Archive for the ‘northland’ Category

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!

Tokerau Beach

October 30, 2019

(Still in catch up mode….).

We finally left Uretiti heading towards Kerikeri and the NZMCA parking site for a couple of nights to hunker down, out of the way of an impending storm that was forecast.

Apparently we missed most of the storm but we heard from others who were still at Uretiti that they suffered 100km/hr winds and terrible driving rain, and it wasn’t very pleasant at all but much better than the snow, wind and rain that we saw the rest of the country was suffering. Spring weather at its finest showing its true self.

The ground at Kerikeri was very very boggy with most of the site cordoned off and reduced to a small area that had scoria laid down, even then we sank into the ground a bit. We can report that we had no leaks through our roof so we can presume that it had been well and truly fixed.

Roy also got a chance to have a catch-up with his cousin Stuart to discuss genealogical matters and other projects going on in their respective lives. As well, we lined the pockets of a number of establishments in and around Kerikeri stocking up the larders, getting a few maintenance matters sorted, buying wool for this grandma to knit up, and some of the touring party apparently visited the chocolate shop (I resisted 😇), as well as numerous other sundry items were purchased.

After a couple of nights ‘enjoying’ the very wet ground at Kerikeri, we were soon on our way again heading further north, this time to Tokerau Beach, and the NZMCA parking area.

It wasn’t long before the blokes decided it was time to have a fish, and for Roy to perfect his method of launching his baits and line with Keith’s drone.

Glen launching his drone next to Keith’s

Keith launching his drone and line

Now for some reason I did not take many pictures of the fish caught, but suffice to say over the four or five days, quite a number of fish were caught, processed, eaten and many vacuum packed and frozen.

Roys first catch

A good start

Roy was gaining a bit of a reputation of catching the largest fish each time they went out, and he was not allowed to forget it either!!

A couple of trips into Kaitaia for laundry and shopping were done whilst we were here. My vacuum sealer finally gave out after many years of good use (it would vacuum but not seal) so a trip into the shops to buy a new one was in order.

Food vacuum sealer

The freezer is getting nicely full of fish for us to enjoy over the summer months when we are parked up camp hosting at Shakespear. As well, lots of fish is being eaten, from whole fish, to fillets cooked every which way, to curries and the like.

Fish fish fish

We have our favourite dishes that we regularly come back to, after trying many many recipes. Sometimes the simplest is the best especially for such fresh fish.

Deb had a birthday whilst we were here, Keith cooked dinner of crumbed Weiner Schnitzel with a cauliflower mash, salads and veg which was all very good and I made a dessert of lime pannacotta with citrus salad and passionfruit.

Dessert

We do eat very well.

Time to leave here and head further north whilst the weather is reasonable, again we are picking our days to travel as with another bit of windy weather due, we make the most of calmer days.

Shhhhh…..we are not telling!

November 6, 2018

Our next destination is a bit of a hidden gem, it’s not advertised anywhere, it’s not listed on any web sites and it’s not in any books. We came across it a couple of years https://brvannini.wordpress.com/2016/08/18/hidden-gem/ so decided to return. Luckily we still had the contact details of the guardian of the site so we rang before making the trek to book in, as well as make sure it was still ok to visit in exchange for a bit of Koha (donation).

We left Tokerau Beach in the rain, accompanied by a terrible gusty wind. We would usually chose not to travel in such wind but it seemed like it was easing, which it did further along in our journey.

We arrived to find that there was no one else here, yay, we can park where we like. We woke the following morning to thIs view from my bedroom window….

and yes, this was taken by me at 7am!

and a panoramic shot taken from the door of the van.

This was also where we saw the Blue whale two years ago, now long gone.

this is us all settled in.

Some people even went for a swim! A tad chilly yet for most of us though.

Well, he (Keith) was a tad warm after hiking out to the end of the point, an hour each way, so I guess cooling off in the sea is not a bad option.

Some of us prefer to sit in the sun and contemplate the world whilst taking in the views

Looking left

looking right, and with that sort of scenery, why wouldn’t you?

Not to be outdone, the following day Deb braved the water for a swim

that’s her swimming along the beach……brrrrrr. It will have to warm up a bit more before I venture in.

We have had a week here and as alluded to in my last post, we have managed to do very little but relax, take time out, go for the odd walk, chill out, fish, swim, relax…..you get the picture? Bliss!

.

