Thursday, 25 August 2011


A short while ago we had the coldest wintery weather in 50 years. There was snow on the hills around whangarei!!! It's sub tropical here. Well not on those days. Sub being the word. One night anything that was wet froze. Not frost. It just froze. Dramaic for the North. That was followed by stunningly beautiful clear sunny days. Now it is calm, overcast and gray. has been all week.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Winter Holiday 2011

Hilton needs a holiday. Where to go, what to do? Doesn’t take much brain storming from us two to get something thought of.
The bottom of the North Island.  Cape Palliser to be precise and the Wairarapa area to see our friend Errol who is quite close to finishing a sailing vessel he has been building just out of Carterton.
Castle Point seems like a good idea also as it’s not far from Masterton.
Rental vans are very affordable in the winter so after checking out a Back Packer rental, we paid for it and started to pack things needed. Lots as it turned out. Being used to just taking a few warm clothes and some treat food when holidaying on Spindy (boat) I had to remember the salt and other very basic things.
With the car loaded up way more than it really cared for we headed off to Auckland and the campervan. Stowed the gear and on our way. Had a nice time at Tauranga seeing Peter and Barbara and extended family.
On the very frosty drive from Tauranga to Taupo we stopped for a coffee and had the pleasure of sharing it with two very cold travellers from Montana(USA). What a nice encounter that was, we hope they had warmer nights from that point on, as they had slept some hours in their car on that very cold night.
A very beautiful drive through Taupo and across the
Desert Road
with mountains sparkling in the afternoon sun.
Ashurst, time to stop for the day. A nice quiet stop by the river. A very cold morning the next day. Ice on the inside of the windows. A cup of tea and a biscuit and on the road to find sun and stop for breakfast.
Yeah Right.  
Up into the Manawatu Gorge and we met old man Fog. We did not lose his company until somewhere past Ekatahuna. We did stop in Ekatahuna for breakfast, a breakfast that would have fed me for two meals.
Its easy driving in that part of the country, roads are not crowded so the miles ticked off and midday had us at the picturesque Putangirua Pinnacles.


It’s a pleasant walk up the river valley, pretty dry river at that time. Amazing fossils in the rocks, some almost looked like line drawings.

 The pinnacles are quite interesting but really one needs to be quite aware that the stones/rocks could fall out of these pinnacles anytime so we kept back from the faces. It really is crumbly material, which is the reason they are there.

Ngawi Bulldozers

Ngawi is the home of the local fishos and the last working place for some bulldozers, it seems.

New Zealand Fur Seal at Cape Palliser

A flattish area just before Cape Palliser lighthouse is where we chose to park the van that night. Seals playing in the pools and sleeping on, and in the rocky shore. We did spend quite some time enjoying their antics. Trying to keep your distance is not easy as they are rock coloured and Hilton almost walked on a youngish one sleeping. It was not that bothered but did let him know it was there and not to walk on it. Hilton nearly died on the spot.

A warmer night by far and next morning the Ngawi crayfish boats were out at the crack of dawn nosing in around the rocks and probably really enjoying the lack of swell making their jobs so much easier.

Cape Palliser Light and steps
We headed for the lighthouse and ran up the 250 steps to a great view. (just kidding about the running bit) There is something about lighthouses, I just like to stand and admire them for the work they do, and I think subconsciously you think of those hardy people who use to man them. Of course, they are mostly in spectacular positions so there is a view to take in also.

Lake Ferry seems like it’s a holiday community, there are some locals year round and a camp ground where we cleaned up and filled up with water, charged the camera battery and other electronics we think we need.

Lake Onoke outlet
Lake Onoke looks to be a very gentle lake but the exit is another thing altogether.
A raging torrent with current running at well over 10 knots  is hurled into the open ocean of Palliser bay and head butts the ocean swell. The result is for seals only. Just one though, was having the time of its life frolicking in the turmoil.

Martinborough is a charmer. A bit of a stroll along the river, a purchase of what turned out to be the biggest meatiest hogget neck chops (from a real Butcher) and a couple of bottles of local Pinot Noir  and off  to Carterton where there is a couple of small but very lovely reserves with quite old trees. Old trees in these farmed areas are not usual so it was with a little bit of awe we gazed at these Kahikatea and Rimu and mentally thanked the people who were the instigators of creating such reserves.

Our van at Errols.

We enjoyed an extravagant,(for us) very superior meat pie at Mirrabells in Carterton, don’t miss it if you are in the  town. It is quite a lovely cafĂ©.
Castle Point Light
By this time the weather had turned pretty sulky but Castle Point and Tinui were on the visit list.

Tinui is where the first Anzac service was held in New Zealand and we had a stop over with Keith and Boo just 6ks from there. It’s really nice to have human contact when travelling as it can be quite insular in a Campervan.
Castle Point on arrival was, well, not conducive to walking to the lighthouse so we ate lunch in the van watching two surfers enjoying the waves and then headed for the campground. Plugged in so we could run the heater and keep warm we watched the scrappy day go by, waves showing their heads over the rocks out by the lighthouse and reading our books.
Sunday morning dawn was windless and just right for a jaunt out to the lighthouse.
Snowy hills between Taihape and Ohakune
The sea had calmed down somewhat but it was not safe to go walking those rocks south of the lighthouse where there was a plaque in memory of those who had in the past. We did get to the lighthouse as that area was quite safe but on looking South we could see our morning was about to deteriorate and headed back to the van and as we drove out the black squall rolled over us and the snow covered hills. Driving through snow flurries, it was quite magic.
 The hills had snow capping them and that was pretty much the scene to Taihape.
From Taihape to Ohakune snow covered the farmland to the road. Driving though falling snow we go into the Ohakune Top Ten campground and plugged in. I have a feeling the roads were closing behind us.

Monday was a tight blue sky and the place was white. We walked a bush walk just on the outskirts of Ohakune on the way up to the ski fields great old Rimu trees another very good example of old growth, with snow right to the forest floor.
Ohakune bush walk in a snowy winter wonderland
A stop over in Otorohanga to check out the Kiwi House and other birds. We were not disappointed with the residents especially the Great Spotted Kiwi. What a feisty bird she is. Feeding time at 1.30pm is not to be missed. A display of aggression towards the keeper who was doing the feeding had the kids and adults laughing and probably having a change of attitude towards our national bird. With the beak holding onto the keepers trousers and kicking the gumboot, she was certainly telling that keeper not to hang around. It was quite a perfect end to our sojourn south.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Is it really spring?

Borage and bee
It seems that we have had winter. Before and during our holiday in July it was cold and wet. Could happen again before spring really sets in. Today was warm and sunny.

I reckon spring is here now. The Mingimingi in flower smells wonderful. Hangehange and Coprosma are starting to flower.
Borage, Herb Robert and Heather are all blooming. The Arum lilies are in full bloom. Manuka has started its bloom early. It never really stopped this year. Next, it will be Kowhai and Clematis. They should be flowering already. It will take a trip too Tutukaka to find out. Green Hooded Orchids have nearly finished but Onion and Leek Orchids are still coming on. The Kauri seeds I planted are now 50mm high.
Fantail on the compost bin
  There is always something happening. Amongst all this Tui has taken over the bird feeding trough. Fantail, when he sees us, demands the opening of the compost bin lid for an easy meal. Chaffinch likes the open compost bin too. Bees are putting in a full day that begins with Thrush and Matata doing their song and ends with dusk.