Archive for the ‘Whakapirau’ Category

House sitting

August 21, 2017

It’s been nearly a week since we arrived at Whakapirau to take up our house sitting duties with the handover taking place last Sunday. We quickly settled into some semblance of routine before our first guests arrived. Pat & Sue arrived on Tuesday for a few days stay, they are fellow motorhomers whom we have travelled with over many months the past few years. This year they have wintered over in Kaiteriteri so it was lovely that they flew up to join us for a few days of catch up.

Of course I neglected to take a single picture of us together, I did try one evening when we were playing cards but my attempt at selfies failed yet again, I have figured it is because my arms are too short, and no, I shall not be investing in a selfie stick any day soon. So you will have to be content with a picture of the view from the deck.

view from the deck looking across to Pahi.

We really enjoyed their company especially the many games of cards (girls reign supreme) and getting us back into doing jigsaws which is always a little difficult in a motorhome with lack of space in which to spread out the jigsaw pieces. So far we have done a couple that we have picked up at the second hand store which I shall be returning to in the next few days to swap over the Puzzles.

One of the completed puzzles

We did not get up to much, mainly spending our time catching up interspersed with the occasional bit of farm tending i.e. herding escaped sheep back into their paddock, feeding the hens and collecting eggs, sharing plenty of good food as well as imbibing in the odd vino. All too soon it was time for Pat & Sue to return south and they left on Saturday. We have more guests arriving today but more on them later. In between we have been to evening drinks with the locals at the beach and had one of the locals round for dinner and others for morning tea. All in all quite a social time.

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.  

Family and friends

July 13, 2017

It was time to catch up with Simon, Anita and Maria, Alex had not met Maria so it was a lovely morning spent with them and catching up with all their news, and to have some time with them.

Aunty Alex and Maria

Reading stories

From there we headed to Steve & Leslie’s for a bit of a get together with them and their family and to have lunch.  It was a bit of a kiwi themed lunch with all the old time favourites and treats.  And for some reason I forgot to take a single picture but it was lovely for Alex to catch up with her cousins and their children.

From there we headed up to Jacky & Chris for a few nights.  We had intended on then going to the van for a few nights but it was decided to stay with them until we head back to Auckland on Friday.

Alex decided she needed to relax once we got there

It’s a tough life

But then she did get involved with a bit of farm life

Rockin’ the gumboots aka Wellington boots

She wore the boots to help Jacky, Roy and friend Mike kill murder  prepare a couple of sheep for the table and freezer.

Alex, Jacky and Mike skinning the sheep.
Then a day or so later it was time to cut up the beasts.

Happy in their work
And later that evening, guess what was for dinner?

And damn delicious it was too!

Back in the real world

September 29, 2015

Back to the van on Saturday after Jacky & Chris arrived home on Friday.  Just as pleased as they were to be back to their home, we were just as pleased to return to ours.  And not only that, the weather has decided to come right with the blue skies and warm sunshine arriving although I do have to admit that the evenings and mornings are still a little chilly.  It seems that not only did we put the clocks forward, we somehow flicked the switch for nice weather.  This was the view at Whakapirau when we left, warm and sunny and showing off its glorious best.

imageLooking across to Pahi

We returned to the van which had been in storage at Uretiti, and we moved into a camping place by the beach access where we will remain for the rest of this week whilst we get everything back into order as well as put away that suitcase full of purchases I made from IKEA in Melbourne.  Oh, have I not mentioned my three forays into IKEA?  Perhaps I will come clean about those purchases at a later date!

imageParked at Uretiti

Now we wait for the wind to swing to a favourable quarter so we can get a bit of fishing in, let’s just hope that the weather continues to be as glorious as it has been the past few days.

Time for a change

August 19, 2015

Ron & Jan joined us at Whakapirau for the weekend. Now this friendship goes back quite a number of years, as Roy and Janet started school together just a few years ago at Cockle Bay and they have kept the friendship going for over 65 years!!! We attended their 50th wedding anniversary at the beginning of the year which you can read about here. I forgot to take any pictures as we were too busy catching up and doing far more important things.

It was a lovely weekend, the weather wasn’t all that wonderful and the netball wasn’t much better but we managed to keep ourselves well entertained playing cards most of the weekend. Our game of choice is Samba, a three pack Canasta style of game, which we all really enjoy playing except when some people seem to get dealt complete Sambas (I did leave the table at that point …..hmmmm?!) or a proliferation of Jokers but in any case it was all great fun and hopefully we can do it all again soon.

The rest of our time here at Whakapirau has been spent pottering around doing the odd job here and there, and generally keeping out of mischief. Roy even went fishing off the wharf the other day. If you click on the photo below and zoom in, you may be able to make out Roy at the end of the wharf.image

We are about to hand over the reigns to our housesitting duties as we have sub contracted out our job to Pat & Sue (with the blessing of Jacky & Chris) as Roy & I are off to Melbourne for a bit of a holiday. I know, we lead such stressful lives that we need a holiday but someone has to do it!

