Sunday 30 October 2016

Beach Hop South- Deliverance Cove Walk

Catch-up- until this morning we were still relaxing and enjoying good company at Mapua. But after 11 nights our itchy feet returned (and our tanks were full), so it was time to head back 'Out There'. We are now in Murchison for the night and tomorrow we will decide  where the road will take us. And that will depend on what the long range forecast throws at us; east or west, what will it be?

Here's one last blog from Castlepoint before I move onto Ngawi in the Beach Hop series.

After a rough few days of weather, our last day at Castlepoint dawned sunny and clear. Which was just as well as there was one more walk we wanted to do before we left; the rim walk around Deliverance Cove.

The walk starts at the Lighthouse carpark which is also where you're allowed to freedom camp. 

There's a gentle climb up through the pine forest and out onto the exposed ridge where finally, we can see the entrance into the lagoon. 

Smaller boats launch at the top of the lagoon and leave through here to go fishing. From the beach it looks like the rocky reef separating the ocean from the calmer lagoon waters joins Castle Rock. From up here it's actually quite wide.

The entrance also provides a reasonable surf break in the right conditions. You can see the track stairway coming down the side of Castle Rock in this photo too, that's where we're headed.

The views are jaw-droppingly spectacular. In the photos, it doesn't look that high but check out the size of the people down there on the water's edge to get some perspective.

Here's a pano for maximum effect!

Further around the track and the lighthouse comes into view at the far end of the reef. This photo might look familiar, it appeared on the TV1's weather. 

The track runs along a narrow ridge just before it reaches Castle Rock. 

And from here the views down both sides of the headland are breath-taking. This is looking south over Christmas Bay.

If you look closely in the photo above you can see a small dot on the sand in the bottom corner of the bay, it's a seal. Which is unusual for seals as they normally hang out in amongst rocks. Sealions prefer sand, seals prefer rocks. I zoomed in on it and found half a dozen more lolling about near the rocks.

A wild and remote part of the Wairarapa coastline...

...and in the other direction, I zoom in on the lighthouse.

Once the track meets Castle Rock it heads down to the beach through a series of steps and stairways. There is a rough 'unofficial' track up the side of Castle Rock, you can see it just in front of David, once it reaches the cliff edge it climbs straight up to the top of the Rock.

I imagine climbing to the top of Castle Rock is a ritual for many regular holidaymakers to Castlepoint. Just like us, as teens, we used to climb to the top of Mokotahi at least once every summer holiday at Mahia (Northern Hawkes Bay). I was so tempted to climb to the top of Castle Rock but I had a niggly knee, so I decided to take the safer option and follow David down the stairway.

Near the bottom I spied something bobbing about in the surf. Seaweed I think. Until the wave flattens out to reveal a seal in its happy place.

Once at the bottom, I find a number of seals in amongst the rocks. This guy is not too certain what I'm up to but he's keeping one wary eye on me and the other on his escape route. I leave him in peace.

I take one last photo looking back up Castle Rock...

...and run to catch David up. The firm sand below the tide line makes it an easy walk back around the lagoon.

It is with some surprise when we see a flash black car heading towards us along the lagoon edge. The driver does a sudden turn up towards the sand...

..and comes to a grinding halt. Oh dear....what the hell is he doing out here in a car like that?

'Houston we have a problem' He's stuck fast and the tide is also on its way in. Fast. And there's just the three of us and not another soul in sight. The driver tells us he wanted to take some photos of his car in front of Castle Rock. I tell him I'll take the photos for him, I'm not so sure he wants my ones though. We try to push him out, with no luck. 

He starts to panic when we tell him the tide will be lapping at his back wheels very soon. He races up to the dunes looking for rocks and driftwood to lay behind his back wheels, and comes back with one small rock and some dried seaweed. David starts digging out behind the wheels and opens the boot to find the car's carpet mats have been placed in there for safekeeping. For a moment the driver is reluctant to use them, but the next incoming wave confirms he hasn't much time.

