Archive for the ‘Kaipara’ Category

Tiki touring

July 16, 2017

It’s not all relaxing and enjoying the smallholder style of life, we have also done a bit of tiki touring around the area.  We headed off for a day trip around the district with our first stop at the Matakohe Kauri Museum which is just a few kms from Whakapirau.  The kauri is a slow growing tree with beautiful timber  

We spent a good hour or two wandering through all the exhibits.

Here are a couple of small sailing boats built of kauri, with a single large plank of timber in the background which stretched the length of the hall.

I was amused to see the following sign inside one of the small sailing dinghys. 

From there we headed to Dargaville and then onto the Waipoua Forest to see Tāne Mahuta, one of the largest living Kauri trees.  Tāne Mahuta is a giant kauri tree (Agathis australis), its age is unknown but is estimated to be between 1,250 and 2,500 years. Its Māori name means “Lord of the Forest”.  

It’s vital statistics are as follows: Trunk girth 13.77 m (45.2 ft),  Trunk height 17.68 m (58.0 ft), Total height 51.2 m (168 ft), Trunk volume 244.5 m3 (8,630 cu ft). Total volume 516.7 m3 (18,250 cu ft).

Alex in front of the tree.

A local Maori guide who happened to be there told us that many many years ago when he was assisting to build a track to the tree, 11 men held hands with arms outstretched to surround the tree.  He also told me that there is an even larger tree but that it is is another part of the forest and a long walk to find it.  We will not be endeavouring to find it this time, besides the heavens opened just as we completed the visit to this tree.

Another day, Mike the friendly local who did the killing  execution bumping off processing of the sheep the other day, offered to take Alex for a jet boat ride around the upper reaches of the Kaipara harbour.

That’s them zooming off across the other side of the harbour, viewed from the deck.  

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. 

Dargaville and Pouto

July 23, 2014

Wednesday night we spent at the Northern Wairoa Airfield after an uneventful drive through from Whangarei.

On the way through there we saw a lot of evidence of wind damage to trees and some buildings as well as flood damage in paddocks and around stream and river beds.  Fortunately none of this impeded  our passage and we arrived in good time.

After a quick look at all of the Campgrounds and park over options we made our way to the airport, talked nicely to them and were allowed to park up for the night.

11The two of us parked

You see some interesting sights from the windows when you park at an aerodrome.


Next day, instead of continuing our drive we decided to take a scenic tour and drive to Pouto the furthest point south on the North Head of the Kaipara Harbour. 

The Pouto Peninsula is a landform on the northern Kaipara Harbour in Northland.  The Peninsula runs in the north west to south east direction and is approximately 55 km long. The width varies from about 5.4 km to about 14 km, with the widest part of the peninsula near its southern end. The ]Tasman Sea is to the west, and the Kaipara Harbour is to the south and east. Dargaville sits at the northern end of the peninsular.  Pouto, originally a Māori village, is in the south east of the peninsula.  There are interpretation boards for information at the end of the peninsular.


One can get down to the beach/sand spit and from there look out to the entrance of the Harbour.  It is a further 5 – 7 km walk to the lighthouse however we chose not do it as it was already mid afternoon and rather a chilly was wind blowing.  There have been 113 recorded shipwrecks on the coast of Pouto, because the low-lying peninsula makes the north head of the Kaipara Harbour treacherous, and there are a lack of landmarks on the peninsula from which to take bearings.  There is a guided trip to the Lighthouse which we may do another day.


There is a parking/camping place at Pouto which in the summer months would be much more pleasant than the muddy conditions we found it in.

sea_thumbView from the camping area

Besides, the drive into Pouto itself is via a long stretch of narrow windy gravel road.

Kelly’s Bay was the pick of locations on the peninsular.  It lies on the eastern side of the peninsular on the Kaipara Harbour therefore is very sheltered and flat.  There is good parking in the campground and would be a place to return to at a later date.

16Kellys Bay parking on right. 

As we drove into the Bay, there were huge numbers of Oyster Catchers and skittery Pied Stilts lining the foreshore.


On our way back to Dargaville, we headed out onto the west coast to have a look at another beach and camp site at Glinks Gully.  There are a large number of permanent and holiday homes lining the beach with a small campground up on the hill.  


Glinks Gully

A typical west coast beach, rough, windswept and and this very windy day was not particularly inviting.  Back toward the main rain back to Dargaville where we spied this rocky outcrop on the horizon, obviously the remains of a volcanic plug.  It is known as Maungaraho Rock. A plug is a volcanic landform created when magma hardens within  a vent on an active volcano. If a plug is preserved, erosion may remove the surrounding rock while the erosion-resistant plug remains, producing a distinctive upstanding landform.


