Archive for the ‘regional parks’ Category

Little Spotted Kiwi

April 30, 2017

Last Saturday, the little Spotted Kiwi were returned to Shakespear Park.  These are the first Little Spotted Kiwi to be brought back to the greater Auckland Region, the second group to have a habitat on mainland New Zealand and are the second rarest Kiwi so it was with great ceremony that they were delivered to the Park.  Roy and I were privileged to be invited to view the proceedings and it was good timing as we had returned to Auckland for a few appointments the previous couple of days and were staying at our second “home” with my brother Steve & sister-in-law Leslie before heading back to the van at Uretiti. But back to the main event.

According to Wikipedia the little spotted kiwi or little grey kiwi, Apteryx owenii, is a small species of kiwi that in pre-European times occurred in both main islands of New Zealand. Around 1900, a population was trans-located to Kapiti Island for conservation purposes. Little spotted kiwis are the smallest species of kiwi, at about 0.9 to 1.9 kg (2.0–4.2 lb), about the size of a bantam. After they were released on Kapiti Island, they were also moved to Red Mercury Island, Hen Island, Tiritiri Matangi Island, and Long Island in the Queen Charlotte Sound. In 2000, about 20 little spotted kiwis were released into Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. This was the first time since about 1900 that little spotted kiwis could be found on the mainland of New Zealand. Now they have a second Mainland home ie. Shakespear Regional Park.

 The Kiwi were delivered to the ceremony site by selected personnel with the kiwi transported in specially made boxes which had been lovingly made by SOSSI (Shakespear Open Sanctuary Society Incorporated) volunteers over the previous few months. 

Kiwi being delivered in their special carry boxes

The Kiwi and guests were welcomed by local iwi with a powhiri.

Iwi representative delivering welcome speech. 

Then came the welcoming speeches from various dignitaries inlcuding Auckland mayor Phil Goff


SOSSI chairman Peter Jackson


 NZ Defence Force representative

The Defence Force, namely the Navy, share some of the headland and fence line with the Park and work together with park staff  in enhancing the area.

Unfortunately I missed taking a picture of the very moving and powerful powhiri and karakia given by the Kapiti Island iwi representatives as I was too busy listening.   And why were Kapiti Island Iwi present?  The 10 female birds being introduced were from Kapiti Island just off the Wellington Coast, and the 10 male Kiwi were from Tiritiri Matangi Island which is an island in the Hauraki Gulf just 3kms offshore from Shakespear.  The mixing of the birds ensures there will be genetic diversity in future offspring.

After all of the speeches the birds were returned to their shelter.  We were then told that a few of the birds would be brought out for us to be able to see close up, whilst ensuring they would be carefully handled we were asked to be very quiet so as not to frighten the nocturnal creatures.  We had presumed that the birds would be brought out in the boxes as we knew that perspex lids had also been made for the boxes.  

What a pleasant surprise we had when we saw that the birds were being carefully brought out by handlers, cradling them in their arms like they would a newborn baby.

Each bird had a handler, a volunteer umbrella holder and a Ranger to bring them out to see us.

This bird was brought out by Ginnie.  Ginnie is the organiser for the Junior Ranger programme run at the Park which we are very involved with over the summer months. 


The Kiwi were released into their new habitat later in the afternoon, away from the glare of onlookers.   We look forward to hearing their calls in the night next time we return. 

Escape tunnel

March 21, 2017

Dickie Attenborough, Steve McQueen, James Garner  – where are you when I need you? I need help in digging our escape tunnel from Shakespear!  The uniforms are being stitched together,  the forged passes are being printed and the clever devices are sewn into the trousers ready to surreptitiously dispose of the diggings onto the parade ground whilst the Germans stand guard ………. well, perhaps that’s going a little too far but it does feel a little like we need to tunnel out of here, you will see why shortly.

It was our 35th wedding anniversary last Monday, and we celebrated in our usual manner in that we exchanged our perpetual cards – these are the same card we give each other, each year, once given they go back in the drawer ready for next year! 

Tuesday morning and Roy had an appointment with an ophthalmic surgeon to have a small hole lasered into each eye.   After the initial consultation, he was 5 minutes in the chair and it was all done with little fuss and with no after effects or problems.  

