Whakapirau to Uretiti


No, we have not fallen off the face of the earth but we have been holed up at Jacky and Chris’ place at Whakapirau.  We left the van at Uretiti after making our escape out of the driveway, but then Bernice returned to stay at the van for a couple of nights as the netball ANZ Championship minor semi finals were on. Sunday and Monday nights Bernice spent back at the van whilst Roy stayed on at Whakapirau with Jacky (Chris had returned to Auckland for a few days).  By the time Tuesday morning arrived, the weather had deteriorated with heavy rain and very strong winds blowing.  Bernice was umming and aaahing whether she should ride out the bad weather in the van or beat a hasty retreat to the calmer climes of Whakapirau.  Decision made (aided by the promise of French Onion soup for lunch and Boeuf Bourguignon for dinner!),  a quick trip over the Brynderwyns, through the flood waters around Maungataroto to the relative calm of Whakapirau.  Here we stayed for the rest of the week.  

Jacky and Chris relocated their hen Mabel (the brown one) from their home in Auckland to the country.  Mabel has made a few new friends and three strays have joined her on the property where they happily roam around.  They all became rather excited one day when Roy did a bit of weeding, disturbing the ground and uncovering lots of juicy worms and insects.  


Mabel and her entourage                Heading down to assist Roy

Not only are there numerous birds and other wildlife around the property but there are hundreds of skinks, usually found sunning themselves on warm rocks in the afternoon sun.


Skinks in the sun

There are also a number of bromeliads growing happily and at this time of the year (winter) provide a welcome bit of colour.


By the time the weekend came round it was time for us to head back to the van at Uretiti as Monday morning the van was due in at Whangarei as we had booked it into a car painters to get a professional cut and polish.  It was to take them all day Monday and half of Tuesday to complete the work and as the netball semifinal between Waikato Magic and Queensland Firebirds was to be played on Monday evening, we arranged to stay on site for the night.  Whilst the van was being beautified, we took the opportunity to get lots of shopping done, we managed to pick up lots of bits and pieces we had been meaning to pick up for some time, little things such as; cables to sort out reception for the second TV in the bedroom, new fly screen material, get spare keys cut, WoF for the RAV and new brakes fitted, new covers for the car seats and a piece of matting for the van.   As well,  we managed to catch up with friends Dave & Di (ex Oamaru).  Although David was currently away in the UK, we had a good catch up with Di and caught up with all their news.

One day whilst passing the bridge  over the Hatea River – the entrance to Whangarei Harbour – the bridge was being raised to let ships through.  The Bridge is officially called Te Matau a Pohe – translated as ‘The fishhook of Pohe’ the Maori chief who welcomed the first English settlers to Whangarei.  Pohe  was very skilled in manufacturing fish hooks using traditional materials and styles. His hooks were so practical, many of the settlers used his hooks in preference to the standard English hooks made of steel. He was also instrumental in building bridges between the two cultures during the first years of English settlement amongst Maori. Pohe used his ranking to protect many of the first settlers from being killed.

It is certainly a stunning looking bridge with the raised portion shaped like a traditional fishing hook.

6 11

Bridge being raised                          Crossing the bridge

We picked up the shiny, polished van on Tuesday afternoon and headed back out to Uretiti. 

7Pat & Sue parked on the left, the Vannini’s shiny van on the right.

Now for the nature segment and unusual sights, odds and ends.

These fungi are seldom seen growing from the ground, it is much more usual to find them on dead or dying wood on trees or on the ground.  Well in this case they are growing from fallen wood as a little scraping around found that they were growing for some rotting wood a few millimetres below the ground.


These shells were washed up the other day and I have not been able to identify them.  They are a little unusual in that they are growing as a cluster attached to each other, but not from a common point.  Any help in identification would be appreciated.


Throughout New Zealand there are many unusual monuments in out of the way places.  This one is about 50 metres behind the front sand dunes on Bream Bay just north of Uretiti.  A close look revealed its unusual purpose.


Bernice woke one morning complaining of the noise from a rooster or roosters.  There are no houses or properties with signs of sheds or chicken runs anywhere in sight from the camp.  On a walk around several days later found these three enjoying a sunny morning in the sand dunes.  They join the large number wild hens and roosters seen on the side of the road throughout New Zealand.  Obviously these were the culprits that disturbed someone’s sleep.


We left Uretiti on Monday and headed just up the road to Ruakaka.   This Wednesday (tomorrow) the van is due back in at Whangarei for a replacement awning to be made and fitted.  This time, we are getting the experts to do the work unlike that of last years effort  here


View from the door at Ruakaka      Looking across from sandspit

Out on the sandspit there were large numbers of birds often guarding territory or simply displaying consternation at my presence.

These three were looking as if they were arguing over the architectural merits of the ground they were standing and stamping on.  Why three, not sure perhaps adults with a chick from last season.


And this pair were also remonstrating about foreign invaders.


Finally a couple of shots of dawn looking out to the Whangarei Heads


Over the weekend, we tried our hand at making Pastrami.  We were very pleased with the result although we will tweak the proportions of the spices in the mix we made to cover the outside of the beef.  Needless to say it did not last very long!


Finally, the RAV ticked over a milestone recently – 300,000kms and still going strong!



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