Sunday 30 December 2018

Perfect Puriri Bay- Part 1


We said goodbye to our Whangarei family and carried on north, taking the Old Russell Road which winds and weaves it's way up and over high hills along the coast. The road is also mostly gravel. We're heading to a DOC camp on the north side of the Whangaruru Harbour.

After 40kms or so we take a side road that weaves down the length of the Whangaruru Peninsula, past some local real estate.....

....past popular Bland Bay on the ocean side...

...and then over a couple more hills where from a vantage point looking back, both sides of the peninsula can be seen.

Tuparehuia Bay on the left, Bland Bay on the right
Towards the end of the road we squeeze through a gate and across a cattlestop into the DOC reserve. Then it's along a narrow section of the road hoping we'll not meet anyone coming the other way, around a corner and there below us is our destination, Puriri Bay...

...the perfect campsite and a beautiful sheltered bay on the edge of the water. And what do you know, there are our friends, Jocelyn & Murray in their 5th-wheeler. We had briefly caught up with them at Uretiti DOC Camp so it was great to be able to spend some more time with them.

David inflated the Takacat dinghy and went fishing...

..with limited success for the first few days. He's been so used to lake fishing these past few years it took him awhile to get back into the swing. But that wasn't a problem because Murray is a (very) keen fisherman and is well known for regularly feeding the entire camp. He'd head out in his kayak early in the morning, usually as I was waiting for sunrise and on this morning, moon set at the same time...

...and he'd be home a couple of hours later with a full house.

Later in the day we might have a 'cook off', we decided both Murray & I make a mean Kokoda (raw fish salad) and Jocelyn makes excellent fish cakes. David just enjoyed the sampling! 

Within a few days, David got the hang of sea fishing again and started bringing home the bacon....I mean snapper...

A sign and a flimsy rope at the far end of the bay alerted us to the fact that there was one very large wasp nest hanging from an old pohutukawa tree on the foreshore. I gingerly crept up as far as I dared to take some photos before pest control arrived to take care of it.

Centre below the large epiphyte 
Thank God for long lens (click on the photo to enlarge)

A few days later pest control arrived covered from head to toe in bee suits and stuffed a thin pipe up into the nest over and over again. Afterwards a large cloud of powder hung around the nest and angry wasps swarmed about.

A couple of days later, with a little bit of trepidation, I approached the nest and was frightened out of my wits when hidden behind the tree trunk, three ducks lifted off from underneath quacking in alarm. They had been feasting on the dead wasps that had dropped out of the nest, how they handled the poison I'm not so sure. In this photo you can see some of the numerous entry points to the nest on the left.

Much of the outer shell had fallen to the ground exposing the many layers and cells of the nest. Isn't nature truly amazing, what a shame wasps are such a terrible pest. 

With the Labour holiday weekend approaching we were expecting quite a number of extra people arriving but we were pleasantly surprised at the lack of campers, most had a front row site and then there still a few gaps. The weather was one out of the box too; perhaps it was just a little bit too far to come for a long weekend.

During our time there, there were some amazing sunsets across the harbour...

This one had some strange black lines through the cloud

And then there were the sunrises including this unusual one.

To be continued... Part 2

Friday 28 December 2018

The Best of 2018

Well another year has come and gone in what feels like an awful rush, it seems just like yesterday we were enjoying last summer camping with family around Hawkes Bay. We've actually had two long stints in the Bay this year, the first was to spend Christmas 2017 and New Year with Mum & Dad in Napier and then we stayed on enjoying Hawkes Bay's summer sunshine.

Just when we were about ready to leave, February's Art Deco week was just around the corner and we decided we couldn't leave without heading there for what turned out to be a fantastic week of sunshine & frivolities parked at the temporary NZMCA camp on Marine Parade; a highlight of our year.

Afterwards we headed off beach-hopping around the East Cape, then onto the Coromandel to revisit  a few of  our favourite places before returning to Napier for three very important celebrations. The first was actually in Melbourne, we left the rig at Mum & Dads' and flew over to meet our newest family member Otis, grandchild #5. After a lovely break there it was back to Napier to celebrate my parents 60th wedding anniversary and a significant birthday for Mum. 

It once again took us awhile to hitch up and head off and when we finally did it was to explore new pastures; Northland & the Far North. Which is where we still are at the moment. In typical 'Out There' fashion we are doing it at a snail's pace even though initially we talked of being back in the South Island for Christmas! Ha! Let's just say 2019 plans are extremely fluid. 

Here are my choices for the 'Best of' 2018', click the links to read the blogs associated with them (and excuse the odd font on this post, it's decided to give me grief and won't repair. If I spend any more time trying to correct it you won't get to read this until 2019!) 

Best Day Walk-

A beautiful walk through ponga and ferns with beech trees and mighty rimu towering overhead to one of the most pristine lakes in New Zealand, Lake Waikareiti in northern Hawkes Bay. 

Best Nature Encounter-

The very recent encounter with a dolphin stranding at Tokerau Beach, not really the 'best' but it was the best outcome and an awesome experience all the same.

Which has to be followed by the worst animal encounter, a close call with an angry water buffalo, which has now been joined by an equally frightening experience; getting chased around the rig by a barking, growling dog when I stopped to take a photo of a church in the Far North! 

Best Natural Phenomenon-

Nearly the best thing since sliced bread, the Rere Rockslide, even if I didn't give it a go! 

