Archive for January, 2015

Sunrise and Sunset

January 31, 2015

Some of the better sunrise and sunset shots accumulated since being here.

Sun about to rise over the cliffs at the eastern end of the beach


and  a silhouette of Rangitoto at sunrise


and another sunrise from behind the camp


At the other end of the beach sunset



Two different shots of the same sunset



An unusual sight of a swan swimming across the bay some 150 metres off shore


Some people and events of late

January 31, 2015

In late December we were invited to a retirement Party for Janet Davis, one of Roy’s friends of very long standing (65 years and counting).

I think this one photo expresses Janet’s character very well, ebullient, enjoying herself, taking pleasure in other’s enjoyment and having the occasional sip.


Of course there were the usual crowd of hangers-on including this collection of old friends from very early days to more recent.


Of course the highlight of proceedings was when Janet announced that the whole affair was a little premature as she was returning to work in the New Year.

Then there were the people who visit us from time to time.


Bernice, Edwina, Colin, Bill and Estelle

And then a surprise visit from Scrabble playing friends from times past


Robin, Bernice, Pat, Jeff and Glennis

Followed by a return visit from the Helen and Don from Oamaru days


Then of course in the New Year a memorable double act was celebrated Janet’s 70th birthday and Ron and Janet’s 50th wedding anniversary both on the same day!!


The happy couple, not doing too badly for their age and time together, may it long continue.


Then this character,  old friend and long ago best man, stood tall to speak.  The happy couple continued to enjoy themselves


and some old friends were also there looking on


It is about time too

January 30, 2015


Yes I know it has been some time since the last post here but it has been such a stressful time looking after the literally hundreds of people who have passed through the Camp over the period we have been here.

So let us start with a view, review of the bird life that is ever present about the camp.

Of course I mean the feathered variety!!!

From the very outset of our coming here we have been amazed at the variety and numbers of native species and introduced species.  Some of the latter have been problematic and we have ben involved in reducing there numbers.

Tui and various species of seabirds have been the most prolific.  So here in no particular order is a selection of birds.

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First and foremost the Tui.  We were woken by the Tui in the camp from the first day we arrived.  They are very numerous and at the time we arrived were busy sorting out partners and territory.  They would start at between 3:30  and 4:00am and would continue throughout the day.  Of late they have all but disappeared, I assume to rear their young and keep out of the heat of the day.  It seems very quiet without them.

Another aspect of their character has been displayed on a number of occasions.  They are extremely agile fliers and we have seen them a number of times driving Magpie away and easily out flying them with very sharp turns and the ability to stop in mid air.

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Next most often seen is the native pigeon, the Kereru, Kuku or Kukupa depending on your location.  These come around the camp at any time of the day to eat berries.  I had always thought that thus was their major occupation but we have a Kowhai tree behind where we are parked and every day there is at least one eating the young tender new leaves in the branches.  They also eat a number of other tree leaves as seen below

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There are always Kotare, kingfishers, around the stream and at the stream mouth.  They are almost invariably sitting in a sentry position guarding their territory against any and all.


Yellowhammers are seen often in the open paddocks around the camping area and on the margins of bush areas.


Introduced birds are in plenty as well as the natives.  Rosella parrots are often seen but hard to photograph as they tend to fly swiftly away no matter how careful the approach is


Californian Quail are often seen and quite a large number of young Quail have ben reared this year by pairs within the Camp area


Thrush are also plentiful, we have a number of families that come around the van at various times of day.  They always seem to be able to find worms and bugs.  The young ones are well fed and harass their parents if they don’t think they are supplying enough food.


One of the less desirable residents are Magpies which tend to harass other birds and generally make a nuisance of themselves.


Seabirds and shorebirds are in evidence on the beach in front of the Camp providing interest.

One of the rarer residents is the Tuturiwhatu the New Zealand Dotterel of which a number nest and breed here.  This year some eleven chicks have been successfully reared.   The parents are very protective and will do anything to distract people away from their eggs, which are layed in a shallow depression in the sand.  They supposedly lay these eggs above the high water mark but spring and king tides will often inundate them if it were not for sandbagging protection put in place by the local volunteers.  The orange/red chest appears during the breeding period.



