Archive for November, 2019

Uretiti and a birthday

November 30, 2019

It’s just an hour and a half drive from Kerikeri to Uretiti and we were on our way in good time. The roads were very busy and we also noted that the roads in general were very bumpy, as items that usually stay in place as we travel were tossed off their perch as we meandered along the road, however, we arrived in good time to get our favourite spot at Uretiti.

Parked up, but where are Keith & Deb?

There they are, hidden by the trees.

Someone (the younger member of the touring party) was having a birthday so with that in mind we headed to McLeods Brewery & Pizza Barn in Waipu to meet up with a couple of friends for dinner. Jacky & Chris came over from Whakapirau, Mark (who shares a birthday with me) & Glynis came from Ruakaka and of course there was Keith & Deb along with Roy and I making up the party. And in my usual manner I was too busy chatting and catching up to even think about a photo but it was a lovely evening.

The following morning the fellows were up early (5am) to head down to the beach for a fish over the morning change of light.

Keith’s catch

Roy caught three snapper as well but to add to his species collection he also caught these two.

Gurnard and mackerel

The gurnard was had for dinner and the mackerel became bait.

The fishing bug was back so another 5am start saw them back on the beach the following morning, again with good success

Keith’s collection

And Roy also had a good catch,also increasing his species catch

Snapper and a starfish

The starfish had eaten the bait completely and was well and truly hooked, however it was soon released back into the sea to live another day.

Encouraged by the catches they also decided to head out for a fish over the evening change of light with great success.

Meanwhile Roy & I went into Whangarei to catch up with Gayle, whom we originally met on our very first summer in our van on the shores of Lake Dunstan near Cromwell a few years ago now. And we subsequently have met up over the years, tripped around together and generally stayed in touch.

The selfies are getting better!!

We had a lovely time catching up over lunch before we all headed off in our separate directions, until next time.

Then it was back to meet up with Mark & Glynis as they were joining us for drinks, however I again forgot to take any photos but we had a lovely time chatting over drinks and nibbles before they headed on home. Not long after that we were joined by Gary & Marg as they were coming to watch us have our last fish off the beach before we left.

Getting ready to send out the drone

Marg, Gary and Roy waiting patiently

And another successful fish it was with a couple of beauties landed which we sent off with Gary & Marg for them to consume.

Keith 8lb beauty

Roys 11lb specimen – apologies for the terrible photo quality, it was late, dark and getting cold!

Our last few days at Uretiti were fishing heaven, with the freezer full again, it’s time to move on.

Oh and just so you don’t miss out, here’s the latest Callum picture….already showing good signs of a love of books.

Callum reading

Moving on

November 26, 2019

All good things must come to an end as it was time to leave Rarawa; the lovely beach, the fishing, the relaxation….but needs must.

Leaving the white silica sands of Rarawa Beach, until next year!

Before we left and went our separate ways we all had a final brunch together in the glorious morning sun.

L-R: Keith, Deb, Roy, Bernice, Glen with Carol taking the photo

The exit gate at the camp was potentially a little tricky to exit as there is a large ditch either side of the entrance which was eroding away making the entrance narrower. In the days prior to our leaving, a car had crashed into the ditch, it had been retrieved out of the ditch but left on the side of the road right by the entrance. I went ahead of Roy to see him out of the gate safely and we would hook the car on the back after he had exited.

Sign at the entrance

The entrance and road in to the camp

It was actually an easy exit but as we have a long wheel base it’s always best to check. Safely hooked up we ventured into Kaitaia to dump the tanks, fill with gas and water before spending the night at the RSA. The next morning we were off again, we weren’t going too far though, just to the NZMCA park at a Tokerau beach for a couple of days. Glen & Carol were heading off to Matai Bay for a couple of weeks whereas we are now slowly working our way back down to Shakespear for our summer stint there.

And of course whilst at Tokerau, we just had to have a last fish, some good snapper were caught and as well Roy caught a good sized Kahawai to add to his varied species collection.

Roy with his Kahawai

This was smoked and became a lovely smoked fish pie for us to share.

We had just a few days at Tokerau Beach, visiting friends and generally catching our breath. We visited Jim at Ramp Road which is not too far away, and a very popular spot these days. We have stayed there in the past but these days prefer other options.

We were soon underway again after a few days, this time just as far as Kerikeri. We had planned to be at Kerikeri for a Saturday morning so we could all visit the very good market that is on every week. Our favourite German bread maker is there (hi Peter) and we love trying out new things that always seem to be on offer at the market.

