Archive for December, 2013

Xmas knights

December 30, 2013

Yep, they are still busy doing what knights get up to….

20131230-095217.jpgSaturday knight fever

20131230-095250.jpgstorm trooper knight

20131230-095351.jpgXmas wrapping

20131230-095432.jpgchecking out the Xmas lights

20131230-095517.jpgoops, they wanted BBQ not Barbie!

Merry Xmas

December 25, 2013

Seasonal salutations to all our friends, family, blog readers and fellow travellers!

A quiet Christmas Day for us this year, just what we wanted. We were up and off to Antony’s at the respectable hour of 9am ready for a 9.30am Skype call from Alex & Ian in London. It was so lovely to chat to them both and look forward to Alex’s quick visit in February and then a visit from both Alex & Ian in October.

It was just the three of us at Antony’s for the day. We started the day off with bacon & eggs in ciabatta rolls with aioli accompanied by glass or two of bubbly of course. Presents were opened, a little thin on the ground this year, as we decided not to join in the mass consumerism usually associated with this time of the year, however, we may take advantage of the mass of “sales” that start tomorrow! The day was spent quietly and we managed to catch up on watching a few programmes that Ants had. We did not overindulge food wise either for the day, settling for Christmas dinner at around 6.30pm.

And this is what we had

20131225-193141.jpgslow roasted pork belly, with lovely crispy crackling and apple sauce, baby new potatoes, a minted coleslaw, rocket salad, and a roasted cauliflower red pepper and caper salad. Simple, but oh so delicious.
20131225-193404.jpgRoy and Antony enjoying dinner.

A little later we enjoyed a light dessert of fresh fruit. The end of a lovely relaxed day, with the weather also coming to the party by clearing.

We hope you all enjoyed your day with however you chose to celebrate the occasion.

Random Photos

December 23, 2013


Here are a few random photos, worth a look (well some are).  Those sent to us by Pat and Sue have the comments with which they were sent, thus showing how cruel friends can be from time to time!!!

(Pat) This was Roy fishing at Matata on a cool morning near the river mouth.

1 Matata

(Pat) Roy fishing at Matai Bay. Slightly wet as I recall, also something about wet arse and no fish springs to mind.

2 Karikari

(Pat) Enjoying a mediocre coffee at a tourist icon. Thankfully open for once!!

3 Bus Stop

The above comment remarks on the fact that we went past this place on numerous occasions over a period of three months or more and this was the first time we saw it open.

(Pat) Roy checking out the Te Paki sand dunes area or maybe he’s got his helicopter there and playing Desert Storm, or there’s a wet spot on the ground.

Te Paki

(Pat) I couldn’t decide if you were signalling that you had found 2 tua tua or something else, so I concluded you wouldn’t be rude and it must be tua tuas.

4 Whananaki

This photo was taken at Ramp Road and shows Brian with a dead sea snake that had been washed up on the beach.  This is apparently not an uncommon occurrence on some beaches in the far north.

5 Ramp Road

(Pat) An intense concentration was surely evident for this test flight.

6 Whangaruru

Beach near Whananaki where a small camp has been established on a farmer’s sea front paddock.

8 Whananaki

Fishing on Karikari beach at dusk.  From nearest Pat, Sue, John and Margaret.  Not one of the more successful expeditions!  However, we were visited by a pod of dolphins who put on a great display leaping out of the water and performing acrobatic stunts….none of which were caught on camera as the camera operator was intensely watching the display with awe.

6 karikari

(Pat) Final brunch at URETITI

7 uretiti

As a final note, yesterday we had out first Sunday brunch without Pat & Sue, but we did not eat alone.  No, we had a bacon & egg bap with parsley mayo and enjoyed it with the company of a few hundred strangers at the Clevedon Farmers Market. We can report that although the bap was delicious, the company (and location) was not as we are accustomed.  However, we did wonder what a certain section of the population were doing!


December 22, 2013

And yet another week of knightly capers!

The first two were their homage to Monty Python!

20131222-203328.jpgKing Arthur: [after Arthur’s cut off both of the Black Knight’s arms] Look, you stupid Bastard. You’ve got no arms left.
Black Knight: Yes I have.
King Arthur: *Look*!
Black Knight: It’s just a flesh wound

20131222-203502.jpg[King Arthur and Patsy ride off]
Black Knight: [calling after King Arthur] Oh, oh, I see! Running away, eh? You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what’s coming to you! I’ll bite your legs off!


20131222-203644.jpgdon’t think they can get many presents under this tree!

20131222-203843.jpgSaturday Knight Fever

Uretiti to Ardmore

December 21, 2013

Finally almost caught up to date with the blogs.