All good things…

October 31, 2018

They say that all good things must come to an end and in our case it was very true. It was time to move on, our time at Rarawa was finally up even though we were all very reluctant to leave but needs must and all that.

We were packed up and ready to head into Kaitaia for the day and to stay the night at the RSA. An uneventful drive down to Kaitaia where the first thing to do was a trip to the dump station and then to the petrol station to fill up with LPG. With laundry to be done, shopping to catch up on and a zillion other little jobs to do we also decided to spend some of our dollars in and around Kaitaia at various food places and to give us a night off cooking. First was a late lunch at the bakery, which just so happens to be next door to the laundromat.

I caught these two enjoying a late lunch.

After lunch and laundry it was back to the vans to put everything away before attending to other shopping. That evening we all went to the RSA for dinner where we were warmly welcomed and had a great meal.

Next morning it was breakfast at Gecko, another great little cafe in Kaitaia that does fantastic food as well as coffee. Once we all had had our fill of breakfast and coffee it was time to move on. This time we are heading to the NZMCA Park at Tokerau Beach.

Safely parked up the boys decided to was time for a fish off the beach and they were soon back with a nice fish. Whilst here we are catching up with Gary & Marg as they have sold their house and are moving to Waipu.

The weekend was spent hiding from the rain and wind, watching the rugby and for me it was a marathon netball watching weekend with the Fast Five Netball Champs on in Melbourne…and yes, we, I mean NZ, won in a heart-stoppingly close final.

We were only going to stay for the weekend as we have a secret gem of a place to show Keith & Deb where they can stay which is one of those unadvertised, not well known places to stay and we are heading there next for a week of doing some serious relaxing, with just a little bit of fishing thrown into the mix!

Labour weekend

October 23, 2018

We’ve seen them come, and we’ve seen them go. Who are they? People that live “normal” lives and only have weekends to get away. They started arriving here at Rarawa on Friday, setting up their camp sites with more friends and family joining their small groups over the weekend. It’s Monday morning and already over half of the people have left to go home, unpack, clean up and get themselves ready for their working week, which, as we sit here enjoying the warm sunshine with a flat white coffee in hand reminds us just how damn fortunate we are to be able to live this lifestyle.

We’ve been fishing a few times off 90mile beach, it’s a short drive from here and with the wind direction favourable for getting the kite out we have been taking advantage of it. Keith’s drone has had a bit of a malfunction with the release tab not working so we had to rely on the kites again.

With good success, plenty of snapper and one good sized Trevally (which we neglected to take any photos) we have enjoyed not only snapper for dinner but also the Trevally became sashimi and also some made into Ceviche/Kokoda/Ota Iki/Crudo aka raw fish salad by any of its other names.

this is yesterday’s fish off 90mile beach

And some of you have asked what on earth are we doing with all this fish. Well, apart from eating lots of it, we vacuum pack it and freeze it. We have perfected the method so that when we defrost it, it is just like fresh fish.

the top packet is just one fillet, weighing in at around 700gms!

We should have enough to last us a little while when we are tied to camp hosting at Shakespear when there isn’t the time or the lack of people and boats around to go fishing.

We have also shared the fish around with friends, family as well as the odd fellow camper benefitting from our efforts.

Earlier I mentioned that Keith’s drone had had a bit of a malfunction, and whilst it will be fixed next week we were not to let that get in the way or stop us using it. With a bit of help from Mr Google, along with some YouTube clips and some kiwi ingenuity, we came up with a solution. It required a wire coat hanger but neither of us had one, but wait…..I have part of one that I used to make the handle on my peg basket. The peg basket is now handleless until I come up with another plan but the drone now functions perfectly well for carrying the long line off shore.

Getting set up ready to launch, what a way to spend a Monday afternoon.

here’s the coat hanger attached to the underside of the drone with the line to be attached on the hook, the line stays in place when it flies out, when the drone stops where we want it to, the momentum of the line and sinker self launches the line off the wire. Ingenious!! I think we should patent it!

with line and sinker attached.

And just to prove that we both are on the beach enjoying the sunshine, here is photographic evidence.

Back in the groove

October 17, 2018

We are back into our groove again, you know, get up at a leisurely hour in the mornings, look at the day, quickly dispense with any chores and then go fishing!!!

The fellas went out for an early morning fish, whilst some of us slept on…

Waiting for the fish as well as sunrise, what a beautiful morning, I’m pleased you took a picture of it so I would know what it looks like!

