Archive for February, 2015

Waharau, Matata and whakatane

February 26, 2015

Waharau is one of our favourite Auckland Regional Parks and again it did not disappoint.  It’s a lovely spot not too far from Kaiaua where Bill & Roy set out the net one afternoon to hopefully catch some flounder.  After dragging the net back in in the wee hours, the haul was  3 flounder, one yellowtail and one rather large stingray, enough for a meal for us all.  It was our first try at preparing stingray/skate wings, I had tried them before in Singapore but it was a new experience to cook them.  Even though it was a nice enough meal, I don’t think I would bother repeating the exercise as there are plenty of much nicer fish in the sea to eat.  The mussels collected from just off Waharau though are truly delicious, with mussels for entree two nights in a row.

After just three nights at Waharau we decided to press on otherwise we would run out of time to get to Hawkes Bay. Our first stop was to be at Kopu where we had arranged for a hydraulic firm to look at the troublesome stabiliser jack.  It turns out that it has a slight bend in the spike which will necessitate a new one to be built but after a quick discussion we decided not to hold up Bill & Estelle  and we would try and get it fixed further along the line, so with that in mind we pressed on and headed straight to Matata where we found Jim & Judy parked up at the DoC camp there.  Bill & Estelle arrived the following day to join us.   We had three nights at Matata, managing in the days there to catch up with Keith & Deb, who live just along the road and spent a lovely afternoon with them catching up on all their news. I also rang my brother John who lives just out of Whakatane to say we would be passing through on our way East and arranged a time to catch up on Monday.

But of course, our tentative plans were to go awry again.  Bill & Estelle had decided not to go on to Hawkes Bay anymore, so plan B was formulated.  Then Plan C (or was that D) started to come together, John rang to ask if we would be interested in house/farm/dog/garden/chook/ sitting for 10 days as he and Jude are heading to Melbourne for a break later in the week.  It did not take too much discussion to figure out that that was a reasonable plan so off to Whakatane we headed.  We bade farewell to Jim & Judy and Bill & Estelle at Matata and headed into Whakatane which is where we are now and will be for the next week or two.  

Of course, I forgot to take any photos of us at either Waharau or Matata, I am obviously becoming very slack in this aspect of blogging life.    

Being parked up here at John’s gives us a chance to get a few more chores done – although they do seem to be never ending!  One pressing matter was to attend to the kitchen tap (faucet to you foreigners!) which had developed a leak and had become a bit wobbly.  So I went off to the motorhome shop to purchase a replacement, but who do I find parked at the RV centre but Jim & Judy.  Apparently the car park area is a parking area for NZMCA members.  After a quick catch up, I purchased a new tap and then headed off into town to get a bit of shopping done, only to meet up with Bill & Estelle in the supermarket carpark!  They had stayed in Ohope the previous night and were just stocking the larder before heading off back north. Another quick catch up before onto my next job.  Whilst we are parked up for a while we are taking the opportunity to remove the front drivers and passenger seats  and have them recovered as they are starting to show a bit of wear & tear.  Off to see an upholsterer to get a quote.  Then comes the hard part of choosing material, and how we want them recovered.  But more of that later.

The replacement of the tap was expected to be a simple swap over, but oh no, not in our case. First the old tap turned out to be a bit stubborn and did not want to come out, then the new tap turned out to be a smaller fitting that the old one, this was only discovered after hooking up all the pipework!  John then suggested that they try and repair the old tap…..

“This goes in here.  No? here I think!”

A compromising position???

After some time, and yes John, you did manage to wind me up and trick me into thinking you were replacing my shiny stainless tap head with an old plastic shower head! the old tap was fixed and back in place and the new tap returned to the shop.   Only should I tell you fellas that the mixer is now opposite of what it should be?  Turn the tap to the cold position and hot comes out and vice versa!!!!

