout for breakfast.

12 bird

One day we drove to Te Hapua to try our luck at fishing.  On the way into the settlement we saw this very typical Ratana Church .  We have seen a number in our travels with the emblematic signs on every one and the reference to Alpha and Omega on the pillars of the church.

13 Te Hapua 14 Te Hapua

A somewhat distorted boat in the harbour at Te Hapua.  The angle of the photo makes it appear much worse.  It is in fact a double ended boat with a bow at both ends. The cabin top (which one assumes is aft) creates a strange perspective.

15two ends

From the wharf at Te Hapua one can see the fertiliser building at Paua.

16  Paua from Te Hapua

And on can also see the silica sands at the mouth of Parengarenga Harbour.

17 silica sand

The next day we headed to Paua and tried fishing off the wharf in front of the fertiliser shed.  After many hours Pat finally caught a fish which, after some struggle turned out to be a stingray.  It was duly returned to the sea.

 21Pat 22Ray

Following our forays using Spirits Bay as a base it was finally time to move on to Rarawa.

Oddities, Observations and Others

November 26, 2013

Well it is well past time that I caught up with the growing number of photos that should have been published over the past two or three months.

So here goes, these have all been taken as we did our round trip from Kaitaia to Cape Reinga and return.

Last picture from Maitai Bay.  There is this rock where the gulls gather every day to await the fish that they hope will come into the Bay.  I think they have had a lean time fishing just as we have.  They had not moved for the past three days!!

bird rock

Finally we are sent on our way by a large rainbow stretching from one side of the Bay to the other.


Not withstanding the closeness of the it was agreed that a cold beer would be a better bet.

rainbow 2

We made a bee-line from Kaitaia to Tapotupotu or Taputaputa (whichever you prefer).  This is probably the best DOC Camp that we have encountered in our travels.  In almost all respects it is a great place to stay.  Lovely beach, water toilets, fishing (although we couldn’t catch a cold).

We were greeted by a guard of honour when we arrived.  They may have thought we would feed them but they were very much mistaken.

 standing guard

Ever hopeful!!!!  But as usual the return was empty handed.  One day it will happen.

off fishing

Of course one can always find a few drops of good cheer to end the day


One day we took the opportunity to again visit the cape Reinga lighthouse.  The last time we were here it was blowing a gale but this time we decided to go late in the afternoon, early evening, to see the sunset at the same time

Supporting the lighthouse

at the light 2  

cape reinga lighthouse

posing 2posing 4

The pohutukawa at the right is the final point of departure for the soul.  Gliding down into the water from its branches


On our way back to the car we spotted these Brown Quail foraging alongside the track to the lighthouse.

brown quai 2 brown quail   

And then we waited at the carpark to observe the sunset, which was a sight to behold.

sun down 2sun down 4

Looking out into the bay one day this hovercraft appeared on the horizon, but later resolved itself into  cruise liner

   hovercraft 2      

We had seen a peculiar plant alongside the road into Taputaputa with a bright yellow fruit.  We picked some fruit and carefully plucked some leaves. 


The fruit, when cut open were completely packed with seeds.  Bright yellow on the outside, they have lighter yellow seeds and a green gelatinous packing.

sodom 1  

The leaves are a real trap for any one.  There are thorns/prickles on the stem and on the back of the leaf stems.  The upper surface of the leaves also has thorns so that it is almost impossible to pick a leaf without being spiked.

sodom 4

The photo below gives away the family to which this plant belongs.  It is a member of the Solanum family which contains the Tomato and Potato.  We finally found out that it is Sodom’s Apple.   Apparently quite poisonous, which probably accounts for it’s bitter taste which Sue reported.

6fruit  6fruit 

Another aspect of moving around is the variety of species of birds that one comes across.  Part of this is the fact we spend more time outside and therefore see and hear more of the animal and avian population around us and of course the species numbers vary substantially around the country.  The fellow below looks very much like a variegated sparrow but in fact it is a Pipit which are very common up this way.  They are often seen in the same areas as sparrows as they seem to feed on the same types seeds and insects.


Another common sight is the Yellow Hammer or Yellow Head, again common up here, and again often found in the same areas as Sparrows. 

8Yellowhammer 9yellowhammer

We also took time out to visit the giant sand dunes at Te Paki.  At first sight they just appear to be just large monotonous hills of sand with a lot of tourists sand boarding down them.

10sand surfing35 Stone

However as one moves further into the dunes they are full of interesting sights.  The sand itself is obviously soft in large parts, but it is also very compacted in others.  This leads to areas where the softer sand has been blown away from the hard compacted sand leaving ridges and domes of hard sand on its way to becoming stone.

 12sand 13sand


Also there are patches of shell that have been worn out of the sand.  These are often collected into relatively small areas.  It would be interesting to know the age of some of this material.

