Archive for May, 2016

Tauranga and escapees

May 26, 2016

We seem to be becoming creatures of habit by revisiting places we have been many times before. To back track a little,  we left Matata Friday morning and headed to Tauranga and straight to the dump station at the airport before parking up at the Marine Reserve at Sulphur Point, I think we may have done this before, many, many, times before in fact.  We decided that this short visit to Tauranga was going to be catch up time with people we haven’t seen for a while, and as it turns out fellow escapees from Oamaru! 

First, we met up with Dave & Di whom we knew from our Oamaru days when they had the wonderful restaurant Casa Nova House.  David is one fantastically innovative chef and Di ran an amazing front of house.  Their restaurant was well known throughout the country as a place to go to for good food, service and ambience.  We had previously met up with them when they were in Whangarei but we knew they had recently built in Papamoa.  We gave them a call and yes, they were home so come on round they said.  And what do we find?  that they have in fact sold their stunning modern house and were in the midst of packing up ready to move out this week.  It was fantastic to catch up with them and their son Hadley and all their exciting news and plans.  We spent all afternoon talking and laughing and sharing ideas.  We ended up going back to the van late afternoon but with the promise of them coming round for a combined effort dinner in our humble abode later that evening.  

On our way back to the van we thought we would call in on one of those semi retirement style village places, one that is touted for the 50+ age group and seems particularly popular amongst fellow motorhomers as they have parking and garaging for motorhomes.  We have had lots of comments made to us recently about the fact that we do not have a ‘base’ and what if…..well, you get the drift.  Not that we are into peer pressure or are into keeping up with the Joneses but sometimes you get a bit of a niggle in the back of your mind that maybe, just maybe…………….We did call in for a very quick look but we have to say that for many reasons it’s definitely not something that appeals to us at all so we can put that niggle to rest.

Dave, Di and Hadley came for the impromptu dinner which, between us,  I have to say was a pretty amazing but simple meal which is what happens when avid foodies get together.  We talked and talked  well into the evening about lifestyles, life, what we wanted or didn’t want or need, and came to the conclusion that we have an awful lot in common and share many, many values & ethos.  And of course we were talking so much that we all forgot to take any photos.  However, we really look forward to meeting up with them again once they return from their annual trip to the UK.

Saturday we caught up with my niece Jenna and baby Isla and enjoyed our morning spent with them.  Then it was off to lunch and to meet up with more fellow ex-Oamaruvians, this time Susan and Dave – I know, another Dave!   Sue owned a hydroponic lettuce growing business which supplied us at the Lodge (as well as David & Di’s restaurant).  It was another fabulous meal, this time at the Elizabeth Street Pantry in Tauranga, and again we talked and laughed the afternoon away before they too came back to the van for a look and a chat before we bade them farewell, until next time. 

Little did we know then that next time we would meet would be sooner than any of us thought.  Sunday morning Roy & I thought we would go back to the Elizabeth St Pantry for breakfast, and who should we meet up with there again? None other than Susan and David! A totally unscheduled coincidence to meet up again as it was a spur of the moment decision for us to go out for breakfast and not something we would normally do on moving day.   Over a lovely long breakfast we talked, laughed and schemed and again came to the same conclusion we had with Dave & Di – that we have a lot in common with many shared values.  Thanks for the laughs you two, we look forward to meeting up again soon at “Porpoise Spit”!

All in all a great weekend spent with those of us who can call ourselves ex-Oamaruvians/escapees and with all of whom we share a similar Joie de Vivre. 

We left Tauranga on Sunday to arrive in Kopu near Thames where the van is being repaired  after the hiccup when the German tourist backed into us.  

The van in the repair shop

We are in a motel until repairs are completed which will hopefully be completed by the end of the week.  

Seen around and about in Thames this  brightly coloured staircase

We did endeavour to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow but I think someone else got there first.

