Monday, 18 September 2017

Sea, Sun, Sand, Six Weeks


We've just spent the last six weeks 'wintering' over at a South Pacific tropical island paradise. Well... that's not quite right. This stunning beach is in the South Pacific and it is on an island (the South Island) and it is paradise but it's most definitely not tropical! 

It's hard to believe that this is a winter scene from New Zealand isn't it?  This is Kaiteriteri, a small seaside resort in the Tasman region at the top of the South Island. 

Kaiteriteri is just a short winding road from Motueka, just under an hour from Nelson and just a few golden sand bays from the stunning Abel Tasman National Park.

For some it will also be hard to believe that this is the same Kaiteriteri that they visit over the summer months. 

In summer Kaiteriteri heaves with activity; the campground holds over 2000 people and this perfect little crescent of golden sand is wall to wall people; people sunbathing, swimming, walking, boating, fishing or just relaxing and enjoying their summer holidays. 

We've stayed at Kaiteriteri before, back in 2014 for four weeks, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. And as we'd done most of the walks in the area, including part of the Abel Tasman Great Walk and visited many of the attractions we were looking forward to just relaxing in the warm winter sun and recharging our batteries.

Back in 2014, we had a front row seat to the ever changing scenery, and very few neighbours- in fact some nights we were the only ones there. 

2014, Kaiteriteri
The Kaiteriteri Camp did have a cheaper rate for long term stays but most vans were heading to the Bethany Camp at the back of the estuary, where the rates were cheaper still.

Things were changing though, a new office building with caretaker accommodation above was in the process of being built and a new shop and holiday accommodation block across the driveway were in the wings. Now all completed, it was a big surprise when we came around the corner to see this huge building on the beachfront. Huge for little old Kaiteri, that is. 

And with the new changes, came new parking restrictions- no long term vans on the front two rows, these were kept for casual visitors. Which is fair enough, but it would have been nice to have had the front row again. Although that probably wouldn't have happened because with the new changes came new cheaper winter rates and many more vans wintering over in the front camp. 

We were happy enough though, we found ourselves a quiet spot in the sun towards the middle of the camp and settled in. 

It still took a couple of weeks for the itchy feet to settle though and we paid week by week...just in case we got the sudden urge to get out of there. This wasn't helped by the weather and while most of the photos show lovely blue sky that's because I made sure to take them on sunny blue sky days only.

I was listening to a farming programme the other week and they were reporting on the weather for the Nelson/Tasman area during the month of August. Apparently it had rained on 28 of the 31 days and we arrived on the 2nd! It is hard to believe though, but then again it often rained during the night while the day was fine. From all accounts it's been a bad winter in many places.

We weren't the only ones who were fed up with the constant rain- this little guy with his waterlogged tail feathers sat on our post to dry out numerous times. He's also sit under the van with his friends waiting for the rain to stop.

We thoroughly enjoyed watching the abundant bird life at Kaiteriteri, a flock of over 35 California Quail roamed through the camp on a regular basis, calling and chuffing to each other as they sprinted through the grass and across the roads.

California Quail- Male (L), Female(R) 
They are such characters to watch, one pair in particular became very friendly. I enticed birds over to the van by throwing out wild bird seed- sparrows, chaffinches, greenfinches, goldfinches came to feed. Some of the quail came too, just a few during the first few days and then more and more. My pair would come running as soon as I called to them (chook-chook-chook) and once the sparrows and finches had finished all the good seed, they'd search out seed left behind and then move in closer for a secret handful or two. Early in the morning I'd hear them chatting to each other under the van.

We put a metal spike in the tree just outside our dining window and I added citrus halves to it for the Silvereyes/Tauhou. It was lovely to watch them at such close quarters- of course they couldn't see us through the dark tint. Mr Jack Sparrow thinks he's missing out on something here. Sparrows can't hover or hang upside down like silvereyes so the orange is relatively safe from them facing this way.

Kereru/NZ Wood Pigeons were regular visitors to the camp, bumbling, flapping and balancing their way through trees on the thinest of branches looking for the freshest of leaf bud. This one makes a raid on the new leaves of a kowhai sapling.

Tui sung, cackled and squawked as they raced back and forward through the camp chasing each other out of the flowering cherry trees. 

Some found an even sweeter source of nectar; tiny droplets of honeydew which are excreted by the beech scale insect and found on the blackened trunks of the beech trees (it looks very similar to sooty mould). Honeydew plays a vital role in the food supply for a range of native bird and insect species. The honeydew droplets have a high sugar content and are an important energy source for birds over winter. This tui is balancing with his tail while sucking up the tiny droplets.

And last but not least, the Western Weka, a number of them live the bush surrounding the camp, we'd hear them calling often but I only spotted them a few times out in the open. They'd come out from the bush checking for grubs in the leaf litter along the edge. We also heard Morepork/Ruru, our native owl, calling to each other every night and all through the night. And we were lucky enough to see a NZ Falcon/Karearea several times.

But sadly I missed the most elusive and secretive bird of all; the Banded Rail. A pair live in the salt plants on the edge of the estuary just beside the boat trailer park. I visited the area dozens of times; sunrise, sunset,  low tide, high tide, half tide, wet weather, sunny weather, walking, stalking and in the ute through the window, all with no luck. 

But I did see Mother Duck and her nine ducklings...

In the end we had a lovely six weeks at Kaiteriteri, as each week rolled around we'd comment that we'd be off at the end of the following week. Then that week would arrive and we'd stay another until finally, it really was time to move on. We made new friends and caught up with old ones, we had a lot of laughs and a few dinners at the pub. We caught up on chores and computer work and we relaxed and enjoyed our own company. We didn't leave the camp much at all but we did do a couple of very interesting walks; blogs on those to follow.


  1. Great to read about your stay here. We must be more aware of the birdlife on our next trip.

    1. Isn't it a lovely spot to while away a week or two, the birds are a bonus.

  2. We stayed only one night there during our first motorhome journey back in 2013; but the golden sand and pristine water stay forever in our memory. We also had our first camping bbq there. We love this part of NZ very much and vow to come back for a longer stay. Another favourite in this region was Wharariki Beach, enjoyed the walks there much more than the one we had in Abel Tasman...

    1. Oh yes, Whararaki is a fave of mine too. In fact I wonder whether you can guess where we we've been for the last week and all next week too :)

  3. I think it's been a good winter for Native birds, we saw masses of Kereru at Totaranui a few weeks ago...I assume the Stephens Bay and Marahau areas have not escaped your camera. These areas are fav spots of Craig Potton.

    1. Do you know what Jimu? You will be surprised to learn that we didn't move very far from the camp site at all during our 6 weeks at Kaiteriteri. Gave me a chance to catch up on all the photos I had taken elsewhere! :)

  4. i used to live in motueka and you're right a stunning place and we should all make at least one visit in your life time. From kaitere you can go to at least 2 to 3 National Parks one Great Walk, deepest hole and the wild life is fantastic. Don't leav home until you've seen our place is so true. Enjoy your next travels. D Cook Inn

    1. Thanks for your comments, glad you enjoyed the blog. And you'll want to take a look at the next blog- one big hole! :)

  5. We loved our little stay at Kaiteriteri, such a lovely little seaside place. I would have loved to have explored further north too but maybe we'll just have to save that for "next time" :).
    You colours of your pic of the Tui and the blossom are stunning btw. Well done!

    1. Thanks, you'll have to return and add Abel Tasman and Golden Bay to your 'to do' list, there are some real gems hidden away.


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