Archive for the ‘fishing’ Category

Uretiti & Ruakaka

May 26, 2017

After finishing with appointments around Auckland we headed back to the van at Uretiti.  Uretiti is a Department of Conservation run camp on the beach in Bream Bay just south of Whangarei.  


It’s a lovely long beach that stretches 10kms from the Waipu River mouth in the south to the Ruakaka River mouth in the north.  

It’s a long sandy beach and is popular to fish from with lots of people trying their luck via various methods of fishing, either with surf casting, torpedos or kites. The wind was favourable for us to try our luck with our kite on a couple of occasions.
Somewhere out there is a little speck which is our kite.
We did have a little success and caught these three lovely snapper one afternoon.


Whilst at Uretiti we went into Maungaturoto one day for lunch with friends Jacky & Chris as we will be housesitting for them at Whakapirau in a couple of months time.  We also managed to catch up with Mark & Glennis who have just bought a property in Ruakaka and caught up on all their news.  After we had a week at Uretiti, we looked at the weather forecast which was not brilliant so we decided that we would head to Ruakaka just a few minutes down the road to the camp ground  for a week and enjoy being connected to the grid for a change.  

Here we are all set up nicely for the week.

The view from the bedroom window looking acrodd to Whangarei Heads.

The weather hasn’t been conducive for fishing so far but we did go for a look at the Marsden Point Oil Refinery information centre which is just 5minutes along the road.  It was a very interesting place to visit with a huge model of the plant and video information about the construction and refinery process.  We were told that the model of the plant took four people two years to build at a cost of around $1million and this was in the 1980’s! Goodness knows what it would cost today.There are information boards, audio visual material and models throughout the complex and is well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Our current plans are that we will stay at Ruakaka until Wednesday before heading back to Uretiti when hopefully the weather will have settled and the wind is off shore for some good fishing.

Fishing deluge 

March 28, 2017

The escape tunnel is a washout, drowned in a deluge of torrential rain but more on that shortly.   First onto much nicer things, Friday night we went to Steve & Leslie’s for dinner which was a very nice impromptu dinner.  Whilst there, the fellas hatched a plan to go fishing early in the morning so the boat was quickly prepared and hooked up to Steve’s car ready for a quick getaway in the morning.  Indeed they did head out from Army Bay and were back after a couple of hours with a lovely haul of 9 good sized snapper.  Great, we know what we are having for dinner!!

Roy weighing the fish whilst Steve checks the numbers – yes, it was a good one.

 9 lovely fish.
Later on in the day, Steve rang to say that they were having their three grandsons for the night so he was thinking of bringing them up to go out fishing in the morning.   A  look at the weather forecast, and a bit of a brain wave, and we came up with a revised plan which was for them to come up in the late afternoon and we could have takeaways on the beach whilst Roy and Steve took one boy at a time out for a fish.  Which is exactly what happened.  

Fish and chips at the beach, life jacket on ready to go.

The fisherboys back with their catch
Showing off their catch the next morning before Poppi filleted them all.

It was a great days fishing and lots of fun and laughs for us all – just ask Asher about Aunty Bernice’s Adele impressions, he laughed until he cried!!!of course it was because I was soooo good and my voice is just like hers hahahahahah.

 Just as well we did all our fishing on Saturday as Sunday was forecast to be a little damp, sure enough late on Sunday night the heavens opened.  We had retired for the night and were safely tucked up in bed when the rain really started to pelt down.  I got up to check out of the window to see if everything was OK as I thought I had heard a car revving it’s engine and sure enough there was a car belonging to a camper desperately trying to get out of rapidly rising waters.  A look out of the van window to the rear of the bay we are parked in and the creek at the back was well over it’s banks with a river of water running just a few metres from the van.  At this stage I woke Roy, he got up and ventured out to see what was happening and to make sure that campers were ok (luckily there were only three groups camped in the park).  

