Friday, December 27, 2013

Up a hill again......and now rain.....

Well Christmas has come and gone!
Had a great day at my niece Tracy’s place with her family Riley and Abby, her brother Tony and his family Nat, Xavier and Sebastian. Their brother David and Tina with their two boys dropped by for a visit.  We also had my sisters Lorna (Tracy, Tony and David’s mum) with her husband Gary, Valerie and Deb dropped in for a while with her son Cameron. We also had Gary’s mum and dad and two of his brothers and his sister. Also my son James and his family arrived in the afternoon.
A fun day with water fights (loads of water pistols) and heaps of food! The kids had loads of presents to play with so it was pretty easy to keep them occupied.

Boxing Day I headed out to the Glenbervie Mountainbike track and had a bit of a blat.
It’s quite narrow and a bit overgrown in places but not a bad little workout.
At Glenbervie mountain bike track

From there I went cross country along the Mt Tiger Road through to the Whangarei Heads and headed to Manganese Point which is a NZMCA park.
Parked at Manganese Point

Looking up the harbour north towards Whangarei

Looking south towards Whangarei Heads

An awesome spot and did some kayak fishing (haha) and then later on when the tide was in tried my hand at surfcasting from the rocks. And I caught a fish!! (well you might call it a fi….) it was a mackerel about 6” long. It got a reprieve and got sent back to grow some more.
A lovely evening was spent there chatting to various people and enjoying the views.

Friday was spent kayaking again and trying to catch these elusive things called fish. Had a great paddle around the bays and out halfway across the Whangarei Harbour. Learnt how to use the sea anchor as well as the bottom anchor. The sea anchor worked well holding me pretty steady against the wind and tide.
Had a rather interesting interruption during the late afternoon when one of the local houses decided it didn’t like being left all alone and decided to blast out its alarm for about 15 mins! Not nice at all.

This morning I headed out early to Mt Manaia to have a walk up to the top. 
At the carpark heading to the Mt Manaia walk

Not as bad as Mt Te Aroha but a heck of a lot of stairs. 

The view at the top was amazing. I had a feeling that the track was different to the one that I had climbed some 40 years ago. I recalled going up the north western slopes and climbing up a very steep chimney on ropes and then getting to the very top via some pretty severe climbing. The track today goes around the other side of the mountain on the south east side, up stairs and stairs and stairs and then along the ridge past what we used to call The Sisters, not sure if they are still called that these days.
Looking towards Mt Lion from one of The Sisters

One of The Sisters

View on the way up

At the point where you can go no further, they have built a structure to get up onto one of the flat outcrops well below the true summit of the mountain, which if I remember was about 8ft in diameter. Must check the photo box and find them. I know I have some in there somewhere. The reason is that the local Māori used to lay out the chieftains on the tops of the highest peaks so it is a sacred (tapu) site, so you cannot get up there anymore.
As high as you can get....

Looking south from the top platform

Looking across the harbour to the refinery and port area

The top!

Looking down towards the port and refinery

Looking northerly up the harbour towards One Tree Point

As I left I met up with a couple out to walk to the top. It was his birthday and they were Americans living locally. He was hoping that the mountain didn’t do him in on his birthday! I left them behind as they were travelling slowly. On the way up I passed a woman coming down and then on my way down came across the American couple about 20 mins from the top. Pretty buggered but determined to get there. From there on it was like peak hour traffic. One family group with about 3 young girls wanted me to tell them that the top was just around the corner….like George Washington, I couldn’t tell a lie, but did sugar coat the truth just a little. Had a chat to an older couple about what the track used to be like and they agreed with my recollection about it going up the other side and apparently it was still there until recently when there was a major slip and they have now closed it.
Looking back up the mountain

Main peak and The Sisters

I could see the weather starting to close in so after I came down I headed out to Ocean Beach wanting to stay the night out there, but found that I couldn’t fit the bus into the car parking spaces so as the weather was heading south I decided not to park in the grass paddock risking not being able to get out later.
So I then headed back to Parua Bay and headed to the NZMCA POP site at the Whangarei Boating Club and am now sitting looking out the window at the grey day after baking some muffins for afternoon tea.

It seems quite a busy spot here with caravans and motorhomes arriving pretty constantly. There is an interesting caravan parked next door. It arrived and I thought it was simply a pop top, but oh no. It unfolded up and forward, then up and back. A bit like a transformer….. the name on the side is TrailManor. 

The red and orange outlines sit over the top of the blue piece and the green bits swing out. Quite fascinating to watch. It come in the size of the blue bit.

Not sure how long I will be here, but might just take a day's rest!

Monday, December 23, 2013

One more sleep!

Well only one more sleep til Santa arrives here in New Zealand.
Pohutakawa - NZ Christmas flower