I think Keith was quite pleased with this catch!

The fishing gang on the beach, later in the day

somewhere in the blue shy is a little black dot, that is our kite!

Roy getting in his daily step count walking over to see Keith to discuss whose line we will bring in first (Roy is on light duties so Keith helps us to retrieve our line).

another good catch including this fantastic gurnard. We have never caught one as big before, I’m sure it will make good eating.

Roger the rooster is still here and becoming bolder and bolder, walking on the mat to the door to see if we will give him something to eat. I know what I’d really like to feed him!!!

Blue sky days

October 7, 2018

We have had an incredible run of beautiful blue sky days, with not a cloud in sight. The shorts and t shirts are well and truly being worn everyday and the sunscreen is being slapped on as well as a hat. And what better way to spend these stunning days than on the beach, oh, and whilst we are there we might as well have a fish.

Getting ready to fly out the baited hooks.

The following video shows what happens next.

The drone releases the line once it’s out as far as we choose it to go and then it magically returns to the beach and lands exactly where it takes off from. It’s a clever drone made here in New Zealand specifically for fishing. It has inbuilt safety mechanisms that will automatically ditch the line and return it to base if it detects that its battery is running low.

Once the line is set out, we usually wait anything for 45 minutes to an hour before bringing in the line. However, on this occasion, the line was only out for 3 minutes when the rod starting dancing. It was obvious that there was something rather large on the line. After much speculation of what it was….stingray, eel, very big snapper, and with the line continually being dragged out after just 15 minutes we decided to bring it all back in. Now the reel is also electric so doesn’t require but winding in but in this case the line was not coming in at all.

There is a fair amount of pull on that line. Not wanting to lose any gear, Keith started the slow process of getting in all in. Whatever it was, it was sure putting up a good fight, perhaps we had caught a taniwha (that means monster for you overseas readers). The line came in slowly when it was just over half way in, all of a sudden whatever it was gave up the fight and the line started coming in a little easier. However, once all in, there were only a couple of snapper on the hooks, but what’s this? A broken hook and one trace tied up into so many knots it’s not funny, whatever it was that was on the line was obviously very grumpy at being caught and made a bit of a mess of the line. Oh well, can’t complain I guess, we will go out again in the morning.

just hanging around in the sun waiting for the fish to come in. This beach has incredibly fine white silica sand tat squeaks when you walk on it.

and here they come, five or six in this set, I can’t remember!!

I’ve decided I am like the proverbial ‘banana on the boat’ jinx as the guys seem to do so much better when I am not with them, so later that day the boys went out for another fish at dusk. After such stunningly beautiful days it does cool down rather quickly in the early evenings so I am happy to stay nice and warm in the van doing my knitting!

Roy and I are heading to Auckland for a few days and we would like to be able to take some fresh fish with us for family and friends. We shall be back in a few days though so whilst we are away Keith & Deb can practise their fishing and relaxation skills ……and do something to quieten down Roger the Rooster!

Rarawa

October 4, 2018

It was time to leave the lovely park over property at Tokerau Beach, Brett & Bronwyn run a great POP there and we are always made to feel very welcome. I headed off first into Kaitaia to attend to laundry and shopping and Roy was going to follow on behind to fill up with LPG whilst Keith & Deb went on ahead to Rarawa. Now you know what’s coming don’t you? It was never going to be that simple.

I had just about finished getting the laundry washed when Roy rang to say he was still at the POP, the damn RV/bus/motorhome/van, whatever label you want to give it, would not start! It seemed the starter motor had decided to crap out. A local auto electrician was contacted and he said he could come and have a look in an hour or so. I decided that meant I could throw the laundry into the dryer, and go and have a coffee whilst I waited to see if I needed to pick up any parts in town. The phone call came just as I had finished folding the washing, it was fixed and Roy was on his way. Apparently it was a rusty/loose terminal so a quick fix and he was on his way. That gave me plenty of time to get the shopping done before he arrived. We met at the dump station, then went and filled with LPG and water before heading off up to Rarawa.

It’s been 2 years since we were last up this way and the growth of avocado farms expanding throughout the north is incredible to see.

We came around one corner to see this sight ahead of us.

Very effective cutouts of children, poignant reminders that there is a school here and to be mindful of your speed.