One lot of campers at the rear of the camp site had flood waters rush into their tent and they were desperately moving their car and trying to pick up their tent and gear and move to higher ground.  Another family in the next bay to us we’re removing everything they could out of their tents into their vehicles and were abandoning their camp.  By the time Roy had checked on everyone and made sure that the road out was still driveable for those wanting to leave, the waters had risen to surround our van and the water lapping at the wheel rims…time to quickly gather up our bits and pieces and move. Besides, we knew that it was low tide at around this time (1am) and we were not sure what would happen at high tide.   We were quickly into moving mode, I got into the car and positioned myself so that the headlights would light the way for  Roy to  get a good view of where to drive, meanwhile the rain is still bucketing it down.  Safely moved, we then woke up some tourists in a motorhome who were about to be completely surrounded by rising water levels….again, I directed the car headlights to show them the way. By this time it was 1.30am, we were wet, bedraggled, but safely away from the torrent of water racing through the Camp and all campers were safe.  

Of course no pictures were taken at this time, it was too damn dark and wet as well as being too busy getting ourselves sorted to be thinking about pictures. 

We woke in the morning to find that overnight the rain had stopped, the flood waters were quickly receding and the sun was beginning to shine.  The family of campers returned to dry their gear they left behind out in the sunshine before packing it away,  Others were also trying to dry wet tents, sleeping bags and gear.  With further rains forecast with thunderstorms  for later in the day we have parked ourselves on the concrete pad in the middle of the camp well away from the creek and any wet soggy ground.  By mid afternoon everyone else left the camp and we are by ourselves.  

The heavens did open again late on Monday afternoon, this is what it looked like – dull, dark, and very wet

Rain pouring off the awning and our lake side view!

Today is again brilliant sunshine so with all the washing done and the wet gear all dried out, we are hoping that that is the end of the heavy rains for a while.

Another week of visitors

February 25, 2017

We received a phone call on Monday from Andrene & Lyall, these are friends we met when both of us lived in Oamaru, they moved to Christchurch around 11 years ago, which was probably the last time we caught up.  They were in their motor home having a look around the north island and knew we were at Shakespear so they came to stay with us for a couple  of nights.  It was a though time had stood still with the conversation flowing freely and into the night,  besides,  we haven’t changed a bit and none of us have aged at all!! 

The afternoon started with a few drinks with some fellow motorhomers who kindly took a photo of the four of us.L-R: Roy, Bernice, Andrene, Lyall

It just so happened that we had some fresh snapper ready for our dinner, caught by Roy and Steve the previous morning, as well Lyall is a keen whitebaiter and had whitebait in their freezer which resulted in a fabulous shared dinner with Whitebait patties for entree and snapper for our main and I made some focaccia bread.  Along with a salad or two it all washed down with a suitable beverage or three, a meal to savour.


We sat outside until it bacame too dark  then continued chatting in our van until it was time for bed.  

The next morning it became eveident that Andrene and I have very good tasteSome of the more observant of you may notice that the previous day we both had a liking for blue and white stripes! 

We offered Andrene & Lyall the use of our car so that rather than taking their van off to do their shopping they could nip around in the RAV4.  Lyall had ordered an inflatable boat so they were off to pick it up.  Of course on their return we had to have a trial run at putting it all together.

Roy having a dry run!

We left them to their own devices Tuesday evening as we had arranged to rendezvous with Steve that evening for a fish off the beach with Steve’s torpedo.  Once we had set the line out to fish we sat on the beach watching the sun go down as we ate pizza accompanied by a suitable beverage. Bliss.   The haul of fish was not great, we did manage to bring in four fish but only one was a keeper but we also managed to drag in an awful lot of weed so we will not be fishing off that beach again in a hurry! 

Wednesday evening we headed into Torbay to Steve & Leslie’s place for a meal and get together with Leslie’s two sisters and all the extended family.  Leslie’s youngest sister Gill & I were best friends right through primary and secondary school so it was great to catch up again with her and her daughters who were over from Perth.  Although it was only a couple of years ago since we last met.  This time was a little more restrained however it was great to have everyone together.