Sod’s Law

February 20, 2015

It was all going so well, or so we thought. First the good news, Roy got a clearance from the specialist and does not need another check for 2 years. Phew. After that good news, things seemed to start to unravel slightly. Sunday night we stayed at the Papakura Club as we were meeting up with some of the old crew for dinner and as well, Bill & Estelle were joining us in their van for a planned jaunt together to the Hawkes Bay. Monday morning and we had a few minor chores to attend to in and around so off in the car we headed down the road. We had not travelled more than a kilometre when we noticed a man collapsed on the side of the road, it looked like he was having some kind of fit. We quickly came to a halt, leapt out of the car to see what we could do. First we turned him into the recovery position then reassured him to keep him relatively calm whilst I talked to the emergency services. He totally non responsive, the ambulance crew arrived promptly and quickly got him sorted. It seems he was in a diabetic coma as after they gave him a couple of doses of glucose he slowly started to come round although still very disoriented and incoherent. I can tell you from a spectators view, it is not a pleasant experience so can only imagine how terrible it must have been for him. We left him in the experts care to resume our tasks.

We were back on track with our errands but of course from there nothing went smoothly, what should have taken just a few minutes ended up taking us from one side of Auckland to the other as well as taking up most of the day. Never mind, eventually we returned back to the van, hooked up the car ready to head off. Oops, no, that’s not going to happen anytime soon as one of the hydraulic stabiliser jacks refused to retract. After much debate, some heavy levering, the car jack was utilised and eventually we were on our way. By this time it was after 4pm when got underway, just a quick trip to the petrol station was required. We had made a reconnoiter trip to the petrol station earlier in the day to make sure the access was easy for us, as well as filling up the RAV. Between visits the price had leapt 4c/litre, not much you may think but when you are putting 150+litres into the van it does add up after time!

Finally we were on the motorway, along with all the other afternoon traffic but we were soon at the bottom of the Bombay Hills ready to exit to head across Kaiaua way, but oh no, directly in front of us were two Police cars coming to a halt near the exit and quickly directing traffic away from the exit. Apparently a major accident had occurred and they were closing the road. So what to do? We exited at Pokeno and stopped to reassess our position. We decided bugger this and headed back to Auckland to Ardmore Airport where there is a NZMCA parking area. We knew Bill & Estelle were there for the night so we surprised them with our arrival.

Tuesday after breakfast we started our routine of packing up ready to head off, when……… know what’s coming next don’t you? Hmm, when putting down the awning one of the arms came off the side of the van!!! To keep the story brief, after many men making suggestions and having a go at repairs (which included lifting carpet in the bedroom area and cutting an access hole in the floor to see where the screws on the outside of the van would appear on the inside), we took the van to a repair shop down the road where the nice man did the repairs needed. Back to Ardmore to pick up the car, hook it up and ready to go….well nearly. It seems the pin for the shackle that attaches the safety chain to the van had magically disappeared. Shit. Heavy sigh, plan B it will have to be, the plan was for me to race off in the RAV to get a replacement shackle, but first we had to unhook the car. Just as we about to do this another fellow motorhomer came to the rescue, he just so happened to have a spare brand new shackle compete with pin. Yay, we were on our way at last, well nearly, just a brief stop at the dump station to empty the necessary tanks and to top up with fresh water.

Oh, and in amongst all this, one of the new chairs we had only taken delivery the previous week had developed a fault, which required many telephone calls and much patience before the company decided yes, they would replace it. But a new chair would not be available until later in the week. Oh well, we would only be an hour or so away and we could return the chair and swap it for a new one.

We arrived at Waharau late on Tuesday afternoon where we quickly set ourselves up in the lovely camp ground with Bill & Estelle parked up alongside us, here we will stay for a couple of days and hopefully get a few flounder as well.

Tomorrow is another sunny day.

Farewell Shakespear

February 18, 2015

He aha te mea nui?
He tangata.
He tangata.
He tangata.

What is the most important thing?
It is people,
it is people,
it is people.

