Monday, 31 March 2014

Unexpected pleasures

One of the things I love about tripping around with no timetable is there is time to take the side roads, the back roads, or just the roads I haven't travelled for a while.  I know I've been to Pataua North quite recently but couldn't remember when I last went to Pataua South and I knew I'd never taken GB there so decided to make that our first port of call after I collected him at the airport on Tuesday.  

Pataua South is just a short drive from Whangarei, is practically a suburb.  But miles away from the big town way of life.  I like its quiet, peaceful estuary lined with pohutukawa trees.  It's connected to Pataua North and its  wild ocean beach by a wooden footbridge.

A side road lead us to discover Treasure Island holiday camping ground that I didn't know existed.  It looked a pleasant spot and I ventured past one set of Keep Out signs only to be stopped in my tracks by this sign.

Of course, I had to take a photo so could hardly declare I hadn't noticed it should I have been apprehended by Camp Mother.  

We had another unexpected moment a couple of days later when I missed the road to take us up to the Flagstaff at Russell and we ventured down to the beach on the other side of the hill.  We got out of the car to have a look around (as you do), I took a photo looking out over the bay.  Not of anything in particular, it was just a pleasant sight.

I got a start when I turned around and saw GB heading for a gap in the rocks - and what was on the other side! 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The other side

GB and I have enjoyed a few days each summer tripping around Northland for the past several years.  The north is rich in natural beauty and is also rich in history.  Not only did the first Maori canoe land in Northland but it was also where the first European settlers arrived in the eighteenth century.

GB commented on the photo I posted yesterday of the country's first police station that it must have the most desirable location for a police residence in NZ and what my readers can't see is the view and the location.

So here's what you see when you point the camera in other directions when walking along The Strand at Russell, where the police station stands. 

The house from the other direction, its view partially blocked by the Moreton Bay Fig Tree ( Ficus macrophylla), planted 1870.

Turn with your back to the house and you face the jetty where tourist boats depart on trips around the bay and where the passenger ferry carries folk from Paihia on the other side of the bay.

Next to the police station stands the Duke of Marlborough Hotel, the first licensed establishment in the country.

 Down along The Strand you will find an old whaling boat, one of the very few remaining.  It's hard to imagine something so small out on the sea hunting whales.

Alongside the whaling boat stands the old crane that was set up on the first wharf at Russell in 1866.

Just around the corner there's a seat made from the handmade bricks from the chimney of the house of Tamati Waka Nene, a Maori chief who was granted land there in 1866.

All places of interest are marked by discreet blue signs, making it easy to learn the history of the area.

 And for a different view of the little town here's a view from Flagstaff Hill.

I also found a shot of the Stone Store at Kerikeri that gives a bit of an idea of where it sits beside the inlet.  I nearly deleted it because it didn't turn out as I'd hoped but it does paint a bit of a picture.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

FSO Oldest Building

I spent most of Friday and Friday night in Kerikeri so will post about that area's oldest buildings, which also happen to be amongst New Zealand's oldest buildings.

Kemp House, sitting beside the pretty Kerikeri Inlet, is New Zealand's oldest building.  It was built by Maori sawyers and missionary carpenters from the London-based Church Missionary Society in 1820-21 and predates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi by almost 20 years.
The house is the sole survivor of the Musket Wars of the 1820s.  It was built for the missionary, the Reverend John Butler, and used by other missionaries after Butler left in 1823 and was occupied by storekeeper and blacksmith James Kemp and his wife Charlotte when the adjacent Stone Store - now the oldest stone building in New Zealand - was built from 1832.

The Kemps continued to live in the house after the mission station folded in 1848, operating a kauri gum business from the Stone Store. The dwelling and gardens passed down through the family until it was gifted to the New Zealand Historic Places Trust in 1974.

The building is significant for its association with buried archaeological deposits and a broader historic landscape that includes nearby buildings, Kororipo pa and natural features. It enjoys high public esteem as a cradle of nationhood, due to its association with early contact between Maori and missionaries.

Sign outside Kemp House front door

The Stone Store was constructed to hold mission supplies and wheat from the mission farm but the building was mainly leased as a kauri gum trading store.   Is it NZ's oldest stone building. It was designed by Wesleyan missionary John Hobbs, and built by Australian convict William Parrott.

