Archive for November, 2014

Fishing, mowing and a tepee

November 29, 2014

A walk up to the lookout gives a panoramic view from Rangitoto Island up to Wenderholm.


And includes a view into Shakespear Park and Bay


At the eastern end of Army Bay there is a walk up to a small waterfall in the bush, very picturesque.


We’ve been fishing again – Vannini fishing that is!  One of the Rangers here at Shakespear called past on his way home from fishing & diving,  he had caught a number of very large snapper and had a bag full of scallops.  He kindly gave us the smallest of the snapper which was still large enough for two meals for us plus we smoked the head and body which gave us enough smoked fish for a nice pie.

7filleting the fish

We have not been out fishing with our kite fishing rig as yet however we have put it up in the park to try out all the systems to make sure everything was OK.  Just our luck, there was an issue with the set up of the line on the winch, rather than trying to sort it out ourselves, we took it into Paul’s Fishing Kites in Onehunga (just down the road from Antony’s place).  We headed off into Onehunga on Tuesday, which just so happened to be Bernice’s birthday.

Now Bernice is wondering what it is with her birthday as over the past few years she has had some interesting ‘presents’!  Last year it was  new tyre and strengthening work done on the van, this year it was a new radiator for the RAV as well as new line on the fishing winch! To back track slightly,  the other day when we went to the shops, Bernice thought she heard a noise coming from the engine of the RAV, sure enough, on inspection there was steam escaping from the top of the radiator.  Damn, now what were we to do, a quick check and a radiator specialist was not far from where we were in Silverdale, a phone call and sure enough they could do the replacement today, not only that they could supply us with a courtesy car whilst repairs were being done. excellent work with the wallet the only loser.  But next year could my birthday presents be a little more personal please?

Life isn’t all just about relaxing in the sun, fishing and generally watching the world go by, no, this past week we have earned our keep.  The park is mown on a regular basis, however, our parking area is given a wide berth by the large tractor size mowers so Roy offered to mow the grass around our van if they supplied a mower.  Sure enough a small ride on mower was duly delivered with the offer to mow the grass but Roy really wanted to have a play on the mower himself.  Well, mowing lawns is a novelty activity these days!

 10Mower man


We have had a variety of different groups staying at the park over the past few weeks.  Its always interesting to watch people put up their tents. There was a group of scouts and guides  in last weekend and we enjoyed watching them trying to erect their tents in the howling gale!  Interestingly, the guides all had nice new dome-style tents which were put up very quickly and efficiently.  However, the scouts had the old fashioned canvas square tents which seemed to take them an age to get set up.  We have also had a couple of very large school groups through – 97 at a time!  They appear to be highly organised, tents are put up in a very short time without too much bother – usually in well under an hour – then the students are split into smaller groups to take up mountain biking, orienteering, kayaking and other organised activities.

This weekend there is a Sea Scout group in (just 30 young ones), so far they have spent five hours putting up their tents (the old fashioned canvass variety)  and at the time of writing, 7 tents have so far been put up with another 3 laid out ready to be put up. If they don’t get a move on it will soon be time for them to pack up! And do you know why they have all sides of the tents rolled up during the day? No?  Well, with groups of teens, it is so that they can be seen to ensure no hanky-panky goes on!

During the week we had an interesting chap in who was staying in a tepee which he had designed and constructed himself.   It went up very quickly and efficiently and is a fascinating piece of construction being extremely strong and stable in all conditions.  Those North American Indians knew what they were doing!




The following two pictures are a view of the camp with our van in the back middle, and the scout group putting up tents in the middle


And there is always plenty of kite surfers and sail boarders out in the bay enjoying the wind.



November 15, 2014

Another week has slipped by in our role as Camp Hosts or Camp Narks as Antony so eloquently called us! And before you ask – no, we have not ‘narked’ on anyone –yet!

A walk to the top of the hill overlooking the camp and beach is where the following sets of photos were taken from.


Looking down onto the camp with us parked there in the middle toward the back, and the photo on the right is zoomed in on the track up over the other hill.


Zoomed in on us parked up….and closer zoom.  Yes, we know the awning is not level, that is done purposely to facilitate water runoff.


Looking forward of our van to the beach


A Panoramic view of the Te Haruhi Bay the campground is at the left end of bay below the ridge.