This really sums up our time at Shakespear, nothing further needs to be said, except to say thank you and see you all again at the end of the year.

Final week at Shakespear

February 13, 2015

All good things must come to an end eventually and so it does with our time at Shakespear which of course means a flurry of activity to complete all the jobs that we had been meaning to get round to but always said that we can do that tomorrow.

One of the jobs was to replace a broken gas strut that raises the base of our bed so we can access storage. One of the struts had given up working so the first job was to remove the dud one to see if we could get a replacement. Hmmm, that proved a little more difficult than anticipated however after some searching we did find a set of new ones that would do the job.
But of course things were not as simple as we would like as access to the base of the strut was nigh on near impossible to reach without becoming a contortionist. As well, extra long bits for the screw driver were also required which we did not have but a quick visit to the Rangers tool shed and the right equipment was found. Access is a little difficult as our water tank is situated under the bed with just a small gap only big enough for a very small hand to reach down the side of the tank between it and the base. It’s not exactly spacious on either side of the bed to be able to position yourself comfortably either. Also adding to the hassle was the requirement to keep the bed base safely propped open whilst trying to work underneath. Frederick came over to see if he could lend a hand, or was that a back?!



After lots of noise, even the odd swear word uttered, the job was completed with all standing back to admire their handiwork, but oooops, it seems it pays to measure twice before attaching the strut to the base of the bed as if one side is at a different angle to the other, well, the bed becomes a bit wonky. A quick re measure and re screw, and voila, we now have a bed base that is easily raised.

Thursday and we head across the city to help Antony move out of his house, most of his gear was going into storage as he does not need it straight away. Luckily for him, his big brother Simon has a storage unit which had enough room in it for a bit more gear to be added to it. Antony has temporarily moved in with his cousin Sarah and her family until his new place is sorted. That was a busy hot day, what with a van to be hired and picked up, furniture packed then moved to be put into storage, a bit of cleaning to be done , the van returned to the depot before we make the slow trip back across the bridge along with the rest of the in the end of work day traffic.

Friday was Waitangi Day, a public holiday, and Steve & Les returned to stay for the weekend. We had another great weekend of relaxing, reading, swimming, fishing and of course eating great food and quaffing the odd vino whilst putting the world to rights. A couple of weeks ago we had found and ordered new chairs for the van, similar to our previous ones of the recliner/swivel style, however these new ones have just a slightly smaller profile therefore fit neatly into position. We got the phone call on Saturday to say that the chairs had arrived at the shop in Wairau Park so off in the car I went to pick them up, with fingers crossed that they would both fit into the back of the RAV. The chairs came disassembled in large boxes which just fitted into the back of the RAV with all seats down. Roy & Steve made short work of assembling the chairs, with only the odd glance at the assembly instructions!!!

IMG_0309It seems like Roy’s been on his knees a bit this week!

IMG_0312voila! A new chair.

The other job to be done was to fit the ‘Eyebrows’ to the van. These are essentially a small gutter which fit over the top edge of the windows which enable water to run off to the side rather than stream down the windows. We have had the special guttering for probably six month or more, but never seemed to have a decent stretch of weather (or inclination) to be able to put them on. This was our opportunity, and once the job was started, it did not take too long for it to be quickly complted. Now all we need is some rain to test it out!!

The fishing was not particularly successful over the weekend, the quantity of fish caught was not a problem, just that most of the fish was undersized.
But luckily for us, Bruce, our trusty Ranger, turned up with some of his catch to share with us.



We could have stayed on longer as camp hosts but we felt we needed to get going again before the grass really started to grow under our wheels. Oh right, it did rather!

So on Tuesday it’s time for us to move out of our parking space, mow the grass and make the place look respectable before we leave. (If you look very closely you will see the ‘eyebrows’ over the front windows!

It’s also an opportune time to give both the car and the van a good wash down and pack everything away properly as after being in one place for some time it’s easy to become a little lax about such things.