But before the English got busy building houses and stone stores they were very active missionaries.  The first sermon was preached on Christmas Day 1814 by the  Reverend Samuel Marsden.

This monument stands at Marsden Cross where that sermon was preached,  New Zealand’s first missionary settlement (after the chief of Rangihoua pa, Ruatara gifted Marsden the land for the settlement).  The photo is taken from a pitching boat on the sea so is not all that clear.  From a little further out to sea you can see the terraces on this slope today, where the missionaries’ homes were and also the country’s first school house.

The 1830s saw a great increase in shipping in the Bay of Islands, and a corresponding increase in the number of undesirable characters who chose to make their homes here.  There was no law enforcement and Kororareka, where Russell stands today, became the wildest, most wicked and disorderly community in the entire Pacific and was known as The Hell hole of the Pacific.

Naturally, this was a bit of a thorn in the flesh of the conscientious missionaries and they decided to build a church in Russell.  The little building bore little resemblance to the church as it is today but still it retains the title of New Zealand's oldest church.  Not its first church, not its first place of worship, but its oldest surviving church.

Look carefully and you will see musket holes still visible in the side of the church, a reminder of the lawlessness of the times.

The missionaries were busy saving souls but eventually there was law and order to punish the worst of the sinners.  The police station was completed in the late 1860s and first occupied in 1870, New Zealand's first police station.  For a time it served as a custom house but is still in use today as the local policeman's residence.

I'm a bit late getting this posted, have just enjoyed a great week in the north.  To see other Oldest Buildings in the towns of the Friday My Town Shoot out crowd, pop over here.

Friday, 21 March 2014

FSO Scavenger Hunt

The Spring Scavenger Hunt includes the following: 
1. A yellow flower
2. The first leaf
3. A new shoe.
While those in the Northern Hemisphere are getting excited about the arrival of Spring, to remind us that autumn is on its way, there has been a noticeable cooling in the air this week here in Taranaki where I'm visiting.
Justine, my daugher who I'm visiting right now, has a little part time job making cupcakes.   She produces my favourite yellow flower.

The night before I left home we had a bit of a storm, not nearly as bad as it was predicted to be.  The winds brought about an early fall of autumn leaves.

I just couldn't let one new shoe go off itself.  Perhaps tomorrow my little grandson will put his chubby little feet in those shoes and come on an adventure with me.

Next week I will be in the Far North, I will have to learn a little of the history of the area so I can find its oldest building.  
I wouldn't want to be Mersad this week, I bet there will be some amazing Scavenger Hunts over here.

(I don't know where all that white background came from, will see if I can rectify it.)

Friday, 14 March 2014

FSO - Water

I feel I have an unfair advantage with this topic, I do have very easy access to lots of water.  So I've limited myself to only photos taken in the past two weeks with this topic in mind.  

It's terribly dry here on the farm, the water in the creek, fed by a spring up in the mountain, is barely moving.

In some places, weed is growing out over the water from both banks. A good, heavy rain will wash it all away.  It's predicted to arrive tonight in the form of Cyclone Lusi, although cyclones are usually downgraded to deep depressions by the time they reach our coast.  Just heard on the news that we are warned to batten down the hatches as she will bring heavy rain and easterly gales.  I'm hoping it will blow over quickly as I plan to fly to Taranaki on Monday.  I certainly didn't like the last line of the warning, "Travel plans could also be disrupted and may need to be reviewed."  Ah well. 

Last week the little streams in the Waipoua Forest weren't running very fast either.

My favourite water is always the ocean.  Summer is drawing to a close but there were still lots of people out having fun in and on the sea last weekend.

I like the food of the sea, too, but have to admit I've never before seen or tasted a frost fish.  The fishermen saw me taking their photo from the wharf and offered take off their shirts for me.  Displaying the unusual fish was the next best thing.  I discovered it is rare to catch a frost fish and that they are excellent eating having a fine white delicate flesh.

About half an hour ago I splattered water over myself as I ran water over apples in the kitchen sink.  I decided to see if I could capture what happened.  The little stalk was the culprit. 

Then I decided to try a similar exercise outside with the garden hose and the back fence.