Looking out to Tiritiri Matangi island from the top of the hill behind the camp, and a view of Pink Bay. No sand but a papa rock shelf from which people fish.  This same shelf stretches from the bay in front of the camp around to Army Bay and can be walked all the way at low tide.

We have watched a number of people wandering past our van to walk up over the hill with sacks thrown over their shoulders, returning some hours later with sacks bulging with their contents.  One day we got chatting to one chap who showed us his catch of Kina and who offered us a couple to try.  Kina is the Maori name for sea urchin or sea egg,  which is endemic to New Zealand waters.  They are a prized delicacy  to Maori, with the roe the edible part of the urchin.  They are spiny wee things, but not to pass up an opportunity, we broke them open and scooped out the delicate roe.


Kina                                                 Breaking them open


We enjoyed the delicate but creamy contents and can understand why they are such a prized delicacy.

Once the spikey spines have been removed and the shell dried off what remains is this beautiful pale green shell.

Earlier in the week, friends Bill & Estelle came to stay for a couple of nights in their newly acquired campervan.  This was to test out all the workings of their new van, and to make sure everything worked as it should.  Of course not everything went to plan for them, but at least we could assist where we could and of course we could laugh along with them…..but lets just say what goes on camp, stays in camp!!

13Here we are spending an evening playing Sequence – we let the visitors win the odd game!

14An action shot of Estelle, caught through the window of their campervan, attempting to make up their bed!

We did venture out one day by visiting Gulf Harbour which is a development not far from here, which includes housing, golf courses and a large marina.  It was interesting to see how the other half live, not our cup of tea though.


Map of the area

However, there is a ferry that runs from here through to Auckland city and another ferry that goes out to Tiritiri Matangi Island which we shall take at a later date when the weather decides to settle.

Unfortunately, the weather was not particularly kind to us whilst Bill & Estelle were visiting.  One morning whilst filling up the van with fresh water, Roy got caught in a hail storm and took to shelter under a tree whilst trying to protect himself from the hail with the umbrella.

15Sheltering from the hail

Now you did not think that we would have a blog entry without the obligatory pictures of flora and fauna, did you?

The park which surrounds the camping ground is an Open Sanctuary.  It has a predator proof fence isolating the tip of the peninsular from the rest of it.  This area has been cleared of all introduced predators except for a few remaining mice.  This has resulted in a proliferation of native birds assisted by those that fly over from the Sanctuary on Tiritiri Matangi Island which is another Sanctuary where a number of rare species have been re-introduced.


A prime example of a Tui.  These are very prolific in the bushes surrounding the camp.  Their only downside is that they start their day at between 3am and 4am which is little early for a dawn chorus.


These two Native Pigeons or Kereru arrive late most afternoons and perch at the top of the dying branches of a Cabbage or Ti tree.

A fungi growing at the base of a cabbage tree in the bush above the camp


I am watching this small branch on a Pohutukawa tree beside our home and hope to see it flower before we leave.


Some are already starting to bloom but they are few and far between at present.


The first week

November 10, 2014

The first week of being camp mother and camp leader has passed without incident or anything particularly exciting happening.

P1050675.JPGthat’s our camp site just peeking out from behind the trees, with the toilet block in the background with the beach & sea just peeking out from between the trees.

IMG_1597.JPGand that’s us, photo taken from the centre of the park. Oh and we hope you notice the lovely new large beach umbrella providing much needed shade.

We have met some interesting and lovely characters over the week including a family with seven children who were here for the weekend. The children were aged from 18months through to 13 years. All home schooled, they arrived on Friday complete with a trailer loads of kayaks (one for each child – apart from the youngest), bikes and of course tents and the rest of the necessary camping gear. The logistics of getting everything together would be enough to do most peoples heads in, but not this family, they regularly go off to one of the Auckland Regional Parks for a camping weekend and often take along some of the children’s friends! We really enjoyed watching them all bike, kayak, climb trees, swim, play cricket, and generally have fun.

We have also had a couple of visitors, the first was Frederick who called in on his way past, for morning tea on Friday. He was returning a couple of items, and over a coffee and muffin we really enjoyed catching up with his latest news and look forward to our next meeting. We enjoy swapping ideas and hints, as well as sharing our bread making skills and generally solving the problems of the world. And as usual, we forgot to get the camera out to record his visit!