Oh dear, a serious omission has occurred.  Someone, who shall remain nameless, forgot to include a photo of considerable importance.

Herewith the omission is remedied.

Bernice’s birthday cake presented by Marj and Brian.

9 birthday

And just to prove the lengths to which one goes to get internet reception here is Roy in his outdoor office where reception was possible.

9 office

And another slight glitch in the world of glitches that seems to have been our lot lately.  We were leaving Whangaruru North to go to Uretiti.  So the night before we packed ready for an early start.  All well and good.  In the morning Bernice went off to do some laundry while Roy packed the last and moved the motorhome  to let Pat and Sue move theirs.

On trying to exit the said vehicle Roy found that the door mechanism no longer worked and he was locked in.  No amount of pushing and pulling of levers, turning of keys, passed out the window could free the mechanism.  So Pat crawled in through the window and with assistance from Sue as runner, to scrounge equipment, attempts were made to free the lock.    In the end the internal cover plate was removed and the lock drilled out to free the bolt which had broken but would not release back out of the plate.  Below is a picture of the offending lock drilled.

Oh and how did we manage to get to Uretiti with the lock in this condition.  Well luckily there is a deadlock within the same mechanism and we were able to operate this notwithstanding the damage to the rest of the lock.

1 lock

We were able to replace the lock at Whangarei on our way through and fit it at Uretiti when we parked.

Settled in Uretiti it was time for brunch once again.  The photo below is supposed to show us all together and brunch but we had not served when a convenient passer by was asked to take the photo.  Brunch consisted of croissants with smoked salmon and tomato with a dressing of cream cheese, capers and chives and, of course, the obligatory bubbles.

2  brunch

When we were here last in August the path to the beach had been substantially buried in sand.  You can see the photos in a previous post from back then.  Now the problem has been solved with the path being metalled over the encroaching sand and the posts extended.  the posts were extended by the simple expedient of splicing a new length of post on to the old.   So I guess this will continue and it will be interesting to see how long the posts eventually become.

3 path4 path

And then for the final supper.  Pat and Sue were leaving Uretiti, some days before us, so we had our last meal together for a while, barbequed butterflied leg of lamb with harissa couscous, beetroot salad and a melon, cucumber, tomato and feta salad.  Delicious.

7 dinner8 dinner

And a great sunset to go.

5 sunset

Pat & Sue have left us now Sad smile as they head south for family Christmas in Rotorua  then onto Christchurch to sort out house/EQC/et al.   We have thoroughly enjoyed having them with us, sharing mostly good times as well as the odd hitch! There are not many people you can say you have been with for nearly 4 months and end up better friends than at the start.  We look forward to meeting up with them again to continue our travels and adventures, wherever that may be.

Then through the tunnel to the big smoke

6 tunnel

We are now safety parked at the NZ Motorhome Park at Ardmore Airport where we will be for the next week or so.


December 20, 2013


After leaving Whangaruru North we made our way further south to Whananaki or more precisely Otamure Bay.  Another DOC camp right on the beach.  We parked up and then wandered down to the beach to have a look.  Typical long sandy beach with rocky islets at he south end and a rocky coast to the north. 

43 parked38 beach

Spotted between the rocks to the south was this sailing yacht.

39 sailing

Unfortunately even in the more remote areas of New Zealand we are faced with water quality problems!!!

41 not so clean

Joining Whananaki and Whananaki South is this footbridge.  Primarily for the convenience of school children coming to Whananaki to the local school.  The shot of the bridge is taken from the Whananaki side

47 bridge42 bridge

In the centre of the bridge there is a rise in the level to allow small boats to pass underneath.  The water under the bridge is not very deep under the bridge in calm condition and at low tide one can watch locals wading back and forth.   The wider view here is from the Whananaki South side

44 bridge45 bridge

At the south end of the bridge in a sheltered bay there was this area where a large number of Mangrove seeds had washed up.  The area was probably 10 metres in length thickly coated in seeds,

46 mangrove seeds

One afternoon was spent walking a track that led from Otamure Bay to the next bay Tauwhara.  There was quite a step climb up some 80 plus steps to the top of the ridge and then an immediate drop down to a lovely long bay.

50 steps49 beach

Part  way along the beach a Pohutukawa was sprawling out of the shore onto the beach.  So for those that may be far away here are a couple of close ups of the flowers.  Pohutakawa are known as New Zealand’s Christmas tree and it is not even Xmas yet!!  So perhaps a long hot summer is in store.

51 pohutukawa52 pohutukawa

Further along there was this area, accessible through a property on the road, where one could park and stay. 

