Archive for May, 2014

Up to Whakapirau

May 30, 2014


Jackie and Chris have recently purchased a property at Whakapirau on the Kaipara Harbour.  So having safely moved Antony and then the following night had a very good dinner with Neil & Jodie and Antony, thank you Jodie,  we are off to stay with Chris and Jacky for a few days.

Through the tunnel and over the bridge we go



After some time we arrive at Whakapirau Wharf where we leave the motorhome  while we investigate the driveway into the property.  Quite wondrous it is when viewed from the drivers seat, it is hard to see the edges and because you are going down hill you lose sight of the drive altogether in places.  But having explored the possibilities of leaving the motorhome offsite, we decide to attempt the driveway including the hairpin bend,  but due to the overhanging branches and narrowness of the last part of the driveway we finally park halfway in .

Settled in and had dinner a drink or two and then bed.  Next morning awoke to low fog.  This shot is taken just after daybreak looking at the wharf at Whakapirau on the left and the wharf at Pahi on the right.



However the fog finally lifted and we were able to see all before lunch.


The sea was so calm that we were able to see “a painted ship upon a painted ocean”  OK it was only a dinghy but so what!!


Looking back and up one can se Jackie and Chris’ house among the bush at the op of the ridge.


One of the reasons for not getting all the way in the drive was this large Puriri overhanging the driveway.  Those large clumps of epiphytic growth in the old dead branches of the tree are known as “widow makers”.  In the early bush felling days these would periodically drop from high up in the forest noiselessly and crush anyone unlucky enough to be below.


They also provide a home for one of New Zealand’s major pest the Opossum.  However this one should not be  causing any more problems.


On a leisurely walk down to the wharf and around the cliff to the main settlement of Whakapirau and beyond there were a number of sights.

At the Southern end of Whakapirau is this very large Macrocarpa tree with two swings.  These are secured at about 12 metres off the ground on branches extending over the beach.  Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to place them. 


The shorter one of the two is held by a sizeable rope adequately secured to the tree branch, the tall one is secured to a yoke over the tree.  Jim will be happy to see the splicing that has been performed on the swing rope. The swing rope  is at least three inches in diameter and is braided for at least three feet from the loop. 


On the foreshore of the bay there are reefs of  limestone supporting very large quantities of oysters.  On the left is a shot of an area of some ten by twenty metres and the right gives an idea of the density of oysters.


Out from the centre of the beach is sand and mud ridges and hollows filled with water and myriads of small cockle shells these are no bigger the 1.5 cm and as they extend for some metres and are often up to a metre wide there must be millions of these empty shells on the beach foreshore.  Obviously good feeding for fish but very much undersized for human consumption.


These shots are on the Whakapirau wharf looking toward Pahi in the left shot and back to the land in the right.


This shot of the end of the wharf is taken from the house with a long lens.


Below Jacky and Chris’ house there are the remains of an oyster breeding operation.  All that remains is the wooden frames which would have originally supported the containers of spat.


Over the next few days we hope to explore more of this area around the Kaipara Harbour.


May 23, 2014

It has to be said that we have never really been very good at making plans and sticking to them, we seem to always be making plans only to immediately change them. I guess you could say that we are fortunate to be able to be flexible, and can go with the flow!

We spent nearly a week at Ardmore, we had a few chores to attend to, people to see, that sort of thing. Most things were done fairly promptly and we also spent some time with Antony utilizing his wifi as Roy had some serious uploading to do. We are very limited with the amount of data we are able to access as the maximum monthly allowance is just 5GB of mobile data before we have to pay silly rates for any additional data. One day New Zealand telco companies will catch up with the rest of the world and we won’t be so limited. It makes for running a small business which is reliant on the Internet a tad, shall we say, challenging.

Sue & Pat joined us at Ardmore although they were busy chaps tripping around the countryside delivering their ute to Tauranga, as they had sold it, and off to Hellensville to pick up their new tow car then off to Hamilton to have the A-frame sorted. We successfully fulfilled our role as security guards for their van whilst they were away. Midway through the week we were contacted by friends Mark & Glynnis who just so happened to be in Auckland in their Motorhome. They were heading for the boat show on Friday and planned to come over to Ardmore to spend the night with us and do some catching up. Roy and Mark have known each other for some time now, as Mark used to work for Roy in the computer department at Kinleith in the late 60’s early 70’s. They spent a bit of time going hunting and fishing during that time, when they were younger – and fitter! We had previously caught up with them when they lived at Waiaua We spent a lovely afternoon and evening catching up with each other’s news before they headed off on Saturday morning.

We had other plans for Saturday, we went over to Steve & Leslie’s in Torbay for dinner and to spend the night with them. And again, another very enjoyable evening was had before we left on Sunday to attend to a bit of shopping at Albany. With the eftpos/credit cards getting a good airing and with most things ticked off our shopping list, it was back to the van at Ardmore and unpack the purchases.