Another breeder on the beach is the Torea-pango or Variable Oystercatcher.  There were several pairs nesting successfully on the beach this year.  They also have a number of ruses to attract one away from the nest site.  In fact one dive bombed me one morning and just clipped the edge of my hat as it went past obviously not pleased to see me!


The two pictures below were taken at Tiritiri Matangi island and show a parent and chick out on some rocks some 20 metres from shore. The second shows the chick swimming back to shore.  One of the very few times I have seen a Variable Oystercatcher swimming


Another major player is the Karoro or Black Backed Gull.  They are ever present both on the shore, around the cliffs and also within the camp.  They have a colony around the cliffs between Te Haruhi and Pink Beach.  When walking past one is harassed by very low flying Gulls, attacking from all angles.  However I did manage to get a photo of this young chick out for a walk with a parent on the rocks.


Poaka or Pied stilts are a common site along the beach but I have not seen any young birds.


Occasionally Blue Herons are seen in the shallows or hunting in rock pools


And of course there are always plenty of Tarapunga Red Billed Gulls  about, both in the camp (on the scrounge) or on the shore.  The ones below were resting at sunset


The prize sighting has been the Takahe seen on Tiritiri Matangi Island.  This  island sanctuary is just off the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsular.  It has several of New Zealand’s rare birds.  I had always wanted to visit the island and took the opportunity when Don and Helen were with us to pay a visit.  It was very impressive and the range of birds seen was exciting.  However they were very hard to catch on camera as they were always in shade or against a bright background or moved at the wrong time.  So my photographic attempts failed miserably although I did see New Zealand Robins, Saddle Backs,  Kakako, Tui, Fantail and others.  But the prize was the Takahe which paraded in a place where I could get a good view of parent and child.


So there we are a wrap of birds seen around and about.  There are still a number that I have not got a decent shot of so expect more in the future.

Friends and family

January 28, 2015

You know how sometimes life just seems to race on regardless of plans? well the past few weeks have been just like that. A whir of people have come and gone and although we have been busy with people, it is all done at our usual pace, by that, I mean the slow, casual, carefree way that has become our lifestyle.

Helen & Don returned to join us a for a week of relaxing, reading, swimming, enjoying good food and even playing the odd game of cards. The weather has been utterly brilliant so there is no excuse but to spend all day every day outside. We were very fortunate as one day the head Ranger Bruce informed us that he was having to go to Mahurangi to skipper the boat that delivers cleaning staff to outlying islands where there are baches/cribs/rustic holiday homes to rent and if we got to the beach at a certain time, we would be able to enjoy some time out on the water with him.

IMG_0286 Bruce bringing in the boat whilst lowering the front drive on ramp.

We visited a number of bays and islands, all stunning locations with their own unique attributes. It was a great way to spend a morning.

IMG_0284 Don & Helen

IMG_0285 Bruce & Roy

That same day we did a bit of a tiki tour and visited some of the other northern Regional Parks visiting Tawharanui, Mahurangi East & West and Wenderholm on our return journey. We introduced ourselves to our counterparts at the other Parks as well as Rangers and got a good feel of the other Parks, coming away convinced that we are at the nicest Park – of course!!!

The following day Roy, Helen & Don took the ferry from Gulf Harbour for a day trip to Tiritiri Matangi, an island Sanctuary just a few kms off the Whangaparaoa Peninsular. As I had visited the Island previously I decided to remain at the camp and get a few chores completed. Roy will put up a post about their visit shortly……..really, truly, he WILL get round to it!!!!

Roy and I left Helen & Don for a day whilst we headed down to Ararimu (south of Auckland in the Hunua’s) as long time friend Janet was having her 70th birthday, as well, we were celebrating Ron & Janet’s 50th wedding anniversary. Roy and Janet started school together as 5 year olds all those years ago at Cockle Bay Primary, and then just 15 years later Roy was Best Man at Ron & Janet’s wedding. They, along with a few others have all kept in touch over the years and have remained friends all these years. Again, Roy will be writing about this …..soon!

IMG_0292 ‘ear all, see all, and say nowt!! Malcolm, Roy and Bill V.