We stopped at a roadside stall just out of Dargaville to pick up some tomatoes, however, someone must have been concentrating far too hard when painting the sign!


Friday morning and time to leave Dargaville.   After checking the road conditions with the local constabulary, we were told the only way for us to get to Kerikeri was via the coast road through the Waipoua Forest as the Mangakahia road was closed to heavy vehicles. Once the morning fog had lifted we set off to continue on our journey…  

22early morning mist across the aerodrome


June 12, 2014


This is the first time we have spent any time in the Kaipara Harbour and so a little jaunt seemed appropriate.  We were going to head to Port Albert but we instead headed for a place called Batley where we were told we would be impressed with an old stately home.

And we certainly were as we rounded the last corner into the bay this magnificent building presented itself.


Batley is on the end of one of the many peninsulars that jut into the Kaipara Harbour.  Each of them has a tale to tell as the whole area has a long Maori and European history.

On the way out of Batley spotted what looked like a road along the foreshore on the distance, on closer inspection it turned into a sandbar with many birds parading


On the road away from Batley there was one turnoff so we had to go and have look just in case we might miss something.  The road went to Tanoa.  The main features being a  Marae, Church, Sandy Beach and a statue in the Marae grounds.  The statue is in fact a bust of Queen Victoria which is presented in a glass case on a plinth. 


The church is typical of those found in many of the small country areas in Northland (or for that matter throughout country New Zealand.  An enclosed graveyard alongside the church records the pioneers and Maori families from the area.


The sandy beach provides a view of Batley in the far distance and the large house can be seen.


On the road toward Maungaturoto  we saw the unusual site of a large number (muster/ostentation/pride) of Peacocks running around in a paddock next to the road, but if course as soon as we stopped to take a photo they all scarpered back in to hiding among the tussocks.


Next we did a long loop which took us back past the Whakapirau Road to Paparoa and from there out to Tinopai.  Why?  Well why not, we were here and we might as well see more.  Tinopai is on the peninsula which is the separated by the Wairoa River from the West Coast northern headland of the Kaipara Harbour.  This photo looks down the harbour toward the entrance.  We were there when the tide was running out and there was a strong current heading out.


There is a relatively new wharf/pier structure at the south end of Tinopai along from the launching ramp.


We were at Tinopai on market day, just a small affair in the local hall, primarily bits and pieces but we did manage to score a bargain.  We had recently purchased a couple of serrated small knives for about $12.00 each, which was a bit steep, and were looking at getting a couple more.  Well we managed to find a lady selling exactly the knives we wanted at Tinopai and not only that but the price was $6.00 a piece!!

From Tinopai we headed back toward Matakohe the home of the Kauri Museum.  We had visited the museum some years ago. But we arrived on this day it was close to closing time so we gave it a miss but took some photos of the surrounding buildings.  The whole area looks very tidy but also very quiet at this time of year.

The Church is opposite the museum while the old Post and Telegraph office is alongside the museum.


Further along the road we came across this unusual sign.  Does it mean ‘go fly a kite’  in a derogatory sense or does it have real meaning?  This was at the intersection of State Highway 12 and the turn off to Tinopai.


However, in the opposite direction to the sign and up on a hill could be seen these beasts.  The long tailed ‘tadpole’ was probably in excess of 4 metres long and the parasail type one was some 3 metres wide.  Apparently there is a lot of kite flying in this area.


Meanwhile back a Whakapirau another glorious morning gave another great reflection shot.


And of course the ducks were still keeping away from the maimais


Boats aren’t the only reflections around, the one on the left is on our side at Whakapirau, the one on the right opposite us at Pahi


Just to show that occasionally the days are not quite so fine these to are from the upper deck during rain squalls


However next morning brought a very impressive rainbow in the light drizzle.


Didn’t quite zip these together but you get the idea.


Now when we said we had a problem getting in to the drive at Jacky & Chris’ we had a few getting out as well.  There are no action shots as there was a lot of attention on getting out and too much tension to allow time for photos.

We were parked at the end of the slab on the metal and grass area.  No problem getting going but then we had to turn rather sharply to the left to get onto the dive, not so easy requiring backing and filling and leaving some rubber behind when we couldn’t reverse


The rest was relatively painless until the hairpin at the top.  This necessitated a little use of language to negotiate but did not require the back and fill required to get down.  This shot shows it from the top and as can be seen there is no room on the right to swing before the corner and one immediately loses sight of the road.


