Friday, 31 July 2015

The grass is greener ...

on the other side of the fence.  I don't think these three agree.  Having successfully escaped to the other side, all they wanted to do was get back.

In three more sleeps I'll leave winter behind and head off to see if the grass is greener in the northern hemisphere.  I'll see if the locals I meet are as accepting of differences as my neighbours are. 

I had time to fill late one afternoon during the week and stopped to take a photo of a church I've never photographed before.  Probably because I don't pass that way very often.   It's beside the Pehiaweri Marae beside the road to Ngunguru. It looks to be recently painted. 

The next day I had time for a few shots of the Whangarei Harbour.  I'm glad I enjoyed those few minutes of tranquility as shortly after the doctor was jabbing a needle that looked like it was intended for a horse into the bottom of my heal with the promise it would help me walk in foreign lands without limping.

 As I've been writing this I've had a visitor.  She could have been sent to remind me to count my blessings, she has lost the lower part of a leg.  Heather found her while out horse riding when she was very young and brought her home to feed her and treat the wounded leg.  I thought her chances of survival were slim but here she is today, quite healthy and managing very well.  Well enough to sneak into my garden!

I probably won't post again before I leave and don't expect to much while I'm away.  I simply don't have the patience for entering text on the tablet.  I will visit other blogs if I can.    

See you on the other side.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

New visitors

I've never seen a flock of quail so close to the house before!  They are a familiar sight taking dust baths on the farm tracks, but right outside the house.  I got a few photos through the window as they scurried from under the karaka tree to under the badly frost bitten hydrangeas.  They were almost exactly the same colour as the dead hydrangeas.

Although not the native quail they have been here for a long time since they were introduced in the 1860s but only flourished in the northern parts of the North Island.   

These would be a family, I think. They form breeding pairs in spring which isn't all that far away so hopefully they will nest nearby and become regular visitors.

And that would make me very happy.  I think they are delightful.  And I like the fluttering, whirring noise made by their wings during take-off into flight when disturbed.  A sound I heard as I tried to inch upon the door for a better shot. 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Saturday sunset

We stopped at Wellsford again on the way home on Saturday and while Chris dashed into the Lotto shop I had my eye on the gold in the west.  No matter how I tried I couldn't get rid of the red halo above the sun.  (Dirty lens?)

Any other time I would have been happy just to photograph the vintage bus also parked in town.  I imagine the owner would have liked to see his (or her) spare wheel burnished with gold.

I held the camera above my head and hoped to get the reflection in the window.  Yay, it worked!

The same window from the other side made a lovely frame for the fast disappearing sunset.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Far away

Bright, sunny days of winter need to be celebrated and enjoyed.  When a bright, sunny day happens on a day you plan an outing it's a bonus.  Chris and I stopped in Wellsford on our way to Snells Beach to visit an old friend who is recovering from surgery.  A bunch of bikers were enjoying a rest stop on the other side of the road.

I liked the contrast between the simplicity of the little girl running across the road clutching her goodies and the metal giant looming behind her.  She wasn't in danger, she was on a side road. 

It's about 120 kms (75 miles) from here to Snells Beach.  I've stood on my friend's mother's deck quite a few times over the years with my eyes always drawn to the view east across Kawau Bay.  Yesterday I glanced around to my left and exclaimed I could see the hills of home.  I'm sure that's them. 

It's about 120 kms (75 miles) from here to Snells Beach, a bit closer as the crow flies so it's not impossible.  See them there in the distance?  They look slightly different but I've never noticed them from this angle before.      

Closer.  Yep, that's definitely the Tangihua Ranges, the hills I call the Uppity Downities, my hills of home. 

 That made my day.  That and a great lunch with enjoyable company.

Friday, 24 July 2015


It's that time of year when mud just can't be avoided.  The farm tractor wears a fair share of it.

In the good old days the driver would be spattered with it, too.  These days they have a cab to keep them clean.

The delightful Campbell, the farm worker, has become used to me wandering around with a camera and just carries on filling the sprayer on the back.

He doesn't even wonder why I'm taking a photo of the wheel.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A few puddles

I remarked to my son that I intended to have a go at mowing the lawn as I thought the ground had dried out enough after all the rain.  He gave me a slightly bemused look and informed me it had rained during the night.  Hmm, I thought to myself, so that's why there is still water in the puddles!  I do live my life in a bit of a dream, don't I?  Anyway, it can't have been much rain as I did actually get the lawn mowed.

And today the sun is shining and there's a brisk breeze, so the puddles are drying out.

These two aren't puddles.  That's the creek.  I liked the reflections.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Hokianga fence

I often say I prefer practical fences, those that serve a purpose.  Here's one that definitely meets that criteria.  We whizzed past it on the open road between Rawene and Kaikohe, then turned around and went back for a quick photo. 

