Archive for the ‘Rarawa’ Category

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!

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!

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!!!

Medical matters

October 14, 2018

We made our way down to Auckland as far as Whakapirau where we were staying with Jacky & Chris for the night. It’s a 5hr drive from Rarawa to Whakapirau, including a couple of comfort stops, and then a further 2 hrs to get to Auckland so it’s a good break point for us.

Roy was due at Ascot at midday ready for surgery at around 2pm. Antony came in to take me out to lunch whilst Roy was under the knife laser. Roy was having some remedial surgery of the prostate as some tissue had atrophied as a result of the hormone and radiation treatments and was causing a bit of an issue. Meanwhile Antony and I went out for a nice lunch and a bit of retail therapy returning to the hospital just as the surgeon rang to say all had gone well and he would be in his room within the next hour.

I was happy to wait for him in his room enjoying the view.

the view from his room overlooking Ellerslie Race course.

He was back pretty soon, wide awake and feeling ok after having an epidural and a sedative rather than a full anaesthetic, so good in fact that he was keen to have something to eat. I left him in the good care of the staff at Ascot in the early evening to retire to Antony’s place for the night.

The following day Roy had not had the best night, so the surgeon was checking in on him a couple of times and sorting out his pain relief before he would allow him out later in the day. Meanwhile Antony and I headed over to Southern Cross Hospital on the North Shore where I was to have an MRI done on my hip replacement due to an anomaly showing up on previous X-rays.

MRI’s are not my favourite thing, they can be very claustrophobic, especially as they tighten a special cage device over the hip area to make sure you stay still and also tie my feet together and onto the bed so nothing moves….eeeek……but I told myself it was just for an hour so just suck it up and deal with it. It was completed in around 45minutes, but then they said I had to have more done but this time with a dye injected. Breathe in…….and out……..relax, think of your happy place Bernice, all these thoughts were racing through my mind as I went back into the scanner. But it was soon over with, next came the wait to see the surgeon in a few hours time.

Again, Antony & I went out for a bite to eat and to do a few chores. I must say it was great to have him with me and we had a good chat about everything and anything. We were back at the surgeons office 45minutes early, fortunately he could see me early. And the upshot?

At the top of the trochanter (femur) has some stress fractures that appear to be healing, no wonder it’s been a bit sore! and there maybe very small bone fragments that have come away and irritating matters. As well it looks like there is a pocket of fluid which he was unsure what it was exactly.

What’s next? They want to do a biopsy on the fluid via a needle inserted into the hip area….eeeek! this is to be done under a general anaesthetic and what about having it done next week? Oh and we will also check for infection with some blood tests as well. After a bit of discussion, we agreed that I would have the blood tests straight away and see what they say and put off the needle biopsy and do it next month when I am having my knee replaced negating the need for two anaesthetics in a short period of time. That is presuming everything comes back clear with the blood tests, fingers crossed.

I did ask if I was being a wuss with regards to the pain I have but I was assured that I am not, so with new prescription in hand we were soon on our way.

Meanwhile Roy was being discharged so we could pick him up on the way home and head to Antony’s for the night. We were both feeling pretty good so we thought we would head back north, just as far as Whakapirau initially, just to be close enough to Auckland if we had to return for any reason. After a restful nights sleep, we were ready to head back home.

We were back at the van the following day, ready to take things easy for a bit as Roy is on strict light duties, and I am to rest as much as practicable. That being said, we are both feeling pretty good so hope to get back to some good fishing stories soon.

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!