We will be heading north again soon with our next scheduled stop to be at Whakaiprau where we will be housesitting again for Jacky & Chris until mid July, then the winterless north beckons.

Sad News

May 24, 2016

It is with much sadness that we must tell you that fellow motorhomer, Judy Milne passed away on Saturday morning.  

We first met Judy & Jim way back when we first started this motorhome lifestyle when we were in Gore and spent lovely time with them at Fortrose in the Catlins at the bottom of the South Island which you can read about here.  We have met up with them at numerous times over the ensuing years and spent some lovely time together, including our trip together to Cape Reinga and points inbetween including   Waharau Kaiaua Matai Bay Cape Reinga Rarawa Kaitaia

Judy was one of the first people in NZ to get a heart pacemaker when she was a child in the late 1950’s and subsequently had many more pacemakers fitted as technology improved over the years.  

We will miss her and send our condolences and thoughts to Jim. 

Hakuna Matata

May 17, 2016

The past week at Matata has flown by with very little achieved but we have been busy with people.

Someone with a sense of humour adjusted the sign on the approach to Matata

Brian & Marj headed off early in the week , we miss their company and in particular their cheerful disposition and positive attitude to life but we look forward to meeting up with them again in Northland later in the year.   My big sister Sue & her hubby Jeff arrived on Friday morning to spend the weekend with us.  They have recently bought a small campervan and are still coming to terms with all the intricacies of their van, we were able to help them sort out a couple of things.   Not long after Sue & Jeff arrived, we also had a visit from my niece Jenna to introduce  her new baby daughter Isla to her Great Uncle and Aunty.  Another niece Amy came along as well, as well as their father Keith so it was a great day of catching up for all of us with lots and lots of chatter and laughter.   Of course I forgot to take a single photo as I was too busy playing with Isla and catching up on everyone’s news but here is a picture of Isla wearing one of the cardigans I have knitted recently.

We spent a lovely weekend with Sue & Jeff,  we all went into Whakatane over the weekend and caught up with brother John as well as getting a bit of shopping done.  Unfortunately the weather was not cooperative over the weekend for us to be able to get the kite out to do any fishing but we hope it will change later this week.

Sue & Jeff in front of their van

Although we are booked in for another week here at Matata we may head off in the next day or so as we are due at Kopu near Thames next Monday for the repairs to the van to be done, and we wouldn’t want to rush getting there would we? 

Bay of Plenty

May 9, 2016

The trip through the Waioeka Gorge was pleasant with some lovely scenery and interesting lay-bys.  They are well set up and very tidy 

Rest area

We didn’t travel too far, just into Opotiki where the NZMCA have a new park. Our first port of call in Opotiki was to the Two a Fish Cafe, which has delicious food and even better coffee. As this is a newly opened park, we were unsure of how long we could stay, on looking it up on their web site it said “temporary overnight parking”. Well, that’s helpful – not! What is that supposed to mean? After looking through the register, we decided that a couple of nights should be ok and that I would email the NZMCA for clarification.

We indeed received a response a few days later… For “temporary overnight” parking it comes down to a judgement call depending on the size of the site and current capacity at the time; however generally it means you are welcome to stay on a temporary basis, i.e. 2 or 3 nights per stay. At some parks, like Taupo Airport, it may be ok to stay for up to one week at a time. However if, for example, members were staying at a “temporary overnight” park for a month or more that would be in breach of the term “temporary” and then length of stay restrictions on that park may be introduced.  

We often define the length of stay provisions in the travel directory due to resource consent conditions, or Board policies due to on-going issues with park users. Where possible, we try to keep site restrictions as liberal as necessary to ensure members can enjoy parks without too many rules. Temporary overnight parking offers that flexibility.

I hope that has clarified it!!!

Whilst in Opotiki we heard that my nephew Stuart and family were in Whakatane at brother John’s place for the night, so we decided that an early start (eek!)the following morning meant we could head down to catch up with them and to meet the latest addition to their family, our great nephew Mack.

