Friday, 29 July 2011

FSO - Pink

Pink, but no flowers, is the topic for this week's shoot-out.  I was pretty sure I wouldn't find many pink things in my immediate surroundings, it's not a colour often associated with murky farming activities.  I was right, couldn't find a thing.  So I took a drive around town and still didn't see much.  Until, in desperation, I took a drive into an industrial area (where I would have least expected to find success).

I didn't expect to see a pink rubbish skip and an even pinker container:

The colour of the roof of the Re:Sort (the recycle station) isn't visible as you pass it by so I was surprised when I spotted it from a distance:

Pale pink bones of a house:

Candy pink of a play house:

That's all there is.  My computer is in hospital and working on this ancient beast requires more patience than I possess.

To check out what the rest of the team found Pink in their towns, just pop over here.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Karikari Peninsula

I have never ventured up the Karikari Peninsula but Chris once lived in Mangonui and knows the area well.   When she lived in the area she used to tell people she’d like to live at Rangiputa and everyone thought she was crazy.  In those days it was a not well maintained dirt road all the way, with about half a dozen little bachs at the beach.  It’s a different story these days, the road is well sealed and an easy (if not fast) drive.  There are still some humble little bachs but they are outnumbered by the more modern steel and glass structures of the well to do, especially on the hill overlooking the beach.  But it’s the original little houses that have most of the best spots along the foreshore.  

 (Bach, pronounced Batch,  is the name given in the North Island to small, often very modest beach houses. They are slowly but surely being replaced but much grander houses.  One theory is the word was originally short for bachelor pad, I guess from their small size.  An alternative theory for the origination of the word is that "bach" in Welsh means small, although the pronunciation is different.  One humorous definition of the original bach is "something you built yourself, on land you don't own, out of materials you borrowed or stole”.)

 We decided to book in for the night at the only motel.  It's the building with the long red roof above.  Owned by a lovely English couple who made us very welcome. 

 Matai Bay, on the Peninsula, seems untouched by the steel and glass brigade.

 I know the next beach was in a reserve and I think it was Pukete, but can’t really see the tiny print on the map.

 A lady in Awanui had told us we must visit Karikari Vineyard (for the best muffins ever) so as it was time for a cuppa we took her advise.  I think we should have tried the wine as neither my muffin nor coffee was worth the drive up the hill.  Although the view was:


Monday, 25 July 2011

Ancient Kauri Kingdom

The Kauri is a very long lived tree, the larger ones can be 2000 years old.  Swamp kauri is much older still.  It is found in swamps in the north of New Zealand and is the oldest workable wood in the world.  Ancient swamp kauri is carbon dated at more than 45,000 years old.  It predates the migration of Neanderthal man and was already buried in swamps more than 25,000 years before the onset of the last Ice Age.   Small wonder, then, that the prices on carved swamp kauri in The Ancient Kauri Kingdom at Awanui take your breath away.
Can’t remember whether the price tag was 60 or 70 thousand dollars on this huge piece.  Doesn’t make much difference really.

60 or 70 thous
This company undertake the entire process - extracting the logs from Northland swamps, milling, manufacturing and selling their kauri products.   It amazes me how their craftsmen see the potential in an old log, what lies hidden within, just waiting to be released.

Is this the old man of the sea?  He’s a work in progress, shot through the glass window of the workshop at the back of the store.


Sunday, 24 July 2011

Last Sunday …

we decided to go a little south and visit the Karikari Peninsula.  We stopped a few times on the way – like we always do.  At Horahora Heads we parked beside this sign.  Internet wasn’t there that day, the door was locked.

 The tide was in so we couldn’t go for a walk on the beach but headed off in the other direction to have a look at the old jetty to check out the fisherman and see if he was catching anything.  He was, he was well pleased.

 We ignored the steps down to the beach, looked a bit tricky.

 These are private grounds but the gardeners assured us we were welcome to wander around the old Subritsky property.  They were busy working in the garden of the old restored house which they think will be open to the public some time in October.  We must remember to drop in when we next return to “the window”.

 If we hadn’t lingered for a cuppa from our thermos before heading off again we would have missed the boat rescue.

boat rescue
 The rescued looked rather subdued as they put their boat up on the trailer.  Look, one of them is on crutches.  Wonder if he needs them because of an accident – living dangerously perhaps?

 The gallant rescuer didn’t linger before heading back out to sea, the tide was running out fast.

