Wednesday, 26 December 2012

White Christmas


In New Zealand we nearly always have a red Christmas as it is the time for our Pohutukawa to bloom. In the north in all the towns and along the coast they show off their crimson. It is also the time for Kanuka to flower. This year all the Kanuka have bloomed heavily. Our deck has been snowed with its small white petals as is all the ground near the trees. A white Christmas.

Friday, 7 December 2012

We Have Bees at Last

Last night we drove over to Dargavill and collected our first hive of bees to keep in our garden.
Already we watch the ladies come and go from the brood box. Fascinating. We watch them bring in pollen and also beat off intruding bees from other nearby hives.
Wonderful to have our own to look after.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The garden is all a buzz

Its been a very busy time for the birds in the last few weeks.
Full time collecting food for the chicks and then having to feed themselves.
I had the privilege of watching a fantail chick take its first bath. It had watched an adult fantail take a bath and decided it was a good idea. However, it took a while. First off the toes went into the water and it leaped back as if it got quite a fright, several more toe dips and then a little further in, a couple of flicks through the water and then it was full immersion, a very quick one at that and only the once.

Then there are the bees. Always working for the good of the hive, industrious collecting pollen, nectar and water. Bees need a lot of water in the summer months and early spring. It is very easy to make a water trough for bees, and bird baths work quite well too, especially if they are the rough concrete ones so the bees won't slip into the water.  Ours is just a plastic container with the top cut off leaving a tray that we have put rocks and small bits of blocks in it. I have put some hard foliage in so if the bees fall into the water they can scramble out onto it.

Our bees gathering water for the hive
Its lovely working to the hum of the bees. Later morning the birds are still doing a bit of singing including Matata in the wetland.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Wild Folwers

Now is the time of year for wild flowers. Our road verges are one of the best places to view natures work. Many are classed as pest plants but they still look wonderful.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Bludgers in the bird world

An interesting observation this Sunday afternoon. Tui was chasing a Fantail out of the trees at the eastern end of the house. I growled at it and wandered off to return a bucket  to the garage and Tui arrived at the totara trees where last year  we had sparrows nesting. This year we discouraged them by removing the nests as they were building them,  as sparrows are really a nuisance around the house and the B&B.
As Tui flew into the tree a sparrow was clearly agitated and was trying to keep the Tui away. Looking up I saw a nest and was thinking it may belong to Tui.
It did not, and what I saw made me smile, one bludger taking from another.
Sparrows are known by most as the rats of the sky and will scrounge food from anywhere and are very hard on the stick insects. However,  they can eat all the cicadas they want as they do quite a bit of damage to the fruit trees in this area.
So back to Tui. Tui saw the nest of material that would obviously suit its nest and wound itself around the branch and stole a great beak load of material from sparrows nest.
Then the tenacious Sparrow chased off after Tui. I guess it was going to try and get the nest material back. Good luck Sparrow.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Our Wetland

This is our Wetland viewed from our lounge window. Especially in the morning we can hear Matata from the deck where I took this photo.

Pahi and the Kaipara Harbour

Toady we went to Pahi about an hour from Ngunguru to go on a boat trip on the Kaipara Harbour. At 11am we caught the Kewpie Too for a four hour trip into history. The Kaipara is a massive harbour on the West coast of Northland and was vital in earlier times for transport into and out of the region prior to rail and roads.

 The once timber lined hills are now pasture with small and a few larger tracts of bush. Still, it has a story, and it is one worth listening to as it is ingrained into so much of Northlands culture with its timber, transport and fishing history. Its is also very scenic

At Pahi there is a huge Mortan Bay Fig. Read below.


The New Season

Everything is happening at once. Kingfisher is nesting down by the road. The first fantail chicks were seen being fed by their parents this week as well as the first Gray Warbler chicks. They are right up beside our deck in the Kanuka trees. We again look forward to a summer of birds about us. Fantails have up to five clutches in one summer. The poor things. They get quite tatty by the end with all the hard work. Last summer a guest counted 15 fantails in a moment from the deck.

Ruapekepeka Pa

Northland is the beginning of New Zealands history. Soon after battles started between Maori tribes and not long after that, more battles erupted between Maori and the new settlers, the English. Ruapekapeka Pa and the nearby English fort is the last place in Northland of battle between the English and Maori.
"Ruapekapeka Pa Historic Reserve encompasses the pa, and advanced and main British positions from which the battle was fought. The ditch and bank defences of the pa are still visible along with one of Kawiti’s cannon and the well which supplied water to the defenders. The earthen defences of the advanced British position are also still visible."

This was the first Trench Warfare ever encountered by English forces. Google Ruapekapeka. It is a very interesting story.
All that aside. from the Pa is one of the most stunning views in Northland. One can see from coast to coast and for miles to the north.
At the South West end of the Pa at the top of the hill a track takes one to the huge ancient Puriri Tree. There is a grove of very old, very large puriri. This is a must see. One tree is 1.85m diameter and very tall for a Puriri. This and the rest are the largest I have seen and possibly the larget remaining. Definately pre human occupation.