Steve was heading north for a couple of days for work, so Roy went along for a ride to keep him company and they just so happened to take the fishing gear with them so that they could have a fish in the evenings.  By all accounts a few fish were caught and a good time was had by all.  

Meanwhile I stayed at the van at Shakespear, helping out a few stray travellers and in particular those who do not read the signs about how to unlock the padlocks! Some people.  I even had a visit from the Jehovah’s Witness…they got the short sharp shrift and were quickly sent on their way.  

On our way

November 29, 2016

It’s time we started our journey south ready for us to take up our camp hosting duties at Shakespear park for the summer.  We were due to leave Rarawa this week, however on Monday we were told that we had to leave that day as DoC were about to start their latest assault on the Argentine Ants (See previous post).  But before we left we thought we would have one last fish off the beach.


And just along from us are Pat & Sue


Not too many fish were harmed in this exercise.

From Rarawa it is a short 60km journey into Kaitaia, as we had also heard that our brake parts had arrived.  However through mutual agreement between Roy and Kaitaia Tractors, they are not fitting the part this time.  We have ordered a matching part to come from the USA, and the pair will be fitted early next year after we have finished at Shakespear.  Meanwhile, we are assured everything is safe and we are good to go.

So now we shall meander our way down to Auckland, stopping off at a few selected  places along the way and endeavour to get ourselves into the Christmas spirit.  Thanks Northland for a wonderful few months, we shall be back soon. 

Rarawa – Auckland – Rarawa

November 25, 2016

We left Matai Bay on a Sunday afternoon for Kaitaia as the van was booked in for the final bit of work to be done on the brakes as the parts had arrived from the USA, as well,  a couple of other jobs  were being completed.  However, things never seem to go smoothly, the parts that we had had sent out were not the right ones.  As you were folks, put everything back together then spend the next day researching and checking on hopefully getting the right parts.  It would be so much easier if there were part numbers, or if the size matched what was supposed to be on the van.  Anyway, in the end  it was all sorted, more parts ordered and we were sent off to return at a later date.

Off we went to Rarawa and the DoC camp there, where Pat & Sue were already parked, we set ourselves up, this time in another location, tucked into a corner on the upper level. 


The weather has been pretty good, although we have had a lot of wind with some of it even from the right direction for some kite fishing. But more on that later.

A large part of the camp is roped off as they had recently closed the whole camp whilst they dealt with an infestation of Argentinian Ants.  Who knew that these tiny creatures could create such damage.  

According to the DoC website Argentine Ants  are one of the world’s most invasive and problematic ant species. They are very aggressive, and although they are not poisonous, they do bite. Unlike other ant species, Argentine ant colonies cooperate with each other, and can combine over winter into super-colonies. They reach enormous numbers, which means they have a huge appetite. It also makes them more aggressive towards other insect populations through their sheer numbers.

The best way to tell Argentine ants from other ants is by their colour and trails. Argentine ants are small (2-3 mm long)and honey-brown in colour, while most other common household ants in New Zealand are black.  

Argentine ants can have a massive impact on the natural environment. While they are one of the major household and garden pests, they pose a serious threat to the conservation values of our reserves and natural areas. These threats include:

eliminating other species of ants

competing with kiwi for food such as insects and worms

competing with other native birds and lizards for nectar

displacing and killing native invertebrates

Argentine ants are now known for many parts of Auckland and Northland, as well as Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Nelson 

The camp will be closed again from next week so that DoC can do a secondary bait laying process to make sure they are all dealt with.

Meanwhile, I (Bernice) have been to Auckland and back for a few days.  A trip which is around 5 1/2 hrs driving time each way, plus of course you have to allow more time for stops for refuelling both the car and driver as well as the odd traffic hold ups.  An interesting sight on the way down to Auckland was this convoy of three four wheel drive vehicles which were absolutely covered in mud.  