Steve & Les came for a visit on Sunday, it was such a glorious day with hardly a breath of wind, it was fabulous sitting in the warm sun sharing lunch. Steve had spent the morning making sausages, so the boys BBQ’d up a sample of each variety to share. There was a spicy Merguez, a Pork Apple & Fennel, and a Cumberland style sausage – all equally fantastic and delicious. Bernice doesn’t usually eat sausages as she finds most commercial varieties all a bit…….well, let’s just say she chooses not to eat them. However, she can quite happily eat, enjoy and relish all of Steve’s sausages. This time we did have the camera to hand!

P1050682.JPG Steve, Les and Roy about to enjoy sausage sandwiches for lunch (I hope you see we had the HP sauce out Alex & Ian!).

Of course Bernice watched netball over most of the weekend, with the NZ Fast 5 Ferns taking out the World Champs for the third year in a row. It was also an early start to the day on Sunday with the alarm set for 3.30am to get up and watch the All Blacks play England, with a win to the All Blacks although the refereeing was a little strange at times! We can admit to not actually getting up for the game though, as we watched the game from the comfort and warmth of our bed! Yes, we also have a TV in the bedroom.

We have not been totally idle though, we have been very busy getting all the seams and joins on the outside of the van resealed. This is purely a preventative maintenance procedure, as we don’t want to have leaky building issues! This entails the cleaning of the seams first, removing any old silicone or sealant, then carefully applying masking tape along both sides of the seams ensuring a neat even spacing so that when the tape is removed there is an clean line of sealant. Then apply the new sealant, smoothing it into place, cleaning up and remove the masking tape before it sets too firmly. This is a bit of a messy job at times, with numerous pairs of disposable gloves being deployed. We have so far managed to do around all the lockers on one side of the van and along all major seams before running out of the ‘gunk’ – that’s a technical term for the Simson ISR 70-03 industrial grade elastic sealant we are using. More is on order, then that will be another major job ticked off the list.

Goodbyes and new job!

November 5, 2014

We shall get to the new job shortly but first we had to say our goodbyes to Alex & Ian. We left Kinloch in convoy early Sunday morning, our first stop was a little back track to Wairakei to fill up with fuel before meeting up with Alex & Ian and Ants in Tirau for a bit of brunch. Refuelled, we were back on the road heading straight to the airport where our first mission was to head to the supermarket to fill up the corners of the travellers suitcases with a good selection of NZ chocolates, biscuits and the like.

Unfortunately it was soon time to head to check in, early enough so that Ian could ensure that he gets allocated seats with plenty of leg room to cope with his 6ft 3in frame……something that some of us that are vertically challenged do not have to deal with! That mission accomplished, we had time for a quiet drink before we all steeled ourselves for the farewells. This never gets any easier, but at least this time Alex has Ian to console her on the other side of the barrier.

Monday morning and Roy had to battle the motorway to head back to the Doctor to have his stitches removed and get the results of the biopsy. It turns out that the growth was cancerous, however the margins were all clear and the type that it was meant that it is confined to the upper skin levels. And as it was noted and acted upon fairly quickly then it was caught very early and requires no further treatment.

That done, it was back to the van, pack up, empty waste tanks, fill up with water, LPG and fuel before heading across the bridge to Shakespear Regional Park on the Whangaparaoa Peninsular. This is where we get to our new “job”. We shall be here for at least the next month acting as Camp Hosts, which just really means we are the eyes and ears for the Rangers to let them know if there are any issues occurring before they become a problem and also let campers know about the facilities at Shakespear.

Shakespear is one of the network of Auckland Regional Parks, we have mentioned the Park network before as we have enjoyed staying in a number of them around the region. They truly are a wonderful asset, not only to Auckland but to New Zealand. Shakespear is situated on the tip of the Whangaparaoa peninsular north of Auckland, it has a number of walkways through bush, farm and coastline as well as a nice beach and supposedly there is some good fishing around as well. We stayed here last year when Alex was in NZ with her friends.