Wednesday was pack up time for us to leave the SCC (Self Contained) parking area at Shakespear as the van was going in to have the brakes sorted…. We hope.  We stayed with Leslie (Steve was away) for the night before heading back to pick up the van on Thursday afternoon.  But oh dear, the brakes are not fixed properly as we need to replace the calipers and of course there are no available parts here in NZ so these need to be sourced from the USA which of course means we wont be leaving here anytime soon whilst we wait for their arrival and then of course the fitting of them.  But brakes are pretty important so best we get them sorted once and for all.  Heavy sigh, I was never very good at being patient but never mind, there could be worse places to be stuck. 

So here we are back in the main campground at Shakespear where we will be for at least the next two weeks whilst we wait for the parts to arrive.  We are told that it’s no problem for us to stay on and as we are continuing with our camp host duties as it’s a huge help to the staff here.

On top of the brake issues, Roy has more appointments to keep with various specialists, we seem to visit one specialist after another which then necessitates another appointment for scans or MRI’s or tests for further investigations and then further appointments.  At least we are getting everything sorted relatively quickly but it does seem as though the goal posts are forever shifting or should I say, the escape tunnel seems to be getting longer and longer!  

A Busy week

March 7, 2017

Summer may have officially slipped in autumn this last week  but the temperatures are still saying that it’s definitely summer time with lots of sunshine and warmth although I think that is about to change.   It’s also been a busy week what with one thing or another. Friends Brian & Marj came to join us for a few days, funnily enough it’s almost 6 years to the day since  we first met them.  We were real greenhorns then with just one days experience of living full time in the van but they were very kind to us and gave us lots of useful advise about living full time on the road including happy hour etiquette which you can read about here.  However this time I neglected to take a single picture of us together, I must have spent too much time chatting!

It felt as though we were constantly on the go as it was a busy week of appointments, most of which involved fighting the Auckland traffic….groan.  First off Roy had an appointment for a scan, no problem, it was not too far away in Wairau Road which is not too far from Shakespear , just 35km down the motorway.  So one hour and 35 minutes later he arrived for his appointment!  I don’t know how, or why, people commute through the madness of traffic everyday, it would drive me nuts.  But lesson learnt, don’t make any appointments during the commuter/school traffic peak times.  The next day we had another appointment but this time just down the road at Silverdale where the van was getting its brakes sorted and it was 9.30am that the van had to be in so it was a quick trip down the road.  We then went on to Steve & Les’ in Torbay for the day and also to get a bit of shopping done at Albany.  We picked the van up in the late afternoon and headed off to the dump station at Hatfield Beach to take care of necessities before heading back to Shakespear.  

But it wasn’t the end of our running around, the following morning we were both off to the Doctors in Mt Albert for our annual checkups.  This time we allowed plenty of time to get there and with a late morning appointment we had a good run through with it taking us just over an hour. From there we headed to Manukau to meet up with Antony to collect our mail and to have lunch with him before we headed back to Shakespear.  It was another  reasonable run taking just over an hour and a half this time. According to the newspapers the traffic problems are set to continue to get worse with “March madness”  occurring this month.   I think we will try and avoid travelling across the city especially at peak times.  

By the time Friday came, we were both ready to have a day without travelling anywhere!  Not that I was idle mind you, no, it was time to bottle a huge pot of beetroot!

Beetroot getting ready to be bottled.

We had visited our favourite market garden in Mangere last week when we were over that way to stock up on lovely outdoor tomatoes and lots of lovely fresh vegetables picked straight from the ground.  Soon it will be time to make  relishes, pickles and chutneys with supplies from these gardens, in particular using their flavoursome (ugly & mishapen) outdoor tomatoes. 

More visitors through the week, with Gary & Marg calling in for a catch up on their way through Auckland before heading to their home in Tokerau Beach.  It won’t be long and we will be back up their way again where we look forward to sharing some fishy tales as well as some fish!  

Colin & Ed came visiting at the weekend, and it was great to catch up and relax in the sun.  This time I did remember to take a picture 

Meanwhile, a graffitiI artist has been secretly at work as we found two labels stuck on the van, one under the passenger side wing mirror and the other on the back of the van

After extensive investigations we are pretty sure we have discovered the identity of the phantom labeller …….let’s just say that a certain bald Ranger, currently on a road trip around the South Island may get a surprise one of these days!  All in good fun of course. 