Our plans at this stage were to head off on Monday to Whakapirau on the Kaipara Harbour which is where Jacky & Chris have purchased a property. We have been planning to go there for some weeks, but our plans keep changing. And this week was not going to be any different. It turns out that Antony is moving to a new flat next weekend and he asked if we could help him with the move, of course we can, we said, what’s another change in plans? New plans were quickly formulated for the week, a trip out to Awhitu Regional Park was the order of the day where we will spend the week before heading back into Ambury where we will park up whilst we help with the move.

We arrived at Awhitu on Monday afternoon and after a quick reconnoiter we were soon parked up and made ourselves comfortable. Awhitu is another one of the 26 Auckland Regional Parks and is located on the southern peninsular of the Manukau Heads. It is a lovely park, beautifully maintained and full of bird life, lots of lovely trees and plenty of nice camping areas complete with barbeques, tables, fresh water and toilets. There are some lovely beaches as well, where the net got set out but the flounder were avoiding us on this occasion.

Whilst here, we gave John & Margaret (fellow motorhomers see a call as they are building a house at Clarks Beach. We made arrangements to pop down to see them on Friday for morning tea, however another change of plans would evolve. Instead we are now going down to where they are parked up at Clark’s Beach to join them for the evening.

That is the plan as I write this on Friday morning ; tonight Clark’s Beach, tomorrow Ambury, then off to Whakapirau on Monday. Watch this space to see if we actually manage to keep to these plans.

PS. No photos in this post as I have “misplaced” the accessory device I use to load photos from the camera card onto my iPad. Hopefully it will reappear soon.

Little fire bugs

May 12, 2014

Where oh where does the time go? It doesn’t seem that long since we last posted but time seems to have crept away on us. We had been back to the Kaiaua boat club for a few days then returned to our favourite spot at Waharau where Pat & Sue finally joined us after spending 3 weeks at the workshop at Kopu. A few days later and Jim & Judy also joined us, so there we were, three happy campers all in a row, but again I forgot to take any photos of the three of us parked up so nicely in the sun so you will have to take my word for it …………….that is was sunny.

Now onto the title of this blog, it does have a double meaning, as not only did we light a fire which brought out the fire bugs in some members of the group which I will discuss later, but we also had visits from some bugs of the creepy crawlie type. They were discovered on the floor in the ladies toilet block and it was not long before this lady asked the gentleman to kindly remove the said bugs otherwise she would not be visiting the facilities! Warning for those who, like moi, do not like creepy crawlies, there is a photo of the creepy thing.

20140512-142149.jpgThey were about 1.5inches in length, apparently that is about 3.5cms, and they appeared on the one evening never to return again….or not that I saw. We think they are Kanuka Longhorn beetles, a relative of the huhu beetle. Whichever one, they are still creepy!

Last Friday was Pat’s birthday which of course was an excuse to have a bit of a get together and cake

20140512-135616.jpgthe birthday boy and cake, complete with candle. I hope that Brian & Marj recognize the candle as it is the one that they gave me on my birthday cake last November. It has since been used on Roy’s cake and now Pat’s. It’s a well used and travelled candle that one!

Oh, we did go fishing a couple of times, the flounder net did not catch any flounder but we did manage to get a decent sized Kahawai which was subsequently smoked and made into a pâté which went down very well at afternoon drinks time. Another day and it was mussels collected just off the rocks on the beach in front of the park,

20140512-140002.jpgmussels being enjoyed.

Another day and Jim went further along the road to cast out his rod, Roy & I wandered along a little while later to see if Jim was having much luck, only to arrive on the scene when a large school of fish was moving along the coast. Apparently this phenomena is called a “boil up” as the sea looked like it was boiling with activity, it wasn’t long before Jim had hauled in another Kahawai


Saturday dawned a bright and sunny day, so some bright spark – me, suggested we wander along to where there are BBQ fireplaces to light a fire and have toasted sandwiches for lunch utilizing our ancient antique vintage sandwich maker accompanied by a cuppa made by boiling water in the equally vintage Thermette!

20140512-142728.jpg Sue and Pat showing off their rubbish burning skills! Note the Thermette in the right front of the picture.

The Thermette was invented in 1929 in New Zealand by John Ashley Hart. It was standard issue to the New Zealand army serving in the North Africa during WW2 when it was known as the ‘Benghasi Boiler’. In 1939 the New Zealand Army asked Hart to waive his patent so they could make their own Thermettes; he agreed and the device was issued as standard equipment to every small army unit. The Thermette is considered a New Zealand cultural icon. Our version is made of copper and with just a few twigs we can have boiling water in just a few minutes.

20140512-142738.jpgBernice taking over stoking duties on the Thermette whilst Sue keeps a watchful eye on a pot of mussels

20140512-142749.jpg Jim making the tea

20140512-142803.jpgSue, Roy and Jim showing off their toasting marshmallow skills. Please note the beautifully whittled toasting sticks that Roy delighted in making!

All in all a very successful outing, although we all had to change clothes on our return as the smell of smoke lingered long on our clothes.

We have now moved on, we are currently at Admore refilling the pantry and fridge as well as getting a few jobs done before we head off again to the winter less north. Watch out Jacky & Chris, we will be along to see your new property on the Kaipara very soon!