Rather than leave the park hostless, we asked Frederick if he was interested in taking over from us as he had just finished a stint as camp host for DoC on Great Barrier Island. With emails to and fro, forms filled in, checks done it was all sorted, he is taking over from us as camp host. We had a weeks overlap so Fred could learn the ropes before we left.

It’s almost as if someone has flicked a switch at the park as we have gone from a full camp every day to just a handful of people wandering through. Now that schools are back for the year, things will settle into the pre Christmas patterns of mainly overseas tourists in during the week, with locals filling the place up at the weekends which will continue through until Easter and the remaining months of fine weather. We wish Fred all the best for his stint at the camp and hope he enjoys it a such as we have…….as guess what? Yep, we will be back at the end if the year to take on the hosting role again!

IMG_0323 farewell Shakespear, the smiley face still visible on the hill.


February 4, 2015

Steve & Les came back to join us for the weekend as they had left their tent and boat all set up ready for a weekend of relaxing. They arrived on Friday evening in time for dinner which we enjoyed sitting outside watching the sun set. An earlyish night was in order as the boys were planning to head out first thing in the morning for a spot of fishing, however, that was not to be as during the wee small hours, the heavens opened and for the first time in well over a month we had some rain.

Saturday morning over a leisurely late breakfast of Steve’s home cured bacon, free range eggs with mushrooms and tomatoes, the head Ranger from here at Shakespear arrived at our door carrying with him a chilly bin. Bruce had not been put off by the rain and had gone out fishing with a mate in the very early hours of the morning to catch the dawn change of light as they thought it would be good fishing. They caught two kingfish, one weighing in at 8kg and the other 11kg. In the chilly bin was one side of one of the fish that Bruce brought down to generously give to us. Well, that set the wheels in motion, Roy & Steve decided it was time for them to head out and try their luck fishing whilst Leslie & Bernice set about sorting out a menu for dinner utilising the Kingfish.

Later in the day the fellas returned having caught lots of snapper but only bringing one home that was large enough to keep. Meanwhile, fellow motorhomer Frederick had arrived to spend some time with us but more of that later.

IMG_0304 Frederick’s bus, our van and Steve & Les’ tent.

It was time to portion up the fish, some was portioned up ready to use in an entree, 5 large steaks were cut for the main course and the remaining two largest pieces we put aside for tomorrow.

Steve portioning and trimming the steaks. The entree portions of fish are marinating in the glass dish at the rear.

Entree was a ginger marinated kingfish which we served over a salad of spinach, cabbage and grated raw beetroot. We can report that it was particularly delicious and we all agreed that that dish was a success.


We had our main well under control and we were just about to start cooking the fish when a contingent of about 10 vehicles rolled into camp. First of all we had to check the new arrivals in and make sure they were welcomed, there was around 32 young men in the group which we had to admit made us think, oh no, we could be in for a lively night. However, it turned out they were the Black Sticks – the NZ National Hockey Team who were in camp as part of a training and team building weekend.

Back to main course, the Kingfish steaks were entrusted to Roy & Steve to cook on the BBQ whilst Leslie and Bernice prepared the rest of the meal. A wonderful citrus mash was made along with a pickle ginger mint & cucumber salad which we enlivened with a few extras. We also made a warm salad of roasted red pepper, tomato and corn.


We all agreed that this meal in particular was a winner in all respects. Every last morsel of every dish was finished off and all plates scraped clean, this will certainly be remembered and put into our favourite, must make again list.

Time to sit back now and enjoy dessert. Dessert you ask? Yes, well, eye candy counts as dessert doesn’t it? Previously we have reported that in the evenings all the children come out into the central area to play cricket or football and the like. On this occasion some of the kids started a cricket game and one by one, the Black Stick members joined in until there was a large group playing. After some time, a game of touch rugby started, soon enough most of the Black Sticks were playing, the two side distinguished by shirts, or no shirts – aka eye candy!!! A wonderful end to the day 😊


Steve & Les went home on Sunday, again leaving their tent set up and the boat behind as they will join us again this weekend as Friday is yet another public holiday. We look forward to another weekend of fun, swimming, fishing and of course eating some fabulous food!