Last week of camp hosting

February 20, 2017

You know when it’s time for our camp hosting duties to finish when this is the view of the campgroup…..


For most people work beckons, schools and university have begun, and it’s just the odd tourist or three coming in to stay plus it’s the start of school camps coming into the park so it’s time for us to pack up and ship out.  Although most weekends are fully booked with campers, like this last weekend, although not so many have turned up.  The rain that we had prior to the weekend seems to have put a lot of people off,  apparently it rained heavily in the city Friday and Saturday whilst we were bathed in sunshine out here on the peninsular.

But there have been a few different sights this week.  What’s this I see on the horizon?


A closer look reveals a paraglider with a blue chute 


And friend with a red chute


They just so happened to pick the one day when the wind was a very gentle breeze, typical, they should have been here the day before when we had very strong winds, but perhaps they are just beginners so they may have only wanted a gentle zephyr.

We have enjoyed our Camp Hosting role, it brings with it all sorts of interesting people, most of them lovely and with only a couple of minor incidents in which we have to nicely tell people off for their inconsiderate behaviour.  But mostly it has been advising people or helping campers with everything from jump starting cars to lending them gear including cutlery and a portable gas cooker, a pump or power to pump up beds and numerous other bits and pieces.

This is the sign that I made for the entrance to the camping area this year which made for lots of positive comments.  


Usually there is a reminder of some of the rules but I thought that this year we would change tack and remind people to have fun, on the whole I think it worked…..although I’m not sure whether the kids do dishes rule worked all the time!

But we haven’t moved far, just to the Self Contained Parking area in the main part of the park, which is where we are now.

Here we shall remain at least for the next week or two whilst schools take over the camp ground.  

We have made a little money for SOSSI, Shakespear Open Sanctuary Society Incorporated, from taking donations and running the Junior Ranger Program.  

Here we are in front of our faded sign wearing our SOSSI hats (we weren’t wearing our t shirts) with our honorary Junior Ranger Badges pinned onto them and holding the booklets that the children complete to earn their badge after I have marked their booklets.

A very successful year for raising a few funds for SOSSI from the Junior Ranger program as well as from donations made for people to charge up their phones and devices by plugging into our solar generated power.  This year the funds from the power  is going to the initiative to bring Kiwi back into the park.  This will happen in April this year which will mean when we come back next year we shall be able to listen to Kiwi at night time.

Another week or two

February 13, 2017

Another week or two has slipped on by, where oh where does the time go? Apparently this is what happens when you give up the nose-to-the-grindstone life,  all perception of time moves to another dimension. 

 I spent a week with Antony post surgery and managed to keep myself very busy, filling his freezer and fridge with meals even doing a bit of housework and laundry in between, however most evenings we watched a movie together as well as some TV shows which passed the time quite quickly.  

I returned to Roy at Shakespear in time for the long Waitangi weekend when summer finally came out to play which is typical, as soon as the long school holidays are over and when kids head back to school to sit in hot classrooms does summer seem to appear.  Not that I am complaining, now everyone has returned to work/school, the campground has emptied, we have gone from being full wih 160+ people to 18  booked in this week. Of course the weekends go back to being full again but I can tell you it is nice and  quiet now and I have just about the whole beach to myself apart from the odd dotterel or oyster catcher to keep me company.

Roy did a week at Antony’s, it’s his turn to be nursemaid and help out whilst he is recovering from surgery.  However, our plans for the next couple of months have changed slightly as we had always planned to leave Shakespear at the end of February however Roy now has a couple of appointments to keep in March.    One is for some laser surgery on both eyes, the other for a hearing specialist….apparently both are what is called “age related” issues.  So now the plan is to leave here at the end of March, but then again that could well change!  Of course we asked if it was OK if we stayed on and the positive response was an invitation to stay on as long as we like.

Of course this glorious weather means that the beach beckons most days and I have been swimming two or three times a day mainly for it’s cooling down effect but also because it is just plain lovely to swim in the warm ocean.  