May 2, 2014

We first met Chris & Amanda back in November 2011 when we were in Oamaru, then we kept running into them at various points along the road including in New Plymouth in November 2012. So when they contacted us to say that they were heading north for a break we took the opportunity to arrange to meet up. As they have an Ultima 5th wheeler, they also knew Pat & Sue, having met up with them when they had an Ultima before they saw the light and crossed over to join those of us with a Mirada!!!! Pat & Sue were still in Kopu with the van having work done on it, however they managed to pry themselves away and came up to join us and the girls for dinner. A good evening was had by all before Pat & Sue headed off back to Kopu leaving us to enjoy the quiet of Waharau.

Chris & Amanda had been having a few problems with their water pump which had just been fixed the day before. They had run low on water but as we had been collecting a bit of rainwater, we offered them a bit of a top up of their tank with lovely clean rainwater.

20140502-084253.jpg Chris pouring with Amanda holding the funnel. It was suggested that it looked as though they could have been filling the tank with moonshine gin or vodka!!!! Now there’s an idea!

We played tour guides showing Chris and Amanda the highlights of the area as we all sharing meals and playing lots of cards. They were due to head off Saturday morning so we convinced them to come with us into Thames where, along with Pat & Sue, we wandered through the Market in town adding to the local economy, as well as having a lovely coffee and bite to eat at Cafe Melbourne. The girls headed off to their next stop, Pat & Sue returned to their van at the workshop and we returned to our van.

Another day and Bill & Estelle came to visit, we had promised them that as the tides were right, we would put out the flounder net if they could wait around for late afternoon to help bring in the spoils. Of course the best laid plans were swept out to sea as when we hauled in the net it was devoid of any fish. Typical. We blamed the lack of fish on putting the net in a new location where it was untested, that will teach us, back to where we know the fish are biting.

Miscellany and ANZAC day

May 1, 2014


Having been some time since I have posted it is time for a catch up on those odd photos that have been taken.  Often times one finds an unusual view or a new angle on a common every day sight or something unexpected.  Most times of course there is no camera to hand and the opportunity is missed but occasionally the stars align and a photo is taken.  So here are some that have been taken  of late.

I have been trying to photograph the Welcome Swallows one sees around the place but they are too unpredictable in flight.  But finally a few settled on a fence so here they are.


Some time ago, when we were at Matarangi, I noticed that a lot of the Puriri trees there looked as if they had been attacked by some form of disease which had wasted them.   I have seen the same thing here at Wharau but have come to the conclusion it is just an effect of age.

This large old tree has seen better days in some ways but shows the ability to fight against the destruction wrought by time, wind and attack by insects.


The base of the tree is very illustrative, on the side presented to the park kt appears reasonably sound, but from the oher side it is easy to see that it has had hard times and has done well to self repair.

3   4

This small grouping of Puriri shows the appearance of a young healthy tree against the backdrop of a very much older weathered and battered example.


Talking of trees on of the characteristics of the Pohutukawa is its display of aerial roots.  This example is again at Waharau, on the left from a distance one can see the aerial roots.  On the right is a close up.  These roots are 1.75 metres long and occur on almost all of the lower branches.

6    7

This one is of our motorhome with Pat and Sue’s in the middle and Jim and Judy’s on the right.


A photo of Florence Nightingale at Antony’s party.


and two generations different interpretation of cowboys


Early morning walks along beaches reveal lots of interesting objects washed up:

one morning a float from a Mussel farm not far away


the next an Octopus


On the mudflats in the creek bed at the Kaiaua Boat Club one sees a number of wading birds, here two Herons ply there trade


While a little later this Royal Spoonbill looks askance at the foreigners in his/her territory


and then promptly settles in for a snooze with beak tucked in and one leg withdrawn.


When the tide is in on a calm day one gets some very good reflection shots



And finally ANZAC day. 

I try every year to attend a dawn parade. In traveling around this has led to some small parades in small towns but one of the more unusual was this year.

On arriving in Kaiaua the other day I noticed a sign at the local garage for an ANZAC day parade locally.  Time, 5:30am, and location as a street name were given so I thought that I would attend.

Come the dawn I drove from Waharau down to the road an found no sign of a memorial or of a gathering when I reached the apparent end of the road.  Waited a short period then noticed one or two cars turning off the road  onto a rough track.  Decided to follow and found a small number of cars parked at a the Whakatiwai Urupa.  As I approached the gathering on foot noticed a flagstaff and a small group of plaques.  There were about 10 to 12 people gathered in the dark.  Within the next fifteen minutes this number had swelled to over fifty which was a surprising number for he size of he community. 

The service was underway just after 5:30 but took a more intimate and less formal form than most I have been to.  The service was largely in Maori, was an evocation of the role of local men and women who had served.  In front of the plaques were the graves of three brothers all of whom had served in the Korean war, and their memory was invoked during the service.

Following the service those attending were invited to the ‘Homestead’  for breakfast.  I went along and had bacon and eggs and an enjoyable hour talking to the locals.

The pictures I took of the service on my phone I have not been able to retrieve but I did go back the next day to take a photo of the site.