Monday, 24 September 2012

A Grand Day Out

We took Sunday off and went for a drive and walk. Way out to the North West beyond time lies the Herekino Harbour. We don't know much about Northlands west coast so off we went to Herekino and its Harbour. It is 193Km from Ngunguru via Pipiwai Road and 180km via state highway 1 and 32km from Kaitaia.

The drive up via Pipiwai Road is very scenic though much of it is unsealed. Still worth the drive amongst the big hills forest and bush.

We drove to Herekino then took Owhata Road to its end about half way down the south side of the harbour then walked to the entrance by skirting the shore. This is easiest done with the tide down a bit as rocky parts would be difficult to traverse.
It is a beautiful isolated place.

Looking west to the entrance.
It is a small very clean sandy harbour
Round concretion boulders. These four
were interesting in that each one was quite
different to the next
The West Coast. Isolated and
beautiful on a calm day

East up the harbour to Mt Herekino

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Pipiwharauroa has arrived

Pipiwharauroa (Shining Cuckoo) has arrived. It is in the trees above the house singing, singing.. "I am here, I have arrived safe after my 1000 mile (2510 Km) non stop flight from Vanuatu or the Soloman Islands. Where are you my mate." They fly back to the same site to lay their egg in a Gray Warblers nets every year. It is nice to know we saw this little fellow last year and probably the year before.

Of course the arrival means more than that to us. It means a change of weather and Spring is really here.
Pipiwharauroa will call until the end of December then go unheard until the next arrival. They depart for the tropics during April.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Seen it all before

We do repeat ourselves, don't we?
This time it is the Kumerahou in flower at our neighbours place. We have never seen such a patch of blooms before. Stunning!
The other is our little fantail friends. Every evening, as it cools off or starts to get colder one comes to the bird bath for a dip and a wash. It flits in  and out and flutters and shakes its self dry. For such small birds that are affected by the cold we are surprised that they wash at that time of day.
I also took a walk around my track along the Waiotoi Valley. Beautiful in the afternoon.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Tutukaka Coast Loop Road

I have sold the first print run of my book, The Tutukaka Coast Loop Road, so now it is being reprinted. Fantastic!
Here is the text from the back cover: -
This 70 kilometre loop road from Whangarei returning via Hikurangi is one of the mostscenic roads in New Zealand. It doesn't have the South Islands mountains, rivers or lakes but what it does to see and do is different and very special.
This book is for you if you like bush, beached, boats and diving. It is all about nature.
 ISBN 978-0-473-22401-1
The 48 glossy paged book can be purchased from me, The Whangarei Tourist Informattion Centres, SaltAir Cafe at Ngunguru, The Tutukaka General Store and Dive Tutukaka for just $12.00.


The neat thing about seasons is that you get to see all the changes again and again. All the neat things. The changes are never exactly the same though. Its like watching waves on the ocean. They are all waves but all different to the next.
Kumerahou is in full bloom. It's yellow pompoms lighting up in different places this year but no less spaectacular. The leaf litter in the bush is full of hooded orchids of various kinds. Toropapa has finished but Kowhai and Clematis are colouring the bush. Birds are pairing up and claiming territory. Blackbird scraps are common. Tui is rocketing through the branches like a jet fighter claiming and defending his claim. They are bullys! Three Weta have moved into the weta house.
Warmer days now.
Last sunday, the 2nd September about 180 locals visited our beautiful sandspit  and walked its 2.7 km beach to celebrate one year in public ownership. It was a wonderful communal day out. Gray old day but everyone had fun. It is such a special place. We will be forever thankful to those that took up the battle to prevent it from being turned into yet another disaster of exclusive housing. Unless one has a boat it is difficult to get to.
There was even a dead 9 metre whale on the beach.
Wanganui Collegiate Hockey team enjoying the Sandspit. They were visiting Whangarei for a tournament.

Saturday, 18 August 2012


It has been wet...wet...wet!
We missed the worst as we went to Rarotonga for two weeks. That will have to be another blog.

This week we have noticed that the Kowhai are atarting to bloom. At Christmas we have the Puhutukawa in the northern part of New Zealand. This time of the year we have the Kowhai. Of course we have lots of flowering trees but these two are stunners. Spring starts to move in when the Kowhai flower. There is always something to count the seasons by. This tree is beside the Waiotoi River a few minutes walk from our house.

On our walk around the river thismorning we also saw several and heard many fern birds. More than ever before. Wonderful. Maybe we are making a difference with our pest control.

In the Hugh Crawford Reserve adjacent to us the fragrant Toropapa is still flowering. Wonderful.