By the time we got to the DoC camp at Rarawa it was 4.30pm (the start of daylight saving sort of mucked us up a bit), we arrived to find Deb & Keith all set up and our position sorted. They even had dinner ready for us, how nice is that? We were soon all set up and making ourselves at home.

The following evening, the guys decided to have a bit of a quick fish off the beach before dinner, they were back in just over an hour with these beauties.

Not content, the following morning whilst some of us were still sleeping, they were out again to see what they could catch. They were back before 8 am, this time with a couple of huge fish.

The biggest fish was just over 14lbs or 6.5kg. That’s enough for a day or two, by the time we left them to set for a while on salt ice, before being filleted and packaged, most of the day had gone. We split the heads of the large fish ready to cure then smoke them, plenty of very good fish there to make a few smoked fish pies and a bit of pâté as well.

We had originally planned to go and have a kite fish off 90mile beach in the early afternoon but we all admitted that we probably had enough fish for the moment, besides, the freezers were full so we would relax for the afternoon.

Relaxing in the sun after all that hard work with a coffee and some muffins fresh from the oven.

Our next challenge is to somehow get rid of this guy who wakes us at stupid hour every morning with his crowing.

Once we deal with him, we shall have to come up with a plan to deal with his friend on the other side of the river. The joys of being in a rural camp!

Never a dull moment

October 1, 2018

The fishing was going great guns, every time the blokes went out they came home with lots of fish so we were eating it, giving it away and freezing some. Just as well as both couples were heading away for a couple of days, us a quick trip to Auckland for medical appointments and Keith & Debbie were off to Tauranga the day after we left for a family matter.

But not before a last minute fish off Tokerau Beach.

Keith with control in hand ready to send the drone out with the baits and longline.

We have lift off.

Wait for 45 minutes then press the button on the reel to bring in the line….

Enough fish to share around with family and friends.

We were very fortunate as we were going to break our journey to Auckland by staying with Jacky & Chris at Whakapirau as it is a non stop 5 1/2 hour drive from Tokerau to Auckland, and who does that sort of distance without a couple of stops at least? It’s 3 1/2 hrs to Whakapirau, but add another hour on to that for stops, road works and the like so it’s still a decent drive.

Roy had a checkup with the Urologist, the upshot being he is having some surgery to clean up the prostate on Monday 8th October. He will be in Ascot Hospital overnight or possibly two nights. Meanwhile I had my 3month checkup with my surgeon, and we made a date for knee surgery, 19th November it is scheduled for the first knee replacement, a great birthday present to myself!!

After another great stay with Jacky and Chris on our return journey home, we headed home Wednesday morning, calling in to the Jewellers in Whangarei to pick up my repaired rings and necklace.

my rings, all beautifully repaired and polished, and now all joined together so that they don’t rub against each other.

I also had my necklace repaired with a new chain put on,

This necklace is one that Roy gave to me for my 21st birthday, just a couple of years ago!

Back at the van on Thursday I received a call from my surgeon, on reviewing the latest X-ray of my hip, they’ve noticed an anomaly on the trochanter (top of the femur) which doesn’t look quite right and could I go back for an MRI scan to further investigate things? Oh no, what could it possibly be? Stress fractures possibly, but they will see once they do the scan. No wonder I still have pain!! I’ve scheduled the MRI and consult for the 9th October so we shall have to wait and see what eventuates. Bugger!

Never mind, we can hopefully get another week of fishing in, whip down to Auckland in the car for a couple of days and get everything over had done with and still be on track for knee surgery in November. Fingers crossed.

The things we do

September 22, 2018

Gary & Marg had sold their caravan whilst we were staying with them, however an earlier mishap meant that a new awning had to be put on the caravan before the new owners collected it. So how many people does it take to put on an awning? ….I’ll let you see for yourselves.

Luckily Keith & Debbie had arrived earlier in the day so it was all hands on deck, however the author of this blog post was told she was a little vertically challenged to be of any real assistance, the cheek of it!!! And yes, Roy’s shorts were falling down in the above picture, it got worse a little later!!

showing off the undies and builders crack!

It was a very successful effort and the awning was put in place, tested and they all stood back to admire their handiwork.

The neighbour had been out fishing and gave us some fish, some trevalli which became marinated fish and some kingfish steaks which Marg made for our dinner with a lemon caper butter sauce, it was delicious.

Not to be outdone, we are starting to get our fishing mojo back again with some good catches made. Keith had had his drone out a few times and is bringing in fish every time, including these beauties.

Another late afternoons haul