I will be linking to Good Fences.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

And so to Rawene

No, I'm not in Ireland yet!  Found this sign in the window of an empty building on the waterfront at Rawene. 
The building is sometimes referred to as The Wharfhouse and could sure tell some tales.  From what I can make out it was first a hotel (1850), then a Methodist Parsonage and around 1903 became the first Hokianga Hospital, and served this purpose until the new hospital opened in 1909. 

Rawene was built in the early settler period and the town is proud of its history and beautiful environment and immaculately maintained historic buildings.  It is one of the country's oldest European settlements.

The population is around 500.

Rawene started as a timber centre.  Captain James Herd in 1822 had taken out the first shipment of kauri timber fom the Hokianga and in 1825 he returned with his own and another ship and 60 settlers between the two vessels. What adventurous, intrepid souls they must have been! 

We didn't cross the harbour on the ferry as these folk are waiting to do.

We did wander through the new gallery on the other side of the road.  I really liked this modern version of Maori weaving.

And, of course, we had a hot drink at the Boat Shed Cafe where one of the locals came to hang out with us.

The tide in the harbour was way out, the water still.  Couldn't ask for a more peaceful scene.

The old building on the V where the main street meets the harbour side road looks very cheerful with its new coat of paint.  It will make a happy sight for tourists as they come off the ferry. 

Up the hill guests from a wedding in the town hall were milling on the footpath.  None of them looked to be co-operating with the photographer.  The Spark building is a phone box.

There used to be a rusty old wreck of a boat along the harbour road but it's gone now and been replaced by another boat that has seen better days. 

Any ideas what use the forest pest control people have for egg boxes?

During our drive to and from Rawene we crossed four of the 10 single lane bridges that the government promise to upgrade to two way trafffic during a recent by-election.  I didn't count how many there were in total.  This one is two way and caught my eye as it was bathed in late afternoon light and looked quite flash for a Northland bridge. 

Monday, 13 July 2015


Although Opo the dolphin became famous throughout New Zealand long before I arrived in the country, I couldn't live in the north and not know the story of how, in the mid 1950s, she started to follow fishing boats into the Hokianga Harbour and swim daily in the bay close to the township of Opononi.  She liked human company and delighted all by performing stunts with beach balls and the like.  She allowed children to swim alongside her and make contact, although Maori children were more reluctant to play with her, as cultural beliefs said the dolphin was a messenger from Kupe (who according to legend was a great chief of Hawaiki who arrived in New Zealand in 925 AD).

Her death was reported nationwide, and she was buried with full Māori honours in a special plot next to the War Memorial Hall,  just to the left of her statue.

A stone statue of the dolphin playing with a child was erected in 1960.   That has now been replaced with a beautiful bronze casting.  The original is on display at the Hokianga Historical Society's Museum at nearby Omapere.

It's just to the right of the shot below:

It was early afternoon by the time we reached Opononi on Saturday.  We were still wrapped up in our coats which is pretty unusual for a fine winter's day in Northland.  However, the chilly weather wasn't keeping the fishermen and their children away.

Nor was it detracting from the beauty of the Hokianga.

We took a drive up the hill on the other side of the road to see what views of the harbour the residents enjoy.  Now that's a sight I'd like to wake up to each day.

Here's a question.  What do you think is going on here?  Aren't those flags Himalayan prayer flags?  Is someone covering all their bases?  The house is a very modest, not very well cared for cottage but the Virgin Mary is pristine.  Just another reason why I love the Hokianga, you never know what you're likely to see. 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The far side

 Yesterday my friend, Chris and I ventured to the west coast on the far side of my hills of home.   It had been a cold and frosty morning, the perfect sort of day for a long drive.  When I lived on the peninsula south of Dargaville I knew the Northern Wairoa River looks best on that sort of day, too.  It's not called the upside down river for nothing - most of the time the mud appears to be on the top of the water.  But catch it on the right day and its quite lovely.  See the deep V in the Uppity Downities in the distance?  I've finally discovered which road takes you closest to that part of the mountain.   We didn't stop for a close up photo.  Next time.

Looking south down river:

We were headed for Opononi and Rawene but stopped by the entrance to the Tane Mahuta track in the Waipoua Forest to have our picnic lunch.  (It was still pretty chilly in the shade in the forest.)  Tane Mahuta is a kauri tree, so famous it has its own name.  It is more than 50 metres tall, measures13.7 metres around its trunk and is estimated to be between 1200 and 2000 years old.

But it wasn't Tane Mahuta that had my attention.  It was the dead trunk of another kauri standing in front of a healthy tree opposite the entrance to the forest.  We'd noticed several other dead kauri along the way, too.  Of course, we've heard about kauri dieback disease, a microscopic disease new to our country which has these beautiful ancient trees under threat of extinction.  This was the first time I've noticed the impact the disease is having.

It just seems impossible that one of the  largest and longest-lived trees in the world could disappear.  They can grow to more than 60metres high and live for 2000 years or more. Northland would be a very different place without them. 

Thousands have died from the disease in the last 10 years.  The scarey thing is there is no known way to treat it.  As you can see, the cursed disease is already at work in Waipoua Forest.