A muddy convoy which I followed from north of Kawakawa to where I turned off the motorway at Albany, a distance of over 200kms

Why was I doing this trip? Well, our son Antony had had a bit of a mishap whilst playing bubble soccer – yes, it is a ‘thing’ – with a group of mates on a weekend away in Queenstown.  Bubble soccer

Actually, it was a bit of a serious oops as it seems he has torn his MCL and ACL ligaments in his left knee. Ouch.   I went down to give him a hand with a few things and also to provide moral support when he went to see  the surgeon and make sure we asked all the right questions.  His leg is very swollen and bruised from above the knee right down to his foot, and of course rather painful.  But what I didn’t realise was that before he can have surgery to repair the damage, he has to have regained the full range of motion in his knee.  So today he starts physio.  

Meanwhile Mum did her thing, by washing, cleaning, tidying, cooking, shopping, transporting.    Oh and even a bit of ironing…some of the 17, yes that right, 17 shirts I ironed!!

Once I had done as much as I could it was back up to Rarawa. We have been fishing a few times off the beach with some success as well as a good failure when on one outing our line got caught on something and we lost all our traces, sinkers and hooks.  Luckily this all happened before I went to Auckland so I was able to call into the store to replace all the lost gear. 

But with days like this in the picture below, what could be nicer than spending an afternoon on the beach?

Somewhere out there is a kite, and of course some fish on our line too.
Next week it is back to Kaitaia to have the last bit of work done on the van before we move southward ready to start our camp hosting duties at Shakespear for the summer.

A Gorm weekend

November 10, 2016

Many, many years ago, when we all lived in the big city of Auckland,  a group offriends  all of whom had a keen interest in good food, excellent wine and having a good time, formed a group which we called The Gourmet Society. Every month each of the four couples put money into a dedicated bank account for which there was a cheque book for the ‘Gourmet Society’.  For those of you young things who have no idea what a cheque book is, talk to your parents or grandparents and ask them!  Suffice to say that paying our bill at the end of a night out with that cheque book raised a few eyebrows.   After a while the name was shortened until we became known as the Gorms, a much more appropriate title.  The group consists of Roy & I, Jacky & Chris, Anne & Greg and Colin & Edwina, most of whom we see on  a reasonably regular basis. 

Over the years we; went out for dinners, had weekends away, did everything from camping to 5 star, involved our children in some of our weekends of fun, had themed parties – who could forget the garlic themed night?, did all sorts of crazy things like rock climbing, abseiling, and other nerve wracking events,  but we always had lots of laughs.   

Recently, some members of the Gorms were celebrating significant birthdays so we thought it was time for a get together.  It was to be held at Jacky & Chris place at Whakapirau on the Kaipara harbour, regular readers will know that we have  housesat for them over the past  few winters and spent a bit of time there.  Somewhere along the line, probably over a red wine or two, it was decided that we would have a Hangi (NZ underground oven cooked meal) with local man Grant offering to set it all in place and be in charge of proceedings.

First the hole had to be dug and the fire started.

Grant digging the hole, the fire started in the pit, then as the fire  gets hot more wood is added before adding the rocks to heat up.  All this takes time and patience, and is of course thirsty and hungry work.

Colin and the left, Roy on the right and Chris in the foreground, digging in to some ceviche and some smoked fish
Meanwhile, we girls lined the hangi basket with cabbage leaves, peeled lots of potatoes, kumara, pumpkin and carrots which once seasoned are tied into muslin bags and placed in the basket.  Chickens and a large piece of pork are then placed over the vegetables which are then all covered with more cabbage leaves before finally topped with well soaked towels and sheets before being lowered onto the hot rocks.  Then it all gets covered with topsoil to steambake for the next few hours. 

Top photo Chris, Colin and Greg look on as Roy helps remove the ash and unburned charcoal just before the food goes in.lower photo is Grant checking all is well – or is he doing pressups?  

There is of course a lot of skill involved with getting the fire right, using the right stones, using the best wood to provide the heat and getting everything to the correct temperature  but we were assured all was in hand and under control.

There was as well all the fish we had caught; some to be eaten as fish fillets, the big fish was being smoked and the rest was made into ceviche.