Roy also managed to catch up with his cousin Stuart whilst we were in Kerikeri and we generally added to the locally economy through one thing or another, as we usually do. Soon it was time to farewell Kerikeri and head further south, the weather is glorious, summer is definitely on its way.

Rarawa part three

November 20, 2019

Not everything relates to fishing, the sea, beaches, sunshine……you get the picture, but the fish are still biting and in particular, onto Roys line. So much so I’ve been told that if he’s not careful, no one else will want to play with him soon if he keeps on winning!

In between fishing and Tuatua gathering I have not been idle by any stretch off the imagination as my hands have been busy knitting some winter items for Callum.

A few of the knitted items

I’ve already completed a couple of jerseys and hats for him as the weather starts to cool off in the UK, and I really enjoy keeping my hands busy.

And with a few scraps of wool I managed to make these as well

Mittens

And just in case you have forgotten what Callum looks like…

And he’s off, slow down mate, you are only 4 1/2 months old!

At the circus with Mum and cousin Olivia. The earmuffs mandatory!

Oh and two new teeth as well!

He’s growing so fast, but with video chats we get to talk to him regularly and it won’t be too long before we are back visiting him.

Now back to the fishing!

Rarawa part two

November 17, 2019

Fishing, fishing and more fishing, that’s how most days pan out, although it’s not just snapper we’ve been catching.

Left; Maori Chief (yes, that is it’s name), top right; Porae, bottom right; Trevally & Porae

And many thanx to my brother John for quickly identifying the fish we had never caught before i.e. Maori Chief and the Porae. I sent him a picture of each fish when they were caught and within minutes we had the reply and full answer. The Maori chief was returned to the sea to live another day as he is not good to eat whilst the Porae was filleted then the fillets were baked on the BBQ, a lovely eating fish it was too. Thanx John for your great knowledge and prompt responses.

But don’t be deceived, some very good snapper have also been caught.

Snapper or two

And that’s not to say there hasn’t been the odd line broken and lost nor a tangle or two to undo.

Some of you may have seen on the news that a Manta Ray was washed up on Rarawa Beach this week. It’s a very unusual occurrence, in fact it’s the first time that a Manta Ray has been washed up on a beach in NZ.

Glen lying in front of the ray to give you some idea of its size.

According to news reports it was over 4m across, very impressive and so pleased that we didn’t come across that in the water when swimming! A day or so later Roy found its liver on the beach after it had been autopsied by scientists, the liver alone measuring in at over 1.5m…and I’ve refrained from posting a picture of that for the sake of decency, you can thank me later. And I also declined Roy’s kind offer of bringing it back to cook up for liver and bacon breakfast🤢.

We’ve also been busy with adding little bits and pieces to the van, even after 8 1/2 years on the road we are still tweaking things. Parcels were delivered to the Kaitaia Post office where we collected them during the week.

First was a replacement fan blade for the bathroom, as after I cleaned the old fan most of the blades broke off. I blame our strong UV light here in NZ for the deterioration of the plastic.

New fan blades

We also got some covers for the wheels, again to protect them from the fierce NZ sun when we are parked up for any length of time.

Wheel covers

Next was some hardware for the flyscreen door, first a spring which when mounted automatically shuts the door once opened, which saves me having to remind Roy to shut the screen door behind him! The kit came with two springs to attach but after installing the one, the door snaps shut so quickly and ferociously we decided that one was enough. The Second item is a bar style handle which fits across the door, this will save people pushing on the screen material which eventually will tear over time plus it adds strength to the door .

Left, screen door bar handle, top right inside view, bottom right spring loaded door

Then there are the new rain gutter spouts, over the years we have made our own versions of thesewhich have served us well but it was time to get some proper ones.

Rain gutter spouts

I also bought a set of hangers that slide into the awning rail so I can hang my lights up at Christmas, it will make it so easy to hang the lights along the rollout awning rail without too much fuss or bother.

Hangers

And there has been some other major upgrades with some new 12v outlet points located into either side of the rear lockers. This is so we can power a bilge pump that we use to pump rain water that we catch into our tank. Previously we have run the wire in through a bedroom window which meant having to remove the insect screen from the window and to then have one of us always at the ready to plug/unplug it in to control the power. Modifications have been made and the pump is now firmly and permanently mounted at the bottom of a bucket with hose adaptors placed on the outside of the bucket to connect either a hose into the water tank or to use it with a shower attachment for use in a shower tent when appropriate. An on/off switch has also been installed which makes it so much easier to use.