I spot a couple of guys up on the dunes and wave frantically for them to come and help. After much digging then putting his floor mats underneath the back wheels, letting his tyres down a little and with guy at the wheel, we manage to push him out. His back wheels hit the water as he comes free. He was so grateful, he got out and gave us all a hug. 

You would have thought he'd have picked up that the sand was soft on his way down the beach, those are his tracks on the right, and his return tracks on the left. He won't be doing that again in hurry.

We head home along the beach and I take one more photo of the lighthouse. You can never have enough lighthouse photos. Right? 

And that was Castlepoint, a charming seaside village we both enjoyed very much and a place we would return to. 

Next up, Ngawi (pronounced "naa-wee"), a small fishing settlement near Cape Palliser, the southernmost point of the North Island.

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Labour Weekend at Mapua


We've had an fabulous weekend relaxing with friends, old & new, at the Mapua Leisure Park. Mapua is located about halfway between Nelson & Motueka and the holiday park sits on a large sprawling site at the tip of the peninsula between Ruby Bay and Rabbit Island.

The entrance into Waimea Inlet and Rabbit Island remind us a lot of Matakana Island and Tauranga's inner harbour. And in fact the coast road from Richmond through to Motueka also reminds us of the drive from Tauranga to Katikati, with all the little inlets and tidal estuaries along the way.

The Mapua Wharf, with it's restaurants, cafes and gift shops, is a prominent feature just inside the inlet entrance. A passenger ferry carries people the short distance from the wharf to Rabbit Island, where there are many walking and biking tracks. 

I posted this photo on Facebook over the weekend & labeled it- Papa Bear, Mama Bear & wee Baby Bear. As you can see there are some pretty big fifth-wheelers on the road. Our 5th-wheeler is 9mtrs, Amanda & Pauls' (on the right) is 10mtrs and Katrina & Bernies' is 11mtrs. 

Happy hour- David, Amanda, Paul, Bernie & Katrina. The weather was perfect all weekend although the sun dropped behind the trees a little earlier than we would have liked. There's still a spring chill in the air once that sun goes. 

Katrina & Bernie are due to hit the road full-time next January and they can't wait. In the meantime they head away most weekends with their gorgeous dog family in tow; Boo, Oakley and Paddy the Irish Water Spaniel. You can see in the photo of the rigs above, they have a large dog enclosure that contains the dogs and allows them access to the rig and underneath for shade when they're at home.

Once we'd settled in I had a wander around the park, stopping to say hello to Joey the resident Cockatoo, who had called me over for a 'Scratch, Scratch'. He sticks his head through a gap and bends it right down and nearly back in if you hit the right spot. One of his wings also lift up and down in reaction to the right scratch, a bit life a dog's leg when you hit a nerve while rubbing their belly.

Joey's aviary overlooks a very busy intersection in the campground and I can hear him talking and squawking as people come and go. He calls to me whenever I visit the laundry- I sidle around the corner hoping he won't spot me and then I feel guilty if I don't go and say hello. Yesterday he grabbed my camera strap in his claw and wouldn't let go, he is very cheeky but I do feel a little sad for him. 

There are a number of semi-permanent residents in camp but Garry has got to take the cake with the most 'awesome-est' mobile home of them all. I couldn't believe my eyes when I walked past and had to go back for a second look and say hello to the very charming and slightly eccentric gentleman who was pottering about outside. 

Garry gave me the grand tour, inside and out and showed me many of his bits and bobs and where and how everything fitted together when he did take it out on the road. It's been a work in progress for the last 8 years but very soon he'll be shifting down the road. He loves his outdoor kitchen he told me; I'm sure he has enough burners and elements to cook a feast for the whole campground. The old equipment hanging from the walls reminded me of the stalls at the markets with implements and tools for sale from yesteryear.

Garry has a vege garden on the roof, you can just see a few things sprouting above the roof line. He climbs up through the hatch to water and pick the veges. I love the kids gumboots under each chair leg to stop them disappearing into the ground. On the other side of the truck he showed me his mobile workshop; a vice and grinder on their own frames which pulled out from a gap behind the cab. 

Garry has a neighbour just down the way, who lives in this tiny quirky cottage that looks like it might have once been on the back of a housetruck.