53 Camping

Between Tauwhara Bay and the next bay, Maureses Bay, there is a step ridge running out to sea.  Climbing this gives a view of Maureeses Bay and points further north and further still to the islands off Mimiwhangata.  Whilst looking back one sees the spread of Tauwhara Bay,

55 bay57 bay

And at last captured a photo of a Tui gleaning nectar from the flax flowers.

56 tui

Kerikeri to Whangaruru North

December 20, 2013


From Kaitaia we made our way to Kerikeri for a two night stopover.  We took the opportunity, on the second day, to take a trip around from Kaeo through Tauranga Bay and Matauri Bay back to Kerikeri.

Tauranga Bay has an enclosed bay with islands across the northern end of the bay and a headland to the southwest.   There is a Motor Camp right on the beach where they have what looks like reasonable winter rates so maybe we will spend some time there next winter.

2 Tauranga Bay3 Tauranga Bay

An interesting approach has been taken to providing steps down to the beach.  In a lot of places that we have been to steps to the beach have either washed out from the base, been washed away around the edges or fallen apart.  here thy have come up with an ingenious solution.  Rather than having a fixed set of rigid steps they have literally chained together a series of half rounds and laid them form top to bottom.  The advantage is that it can be re-laid on top of the sand, if buried,  by simply pulling it out to the surface again.   If it is undermined or washed out it will conform to the new surface simply under the effect of gravity.

5 steps6 steps

On the road between Tauranga Bay and Matauri Bay there were some very good views of the islands off the coast.

7 islands

Wainui Bay is another small bay with attractive sandy beach. 

8 just another bay

View  down into Matauri Bay from the road above.

9 matauri bay10 matauri bay

Above the Bay at the right end is the memorial to the Rainbow Warrior which was eventually deliberately sunk to form a reef off the coast.   The beach itself is beautiful and at this time of year almost empty.

11 memorial12 Matauri Bay

And back to Kerikeri where Stuart Park, a cousin of Roy’s joined us for a drink.  As his background has been latterly as the head of Historic Places in the North, he provided an evenings entertainment telling Pat and Sue and ourselves a lot of historic stories of the North.  We will catch up with Stuart in the new year to extend our joint knowledge of the Vannini genealogy.

So off to Whangaruru North via Paihia and Opua.

We did not see the falls but we did see the sign!!

13 somewhere

And when we got to Paihia we were presented with the sight of two large cruise liners anchored off shore.  The result being crowded roads, lots of people wandering the roads and looking the wrong way to cross the road.

15 cruise liners14 paihia

Then on to Opua where we boarded the ferry to cross over to the Russell side at Okiato.  Interesting experience.  It was quite unnerving to be in the drivers seat and seemingly driving across water. 

16 ferry17  ferry

Then onto the road to Whangaruru, rather narrow in places!!

18 narrow

At the end of the road, down a somewhat steep final 500 metres we arrived at Whnagaruru North.  A bay on the Harbour side of the peninsular right on the end of it.  The camp is at the base of a high land connected by a very low lying strip of land to the rest of the peninsular.   Bland Bay is on the right facing the Ocean and the harbour is on the right, with the slimmest of land spurs between the two.

29 Bland bay

This is the view from above the bay.  Note that both of us are parked on the road within the rear of the camp.  They had had a large amount of rain within days of our arrival and as a consequence the whole camp area was a little soft.  After Pat had sunk to the rims in trying to access  campsite it was decided that we should stick to the road and so we stayed.  There were no others that needed or wanted to park at the back of the camp so it worked well for all.

24 camp27 camp

On the beach, just above (or more precisely right on) the high water mark was this Pied Oyster Catcher sitting on a nest right in front of the camp within five metres of the nearest Campervan.

19 nesting21 nesting

On a walk around the rocks the tenacity of Pohutukawa was amply demonstrated by this one.  It was originally on the right hand headland growing quite well.  At some time it has fallen/slid down the cliff and come to rest leaning across to the rock.   It has now put down roots into the rock and is flourishing.   The other one was putting on a show of flowers right next to us in the camp.

22 Split rock23 pohtukawa

Oh and it is Sunday again and another brunch, this time sausage patties, bacon and eggs on ciabatta rolls, and of course bubbles.

30 brunch31 brunch

Two days after we arrived so did the Oyster Catcher chicks.  Two small balls of fluff carefully chaperoned by their parents who made it very clear should anybody get too close.

32 chick34 chicks

And left in the nest was a third egg which was either infertile or had not  hatched and was effectively abandoned.

33 egg

Margaret and John also appeared on the scene after having completed a brief trip to Cape Reinga and return.  John has a Port-a-Bote packed under their motorhome and out it came for a fishing trip in the Harbour. 