This Sunday I am in a totally different place.  Both physically and emotionally.  I received word that Denise, my friend since childhood, has died.  We started school as little 5 year olds in the same class although I can't remember her much in the early years of primary school.  We went to different high schools but linked up again when we started work.  She is there in all my mid to late teen memories, the years of discovering boys and a social life.  Oh, the fun we had. 

My heart is aching, too, for our other friends, the other girls we went everywhere with in those wonderful days of carefree youth.  Joyce and Gayle.  The hours we spent with our hair in curlers, Denise to straighten hers, me hoping for at least a kink in my straight hair, Joyce looking for improvement in already lovely hair and Gayle a bit like me, just wanting to look better.  I don't think we ever stopped chatting although the subject matter was never deep but boys were an important topic.  By a great stroke of luck, none of us fancied the same guys, we never competed for attention.  Denise and I, in particular, always found something wrong with whoever the other fancied.  There is one name that is etched in my memory, Pat Mc N, one of her boyfriends I simply could not stomach.  To this day I'm glad she eventually broke up with him.  Strange then, that I took an instant liking to Barry, the man she married.  That didn't work in reverse, she never like the guy I chose and he didn't like her.  Used to say there was something "unnatural" about our friendship, that we were too close.   

The weekend hours we spent laying on beaches working on our tans in the days before we had even heard of skin cancer.  

The mid week hours Denise and I spent on blonding my hair.  And the memory of the time my hair had gone so blonde we decided my eye brows and eye lashes were too dark and applied peroxide to them, too.  The weeks and weeks thereafter that I had to wear big dark sunglasses to hide my weird eyebrows and speckled eye lashes.  And our mothers' horrors at what we had done.  

Times were different, of course.  It was the sixties.  We went into town at night and returned home by train,  usually on the last train of the night, walking from the railway station to our homes.  We weren't street wise by today's standards, the streets were safe at night so we didn't have to be but we knew how to avoid drunks and anyone we didn't like the look of.  

The years passed and no trip home was complete without a visit to Denise and Barry and their boys.  We'd drink too much and talk nonsense and laugh.  In all my memories Denise is laughing or making me laugh.

My daughter, Justine describes her as vivacious, honest, loud and funny.  Yes, all those things.  And fiesty, opinionated, and pig headed.  A bit like me in that respect.  But we rarely argued.

Justine posted this photo on Facebook and reminded me of the one big row we had, when she refused to partner my groom's best mate in my wedding party (because she didn't like him and he was showing signs of liking her a lot) I nearly sacked her as my bridesmaid but our dear friend, Marie (another of the girls who started school with me in the first grade, the one with the golden nature) offered to swap partners and all was well.  That's Denise on the left.

Then Alzheimer's disease claimed her, still so young and vibrant and I thought I was resigned to her eventaul loss.  But I wasn't.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

This time last week….

we’d returned to the east coast, realized it was already around 3 pm and we hadn’t eaten lunch.  I craved a hamburger.  Living as I do in a rural area, I very rarely eat takeaways.  At meal times, if I don’t feel like cooking, it’s bad luck, too late to think about it now.  I’m not about to drive 35 minutes to the nearest takeaways.  I had fish and chips on New Years Day and, as far as I can recall, no other takeaways this year.  So the little Cafe over the road from our motel in Pukenui seemed like a good idea.  

Chris had wandered off in search of a postcard and I went in to look at the menu but was hardly through the door before I heard the cafe ladies discussing my scarf/shawl.  Is it a scarf? No, it’s a shawl!  Within minutes the younger of the ladies, the one in the purple t shirt, had it wrapped around her shoulders and was doing a twirl around the tables. 

The conversation went like this:
“Oh, I love purple.  Look, it’s crocheted. Where did you get it?”
“About 10 years ago from one of those little craft shops in Russell.”
“I wonder if they have another one like it.”
“It was 10 years ago.”
“Oh, yeah.  You’ll just have to leave it to me in your will.  Tell them to address it to Cafe Lady, Pukenui.  I’ll still be here.”

By the time Chris came in we were old friends.

And the hamburger?  Never tasted one better.

Friday, 22 July 2011


This Friday our theme is Fresh. “New to one's experience; not encountered before. Recently made, produced, or harvested; Free from impurity or pollution; pure. Many choices here for fresh.” 

All my shots were taken last weekend in places I have never visited before, or not for a very long time.  Nearly all of them are taken on or near beaches while enjoying the brisk, fresh air.  I think they are all pure, unspoiled.