February 1, 2015

To wrap up long overdue items here are a number of topics that got left behind of late.


When is a beach not a beach?

There is a track at the rear of the camp leading to Pink Beach,  Well worth a visit but somewhat of a misnomer.  One arrives at the top of the cliff to find a set of steps placed amongst the trunk and root system of a Pohutukawa tree.  This then leads down to a papa rock shelf which at high tide is completely covered.  Not a grain of sand in sight.  Further to the right at low tide there is some evidence of sand and pink shells.  Not quite what one expects when going to the beach.



New Zealand is a land formed at the intersection of tectonic plates.  Over the millennia it has been submerged and then resurfaced, wracked by volcanic activity and earthquakes.

The strata to the right of Pink Beach is fairly standard horizontal layers of rock laid down over long periods of time



However to the right is is an entirely different picture.  There has been a centre of activity which has caused extreme folding, uplift and slip faulting to occur over a very short distance.

This first photo gives a general view with the subsequent ones showing more detail.


From left to right we see a piece of the horizontal strata has ben bent upward and then it is interrupted  by a piece which has been thrust up into a loop so that the strata have  been twisted and deflected.  the left hand side has gone past the vertical but the right has not been so steeply deformed.


this is a closer photo of the arch loop


next there is a a section where the strata sinks again but not to the original level and a horizontal s shape is formed.   The various holes formed are where the rock has been weakened or transformed during the process into a weaker form which has ben worn away by sea action.


A very interesting structure in total in a very sort length of cliff face.


In several places around the head of the Whangaparaoa Peninsular there are cables running out to sea.  These are remnants of a degaussing facility which the Navy had for degaussing ships during and after the Second World War.  All that remains now are a number of old buildings and some of the cables still in place on the seabed.

Leading own the cliff not far from Pink Beach is the remains of the land end of one set of cables.  The cables were contained in the boxing down the cliff.  At th base there is the remnants of cable jointing structures


and then there is the cables themselves covered in concrete leading into the sea.



When we went to see the grandchildren before Xmas we spnt a couple of days in Oamaru.  Interesting to look at it having been away for a couple of years.  The town looked prosperous, several new businesses and restaurants.  But one of the most noticeable  changes was the improvement in the Harbour St area.  A host of new shops and galleries to ad to those that have been there over the years.  Here are som photos at random of some of these establishments.

With my love of books it was pleasing to see an addition to the bookshops with this one specialising in travel and adventure books.  It is Adventure Books

Immediately inside the door is this replica of the boat that Shackletion  used to reach South Georgia Island after his party were marooned on Elephant Island following the loss of their ship Endurance in the Antarctic pack ice.


The shop is well stocked with an extensive range of books and memorabilia.


No visit is to the area is complete without a visit to Donna Demente’s Grainstore Gallery.


nother of the new stores is Presence on Harbour, stocking all sorts of interesting toys, artworks and as advertised groovy stuff


Further down a new gallery has artists in residence on the upper floor


One of the most interesting small galleries is one dedicated to glass works.  Three of the original works displayed are shown here


of course a mandatory stop for some is the NZ Whisky Cellar Door where the residual stocks of the Dunedin Wilson’s Distillery are still available bit I would sugest rapidly diminishing.


Lastly an unusual kite spotted in another gallery space


Along with the above there is a bakery, pottery, limestone carver, Slightly Foxed bookstore, Michael O’Brien bookbinder and of course the Criterion Hotel.

In the same area is Steampunk HQ which deserves a blog on its own but will have to await another trip south.


Just an interesting set of Ladies and Gents toilets