More visitors this week with Steve & Leslie coming on Friday to stay overnight, their granddaughter Bea aged 3 1/2 came along to keep us all amused, and that she did making us all laugh at times. I neglected  to take a single picture, we were all too busy enjoying the moment.  It was also time for Steve & Les to take down their tent, the grass had grown a little although it was mowed all around the tent, the evidence of where the tent had been was plain to see.

Can you tell where the tent was?

As well, this week the gazebo had to be handed back, so we have gone from this ;-

To this ;-


Niece Natalie was in Auckland  up from Wellington and on Sunday she came to visit.  By this time Roy had also returned so it was a great chance to catch up as we haven’t seen Natalie since last year when Natalie & I went to the netball.  We spent a lovely afternoon with her and her aunt & uncle, Carol & Alan, catching upon all their news and generally putting the worlds to rights.  We are looking forward to another catch up at around Easter time when Natalie is heading north for a family visit and as we will undoubtedly be in the north somewhere, it’s another opportunity to meet up.

This will be our last week as Camp Hosts in the camp ground, but we are not moving far, just to the Self Contained Parking Area which is about 500m from where we are now.  Thsi is the time of the year when school groups are coming into the camp ground over the next few weeks and we are not required.  Another year as Camp Hosts comes to a close, we shall return but not until next year.

Friends

February 6, 2017

As we become a little more mature, it seems to us that friends and family become even more important in our lives.  As well as rekindling old friendships, it’s also good to make new friends and of course family is also right up there in the mix.  We’ve had a few visitors since we have been here at Shakespear,  from family to friends.  Some folk we have known for a looooooong time and it’s fantastic to meet up again and pick up from where we last met.

Glennis & Robin came to visit after we caught up with them last week at Cathy & Wayne, we last saw Glennis & Robin  when they came to visit with other friends two year ago which we blogged about here

L-R Roy, Wayne, Cathy, Glennis & Robin

Now we met Glennis many years ago when Roy & I lived in Tokoroa and we had taken up playing scrabble competitively in the mid 1980’s then continued playing when we moved to Auckland a year or two later. Over the years the inevitable happened…Roy became Chairman of NZ Scrabble, and I was at varying times, treasurer or secretary.  As well, Glennis & Rob’s daughter Rachael became our regular babysitter over the next few years but more recently in 2010 we caught up with Rachael and her family who now reside in France – which you can read about here

Cathy, Roy, Glennis, Robin & Wayne discussing the problems of the world over coffee and cake.

Cathy was also a scrabble player whom we met all those years ago, but we haven’t seen Wayne & Cathy for nearly 20 years so we had a fair bit of chin wagging to do!  It’s lovely to meet up again after all that time to reminisce.

Other visitors were niece  Sarah and her three boys.  It was Asher’s 8th birthday and he came out for his his birthday treat which included  to have his favourite lunch (Bacon & Egg Pie), a surf, and of course to see his favourite great Aunty! What more could a boy ask for?

Ben, Asher and Finn in the surf.

It was also a good opportunity for the boys to enlist Uncle Roy to help them fly their pirate ship kite which they got on a recent family holiday to Bali.
Uncle Roy, Ben and Finn set the kite flying 
Roy watching the kite fly.

It was a lovely day, albeit it very windy but good for kite flying!

Our next visitors were dear friends Wade & Lindsay, whom we knew from our Tokoroa days.  Roy and Wade were friends long before Lindsay and I came onto the scene.  Subsequently we had our children at around the same time and we shared many times together in each other’s company when the children were preschoolers and before we moved to Auckland.  As well, we spent many a lovely holiday together, sharing the childcare and giving each other precious timeout on our own, so it was lovely to meet up again as it’s been four or five years since we last met up.  Their eldest daughter Caroline lives at Gulf Harbour so it was a great opportunity to spend some time together….just like old times.

They came for dinner on Saturday afternoon, and well, one thing led to another, and they ended up staying the night in the tent (thanks Steve & Les for leaving your tent up).  I took a couple of photos with my phone, but by the time I remembered to take a picture the odd bottle or two had been emptied, the light was fading and the quality of the photo & photographer is not great!


A great way to celebrate Wade & Lindsays 39th wedding anniversary – wow, have we known each other that long?  It was  fantastic to meet up again and we look forward to our next get together in a few months time.  