The Far North of New Zealand is very narrow, a quick drive from one coast to the other.  First up, a little mountain of froth blown from the wild surf on the west coast.

 And the pretty coloured kelp of the west coast freshly washed up from the sea.

kelp1west coast
 On the east coast the kelp was more the colour I see more often:

 Bit of wood very recently left by the tide on the east coast:

stick and bubbles
 More wood freshly delivered by the sea on the west coast.  I thought this looked like a little abandoned ship.

west coast rubbish
 East coast baby mussels:

baby mussels1
 West coast weed peeking through pine needles:


Don’t know if this is a flower or a weed but it was growing wild on the east coast.  Chris knew it as Pink Sour Grass as a child in Western Australia.

 Heading for home again we decided on a little detour to revisit St Barnabas Church at Peria.  A year ago when we last called in it was in a very sorry state and two dedicated parishioners were taking down the fittings in preparation for a make-over.  Look what a difference a fresh coat of paint has made:

old and new paint
 Last stop on the way home, fresh coffee in Kawakawa.


Ute Park

Where did the last few sentences of last night's post go?   I thought it was funny that I nearly forgot to add a short explanation of the meaning of the word and then Blogger chose to forget to publish them. 

I didn't consult my Maori language guru.  The Maori Dictionary online says it is a derivation of paparakaute which means public house/hotel.  That makes sense, more sense for an accommodation park than a park for light pick up trucks which is our more common usage of the word in English. 

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Ninety Mile Beach

Maori called it Te Oneroa a Tohe - the long beach of Tohe.  These days it is often referred to as the Sandy Highway.  Although the beach is navigable by vehicle it can be treacherous and many cars have bogged down over the years because drivers miscalculated the sweep up the beach of incoming tides.  That happened to me many years ago on another west coast beach, further south.  

It is a unique part of New Zealand, rich in Maori history, every knoll and stream has its name and story, some fairly modern but others dating from the dim dawn of man's first days in New Zealand. 

European history coincided with Abel Tasman's ships sailing along Ninety Mile Beach in December 1642.
During WWII the RNZAF and Army maintained a presence at Waipapakauri and there was often speculation – and fears - of a possible Japanese invasion; there were even rumours of alien lights being spotted out at sea.   (I do wonder though how they identified lights as alien.)

Up to about the 1980s Ninety Mile beach was occasionally used for droving.  I would have loved to see thousands of cattle being herded down the beach, against a back-drop of magnificent breakers as far as the eye could see. 

I love the story of how the beach was given its name as it is actually 55 miles (88 km) long. The most common story stems from the days when missionaries travelled on horse back when on average a horse could travel 30 miles (50 km) in a day before needing to be rested. The beach took three days to travel therefore earning its name, but the missionaries did not take into account the slower pace of the horses walking in the sand, thus thinking they had travelled 90 miles (140 km) when in fact they had only travelled 55.  

In 1928 Charles Kingsford Smith used it as a runway to take off on his first flight across the Tasman to Australia (14 hours and 25 minutes) and in 1932, Ninety Mile Beach was used as the runway for some of the earliest airmail services between Australia and New Zealand.  It is still used as an alternative road to State Highway 1, though mainly for tourist reasons, or when the main road is closed due to landslides or floods.

Oh, there are so many stories, many shipping tragedies and when you stand on the beach and see line after line of glorious breakers you get a sense of timelessness. 
When Chris and I ventured out to the beach access at Hukatere on Saturday, we’d driven through a real downpour which had blown over when we arrived, and been replaced with a stiff breeze.  We could see the beach access but couldn’t see where to park so followed a little track that lead us to a entry way with a sign “Ute Park”.  I was thinking ute as in a light pick up truck and wondered what the hell a ute park was.  Mind you, there was a ute coming out of a another track on our left.  We saw a few small buildings, some not yet completed and followed the track until we saw a man coming towards us.  A burly sort of guy with a lovely, open, smiling face.  He told us we were welcome to park on his land and use his facilities and after we’d parked, we wandered over for a chat.  This man (we got his card but not his name) explained that he is setting up an accommodation park, has already had school groups camping on his grounds and a thousand visitors stay there in the past year.  He has a completed a “club house” with kitchen and bathroom facilities (cold water showers only) and was about to start work on one of two little huts which hold a bed or two. 