The smoked snapper.

A whole scotch fillet was prepared with a tasty rub and cooked on the barbecue, nicely rare of course and there were plenty of salads too.  From here on in, I neglected to take any more pictures, so there is none of the hangi being lifted or any of the food ladened tables laid out for all to help themselves, nor any of the subsequent party as neighbours and others from the local community had been invited to come and share in the feasting.  The hangi food was fantastic, and later in the evening the desserts came out for all to share.  It was lovely to meet lots of new people and enjoy a great night together over fabulous food and wine.

All in all a great weekend and fantastic  to catch up with the Gorms.  Till next time. 

Fishing and Catching

November 8, 2016

I didn’t think it would ever happen, but it has.  I have had enough fish for a while!!!  Last week was one of those weeks,  we were hoping to get out and catch a couple of  fish and it certainly started off well  as last Monday we caught 8 good snapper when we went out with with Gary & Marg.  Then on Wednesday we went out for a fish off a Tokerau Beach with Pat & Sue.  The wind was proving to be a little fickle which made putting out our lines a bit  difficult as the kite stalled getting  the line out through the breakers, then it only went out very slowly to end up only half the distance off shore that we were looking for, never mind. Meanwhile  Pat & Sue had put up their big kite and got their line out to a reasonable distance, ending up about 1.2km off shore.  

Now when we fish off the beach with Pat & Sue  (some distance apart from each other so that the lines do not tangle), we have a set little routine of helping each other bring the lines back in.  We brought our line in first as we thought that there would not be anything on the line as we were not too far offshore. The routine is that  I wind the handle on the reel whilst the three others take turns in taking hold of the the line and walking it up the beach toward the reel. We do this as if we didn’t, the pressure on the reel would be too much by winding it in directly, as well as being far too difficult for the winder, so one by one, they grab the line with glove protected hands and walk it up the beach whilst I reel in the slack line.  With three people walking the line in it doesn’t take too long so long as the wind is not too strong  or a lot of weight on the line.

We did have one good sized fish on our line so we were happy, so we quickly tidied up all our gear, put it into the car before it was our turn to go and help Pat & Sue. The only difference being that Sue winds in their reel and I take my turn walking up and down the beach along with the blokes.   We were thrilled to see that on their line they had 7 good sized snapper and a gurnard, a fantastic result and their best catch to boot.  It was then back to base at Matai Bay, clean up and leave the fish on ice overnight ready to fillet the next morning.  

Thursday morning we filleted all the fish, cleaned up and gave the fish heads away via the same process as before, through a contact made at   http://www.freefishheads.co.nz    

Roy and I were heading away on Friday to a get together of  a special group of friends but more on that in a later post – and we were keen to take some fresh fish with us to share.  So on Thursday afternoon , the four of us headed out again to Tokerau Beach to try our luck.

We each sent out our lines, this time in a good strong off shore wind, and then we sat back to wait for the fish to jump on our hooks – yeah, right!!!  This time, Pat & Sue brought their line in first so we went off to assist.  The wind was still  very strong so it was a good trek up the beach with a very strong pull on the line, it was rather strenuous exercise but all the more pleasing when we pulled in three good fish on their line.  Then it was back to our line to pull in our fish, well,  we hoped there would be fish.    It was damned hard work dragging in our line, with each of us saying that we hoped there was at least a couple of fish on the hooks as it was the hardest pull-in we have ever had.

Oh my goodness, were we ever in for a shock. One fish after another was appearing on the line as it was pulled ashore. One, two, three, four, five……twelve!!  Not only were there 12, but the were all big fish and to top it all off a few of them had become a bit cross at being caught and had got the line into a huge tangled mess.  