A wander around Mapua Leisure Park reveals many nooks and crannies, interesting buildings, a range of cabin and motel units, open kitchens and even a cafe on the waterfront. The swimming pool and sauna complex were closed for maintenance  but the tennis and volleyball courts were open and being used over the long weekend. During the months of February & March, the park is a 'Clothes Optional'  campground but there are strict rules about where you can and can't walk stark-naked.

There are some lovely displays of sun daisies around the park-

The bird life is also prolific, with dozens of tui feeding on the hundreds of flowering trees. Two or three kingfisher drive me crazy every day with their continuous and monotonous call and I've heard a couple of shinning cuckoos but have failed to spot them. Quail creep about in the bushes and make a dash for it when they get to open ground.

A family of swallows live above the ironing bench in the laundry; it looks like their nest was destroyed a few times before the caretakers gave up. Now two hungry faces peer over the edge and the parents dive-bomb you every time you enter. They fledged yesterday and were trapped against the windows in the laundry, they couldn't find the door so I gave them a helping hand. This morning they were back in the nest!

Another quirky customer....

And a few random captures around camp as people relaxed in the sunshine over the holiday weekend.

We visited the Saturday market (a smaller version of the Napier market, Mum) at Motueka but missed the big event up the valley at the annual Ngatimoti School festival fundraiser which was a shame.

Instead we tiki-toured our way home along the coast road. This is the shipwreck of the Janie Seddon, she was built in 1901 and was credited with firing the first shots of WWII, a warning shot across the bow of the liner City of Delhi. In 1947 she was sold as a fishing trawler but replaced by diesel powered ships which were more efficient than her coal powered engine. Eventually she was sold for scrap but the steel was so hard the company had difficulty trying to cut her up so she was eventually towed to the foreshore and beached there in 1955. And there she still lays, now a much visited historic rusting hulk and monument to shipping in the area.

There was one place I wanted to visit while we were here in Mapua and I wasn't sure whether or not I'd be successful in, a) finding the pond & b) finding the ducks in question as they are notoriously secretive and can disappear for weeks at a time. I found the pond (it's on private property) and I couldn't believe my luck when not only were the ducks in residence they were resting on a bank not far from my entry point.

They soon took off though, but I still managed to get a few reasonable shots. These are Australian Wood Ducks and like my other two favourite exotic duck species, the Plumed Whistling Ducks in Napier & the beautiful male Mandarin Duck at Lake Rotoiti, Nelson Lakes, they are a rare vagrant visitor to New Zealand and only found on this one pond. 

Originally there was just a pair of Wood Ducks but last season they bred and produced 5 ducklings. It's not sure how many survived but from this photo at least 3 of them (others might be nesting at the moment). I'm now lucky enough to have seen all 3 vagrant duck species. I'm going back to see if I can get a little closer later in the week.

And one final photo of another happy hour with a few more friends; all fifth-wheel owners. It was like we held our own rally!

Wednesday 19 October 2016

Beach Hop South- Mataikona & Riversdale

Catch-up, this might be the last blog for a few days. Labour Weekend (a long weekend for Kiwis) is fast approaching and I think I'll take a few days off from my screen to relax and enjoy the early summer sunshine. 

As you've probably gathered from the previous Castlepoint blogs our sunny days in camp didn't last long. Two days of spring sunshine without the hint of a breeze and then dark storm clouds rolled in from the east.

For a few hours they stayed at sea and then headed north...

...before returning down the coast; with heavy rain and the wind whipping up the waves...

...and blowing bucket loads of sea foam and seaweed on shore.

The locals weren't impressed...

And nor were we...

It was cold, blustery and wet, there was nothing for it but to sit it out.

A gift for the locals came riding in on the waves...

A breakfast bar for birds- thousands of tiny goose barnacles smothered the log which would have been bobbing about in the ocean for a long while. Not quite above the tide line, the birds squabbled for the best position, landing and alighting as each wave swept over the top of it.  