 15Shell 16Shell

The photo on the right shows a large variety of shells,  the most interesting is the snail like shell in the centre.  It is loosely wound with a hole into its centre.

38 shell39 shell


The other sight which is quite unique are the fields of stones.  The stones vary in size from two to three cms up to 10 to 20 cms.   They have obviously been buried at random depths but as the sand has been blown away they have fallen down onto the hard pan in a random pattern.  These stone fields can be quite expansive in some areas


32 Stone37 stone

The two photos below show the edges of a hard dome that has been worn through leaving the interior area exposed to wind and rain which has weathered it away.

17hard ridge 18inside shell

This is Sue and Pat on there way up one of the larger dunes used by the sand boarders, with Pat taking photos from the top

19Pat and sue 20Pat 

And Sue shows how soft and difficult it is make progress.

 22Sue  31 Sue 

And here is a clue as to how the hard pan is formed.  The dark area has been wet recently and has set into a hard crust.  By the time this has occurred a number of times a thick layer will form which will get harder and heavier so that it will compact

33 Stone 34 Stone 

And this one is most unusual as it appears to have been formed as a circular or ball shaped concretion, perhaps similar to a Moeraki Boulder

36 Concretion     

Well that’s the end of this catch up.  Some more to come before we are up to date.

Knights of salsa

November 26, 2013

Knights were caught in action last night, raiding food items to make salsa… was hacking at the basil, another “man”handling an avocado and the other was rolling a tomato.



November 25, 2013

One member of the touring party had a birthday today, in fact it was the youngest members turn to add another year. The day started VERY early indeed, with a 3am wakeup call to watch the All Blacks play Ireland for their final match of the year, and what a nail biting game it was. I did manage to sneak in a couple of hours sleep after the game before getting up for the day ahead. Presents and cards opened, birthday wishes from fellow campers along with emails, texts and phone calls, I was made to feel very special by all. Roy and I along with Pat & Sue went out for a very pleasant lunch at Karikari Winery where we managed to wile away most of the afternoon. I would have included a photo here of us having lunch, but I forgot to take any pics, you will have to take my word for it that we dressed for the occasion and had a lovely meal.

To top off the day, Pat & Sue gave me a set of figures, knights to be exact, complete with weaponry.


You may think that that is a weird kind of a present, but it’s not really. It all started when I discovered a site on the web about parents who wanted to fuel their children’s imaginations by “playing” with the children’s plastic toy dinosaurs at night so that the children believe that the dinosaurs come to life while the children sleep! You can read all about it here I have thought that it is such a great idea that I have passed it on to a number of people. Pat & Sue thought that I may like to have some fun with knights, rather than dinosaurs…..ok, so they got sick of me coming up with different scenarios and telling them about my silly ideas, so here I go! just wait until you see what these naughty knights get up to in the night!!!


November 24, 2013

The van was delivered to the Engineering firm early Wednesday morning, with last minute shopping done, we set off for the library to wile away the time until we got the all clear to pick up the van. Of course these things always take much longer than anticipated but we were told to come by at 2.30 to pick up the van. Meanwhile, the tyre shop rang to say that the new tyre had arrived and if we called in later in the afternoon they would fit it for us. I dropped Roy off at the engineers to pick up the van and I headed on out to Ramp Road, Tokerau beach, to deliver some groceries to Brian & Marj. Meanwhile, Roy had the tyre put on the van and the spare remounted, he also had a bit of work to complete for a client before he finally left town, with a much lighter wallet! It’s my birthday next week, never guessed I would be getting a new tyre for my birthday present!! Apparently not only do we have the broken locker fully braced, they have also done the other ones that needed doing. I would take pictures of the repairs however, the thought of crawling under the van to take pictures is not particularly inspiring so you will have to take our word for it that it is a good job well done.

We are now back at Matai Bay, Ramp Road proved to be far too windy to be comfortable, so we are back in our usual position in the sun. Pat & Sue set up camp before we managed to get away from Kaitaia, now we have joined them, and Brian & Marj will join us this afternoon. Roy went off fishing with Pat & Sue off the other coast to Matai and all came home with snapper. We had lovely fresh snapper for dinner, again, I forgot to take a picture of the fish before we filleted it so you will again have to take my word for it that Roy did catch it and that it was delicious!

Today being Sunday, we will be doing our usual shared brunch with Pat & Sue. This has become a bit of a habit with us having brunch together every Sunday morning for the past couple of months. We have something different every time, we have had pancakes, eggs Benedict, corn fritters, crumpets, bruschetta with tomato avocado and feta, fresh fruit and yoghurt etc however today’s menu is North African (or Turkish) eggs. All of these are served with a glass of bubbly and accompanied by my homemade sourdough toast. One of these days we may have the more traditional bacon and eggs just for a change!