Emma, Stuart with Mack, Maggie & Toby in front
It was great to catch up with them and all their news.  After the visit, we were back in Opotiki for the afternoon

Parked up in Opotiki
After our two nights, we headed off to travel the huge distance of 10kms, to a reserve at Waiotahi, where we heard that there were pipi’s (shellfish) aplenty. We gathered a bucket of them and one of the touring party threw a line in the water to wet his bait!!

Early morning view from the bedroom window of Roy fishing
From here our next port of call was a further 30kms at Ohope at a reserve near a boat ramp.  We spent a couple of nights here relaxing and even tried another go at fishing

The fishing was not terribly successful, however, we did put out the net a couple of times and managed to get fish for dinner.

And the other view taken from the same spot looking back at the van

Time to leave here and head for Matata, just 40kms away.  We have been here many times, looking back through the diary it seems we have been here at about this time of the year every year since 2013.   You can read about those visits here, here, and here.   Uh oh, does this mean we are becoming creatures of habit?!

We are now at Matata where we shall stay for the next two weeks.  Brian & Marj leave us here as they continue on to Auckland, it’s been lovely having their company on our travels.  We shall no doubt meet up with them again in the north.  

Catch up

May 3, 2016


Some random photos to catch up and the latest move from Gisborne to Manganuku Bridge via Matawhai.


Parked in Evers-Swindell Park outside Clive, a very quiet site well worth a stay.



Carrying on the tradition with an early morning workout.


These fungi were found on the Golf Course by the NZMCA Parking area in Napier.  I believe they are members of the ink cap family and think they may be edible.  Not sure so will leave them alone until I can find out for sure.




These two have been cut open to show their outside and inside.  The interesting feature of this fungus is that it is deliquescent.  That is it absorbs water from any source and liquefies its interior.  This can be seen in progress in the sample on the right.  The black tinge in the bottom of the cap is already affected.  The name ink cap comes from the fact that the liquefied interior can be used as ink.  If anyone can advise their edibility I would be interested.



Anzac Day parade on The Parade at Napier.  Looking out to the East through the Sound Shell


The sails of the twin hull whaka as it sails past in the dawn.



A posy of poppies at one of the intersections in Napier


This pine tree outside the Napier RSA is from a seed from a pine tree at Lone Pine as the plaque below explains





Now Don here is a question for you.  What breed of sheep are these? There have been a number of flocks spotted by us in the northern part of the Wairarapa and southern Hawkes Bay.




These three photos show how to effectively disguise a pumping station on the banks of the river




Even this pohutukawa in the main street tries a skirt for modesty!


And just to bring things right up to date here is  photo from today (Monday 2 May).  We moved from Gisborne to Matawhai this morning and on a nostalgic note paused for lunch and to take a photo of the Matawhai Hotel.  In memory of trips from Tokoroa to Gisborne to the Matawhero Hotel and Matawhero Vineyard to collect wine supplies during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  First stop on the road through was at the Matawhai Hotel for pie and a beer in the Public Bar.  Sorry to report the Hotel is now closed so we had to forgo the pie and the beer.


We continued on to the Manganuku Bridge DOC Camp for the night. 




I seem to remember that a photo similar to this was posted last time we were here, but just in case this is a photo of the old Manganuku bridge.



This is a lovely place to stay to break the journey between Gisborne and Opotiki in the Waioeka Gorge.  There are gabion tables and chairs and also camp fire hearths all set up complete with billy hangers (if someone knows the correct name let us know)  to hold your kettle, pot and/or utensils.