Back at Shakespear we bade farewell to Helen & Don after spending a lovely week together and we look forward to meeting up with them again soon. A few days later Jim & Judy called In to see us and spend the day with us. They had no sooner left when Brian & Marj arrived to stay for a few days. It turned out to be a busy few days whilst Brian & Marj were with us as one day we had appointments to keep, another day they had things to attend to and in between Malcolm & Pat came out for a day visit. Of course, one neglected to have a camera around to take pictures!

Oh and then there was the day last week when Roy & I headed down to Torbay to my brother Steve and sister in law Leslie’s place for dinner. Leslie’s sister Gill and her daughters Emma & Jamie were over from Perth. It seems to have been a week of reuniting old long-lasting friendships as Gill & I started school together and went through primary and secondary school as best friends. Let us just say that the evening turned into one of those magic nights that you cannot plan, I don’t think I have laughed and sung so much in many years, nor drunk so much – the following day was a bit of a right off!!! I blame the young ones for leading us astray or for at least for bringing out the Cointreau bottle at the end of the night. Video recording of our awesome singing is not available for general viewing, but let me assure you it was very very good loud memorable!

IMG_0290 sitting around the table L-R Gill, Roy, Leslie, Emma & Jamie.

IMG_0293 and this is how we looked at the end of the night – happy but blurred!

Last weekend was Auckland Anniversary weekend with Monday being a public holiday. The weather again was forecast to be brilliant and with that in mind, Steve & Leslie came out to camp with us for the weekend. Let’s just say that the company was great, the food was outstanding, the fishing so-so with only two snapper big enough to bring home, the sea warm for many swims each day and that’s all we shall report! Steve & Les’ daughter Fran along with her husband Clive and daughter Bea came to stay on the Saturday night and it was lovely to spend a day or two with them.

IMG_0283Vannini/Coatham/Bulpin campsite.

And to finish off here is a pic of the local herd of sheep looking very bewildered at the recent crop circle activity in the paddock behind them. Although we are pretty sure that Bruce had a little something to do with this!



January 8, 2015

Our entertainment factor at Shakespear is free and at times hilarious, we get all our free entertainment by watching and observing activities around camp. We love hearing the sound of kids out playing and enjoying themselves, we watch and cheer along with parents when their youngster finally manages to ride their two wheel bike all on their own, or catch a ball or frisbee or other such things. Then there was the delightful Maori family whose Dad is out cheering on his two youngsters on achieving success at riding bikes, hitting a ball and the hilarious sight of him “seeding” the shallows at the beach with a few Kina and the sheer joy on the youngsters faces as they discover them and ‘dive’ for them. You would have thought they had discovered gold, not to mention a very clever Dad getting his two young boys to be confident in the water.

The very early evening is when camp quietens down when children are obviously being fed, the aromas emanating from barbecues cooking really gets the mouth watering. Then after an hour or so of relative quiet, the centre grassy area of the camp comes alive with cricket games, soccer games, bike riding and running races. We presume this is to tire out the kids but by the end of it there are always a few tired looking Mums & Dads too.

2015/01/img_0272.jpg the nice thing about this camp is that there is the large area left in the centre of the campground for play activities, although the camp is full to capacity, it is not set out formally nor are people camped on top of each other. Campers tend to set up their sites around the periphery of the camp under the shade of the large Pohutakawa trees.

Families tend to spend the days swimming, fishing, kayaking or generally playing around the camp. You very rarely hear a crying child nor arguments between children. We are amazed at the variety of nationalities that come here camping particularly the new New Zealanders of all origins. So far we have had Russians, Phillipinos, Koreans, Chinese, Tongans, Samoans, English, Irish, Scottish, and even a few South Islanders!!! It is great to see these people enjoying what is the Kiwi tradition of camping, without all the facilities.

Mind you, we have supplied power for campers to charge up their phones & electronic devices – and we are now accepting donations for this service as the numbers started to increase and some people are back every day over a period of a week so we thought it only fair. There has also been the usual requests for jump starts when batteries go flat, it’s funny how people do not think about the fact that if they leave car doors open all day everyday with the lights going then their battery will slowly run down after a few days!!! As well, we have either supplied power for pumping up air beds or our air pump and power for this purpose, otherwise some would have been sleeping on the ground which would equate to some grumpy campers.