20131124-082315.jpg bruschetta day

Did you miss us?

November 19, 2013

We are back in the land of communications, well, at least for a wee while until we decide to move again. We left Rarawa on Monday for the short trip into Kaitaia where we headed straight for the RSA where they have good parking available for us motorhomers. We had intended to stay just the one night before heading out to Tokerau Beach and with that in mind we had a long list of jobs and shopping that we wanted to complete. However, you know how things never quite go to plan. We rushed around on Monday afternoon, ticking everything off our list with just the trip to the dump station and the petrol station to be done Tuesday morning. We were up and organised early Tuesday morning, well early for me, but when we went to lift up the stabilizer legs, Roy noticed that the front tyre was looking a little deflated. A quick call to the local tyre company and within half an hour they were round to remove the tyre and replace it with the spare while they checked it over. Oops, no repair to be done here as we need a new tyre so one is duly ordered and they will let us know when it arrives, probably next week. No problem, we are only heading 40minutes out of town so a trip back in will be no great hassle. Great service though.

Ready for the off, Sue & I head out in the RAV to make sure that where we had planned to park was accessible as well as manageable with Pat and Roy to follow on behind. We arranged a rendezvous so we could make a decision as to whether we would park up at either Tokerau or at Matai Bay. Whilst checking out the parking at Tokerau I received a phone call from Roy to say we would be staying in Kaitaia another night, oh no, why? The other day one of the front lockers had come adrift from its mounting, Pat & Roy had managed to jury-rig a temporary fix so it was time to call into the engineers and see if we could book the van in for some bracing to be made for the lockers. We expected to be told to come back in a week or two, but no, could we come in tomorrow morning (Wednesday) and they would have it all done for us in the morning. Oh well, another night in Kaitaia it will have to be. Meanwhile, Pat had arrived at the rendezvous point, so a quick recce was made. Pat and Sue are now parked up at Tokerau along with other friends Brian and Marj whom we started out our venture north with some months ago. We will join them all tomorrow once we have the bracing sorted. Meanwhile, we can take full advantage of the free wifi on offer at the Kaitaia library.

All sewn up

November 10, 2013

Those of you that know me well, know how much I love sewing especially using a sewing machine…..NOT! However, give me a needle and thread and I am happy. This has not always been the case, I used to sew quite a lot, making clothes for the kids as well as myself, but somewhere along the line the sewing machine and I had an altercation which resulted in us having words. When we were last at sister Sue’s, she asked if I wanted to use her sewing machine as she thought that would be probably the one thing that I would not have with me. How very perceptive of her, but at that time, there was nothing really that I could think of that needed sewing. Recently though, there have been a couple of times that I have thought hmmm, a sewing machine would be handy to repair that. So on our ‘to-do’ list that we have for when we reach civilisation, I added a hand held sewing machine, like the ones advertised in those throw away sales catalogues, they look a bit like a large stapler. I haven’t seen one advertised for years, so they may not be around any more.

On Friday we all headed into Kaitaia as we had a long list of things to do, appointments to keep! and shopping to be done. Whilst in town I visited the local emporiums and $2 types hope to see if they had one of these machines but to no avail. I called into a local handcraft shop on the off chance that they may have one, no they did not have one although they did know what I was looking for. BUT they did have something much better, a small battery operated/240V small sewing machine and all for just $40! bargain.

Here is it is all it’s glory


And for size comparison

It is so cute, it even has a reverse mode, varying stitch lengths, a light, and a foot pedal to boost. It does exactly what it says it does, it sews perfectly well and I have repaired everything that needed fixing and more!!! Besides, a certain young granddaughter may eventually benefit from my rash purchase.

Fresh water at Rarawa

November 8, 2013

We have been hoping for some decent rain to test out our rain water capturing system properly for some weeks now and here at Rarawa (aka Paxton Point) we finally got some rain. We can report that our system works perfectly, so much so that on this occasion we only had to hook up the system to run from the awning to fill our tank to overflowing.

20131108-112526.jpgfunnel catching water from awning with hose into tank

We placed buckets and filled every possible receptacle we could find from the rainwater collected from the spouting. We have filled buckets, pots and pans, kettles, and even empty milk bottles, as it seems such a shame to not collect as much as we can.

20131108-112514.jpgwater pouring from spouting into bucket

And just as well it decided to rain, as the water here at Rarawa is very brown and full of sediment, staining anything that comes near it. Although we did find one tap in the camp where the water was clear but now we don’t have to worry about it.