Followed a close second by the giant Te Paki Sand Dunes, which I also didn't have a go at (blog still to come)

Best DOC Camp-

This would have to be Puriri Bay in Northland, the camp is on the edge of a tiny sheltered bay on the Whangaruru Harbour where there is awesome fishing. I am just about to do the blog for this camp, in the meantime here's a photo to whet your appetite.

Second choice would be the DOC Camp at Anaura Bay on the East Coast, not because of the camp itself, although that is fine too but because we had the whole place to ourselves and camped on the edge of  a stream overlooking the beach. It wasn't until later that we found a sign saying no camping allowed through the gate! We do live dangerously occasionally.

Best Weather Experience (worst weather)-

Our escape from Port Jackson on the Coromandel as a violent weather bomb blasted us from above wins this one hands down! This is the one all others will forever be measured against. We'll say 'Could it be worse than Port Jackson? No, then lets go for it!'

Best Commercial Campground-

How could I not choose Mt Maunganui Holiday Park, it's our home away from home when we're back in the Bay of Plenty. It's where we catch up with our Tauranga family and friends and where we watch the world pass by. I love the atmosphere, the activity, the Mount walks, Pilot Bay and the Main Beach, it's not everyone's cup of tea but to me it's a little slice of paradise in an extremely busy city. And the best bit? I get to escape when I've had my fill.

Best Beach-

This is another one that I haven't done a blog on yet but Puheke Beach on the Karikari Peninsula in the Far North would have to top the list of beaches this year. And that is saying something considering the number of beaches we've visited. 

Rarawa Beach, also in the Far North would have won had I seen it first but Puheke and it's glaringly white silica sands took my breath away.

Otama Bay on the Coromandel has always been a favourite and is a close second to the white sands of the north. Isn't New Zealand blessed with some magnificent beaches?

Best Waterfall-

We've certainly visited some beautiful waterfalls this year, and so many that it was hard to choose. I've given first place to Shine Falls near Lake Tutira in Hawkes Bay purely on its impressive 58 metre drop.

Best NZMCA Park-

This would be the Rainbow Fall's NZMCA Park in Kerikeri, I loved the fruit and flower plantings and that it was just through the fence from Rainbow Falls and the River Walk down to the historic Stone Store. And also because we had to stay there for a couple of weeks for various reasons and it proved to be an ideal place to spend some time.

Best Special Event-

This one was easy, the Art Deco week in Napier, we had a fabulous time and I'd highly recommend attending this event at least once in your lifetime (like us you'll probably want to return again & again, I think this was our 4th visit)

And if you are a NZMCA member then you must stay at the temporary camp on Marine Parade, that's where half the fun is to be had.

Best Photobomb-

This was the donut this Subaru did right in front of me as I was lining up a photo of the longest wharf in the Southern Hemisphere at Tolaga Bay. As it turned out I decided it was a very unique shot and not one I'd likely ever get again; right place, right moment. Tolaga Bay provided another one of my favourite shots too, piglets taking themselves for a walk along the footpath. Click on the link to see them.

Best Lake-

We haven't visited too many lakes this year but we enjoyed some quality time at remote  Lake Waikaremoana in the Te Urewera National Park in northern Hawkes Bay.

Best Dramatic Coastline-

The Muriwai Walk near Port Jackson on the Coromandel peninsula where there's a sign warning you not to walk the track in high winds!

Best NZMCA POP/CAP (Parking Sites)-

Moreporks Nest in Te Araroa, a very friendly place with lovely spring water, a valuable commodity on the East Coast.

Best Sunrise-

If you've been following my blog or belong to a few of the Facebook pages I post photos to, you'll know that I've experienced some amazing sun rises (and sunsets) this year which is not hard to do when you're travelling mostly up the east coast of New Zealand. I've chosen the Spirit of Napier sunrise on Marine Parade because a) it's my hometown and b), I would never have got out of bed and headed to the Parade early in the morning for a sunrise shot but we were parked beside the fountain in the Art Deco camp so it was easy. I was also wearing my dressing gown! It was very surreal walking about a usually very public place in my night attire.

Here's another place where I was running around in my dressing gown and Crocs taking photos; 2nd place goes to Anaura Bay on the East Coast.

Best Memories-

That would have to be our stay on Mahia Peninsula  revisiting and reminiscing about all the old haunts from my childhood & teenage summer holidays. 

Best Freedom Camping-

Ocean Beach in Hawkes Bay where we had a couple of days with our motorhoming relatives before the weather packed up and sent us back to suburbia. 

Best Cultural Visit-

I'd missed it on a previous visit to the East Coast but not this time, even though I couldn't get right down into the village. I wanted to see the Whale Rider on top of the marae at Whanga Bay on the East Coast. This was where the iconic 2003 NZ film 'The Whale Rider' was filmed.

Best Bird Encounter-

There have been a couple of 'lifers' for us this year (birder speak for first ever sighting of a bird species). With a population of just 45 birds, we were thrilled tvirtually trip over this pair of Fairy Terns at Waipu when we weren't even looking for them.

We also finally found some Banded Rail/Mioweka  at Shakespear Park Open Sanctuary on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula...

...where I was also happy to locate some recently released Tieke/Saddlebacks, not a first but a highlight as these were very confiding birds.

Best Photo-

I'm not so sure it's my best photo of the year but it's one that I keep returning to; Whangarei Falls 

And last but definitely not least...

Best Family Event-

This of course has to be Mum & Dads' Diamond Wedding anniversary and the celebration we had for them in Napier.  

Happy New Year to you all and all the very best for 2019, safe and happy travels.