Wildlife

January 20, 2017

It’s fair to say that being in a Sanctuary means that we are surrounded by lots of wildlife in one form or another.  Currently there are 4 pairs of Dotterels nesting on the beach, they build their nests right on the high tide mark which necessitates the nests having to be sandbagged to protect them from extra high tides and also to be roped off from humans who may decide to have an extra close look.  Dotterel are a threatened/nationally vulnerable species, here at Shakespear there have been 16 chicks hatched, of which 5 have been lost and 6 have fledged.  Some eggs were lost due to high tides, hooligans and other creatures so protection of their space is important.  The other day we had to move one lot of fencing which was protecting their patch as the dotterels had, in their wisdom, moved further along the beach.  

Can you spot the well camouflaged adults?

A close up view

 But first the had to get their chicks across the small creek…who knew that they could swim?


And a blurry close up

After we had set up the fencing, put up the signs, and made sure they were safe, the adult birds with chicks in tow, then proceeded to head back to their previous haunt further along the beach.  Since then they have moved between the two areas daily I guess trying to decide which one is best?

The Kereru, NZ wood pigeon, are feasting on the ripe Karaka  berries on the tree in front of our van, gorging themselves until they are almost too heavy to fly before taking off with the unmistakable sound of their wing beats to gain enough height and momentum to get back to their home.  

They also seem to enjoy the new growth on the kowhai tree growing at the rear of our van but they have not been left in peace to eat the leaves as we have seen Tui chasing and dive bombing the much larger Kereru until the pigeons fly off out of their way.  We have also seen Tui exhibiting similar behaviour toward a magpie, chasing it in a menacing manner, diving and swooping on the magpie until it’s forced from its flight to land, and then continually harassing it until it finally leaves the area.  

In the past two years two species of birds have been reintroduced to the Sanctuary, the Whitehead – which I wrote about its release into the park here, and Robins which were reintroduced last year and you can read a little about them here.  This year in the autumn Kiwi are being reintroduced into the Santuary which is fantastic news for all, but in particular, reward for all the hard work done by the rangers, staff and the numerous volunteers who put in hours of work throughout the year.

It’s not all bird life here though.  This fellow was dragged onto the beach after being found dead in the shallows by some undoubtably surprised swimmer.


It’s a bronze whaler shark, about 2m in length.  It was later recovered by DoC  and taken away for reasearch purposes.  It’s not something I would personally like to find whilst I am swimming!!

Blooming lovely

December 19, 2016

Oh how I love the drive into Shakespear, you drive up the hill to the pest proof fence and wait for the pest proof gates to open and let us in, once through the gates a little further along toward the  brow of the hill we catch a first glimpse of a sign mown into the paddock.


The number 5 denotes the fact that Shakespear has now been 5 years pest free, a great achievement especially for all who continue to work hard to maintain the park.  Early 2017 will see the reintroduction of Kiwi to the sanctuary, congratulations to all those hard working staff and volunteers who are making this happen.

Once over the hill we get a good view down over Te Haruhi Bay and we see the first glimpse of the pohutakawas in flower, it is truly a delightful sight.   

The entrance to the  campground  is lined with the trees and many of them are in full bloom. 

We have a Pohutakawa flowering at the front and rear of where we are parked within the campground, for some reason the trees are putting on a particularly grand display this year.


My favourite tree in the park is this one which is half red and half yellow


Who knew that there was a yellow Pohutakawa? 

In fact there are many colour variations, from almost a pink, through orange tones to red to crimson and there is one that is almost a browny/red.


Whatever their colour, they herald the start of summer and are glorious in all their colours. 

Final week

February 13, 2016

Where oh where has the time disappeared?  It’s our final week at Shakespear this week, we have made the decision that it’s time to move on even if the Rangers here would ideally like us to stay on until after Easter.  We have things to do and places to see!  So if any of our regular readers  and friends want to visit us then this week will be your last opportunity.  Steve & Pat (we kept running into them up north) are arriving tomorrow and they will stay a few days, as well Steve & Les will be back again next weekend for a final stay for the summer along with all three of their grandsons this time.