We arrived at Rarawa on Monday after having first gone down to Houhora to Wagener camp ground where they kindly allowed us to empty our tanks for a small fee and to use their laundry as well as their excellent vehicle washing bay. We also caught up with Internet and phone connections here as reception is only available at the camp ground in one particular area by the boat launching ramp or at the Houhora wharf. We attended to our emails and caught up with what we needed to before heading back up to Rarawa. Then it was off to the beach for a little fishing. Both Roy & Sue came home with a Kahawai each, and yes John we know you use them for bait but we boned them then smoked them the next day and damn delicious they were too especially made into a lovely smoked Kahawai pâté.

It’s Friday and we are in Kaitaia for the day with a long list of jobs and shopping to be done as well as getting our interwebby fix. Hence the three blog entries in short succession…..Roy will update the flora, fauna, geological, geographical side of things at a later date.

Now that the rain has temporarily stopped, we will be back out trying our hand at fishing again as well as collecting a few tuatua. Although we are forecast rain for the next day or so, now all we need is more water storage capacity…..or maybe someone has thought of a way of dehydrating water for later use??!!

Spirits Bay

November 5, 2013

The road into Spirits Bay is 12kms off the main road along winding narrow gravel road but once there we made a quick recce around the large camp site and chose what we thought were good places with a bit of shelter from any wind. The camp is bordered by a stream and is located at the eastern end of the long beach at Kapowairua.

To give you a better idea of where we have been hanging out over the past few weeks….


We stayed here at Spirits Bays for the next two weeks, enjoying the amazing weather. In fact we have been wishing for rain so that we can test out the latest version of our water capturing systems. In the mean time, we have been fishing a plenty, on the island off the rocks and off the beach at Spirits Bay. We made a day trip to Paua and tried our luck off the wharf there, and although we caught a couple of tiddlers between us, the only thing we all caught was a good dose of sun burn! Another day and we went to Te Hapua for fishing as we had been told the fishing was good there. The fishing was good for Sue as she was the only one to catch anything, she caught two good sized black snapper which we took home and made a lovely meal using a recipe from this weeks Listener magazine of marinated fish with a salad of soba noodles asparagus and orange. Delicious.

20131105-142927.jpg from above the camp ground looking east

20131105-143015.jpgLooking west to Cape Reinga

Above the campground is a small cemetery and a canon. The story goes that the canon was given to a local chief in the early 1800’s who then proceeded to drag it from settlement to settlement and used it to terrorize locals. It then has a checkered history and was in private hands until it was recently returned to overlook the bay.


And this is how local cart two vehicles along behind them, on two trailers of course!

Maitai to Tapotupotu

November 5, 2013

About time we backtracked slightly to have a bit of a general catch up. We left Maitai bay on 15th October for a one night stay in Kaitaia before heading up to Tapotupotu. In Kaitaia we filled both the petrol & water tanks, topped up the LPG, emptied the waste tanks, filled the fridge and pantry, and got the last of our phone and Internet reception as there is no internet or cell phone coverage from here on up.

Farewell Maitai Bay, we will return!

20131102-170442.jpgLooking across Maitai Bay

Sue & Pat went on ahead of us as Roy had some work to complete which required Internet access, hence we remained in Kaitaia until that was done, we managed to get away by late afternoon to arrive at Tapotupotu in time for late drinks. We set ourselves up and for the following week spent glorious days fishing, walking, enjoying the sun, wandering and talking to the numerous tourists and locals.

20131102-171438.jpgall settled in

It seems that it’s the norm around these parts to have variations of spelling of place names and Tapotupotu/Taputaputa is no different.

20131102-171142.jpg sign at the beach

20131102-171154.jpgsign at the main road turnoff.
Apparently the locals agree to disagree on spelling with pronunciation variations between local iwi accounting for the difference….well, that’s according to the explanation given to us by the local DOC officer.

Another day, Pat & Sue go for a walk over the hills…..someone had to stay behind to take photos of their climb so I volunteered. The top of this peak is their aim,

20131102-171347.jpg and here they are close up…

20131102-171418.jpgyes, they made it up over the hill, this is part of the 8 1/2hr walk to Spirits Bay, which we saw a number of people head off to do.

We spent many a day fishing, although not a lot of catching went on apart from the one that I swapped for a coffee, however we also managed to fit in a few day trips to nearby points.

The first point of call was back to Cape Reinga to the lighthouse, this time to watch the sun set.

We sat and watched the sun slowly sink into the ocean, bidding it farewell and sending it on its journey to say ” good morning Alex!” in London.

Another day a trip to the Te paki sand dunes were in order. These are huge sand dunes that you can toboggan down, after climbing up of course.

Sue crawling her way to the top.


After a fabulous week at Taputaputa we decide its time to move on over to Spirits Bay, particularly as the coming weekend is Labour Weekend (Monday is a public holiday). We are told that Spirits Bay will be quieter and is a much larger camp, and the fishing is purportedly better. We shall see.