Our new home!!

August 9, 2015

Have we got your attention??

Yes we have a new home….and this is the view from the deck this morning


This is our home for the next six or seven weeks whilst we housesit in Whakapirau on the Kaipara Harbour for Jacky & Chris.  It’s lovely to be here and enjoy all the “luxuries” of being in a house wherr we don’t have to watch battery levels and power consumption, nor water consumption or waste water levels.

We do have some responsibilities whilst here though, as well as the cat to look after we also have chooks to mind and this morning (our first morning) they rewarded us with 5 eggs – a record apparently!

imageA slight variation in sizes of eggs.

I am also taking advantage of the laden Seville Orange tree and have a batch of marmalade on the go


Tomorrow it will be cooked up and bottled ready for eating later.

Today is our daughter Alexandra’s 29th Birthday, we hope she has a lovely birthday and celebrates well in London where she lives.  And if she behaves herself then she may just get a special belated birthday delivery from Jacky & Chris in a week or two😉

This is the (d)awning of …..

June 30, 2014

The new awning is in place plus new side and front windbreaks, as well as a ‘skirt’ which provide us with a nice breeze free area in which to sit especially when the weather is a little inclement. We have been waiting to have the awning replaced for over a year now, observing all sorts of designs and options as well as manufacturers. We kept hearing about a Whangarei business that came highly recommended from a number of people so we were happy to wait until we headed north again.

We took the van into Palmer canvas in Whangarei last Wednesday morning and left it there for two days whilst we took ourselves off to Whakapirau to stay with Jacky & Chris.

We spent a lovely couple of days with them in Whakapirau having a few laughs and the odd rum or two before we headed back into Whangarei on Friday to pick up the van. We were given a demonstration by the lovely staff at Palmers of how everything works and goes together before we headed on our way, hoping that we would remember everything. First stop was at the dump station to empty the waste tanks and fill up with fresh water, that task completed, we headed further out of town before stopping at the petrol station in Tikipunga. We had previously done a recce around Whangarei to find a service station that has auto LPG as well as being easily accessible. But just our luck, a fuel tanker truck complete with large trailer was filling up the stations tanks as we arrived, blocking the entrance/exit for the LPG fill. Oh well, no hurry, we shall wait for him to finish. 15 minutes was all it took before we were on our way again – but not too far though as we needed to hook on the car, a stop at the first convenient rest area was required to enable us to hitch the car to the A-frame and onto the back of the van. We were greeted at the rest area by a flock/herd/brood of chickens.


We were heading to Whananaki, which is just 35kms from Whangarei and is a delightful DoC camping area right on Otamure Bay. The beach is lined with Pohutakawas which must look stunning at Christmas time when they are in full bloom.

By the time we got to the camp site, it was late afternoon, perfect timing for drinks though as it did not take long for us to set up and settle ourselves in. Saturday morning was time to test out the new awning and to see how easy it is to put together, first the awning – easy – it rolled out as you would expect. Next, we attached the skirts to the side of the van, this stops the wind from funneling through under the van. The skirt attaches very easily via domes which are attached to the base of the van. Next, we slide the front windbreak along the awning roll, we have had this made so it can be placed anywhere along the front. Next, attach the side windbreak, this necessitates sliding one edge up along a channel fitted on the side of the van and hooking the pole through a cleat at the top with the other end of the pole fitting into a holed drilled into the awning roll. This is much easier than it sounds, so much so that even the vertically challenged one can reach up and do this all by herself!!


We have had just the one side made which can be used at either end in conjunction with the front piece so whichever way the wind is blowing we can quickly and easily move it from one end to the other. Zips join the pieces together and close up the corner, a few pegs along the ground and we are as snug as a bug. What a roaring success it is, we have put our outside table and chairs in one corner with plenty of room to move around.


It will prove to be very useful throughout the year we are sure. We chose to have large clears put in each section, we had observed other variations where the add-on was very dark, we wanted a nice light area. We also wanted something that we would actually use as we have met a number of motorhomers who having had something made, subsequently rarely use it as it is either too bulky or too difficult to put together. Ours stores away nicely in a bag made for it all plus with materials we have chose it is not heavy or bulky but it is very strong. Who knows, in the winter with the sun streaming in we could grow tomatoes in there!

What shall we call it…..Conservatory? Loggia? Porch? Enclosure? Verandah? Portico? Stoa? Lanai? Guest wing? Glass house?