Rocks or Fossils

May 3, 2016

When walking back from Aramoana to Pourerere I came across a collection of rocks that reminded me of the Moeraki Boulders and also a whole group that reminded me of Ammonites and large fossilised turret shells.  I did not know if these are in fact fossils or just vivid imagination on my part.  So here is a gallery with my interpretation.  No doubt someone can give a more informed opinion on these ‘fossils’


This one looks very similar to a Moeraki Boulder.  There were quite a number of these ranging from perfectly spherical to egg shaped to cylindrical with spherical end caps.  Where they had broken apart they were stratified to some degree but not to the same degree as Moeraki boulders.  I think they are accreted boulders very similar to Moeraki boulders but formed in different strata.



This photo and the following three show different views of a single rock which I believe to be an ammonite or a similar creature having a coiled form with segmentation around a core.  It appears to be formed with some hints of a snail type shape.  Or perhaps it is just imagination!!!












This one has a spiral form much like a squat turret shell.   It was a bit difficult to get a good shot of the spiral form on the side and also to get a shot of the base.  But for want of a better description I would call it  a squat turret.


This one and the next  show a spiral segmented form like a flattened shell.  Hard to describe but there were quite a number with this form.


All of the above where found in an area of about 500 metres by 50 metres.  The ones shown are representative of a very large number of partial relics.  There may have been better examples and more types but I did not have the time to see more as the tide had turned and I wanted to get around the cliffs without being trapped.

Napier to Mahia to Gisborne

May 1, 2016

We left Napier on Tuesday morning ready to tackle the hills to make our destination for the next few days, Mahia Peninsular.  We headed off following Brian & Marj at a respectable distance to let traffic past, up and over the hills, some of them long slow climbs, which is no problem for our grunty engine.  Brian found a good pull over for both of our rigs in time for morning tea, a good time to stretch the legs and check out the wild chickens that seem to frequent a number rest areas in New Zealand!  

Then it was time to continue on our way, and it wasn’t too long before we arrived in Wairoa in time for a lunch break alongside the river.  Wairoa has had a bit of a checkered history,  but these days it is looking prosperous and a tidy wee town.

Wairoa from the bridge looking back onto the town.

Next stop was at Mahia Peninsular, we were to park at a reserve on the northern side of the Peninsular.  We arrived mid afternoon and quickly set ourselves up in the reserve next to the bollarded area set aside for tenters……or so we thought! More on that shortly.

Roy and I headed out for a drive around the coast as far as we could go  before the roads ran out, to check out the landscape. There are large rock shelves all around the coastline on the northern side of the peninsular, they are quite spectacular at low tide, showing off their formation for all to see.

No,these are not man made formations, all are done by Mother Nature. 

Back to the van, time for dinner and then settle down for the evening.  I should add here that there were four other vans parked up plus one small tourist vehicle.  However, our peace was to be interrupted by a French tourist knocking on our door.  She had just been approached by a Council employee stating that we should ALL be parked in the small  area behind the bollards, and if we did not move then we would be up for a $200 fine! Hmmm, we asked ourselves why did the council employee approach the only vehicle that was obviously a rental and ask them to relay the news?  And where were the signs indicating that we could only park in the small bollarded area? Harumph, mutter,  mumble…….so in the dark, we all packed up and crammed into the “designated” parking are, an exercise in juggling vehicles around tents and cars, squeeze in we did.  Well, bother that, tomorrow we will all leave. And leave we all did, up over more long windy uphill roads to Gisborne.

We have been to Gisborne before which you can read about here

Our intention was to travel up around East Cape, however, these plans were also about to change as the Gisborne Camping Pass and parking sites are only available over the summer months, and with very little choice in other parking options we again decided to change our plans by staying in Gisborne for a couple of night and instead then head  through the Waioeka Gorge to Opotiki. However,  these plans were also to change slightly as Marj was not well and needed to visit the hospital a couple of times.  She is much improved now and we intend to continue on our journey tomorrow.  

The bonus extra days here in Gisborne meant we could check out the Gisborne Market on Saturday morning, which we did, again filling the  fridge and pantry with some goodies!  The weather has been lovely with clear blue skies most days, and warm temperatures as well.  

Map of East Cape