Keith and Roy rewiring the pump

Oh and then there is the new 12v LED strip lighting that Keith gave to us which we have installed along the length of top of the slideout. It’s given us lovely ambient lighting inside the lounge area in the evenings without the glare of overhead lights.

We are constantly fine tuning things and as time goes by with new technologies and access to information, ideas and hardware becomes readily accessible there are always tweaks to be made to make life a little more pleasant.

Oh, we haven’t finished with Rarawa yet, part three is on its way!

Proud parents

November 10, 2019

We interrupt this regular broadcast for an important message, this time nothing to do with Motorhomes, where we’ve been, who we’ve seen, what we’ve been fishing or other escapades, this time it’s all to do with being proud parents.

We hasten to add that we are very proud of all our children, they are all wonderful people in their own right, each with their own great career and they all make valuable contributions to making a difference in this world. However, once in a while they get recognised for their work and efforts, and this exact thing happened to our son Antony at a recent Annual Police Awards night.

Award Trophy

There was also a certificate with a long citation explaining why he was given the award but we cannot publish what it says as some of the content is operational and still before the courts therefore not for public viewing. But it was very glowing in its entirety.

It’s nice to know that hard work is recognised and rewarded. We are thrilled for you Ants, well done.

Usual transmission will resume shortly.

Rarawa part one

November 6, 2019

Nearly caught up!

We’ve been coming to Rarawa now for a good many years, and we still never tire of the place. We’ve been here on our own and with various friends over the years making each visit memorable for one reason or another.

The route

We’ve set up camp in every part of the park, never parking in the same place twice, and this time is no exception, although we did move after a couple of days to hunker behind the flax to give us some protection from the cold southerly winds.

Three in a row and one across

We are on the right, Keith & Deb further along and Jim furtherest away with Carol & Glen facing toward the camera. Jim arrived a day or two after we had set ourselves up otherwise we may have set ourselves up slightly differently. But after a couple of days parked where we were initially parked, Jim too moved to be in the spot nearest the camera. Now we are perfectly fine and sheltered from most winds.

Set up in comfort

The fishing off the beach has also been very fruitful, with again Roy showing the others how to catch fish successfully! Something he has been reminded of frequently, all in good humour of course.

Keith taking out Roys line

I haven’t many pictures of the fish caught, I’m too busy helping to haul them all in to have time to take pictures.

The largest snapper (top) was 11lbs.

Besides, by the time they are ready to bring in the lines I am usually soaked after being in the tide collecting tuatuas. The fish go straight into the chilly bin packed with salt ice to keep the fish nice and cool ready to be filleted after a few hours of chilling, or even overnight, which them makes them much easier and nicer to fillet.

As I mentioned previously we have collected tuatuas. Tuatua (for our foreign readers) and according to Wikipedia are Paphies subtriangulata a species of edible bivalve clam known as tuatua in the Maori language, and are endemic to New Zealand. It is found on all three of the main New Zealand islands, buried in fine clean sand on ocean beaches.

The large shell is asymmetrical, with the hinge at one side. Its closest relative, the pipi, has a symmetrical shell.

Tuatua

If we go at low tide then you can pick them in shallow water, but with waves rolling in and splashing over me as I’m bent down scratching around in the sand for the shellfish, I usually come out fairly well soaked. The latest effort had me being completely bowled by the surf ending up either on my knees or on my bum, a sight greeted with much hilarity by all. Roy wasn’t immune, he too got bowled, and lost his grip on his shorts, mooning onlookers. But I did win the wet t shirt competition!!!

Ready to be shelled

After collecting them, we leave them in a bucket of clean sea water over night so that the shellfish purge themselves of any sand, then open them the next day with a blunt edged knife to prise open the shells. Some people steam them open, but I prefer to open them with a knife so they don’t get cooked twice. A slow process but many hands make light work as we sit around the bucket opening the shells and chatting away.

Job done

I then chop up the tuatua to make into fritters, and use very little else to make up the fritters apart from egg and just a tablespoon or two of flour to bind them, plus a few other flavour enhancing ingredients. Delicious.

Tuatua fritters

It’s not all plain sailing though, line has been broken off and sometimes it comes in tangled, usually when an eel has been caught.

Roy and Keith untangle a line

There have been some stunningly beautiful days, with the weather finally coming right. The evenings have been lovely for fishing the change of light, I have to admit I haven’t dragged myself out of bed to accompany the guys on their early morning forays.

Fishing the evening change of light

And the freshest have been especially good …..for some!

Nice one ROy

A bit heavy are they?

Yes, I think he measures up!