He invited us at have a look at the completed cabin up by his house which can sleep four (with hot water).  It’s just a humble little cabin, entry from the back.  I will never forget how my heart skipped when we opened that door and stepped into that room with “the window”.    I am so disappointed with this photo.  We really could see the surf a lot more clearly than this shot suggests.  This was the sort of place Chris and I were hoping to spend our mid-winter break but the place we had in mind is closed during winter.  We have found an even better place.  We will return to “the window”.

cabin window

We wandered down to the beach, in awe of the line after line of breakers.  I should have taken a photo from on top of the little sand hills as the front breakers hide the ones following.

It’s a wonder Chris and I don’t lose each other sometimes.  She wanders off lost in her world and I wander off lost in mine.  But we share a love of places like this.  The beautiful, often isolated. places of the north we have both adopted and love.


Next time we come we will walk around these bays to the north.


And we both felt the sadness at seeing the rubbish washed up by recent storms.  In this wild, unspoilt place, where does it come from?


Sad, too, at the number of birds victim to recent storms.

dead bird 1

I thought this little toggle was smiling up at me but I couldn’t pick it up, it was firmly ensconsed in the sand.

smiley face

A little fresh water stream finding its way to the sea alongside the beach access.  In the background is “Ute Park” with the owners house and the lower roofline of the little cabin. 

And a few cattle congregating in a little dip out of the wind.


I’ve gone on and on and not yet got to the best bit.  Before departing we once again chatted to the man.  He told us about the different people who come up off the beach seeking shelter, how he operates a bit of a rescue service to vehicles stuck in the tide and also to swimmers who don’t understand how dangerous these west coast beaches can be.  Then he said, “We’re pretty central here really.  It’s only 30 kms down the beach to Ahipara and 30 kms up the beach to The Bluff.”   I guess you’d have to be familiar with the geography and, by NZ standards, the isolation of this area to appreciate that comment and how funny Chris and I thought it was.  But then this is not our backyard and driving along a treacherous west coast beach is not ho hum to us. 

Oh, almost forgot about "ute                                                                              

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Last accommodation north

Four days of escapism.  I really felt a need for it, too.  Chris and I planned to once again take a mid winter break in the north – but didn’t get around to making any plans.  But what are plans other than more restrictions and this break was about being free to go wherever we pleased.  We got as far as arranging for Chris to pick me up on Friday morning and agreeing we would head north through the inland road, then see where we ended up at the end of the day.

The weather hasn’t been all that flash for the past couple of weeks and we drove through intermittent rain and at our first stop at Twin Bridges the normally clear stream was anything but that.  We couldn’t get close enough to get a decent shot; it was raining lightly and we tip toed through the mud to get this close.

 But the air was fresh and that away from it all feeling was kicking in.  At every point where we had to decide which way to go we chose the most direct route north.  After a break for coffee and something to eat around mid afternoon, just north of Kerikeri, we carried on north and just kept on going.  

Finally, quite late in the day we reached Pukenui - “last accommodation north”.   This is a place I have only whizzed through in the past, taking visitors to Cape Reinga, to see the lighthouse at the northern most point of NZ.   Now I know what I was missing!  The lady who said she certainly did have some beds for us as at the harbourside motel couldn’t have been more charming or welcoming.  The main road north was right beside us but at this time of year was quiet.   We both slept well without a thought about what the weather would be like the next day or what we would do with ourselves.

Saturday morning looked quite promising, a bit breezy but a lovely blue sky, a few clouds but nothing too threatening.   

 The wharf was just down the bank from the motel grounds and we chatted to a local family who were fishing there.  A working boat was tied up alongside the little wharf .  A weekend off for the crew or is it out of season for whatever its purpose is?  Don’t know.   

working boat
working boat1
 At least the seagulls had the sense to hunker down out of the wind.

 Not us.  There were beaches to be walked and no beach is complete in winter without wind in the face.

 I love that moment I catch a glimpse of a beach for the first time.
 The anticipation…..could this one be really something?  Will it be worth the while, finding a negotiable track down to it – and the haul back up.   

 Yes, of course it is.  There were little baby mussels growing on those rocks and when we walked some distance around to the right we came to a lovely little fresh water stream.  We don’t mind a bit of rain and wind but getting our feet wet is not part of the plan.  

 We were happy with the two beaches we had found just north of Pukenui but what was to be, for me,  the highlight of our trip was waiting for us across on the west coast.  The North Island is very narrow up here and it’s easy to enjoy one coast in the morning and the other in the afternoon.  The east coast has a profusion of lovely harbours and gentle beaches but the west coast!  Ahh, there’s nothing to compare to the wild untamed beauty of the west coast.  Hopefully I will tell you about it tomorrow.