This year at Shakespear Regional Park, Te Haruhi Bay and Army Bay has seen the introduction of a set net ban as apparently in years past there have been so many nets set out that it looked like swimming lanes set in the bay which is not a very safe thing for the number of people that come here to swim. Plus the detrimental effect on the fishing stocks goes without saying. Now all they need to do is to also enforce a shellfish ban to allow stocks to regenerate as in Okoromai Bay particularly, at low tide there are literally hundreds of people out gathering cockles over the busy Christmas/New Year period.


The start of a New Year

January 6, 2015

Do you remember the summers of your childhood when it was always sunny, the days were warm and you spent all day everyday at the beach? Well, it seems as though the start of this summer is panning out to be one of ‘those’ summers and long may it continue.

It does not seem that long ago that we were welcoming in a new millennium, in just a blink of an eye it is suddenly 15 years on. We spent the last few days of 2014 with Colin & Edwina who had come out to camp/chill out with us. We spent a delightfully relaxing few days with them, not achieving much, however we did go for a swim or two in the sea to cool off and to escape the gloriously fine hot days we are currently experiencing. We enjoyed their good company, good food and the odd tipple as well and look forward to them coming again soon.


Then it was the turn of Helen & Don to join us for a few days. They had driven up from Oamaru in their motorhome so they could spend time with their family in Cambridge for Christmas, then they headed up to join us at Shakespear for a few nights and to see in the New Year. Again, we enjoyed their company, good food and drink as well as a few games of cards over the few days they were with us and look forward to them joining us again soon. Oh, and we all went swimming too, especially as the water was so warm as it came in over the hot sands, perfect timing for the tides with high tide in the mid afternoons.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4db/13065192/files/2015/01/img_0263.jpg it seems as though we take a few photos around our table!!

And it is amazing the things you learn. Helen has to wear a “sleeve” on one arm, one of the effects of breast cancer, and as it is a tight fitting elasticised sleeve, it it difficult to put on so Don has to help. BUT to make the job a little easier apparently it is much easier if Don wears rubber gloves to get a better grip on the sleeve….nice pink ones of course!


New Year’s Eve was seen in by sitting on the beach looking across the harbour to the Auckland Sky Tower and watching the fireworks display.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/4db/13065192/files/2015/01/img_0264.pngHappy New Year everyone!

Roy and I have settled into camp life quite nicely with the camp full to capacity (160 campers) every day. Our role is just to meet & greet people and make sure they are aware of the facilities and ensure all runs smoothly. As well, we are the first port of call for any queries or problems and we get hold of the Rangers. The main part of the Park, which includes huge areas for picnicking, has been jam packed every day with hundreds of people flocking to the beach every day so what with farm work and the general public to deal with, the Rangers life is very busy and the last thing they need is to sort out minor camping issues. They are a great bunch of people and usually pop in most days to say hi and have a cuppa and a chat, and they have made us feel very much at home.

Some of the camp sites set up by families and groups are rather sophisticated with large tents, gazebos to provide shade and living space, lighting, gas powered fridges, shower tents, and anything else you can think of including the kitchen sink!! There are a huge variety of people as well, with people from all cultures and ethnicities which all adds to the colour and liveliness of the camp ground. We had a Tongan church group in over Christmas who serenaded us each evening and woke us each morning with their wonderful singing of carols and hymns. People have been very friendly and generous as well. Oh, and of course there is the Junior Ranger programme that they run here at Shakespear which keeps me busy. I issue booklets to the young people who then fill in the different sections by drawing pictures, answering questions, observe wildlife and generally become educated about life in a predator proof sanctuary. When they have completed their tasks, they return the booklets to me for marking and then they get a badge in return. Some children take their roles as Junior Rangers quite seriously, but also add much fun to the camp atmosphere and they always call out “Hi” to me as they pass me by.

We have been persuaded to stay on a little (actually a lot!) longer than we had originally planned and at this stage we shall be leaving here after Waitangi weekend which will mean we leave around the 10th of February. But we have also been conned had our arms twisted committed to coming back for next summer from around the end of November through to the end of March. Having the odd one or two of these helped in making up our minds.