After three days of stormy weather and cabin fever about to set in, we decided on a drive to blow the cobwebs away. And no, we did not stop at the local pub, the well known Whakataki Hotel which is back down the road about 5kms, just before the road hits the coast. The hotel is also CAP (costs apply parking) for NZMCA members, it used to be free parking until the usual happened, the minority spoilt it for the majority and abused the facilities. So now everyone pays.  

We turn off just before the pub, we're heading up the coast a short distance, to the settlement of Mataikona. The road is narrow and winding as it passes over a bluff but opens up once it reaches sea level again. We pass through a few small settlements, this one is called Sandy Bay. No prizes for guessing why.

And look, I found my ideal woolshed! With a cottage attached to the end of it. 

Further along the road we stop to check out some very fascinating rock formations. The Mataikona Rocks are a hidden geological gem; the spiky rows are the result of sandstone being compressed by the weight of the Pacific Ocean, then bent and buckled by colliding tectonic plates.

They are usually hidden by the sea so if you're wanting to see them, time your visit for low tide. The tide is on the way in when we stopped and by the time we returned back down the road, they were gone. I wanted to come back at low tide to walk out to the end and explore the rock pools but unfortunately the weather didn't settle until our last day. 

We very rarely come across traffic on these back country dead-end roads but today's vehicles are an unusual assortment; a fellow RVer freedom camping- he'd have been buffeted about overnight, a loaded logging truck, we moved off the road to let him past and I'm glad we didn't meet him on the bluff. And a police ute, which passed us twice, once while we were parked in the middle of the road! 

Just past Mataikona the road turns inland and follows the Mataikona River for a short distance before it becomes a 4WD track that comes out somewhere around Tinui. The river is also the province boundary line between Manawatu-Wanganui to the north and Wellington to the south.

We turn around just past the Paua Pad...

There are quite a number of  baches and make-do shacks sheltering in a pine plantation that runs alongside the road. I've been told that fishing and diving are very bountiful along this stretch of the coast.

On our way back to the main road we stop one last time, at the bluff, so I could take a photo looking down towards Castlepoint with Castle Rock towering above at the rear.

We then headed back inland to Tinui and down to Riversdale, 50 kms to the south of Castlepoint. At one stage we were going to take the 5th-wheeler down there and stay for a few days but with the weather not playing ball we decided to just do a day trip there. It rained on and off all the way...

...and it was cold and so blustery when we arrived, it was a quick run to the top of the sand dune to grab a shot and say 'been there, done that'. I don't even think David took a look. We found a sheltered spot at the end of the road to have lunch and then cursed the weather because we couldn't do an interesting walk along the beach, through the dunes and back along a stream. Well, we could have but it would have been no fun. 

Of course I couldn't leave without taking the obligatory church photo- Riversdale's St Josephs Church.

On the way home we stopped at the Tinui Cemetery where the Tinui Anzac Walkway begins. It's a steep climb to the top of Tinui Taipo (Mt. Maunsell) where the elusive ANZAC Memorial Cross is located (you'll recall I couldn't see it from the village). 

The walkway is through native bush plantings and  private farmland and is only open from Nov 1st to April 25th each year (which I think is just as well as I didn't really feel like a steep hike to the top). I'd seen a small pine enclosed in a cage near the information shelter when we were passing earlier and before realizing the significance of the walkway, I thought it might have been a wilding pine with an explanation as to why they are such a pest. Imagine my surprise to see that it was a very special Lone Pine! 

Back home and the barnacle bar is still providing food for the locals, this time a pair of Variable Oystercatchers, one with unusual striped underpants. Their antics reminded me of those slippery logs you  have to run across without falling off into the swimming pool. The tide spun it around and over as the birds ran up and down balancing carefully so as not to have to jump off.

They were late to the party though, most of the barnacles were gone. After seeing off the gulls they set about cleaning up the left-overs, sticking their bills down every nook and cranny prying out tasty morsels until the log was bare.

Mr & Mrs Red-billed Gull were not impressed.

Finally, after five days of cold, rain, wind and salt spray the sun came out....and David had to clean the van again! There's a lighthouse across there, somewhere.