Oh and here is a shot of a car on the drive which goes to show it is not overly wide


Next time we are unlikely to drive in!!!

This rather industrious person was seen reducing some of the half metre high kikuyu down to size.  She really does look the part when all togged up for the job


And finally just a couple of nature shots.

These two of an interesting looking fungus growing on a young Puriri.


And these of the flowers of a Kohekohe tree.



June 5, 2014

The blog post on our tiki touring around the Kaipara is coming …..or so he says…….meanwhile onto much more exciting things, shopping! Those of you who know me well will no how much I detest shopping, especially the time wasting habit of window shopping – Aaaarrrrrgh! I can think of much better things to do. We dragged ourselves away from the sights and delights of Whakapirau to venture into Auckland as he need to have a repair done on his hearing aid, and we needed to attend to a few other matters as well. First up, I needed a new pair of slippers, my last pair have served me well but there comes a time when you just have to ditch them, so a quick stop at the Zierra (ex Kumfs) store in Albany and I could tick that off my list.

20140605-100721-36441476.jpgthe old and the new

Next, it was a trip down to Takanini to the NZMCA (NZ Motorhome Association) to pick up our new DOC (Department of Conservation) passes as our old one expires at the end of this month. This annual pass allows us to stay in DOC camps all around the country and as we are heading northwards again shortly, we shall need our pass as there are a number of splendid DOC camps to stay in.

From there it was into town to meet up with Roy to complete our shopping. A few grocery items were purchased then it was time to hit the road again as we wanted to get across the Harbour bridge before the peak traffic hour(s). That meant a trip back to Albany mall where Roy could sort out his phone with Vodafone, meanwhile I wandered off to have a look at Howard’s Storage – I just love all those neat little containers that tidy everything away and I could not resist buying a new shower caddy. Then it was back to meet up with Roy who was happy as he had sorted out his phone. On our return to the car, we walked past Stevens – a kitchen supply shop. I had looked in there a week or two ago as I was eyeing up a pasta machine. I have a very good Imperia brand one that I have had for many many years however it is packed away in storage down in Oamaru along with the rest of our possessions. The one I was looking at came complete with ravioli maker et al but of course, it is not on special any more so it is back up to its full price. Damn, I knew I should have bought it then. However, they had another one of their own brand ones on special, pasta maker complete with spaghetti and fettuccine/tagliatelle cutters for the stupendous price of ………… $29.95!!!! Who could resist that bargain?

20140605-102120-37280163.jpg the Motorhome now has a pasta machine on board and I can make pasta to my little hearts content 🙂

Up to Whakapirau

May 30, 2014


Jackie and Chris have recently purchased a property at Whakapirau on the Kaipara Harbour.  So having safely moved Antony and then the following night had a very good dinner with Neil & Jodie and Antony, thank you Jodie,  we are off to stay with Chris and Jacky for a few days.

Through the tunnel and over the bridge we go



After some time we arrive at Whakapirau Wharf where we leave the motorhome  while we investigate the driveway into the property.  Quite wondrous it is when viewed from the drivers seat, it is hard to see the edges and because you are going down hill you lose sight of the drive altogether in places.  But having explored the possibilities of leaving the motorhome offsite, we decide to attempt the driveway including the hairpin bend,  but due to the overhanging branches and narrowness of the last part of the driveway we finally park halfway in .

Settled in and had dinner a drink or two and then bed.  Next morning awoke to low fog.  This shot is taken just after daybreak looking at the wharf at Whakapirau on the left and the wharf at Pahi on the right.



However the fog finally lifted and we were able to see all before lunch.


The sea was so calm that we were able to see “a painted ship upon a painted ocean”  OK it was only a dinghy but so what!!


Looking back and up one can se Jackie and Chris’ house among the bush at the op of the ridge.


One of the reasons for not getting all the way in the drive was this large Puriri overhanging the driveway.  Those large clumps of epiphytic growth in the old dead branches of the tree are known as “widow makers”.  In the early bush felling days these would periodically drop from high up in the forest noiselessly and crush anyone unlucky enough to be below.


They also provide a home for one of New Zealand’s major pest the Opossum.  However this one should not be  causing any more problems.


On a leisurely walk down to the wharf and around the cliff to the main settlement of Whakapirau and beyond there were a number of sights.

At the Southern end of Whakapirau is this very large Macrocarpa tree with two swings.  These are secured at about 12 metres off the ground on branches extending over the beach.  Someone has gone to a lot of trouble to place them. 