We have a few things to attend to before we finally get underway on our travels, not least repairs to the rear of the van.  Oh did we not mention before that on Christmas Eve we were hit by a German tourist  whilst we were parked up?  To cut a long story short, we were only trying to be helpful, these tourists had just arrived in the country, they had picked up a rental motorhome and driven straight here.  When they arrived at the park (right on dusk) their house battery was flat and no matter what we did, even following the written instructions that came with the motorhome (which bore no semblance to what was actually there), we thought that we would be nice to them so we offered for them to plug into our vehicle and we would charge them up for an hour or two or at least until their fridge started working.  But when they were backing up, they hit the accelerator instead of the brake and whammo, they reversed into the back drivers side end of the van with such great force, we thought we had been shunted off our hydraulic stabilisers.   

Then followed the Monty Pythonesque scene of apologies, tears, and trying to translate via rudimentary schoolgirl German and frantic hand gesticulations we finally got their insurance and rental details.   I shall not get into here about the slack and idle (well known) rental companies who rent out vehicles to people who have just stepped off a plane after a 36+hr flight, who admit that they are exhausted, who then have to contend with driving on the opposite side of the road, in a strange vehicle with instruction booklets that are written in English -it would not take much for them to have other languages available – and with instruction booklets which bear no resemblance of the vehicle they actually have!   We are now in the midst of sorting out insurance repairers, panel beaters & painters, and of course accommodation whilst the van is being repaired. 

Where are we off to?  The Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay,  we had good intentions to get there this time last year but circumstances conspired against us, this time!

Meanwhile, we will enjoy our last week here at Shakespear and yes, we will be back again at the end of the year.

Visitors

January 28, 2016

A number of  friends and family have visited us since we have been at Shakespear, and it’s lovely to see them all.  Roy’s eldest son Simon and wife Anita came visiting one Sunday afternoon after Simons commitments with Auckland tennis were over (he’s the chair of Auckland tennis).  It was lovely to see them and catch up with their news and their busy lives.

Bernice’s brother Steve and wife Leslie have been to stay for the past few weekends, they have put up their tent behind our  van, which means that they can pop up after work on a Friday and leave Sunday afternoon as it is only a 30 minute drive from their home.  We have had lots of fun and laughter which is usual when we get together, Steve has also brought up his boat so that he and Roy can go out fishing.  The past two weekends they have also had one of their grandchildren with them.  First there was Ben, eldest son of their daughter Sarah.  Ben is 8, we had a great weekend with him keeping us well on our toes.  He really enjoyed getting up on Sunday morning to go with Uncle Roy on his walk along the beach collecting bags of rubbish and treasures along the way.  He also enjoyed getting up on top of the van to check out the view from up on high. 

   
And yes, the grass has grown around the van, note the length of the grass around the wheels!

The next weekend, Steve and Les were accompanied by their granddaughter Bea who has just celebrated her 3rd birthday.  We had a fun weekend with her, and on that particular day Sarah came up with her three boys to join in the fun for a day which included a water slide put up by some of the campers.  Ben and Finn braved the slide by themselves whilst Asher decided it was not for him as he had already had a bit of a mishap (more on that shortly),  Aunty Bernice was the only one brave enough to take Bea for a ride down the slide and I can tell you it was mighty scary!! 

 That’s Bernice and Bea flying down the slide!

Earlier that day the boys had gone off to explore the park, which included a climb up a very popular, but very steep hill.  It all went went until it came time for the descent with Ash first sliding then tumbling head over heels down the steep incline.  This is the result – warning: nudity involved in the following picture. 

 7 year old Asher’s scars!

Yesterday’s weather forecast was not looking too good with heavy rain and thunderstorms forecast, however, the day did not look too bad so Sarah and the boys decided to heck with the forecast and came up for the day.  It turned out to be a real scorcher of a day for us even if the rest of Auckland was receiving a deluge.  Most of the day was spent in the sea swimming, but we did manage to get out of the water long enough for the boys to complete their Junior Ranger Badges.  

 Aunty Bernice marking the booklets, with from front clockwise Ollie (Ben’s friend), Ben, Ash (obscured) and Finn.

PS.  We have mowed the lawns so everything looks tidy.  We had to take the van down to Silverdale to fill up with LPG as our tank is an inbuilt one, so whilst we had to move the van, we took the opportunity to mow the grass.  That should see us right until we leave here at the beginning of March.