I should have taken a photo or two at this stage. But we were just all so busy trying to sort out the line and remove the fish. Next minute Pat  calls out to say he has a bit of a problem…..he has a fish hook well and truly embedded in his finger. Ewwww it does not look good, he and Sue head up to the car to try and sort it out, whilst Roy and I pull the fish and the remaining line in out of the surf before I check on Pat to see what we can do.  Getting the glove off his hand is proving difficult, but my trusty Swiss Army scissors on my key ring proves just the thing to cut off the glove around the hook, which is looking like it’s well and truly staying in his finger.  Hmmm, I’m not the best with this sort of thing,  made me feel rather queasy and yes, I know, imagine how poor Pat was feeling.  Between the two of them, with brute force and strength, they managed to extract the hook from his finger.  Ouch ouch ouch!

Meanwhile it was back to getting all the fish safely off hooks and into the chilly bin loaded with salt ice, putting away all our gear and heading back to Matai Bay.


All a good size (all over 40cm) with the largest one was over 5kgs.  

We think that there may have been another three on the line as three traces had broken and with the tangled mess of lines we had it was more than possible.  

So what did we do with all this fish? Well, that’s another blog entry. 

Matai Bay

November 3, 2016

We are back at glorious Matai Bay. 


 After spending a few days in Kaitaia last week to have some scheduled maintenance done on the van, we escaped back to the coast, although we are now awaiting some more parts to come in from the USA to complete the R&M.  So in between, time for a bit more fishing.
 It was a glorious afternoon Monday, with friends Gary & Marg we headed off to Puheke Beach which is over on the  opposite  side of the Karikari Peninsular from Tokerau Beach where Gary & Marg live.  Gary has a torpedo so I was interested to see how it all works.  The boys headed off in the buggy whilst Marg & I went in the RAV4. Here come the hoons

Parking up

Setting up ready to put the torpedo out
Out it goes

Then it’s just a matter of waiting for an hour or so before bringing it back in , plenty of time to tell tales, have a drink and a few nibbles before bringing the line back in to reveal these 8 beauties.

I made a delicious ceviche with a few of the fillets to share with Pat & Sue and Craig & Glennis whilst we watched the Melbourne Cup the following afternoon.  

Hopefully we will get more fish to share with friends this weekend but that’s another story.

The things you see…

October 30, 2016

We were quietly minding our own business and had just put out the fishing line on Tokerau Beach.  I had just moved the car back up the beach away from the incoming tide when I spied a vehicle coming along the beach toward us.  What is it, I wondered ?


Yes, it’s a motorhome.  

I wonder if Roy has seen it?


Yep, he sure has seen it and probably is wondering, just as I was, where they are off to along the beach.


There they go, I didn’t see where they went or where they got off to beach but I presume they were not going to be camping on the beach otherwise they may well have been getting a close encounter with the tide around their wheels. 

Ninety Mile Beach

October 25, 2016

Ninety Mile beach is in fact 55 miles (88km) but it sure does seems like it’s a 90 mile stretch of beach when you get onto it.  From Houhora, the beach is only 10km away on the west coast and as we have not yet kite fished off a west coast beach we thought this was an opportune time especially as the wind was in the right direction.  The beach becomes somewhat of a race track at weekends and holidays, and with yesterday being Labour Day and the first long weekend for some months, it seems as though quite a few other people had decided that they would race up and down the beach in their cars.  The beach is an official part of the highway network therefore the usual road rules apply, however, sometimes common sense does not!

The warning signs are everywhere

In 1932 the beach was used as the runway for some of the earliest airmail services between Australia and New Zealand. 

Long stretch of beach

 Tour buses as well as cars and motorbikes travel up and down the beach, although a few have succumbed to the elements 

Time for us to put out the kite to see what we can catch and in particular, the difference between fishing the east coast versus the west coast.      

That’s Roy in the distance, keeping an eye on the reel whilst I moved the car back up the beach, well away from one of those rogue waves that take many people by surprise.

The surf and wash on this beach is vigorous which means we have to try and get our line out as quickly as possible through the surf so as not to tangle up the line.  That done, we settled in to wait, not too long though as we have been  told not to leave the line out for too long as sharks are known to chew through lines.  After 30 minutes we pulled the line in to find two good sized snapper and a trevally.


An excellent result.