The shorter one of the two is held by a sizeable rope adequately secured to the tree branch, the tall one is secured to a yoke over the tree.  Jim will be happy to see the splicing that has been performed on the swing rope. The swing rope  is at least three inches in diameter and is braided for at least three feet from the loop. 


On the foreshore of the bay there are reefs of  limestone supporting very large quantities of oysters.  On the left is a shot of an area of some ten by twenty metres and the right gives an idea of the density of oysters.


Out from the centre of the beach is sand and mud ridges and hollows filled with water and myriads of small cockle shells these are no bigger the 1.5 cm and as they extend for some metres and are often up to a metre wide there must be millions of these empty shells on the beach foreshore.  Obviously good feeding for fish but very much undersized for human consumption.


These shots are on the Whakapirau wharf looking toward Pahi in the left shot and back to the land in the right.


This shot of the end of the wharf is taken from the house with a long lens.


Below Jacky and Chris’ house there are the remains of an oyster breeding operation.  All that remains is the wooden frames which would have originally supported the containers of spat.


Over the next few days we hope to explore more of this area around the Kaipara Harbour.


May 23, 2014

It has to be said that we have never really been very good at making plans and sticking to them, we seem to always be making plans only to immediately change them. I guess you could say that we are fortunate to be able to be flexible, and can go with the flow!

We spent nearly a week at Ardmore, we had a few chores to attend to, people to see, that sort of thing. Most things were done fairly promptly and we also spent some time with Antony utilizing his wifi as Roy had some serious uploading to do. We are very limited with the amount of data we are able to access as the maximum monthly allowance is just 5GB of mobile data before we have to pay silly rates for any additional data. One day New Zealand telco companies will catch up with the rest of the world and we won’t be so limited. It makes for running a small business which is reliant on the Internet a tad, shall we say, challenging.

Sue & Pat joined us at Ardmore although they were busy chaps tripping around the countryside delivering their ute to Tauranga, as they had sold it, and off to Hellensville to pick up their new tow car then off to Hamilton to have the A-frame sorted. We successfully fulfilled our role as security guards for their van whilst they were away. Midway through the week we were contacted by friends Mark & Glynnis who just so happened to be in Auckland in their Motorhome. They were heading for the boat show on Friday and planned to come over to Ardmore to spend the night with us and do some catching up. Roy and Mark have known each other for some time now, as Mark used to work for Roy in the computer department at Kinleith in the late 60’s early 70’s. They spent a bit of time going hunting and fishing during that time, when they were younger – and fitter! We had previously caught up with them when they lived at Waiaua We spent a lovely afternoon and evening catching up with each other’s news before they headed off on Saturday morning.

We had other plans for Saturday, we went over to Steve & Leslie’s in Torbay for dinner and to spend the night with them. And again, another very enjoyable evening was had before we left on Sunday to attend to a bit of shopping at Albany. With the eftpos/credit cards getting a good airing and with most things ticked off our shopping list, it was back to the van at Ardmore and unpack the purchases.

Our plans at this stage were to head off on Monday to Whakapirau on the Kaipara Harbour which is where Jacky & Chris have purchased a property. We have been planning to go there for some weeks, but our plans keep changing. And this week was not going to be any different. It turns out that Antony is moving to a new flat next weekend and he asked if we could help him with the move, of course we can, we said, what’s another change in plans? New plans were quickly formulated for the week, a trip out to Awhitu Regional Park was the order of the day where we will spend the week before heading back into Ambury where we will park up whilst we help with the move.

We arrived at Awhitu on Monday afternoon and after a quick reconnoiter we were soon parked up and made ourselves comfortable. Awhitu is another one of the 26 Auckland Regional Parks and is located on the southern peninsular of the Manukau Heads. It is a lovely park, beautifully maintained and full of bird life, lots of lovely trees and plenty of nice camping areas complete with barbeques, tables, fresh water and toilets. There are some lovely beaches as well, where the net got set out but the flounder were avoiding us on this occasion.

Whilst here, we gave John & Margaret (fellow motorhomers see a call as they are building a house at Clarks Beach. We made arrangements to pop down to see them on Friday for morning tea, however another change of plans would evolve. Instead we are now going down to where they are parked up at Clark’s Beach to join them for the evening.

That is the plan as I write this on Friday morning ; tonight Clark’s Beach, tomorrow Ambury, then off to Whakapirau on Monday. Watch this space to see if we actually manage to keep to these plans.

PS. No photos in this post as I have “misplaced” the accessory device I use to load photos from the camera card onto my iPad. Hopefully it will reappear soon.