So three men in a boat on their way to catch dinner .

36 three men in a boat

Thar she blows!!

37 thar she blows

However I would have to report that it was a case  of wet bums and no fish, as there was a good shower of rain while were out.

and back to Kaitaia

December 20, 2013


But just before we get to there a couple of photos that were missed at some stage.

Remember the Ratana church at Te Hapua? Well the more commonly photographed one is probably this one which is alongside SH1 at Te Kao.  The gate again shows the symbol of the church and the towers and design of the church are generic.

1 symbol2 teKao

OK now we are up to date and finally back in Kaitaia (this is mid November now!).  We stayed a night at the RSA did our shopping to replenish the larder.  At the same time we made an appointment with a welding company to have one of our lockers repaired.  Oh, I probably did not mention that some days ago I was getting the barbeque out of the locker and noticed that it seemed to be at a strange angle.  The whole locker interior appeared to be leaning back and down away from the side of the van.  On investigation the screws holding the locker to to the floor of the van had parted company with the floor and the extra weight had ripped some of the screws out of the body of the van.   With Pat’s aid the locker was strapped back in place  using some strong ratchet tie-downs, except these were tying up.  This held well, but it was time for a permanent repair.  So we were booked in for a fix in two days.

Next morning we were about to go and dump and generally clean up before the locker work but then we found we had a flat tyre.  There was a tyre shop within walking distance so after an hour or so their truck turned up and a very competent young guy set about changing our tyre to our spare.    The tyre that had been flat could not be repaired so we had to buy a new one which had to be ordered.  We were to come back when they had received the tyre. This would not be too much of a problem as we were only heading as far as Matai Bay for the next couple of weeks.

Next day off to the welding shop for an hour or two, turned into four, but finally all fixed at 2pm,  Then get a call from the tyre shop to say our tyre had arrived,  A quick trip and an empty wallet later and we were underway to catch up with Pat and Sue who had gone on ahead ahead.

Finally we arrive at Maitai Bay and managed to park in our favourite spot.

11 maitai13 batter day

Next day Bernice and I went to see our friends John and Margaret who were parked at Ramp Road.  Left Matai Bay on a fine morning and spent a part of the afternoon with them.  Then it started to rain lightly so we went home.  As we got closer to Maitai Bay the harder it rained until finally we were greeted by the unusual sight of the camp ground flooded below us and what was a ditch filled to overflowing with water.

12 rain

And then it was Sunday, so the usual brunch ensued, this time Hash Browns, slow roasted tomatoes, scrambled eggs and bacon.  All washed down with bubby of course.

15 breakfast16 breakfast

That night we all went fishing, including John and Margaret who had come to join us at Maitai Bay.  Finally we had some luck and managed to catch a couple of snapper.

17 fish19 fish

The following afternoon there was much excitement in the Bay as a couple of sharks turned up cruising very close to the waters edge.  One of them, about three metres long, remained for more that an hour cruising up and down and occasionally chasing some kind of fish into the shallows where it tended to ground itself and have to thrash to get off again.  After much discussion and reference to brother John it was decided that it was a bronze whaler.    This was based on colour and tail configuration.  The photo is poor as for some reason the camera decided to have a hissy fit.

21 shark

But that evening we dined on snapper, well cooked by Bernice supervised by Margaret and Pat, with Sue in doing all the hard work in the background.  This was Snapper with Tomatoes, orange and avocado and a delicious dressing

23 supervised24 dinner

Next day John and Margaret left for a trip up to the Cape and we left to go to Kaitaia to restock and then go to Kerikeri.

3 computers in one day

December 18, 2013

Things have been a little quiet on the blogging front around here, however normal transmission will return soon. This is because Roy’s computer spat the dummy/fried itself/died!! To cut a very long and involved story short, three computers were returned to the shop for various reasons (all in one day!), much patience having been tested, the new computer is nearly loaded up with all the necessary programmes and info, not to mention all our photos. Just as well Roy had backed up the old computer just last week, let this be a lesson to you all of the importance of backing up your data.

Over the next few days we shall endeavor to write a catch up of where we have been and what we have seen.

More knights

December 16, 2013

They’ve been busy again this week,

20131216-142957.jpg getting into the Florence Knightingale groove!

20131216-143218.jpgthen they thought they would head to Knightsbridge!

20131216-143301.jpgdamn knights wanted the table to be round!


20131216-143440.jpgsad and lonely knights after Pat & Sue left us after traveling together for some three months or so.

20131216-143631.jpggetting stuck into the licorice, Black knight of course!