The bird life here is amazing and the noise they make is almost deafening at times. So far we have managed to see tuis, bellbirds, wood pigeons, rosellas and parakeets as well as the usual sparrows, starlings, pukekos, ducks, and magpies. The camping area is a large flat grassy area just back from the beach with large Pohutakawas lining the site. The camp provides toilets, sinks for dishwashing, rubbish and recycling, and here there is a worm farm as well. Shakespear is a predator free area, which means when you come into the park, you enter through large automatically controlled predator proof gates. There are definitely no dogs, cats to any other animals allowed to be brought in, and they even provide mousetraps for campers to place around their campsite.

Here we shall be staying for the next wee while, we look forward to exploring the area a little more and to catch up with friends and family. Let us know when you are coming, the BBQ will be fired up and ready.


November 4, 2014

Time to say farewell to Jess & Jarrad in Whangamata as they headed off to continue their holiday.   Alex and Ian took our car and headed for our planned weekend in Kinloch (Lake Taupo) via a touristy stop in Rotorua.

1Farewells in Whangamata

We headed off in the opposite direction to get to Kinloch via Paeroa and Matamata, with Antony in his car.  Now we know a few people have those smelly air freshener things that hang from the rear view mirror of their car to make it smell nice, however most of these tend to be of the usual pine scent and shape, but not Antony – his is bacon scented!!     

3Bacon scented car freshener!

Along the way we passed through Paeroa and passed the giant L&P Bottle, the quintessential NZ soft drink.


From there it was a fairly straight forward drive into Kinloch.  We were heading to Kinloch as this is where Bernice’s family holidayed in boats for many many years and then her parents retired here for some time before they moved south.  It was time to spread her parents ashes and with Alex out from the UK, it seemed like a good opportunity for as many of the family to get together as possible. 

But first a look around Kinloch itself to see how it has changed over the years.  We of course had to revisit the house Mum & Dad built in Kinloch.


Whilst in Kinloch we noticed the proliferation of rhododendrons and azaleas in bloom.  We had not realised how much we missed seeing these colder climate blooms. Following is a selection of the lovely blooms 


And we even spotted this cat on the prowl, stalking a rabbit along a pathway.

Saturday dawned brilliantly sunny and clear with excellent view across the Lake to Mount Ruapehu,


and the view across the Lake to the Raupo, a safe anchorage place where Mum & Dad spent quite a bit of time socialising with friends.


We walked along the waterfront to a small stream which feeds into the Lake where we let Mum & Dad’s ashes disperse.  Everyone had their turn with children,  grandchildren and great grandchildren all taking part. 


13Farewell Mum & Dad

Then it was back to the Bach we had rented and onto the large deck where we shared a BBQ. We did get a couple of photos of us all…..just a shame the photographer (Roy) did not manage to get back in time to take his place in the pictures!


17Yes John, we did see where you had your hands!

And Happy Birthday Steve, a memorable birthday in more ways than one, we hope the pain subsides and the bruises mend quickly!


November 4, 2014

Before we left Ambury we had the usual encounter with the bird life.  There were Pukeko of various sizes from the newly hatched to the nearly fledged.


And then there was this curious family of ducks who made themselves at home on our doorstep.


Whilst stationary the chef could not resist making more jam so here we have Strawberry Jam with just a touch! of Grand Marnier.


Then it was on to Ardmore where we met up with Jim and Judy.   Notice in this photo the other major undertaking at Ambury – the purchase and fitting of a tray on the roof rack and a tube for fishing equipment and other long poles. And since our last visit to Ardmore, about half of the parking area has been levelled and gravelled.


And finally the day had arrived.  Off to the airport to welcome Alexandra and Ian

I think they expected someone to meet them!!!


And finally they did


Of course they then turned around and deserted us to attend a wedding in Christchurch so after a dinner on the night of their arrival with Antony, Simon and Anita they were off next morning.

We then had a  long wait until they returned the next Sunday when we had dinner at Antony’s place.


And finally we got off to Whangamata on the Tuesday.  We were joined by Alexandra’s friends Jessica and Jarrad.

This led to the inevitable games of cards


We allowed Antony to be king of the cards!

We also managed to get our hands on some of the new Chocolate milk, a collaboration between Lewis Road Creamery and Whitakers Chocolate.  MMmmmmm.

20Chocolate Milk moustaches21Getting out every last drop!

A great few days together with the younger members of the touring party heading off on day trips to places like Hot Water Beach and Wenderholm Falls.  Before too long, is was time to leave.