Whakapirau to Uretiti

June 24, 2014


No, we have not fallen off the face of the earth but we have been holed up at Jacky and Chris’ place at Whakapirau.  We left the van at Uretiti after making our escape out of the driveway, but then Bernice returned to stay at the van for a couple of nights as the netball ANZ Championship minor semi finals were on. Sunday and Monday nights Bernice spent back at the van whilst Roy stayed on at Whakapirau with Jacky (Chris had returned to Auckland for a few days).  By the time Tuesday morning arrived, the weather had deteriorated with heavy rain and very strong winds blowing.  Bernice was umming and aaahing whether she should ride out the bad weather in the van or beat a hasty retreat to the calmer climes of Whakapirau.  Decision made (aided by the promise of French Onion soup for lunch and Boeuf Bourguignon for dinner!),  a quick trip over the Brynderwyns, through the flood waters around Maungataroto to the relative calm of Whakapirau.  Here we stayed for the rest of the week.  

Jacky and Chris relocated their hen Mabel (the brown one) from their home in Auckland to the country.  Mabel has made a few new friends and three strays have joined her on the property where they happily roam around.  They all became rather excited one day when Roy did a bit of weeding, disturbing the ground and uncovering lots of juicy worms and insects.  


Mabel and her entourage                Heading down to assist Roy

Not only are there numerous birds and other wildlife around the property but there are hundreds of skinks, usually found sunning themselves on warm rocks in the afternoon sun.


Skinks in the sun

There are also a number of bromeliads growing happily and at this time of the year (winter) provide a welcome bit of colour.


By the time the weekend came round it was time for us to head back to the van at Uretiti as Monday morning the van was due in at Whangarei as we had booked it into a car painters to get a professional cut and polish.  It was to take them all day Monday and half of Tuesday to complete the work and as the netball semifinal between Waikato Magic and Queensland Firebirds was to be played on Monday evening, we arranged to stay on site for the night.  Whilst the van was being beautified, we took the opportunity to get lots of shopping done, we managed to pick up lots of bits and pieces we had been meaning to pick up for some time, little things such as; cables to sort out reception for the second TV in the bedroom, new fly screen material, get spare keys cut, WoF for the RAV and new brakes fitted, new covers for the car seats and a piece of matting for the van.   As well,  we managed to catch up with friends Dave & Di (ex Oamaru).  Although David was currently away in the UK, we had a good catch up with Di and caught up with all their news.

One day whilst passing the bridge  over the Hatea River – the entrance to Whangarei Harbour – the bridge was being raised to let ships through.  The Bridge is officially called Te Matau a Pohe – translated as ‘The fishhook of Pohe’ the Maori chief who welcomed the first English settlers to Whangarei.  Pohe  was very skilled in manufacturing fish hooks using traditional materials and styles. His hooks were so practical, many of the settlers used his hooks in preference to the standard English hooks made of steel. He was also instrumental in building bridges between the two cultures during the first years of English settlement amongst Maori. Pohe used his ranking to protect many of the first settlers from being killed.

It is certainly a stunning looking bridge with the raised portion shaped like a traditional fishing hook.

6 11

Bridge being raised                          Crossing the bridge

We picked up the shiny, polished van on Tuesday afternoon and headed back out to Uretiti. 

7Pat & Sue parked on the left, the Vannini’s shiny van on the right.

Now for the nature segment and unusual sights, odds and ends.

These fungi are seldom seen growing from the ground, it is much more usual to find them on dead or dying wood on trees or on the ground.  Well in this case they are growing from fallen wood as a little scraping around found that they were growing for some rotting wood a few millimetres below the ground.


These shells were washed up the other day and I have not been able to identify them.  They are a little unusual in that they are growing as a cluster attached to each other, but not from a common point.  Any help in identification would be appreciated.


Throughout New Zealand there are many unusual monuments in out of the way places.  This one is about 50 metres behind the front sand dunes on Bream Bay just north of Uretiti.  A close look revealed its unusual purpose.


Bernice woke one morning complaining of the noise from a rooster or roosters.  There are no houses or properties with signs of sheds or chicken runs anywhere in sight from the camp.  On a walk around several days later found these three enjoying a sunny morning in the sand dunes.  They join the large number wild hens and roosters seen on the side of the road throughout New Zealand.  Obviously these were the culprits that disturbed someone’s sleep.


We left Uretiti on Monday and headed just up the road to Ruakaka.   This Wednesday (tomorrow) the van is due back in at Whangarei for a replacement awning to be made and fitted.  This time, we are getting the experts to do the work unlike that of last years effort  here


View from the door at Ruakaka      Looking across from sandspit

Out on the sandspit there were large numbers of birds often guarding territory or simply displaying consternation at my presence.

These three were looking as if they were arguing over the architectural merits of the ground they were standing and stamping on.  Why three, not sure perhaps adults with a chick from last season.


And this pair were also remonstrating about foreign invaders.


Finally a couple of shots of dawn looking out to the Whangarei Heads


Over the weekend, we tried our hand at making Pastrami.  We were very pleased with the result although we will tweak the proportions of the spices in the mix we made to cover the outside of the beef.  Needless to say it did not last very long!


Finally, the RAV ticked over a milestone recently – 300,000kms and still going strong!



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 🙂