I'm really happy to be doing the Spotlights this week, I never tire of looking at water so know I will enjoy visiting the rest of the FSO team.  They will be here.   

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Mother and babe

Baby rabbit has learnt to appreciate the flat weed, about the only thing that is still green.  I don't know what Mother is eating, there isn't much grass around at the moment.

Maybe that is why they were still out grazing at 9 am this morning.  They are usually gone by 7.30.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Last week

Last week was pretty special for me as I spent it tripping around the north with a long time friend who, many years ago, was much, much more than just a friend.   

We set off without a plan other than Go North.  We ended up as far west as the Hokianga,  as far north as Kaitaia, as far east as the Bay of Islands.  

Day one we stopped off to pay a visit to Tane Mahuta, New Zealand's largest living kauri tree. According to Maori mythology Tane is the son of Ranginui, the sky father and Papatuanuku, the earth mother. Tane was the child that tore his parents' parental embrace and once done set about clothing his mother in the forest we have here today.  All living creatures of the forest are regarded as Tane’s children.

It's a magnificent tree and we were lucky to arrive at a time when there were only a couple of tourists around.  Most times I've stopped to say hello to the King of the Forest in recent years there have been hordes of people and his ancient presence seems more impressive when experienced in silence.

 The weather on the west coast the next day was windy and overcast, we didn't linger.   Allan told me about a place, Soda Springs, on the road to Kaitaia that I didn't know about so we set off to find it.  We didn't succeed, must have been too busy chatting and not noticed the sign; surely there is a sign.  When we pulled off the road at this spot, we realized we were close to Kaitaia so thought we'd go to Kauri Kingdom at Awanui for lunch.  

 Spotted in Mangonui.  Must have been a big job!

Also in Mangonui:

I don't know what was happening in Paihia but we had difficulty finding accommodation, the only time that has ever happened to me, even at the height of summer.  The good side of that is that the Information Centre found us a really lovely motel that I've never been to before.   

20 years ago Allan and I went to Paihia to go out into the bay to swim with the dolphins.  The trip was cancelled because of bad weather back then and we never got to do it.  So we rectified that and booked the full day trip around the Bay of Islands.  We no longer felt up to swimming with them but we did see plenty of dolphins.  They weren't as playful as they sometimes are, just my luck that the only shot I got of them close to the boat, there were two of them going in different directions.

Can you spot the dolphin?  The swimmers weren't fast enough to get close and catch its attention.  It and its companions just swam away.

I've often thought I'd like to live on an island.  It's not likely to ever happen but I still think it's a great thought, especially if you have an island home like this.

We chose the trip known as the Cream Trip, as it follows in the path of the original cream boat which collected cream from and dropped off mail and supplies to the islands in the bay.  The boat still drops off mail and supplies to various islands.  For me one of the highlights was hearing Molly, the caretaker's dog, barking excitedly off in the distance as the boat approached her island.  She's a real tourist attraction, racing full tilt along the jetty, skidding to a halt just when we thought she was going to end up in the drink. The tourist operators know the value of her little display and reward her with a biscuit.

Out at the Hole in the Rock, the farthest point of the trip, the water was boiling with kahawai, chased by kingfish from below, and birds from above.

 Newsflash:  The post card I posted to Georgia from Brasil on 24 January, arrived today.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

She runs and jumps

Georgia decided that this year she was going to be her age group athletics champion at school.  Running comes naturally, and she was going hard out.

Waiting for the field events she looked pensive.


Throwing is not her thing.  She's more into running and jumping.

Loud noise from in the direction of the old barn drew me outside this morning.  The neighbour was levelling a pad for the silage stack.  The silage will be harvested towards the end of the week.

It wasn't exactly early morning but the sun was just touching the weeds on the far side of the hill.   Most of the carrot weed is dieing off.  The colour is a reminder that summer is coming to an end, winter is on its way.

  It's very dry here, drier than anywhere I saw when I was away up north last week.  Luckily heavy rain is predicted to be on its way.  The hills look the worst, the flats still have a touch of green but there's not much grass on them.

There is more rain forecasted here for the end of the week and early next week than for Taranaki where I'm headed on Monday.  Couldn't have planned it better!