It is Tuesday night and I have been a bit slack on the blogging!
Saturday I left Sullivan's Bay and once I hit cell phone coverage, I got a call from my sister asking whether the 90th party was Saturday or Sunday, so as I was not too far from Mangawhai I said I would head directly there and find out.
On arrival in Mangawhai, I found another of my many sisters there one day early as well. Aunty Dorothy thought it was great that we were there early. So I had a couple of hours with my eldest sister Joy and her husband Noel.
My cousin Ruth was there from Melbourne and it was great to catch up with her for the rest of the afternoon. We had some great hours reminiscing and realised that it had been around 20 years since we had seen each other. There had been a family reunion around 20 years ago and that was the last time we had been together. The cousins children were around 8-12 years old now their children are the same age!  How time flow when you are having fun.
On Sunday it was great to catch up with so many cousins from my Uncle Don's side of the family as well as Aunty Dorothy's side as well.
There were only the three children on that side of the family, Dorothy, Donald and Lorna (my mum) but there are loads of cousins! Aunty Dorothy had 4, Uncle Don had 9 and mum had the 7 of us. So just on that side there are 20 cousins, with all their children..........
Now that we are all reconnected the age of electronics will enable us to keep in contact again.
Sunday night I stayed with my second cousin Ben and his wife and new baby at their lovely property just out of Mangawhai and had a great evening.
I left early and headed through to Waipu Cove via Langs Beach, wow that area has changes soooo much! So much new development right through there.
So from there went through to Ruakaka and wandered past where mum and dad used to live and had a bit of a wander along the beach by the racecourse. Little thinking time about my dad....
From there I headed across towards One Tree Point and had a look a the new Marsden Cove Development, which looks quite nice.
Headed from there into Whangarei and caught up with my cousin Margaret and her husband Bill from Dad's side. Bill is actually the local containment officer for the NZMCA and have just returned from a 3 month stint in the USA touring around in their new motorhome that they bought there. It's a beauty and it stays there with their son.
Caught up with another cousin Patricia from the same side as well as my 91 year old Aunty Mary. We chatted and reminisced about my dad and his family for quite a while, looking at some awesome old photos. I need to upload some and will when I get a moment.
I then headed up to my niece Tracy and her lovely kids as well my nephew Tony, his wife Nat with their two kids, who are staying there for a while, having just returned from Australia.
I managed to get into the driveway at my sister Lorna's place and have been relaxing here and getting organised for tomorrow, making coleslaw.
We are off to see the Christmas lights as soon as it gets dark enough....probably around 9.00pm!

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish all my friends, family and blog followers an awesome Christmas and a fantastic New Year. Safe traveling and may 2014 bring you all you strive towards.
(((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))) to those that like them.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Heading north.....

So after a lovely dinner with Dave, Yana, her mother, brother and girlfriend it was time to do the dishes and head off!
The dinner was amazing with bbq chicken and pork with some lovely salads. Beetroot and spinach, carrot, almonds and mint, chick peas and dates and kumara with lemon. All washed down with some lovely wind=e, company and conversation. Followed by some Wii Sport with the kids, Jimmy and Tyler.
This morning I thought I would be cheeky and do my dishes inside before I left only to realise that we hadn't done last night’s dishes. So Yana and I did the dishes as the dishwasher was misbehaving. It was a small price to pay for such a wonderful two days with some shooting and editing as well.
Dave and I had shot and edited a promotional video for the kayak loader, which went well and has already got some keen interest from a motor-homer. It was interesting being the talent (debatable) and doing some of the editing. Didn't realise that 1am still existed out of bed!
Go have a look at it on youtube.

So then after the dishes we done, I packed up the bus and said ‘til next time’ to Dave, Yana, Jimmy and Tyler. Headed out their driveway without scratching the side of the bus this time and headed up the motorway north.
Amazingly the traffic was very light and I had a great journey northwards. Took the off-ramp for Orewa instead of paying $4.40 on the toll road. The good part of that was there was no traffic on that road and the bus climbed the hill into Waiwera well.
I had sort of decided to head up to Snells Beach, just out of Warkworth for the night but saw the sign for the Maharangi Regional Park and as I have never been here before decided to have a look and see what it was like. It’s about 7km off State Highway 1 and as I wandered through some lovely countryside, I realised that we were heading out to the coast. At the end of the road to the park, you head down a hill and there before you is the sea. An amazing view.

As you can see I went back up the road to take the photos as "The Fredrock Cafe" is in the pics.

So I decided that I would at least go and christen the kayak and see if I could use it with any sort of aptitude.
Then after reading the signboards and the information, I decided that I would stay here the night for the princely sum of $6. So I parked the bus,

 set up the kayak and headed out for a spin.

It was fun, and I had a few nibbles while I was out there, but they didn't want to be dinner so I came back in and had some lunch. The weather was still glorious so I headed out again and came back at around 4pm, still with no fish but a lot more bites and a bit more confident in the kayak.
The wheels work, the tackle pod is brilliant and all I need now is to catch some fish.
I think I’ll go back out after dinner and see what can be done!
.....and nothing except bites....
and due to the lack of cell coverage, this post happened today not yesterday.
more to come about getting rung to see whether the birthday party was Saturday or Sunday and the resulting fun and games......

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's Up!

After spending all day Friday waiting in Te Aroha, we finally got the kayak rack up and bolted to the roof. Unfortunately we came across a bit of a problem and after discussion, I agreed to come back on Monday to get it fixed. The side rails which were so beautifully done, had a lot of flex in them and as the kayak was going up or down there was some danger of causing some damage if the sides flexed too far. The next run will have a folded edge to alleviate this, but we decided to bolt a pair of angle strips to the sides on Monday and see how that behaved.

Over the weekend I managed to get a bisc firing done in the kiln. Found a little error in that as the kiln heated up the interlock moved away from the switch and so didn’t allow the kiln to heat up efficiently as it was turning off every time it got going! So adjusted things and off she went and had a good result, with nothing cracked or broken.
Sunday was spent gathering produce from the garden and the pantry ready for the run up north and making sure that things were in order.

So Monday was heading back to Te Aroha for the adjustments. They removed the carriage from the loader and headed off into the workshop. I then headed into my books, a series by Clive Cussier around a character called Kurt Austin. Pretty interesting series based on some clever science.
Anyway, a long hot day and a book and a half later, I had a working kayak loader on the roof again and at 4pm I headed off back towards Huntly to say Merry Christmas to my old boss. She invited me to dinner which was great and I spent the night at my old work and then had breakfast of yummy bacon, eggs, spaghetti and toast with the old crew.
Was good to catch up with them again. 

Tuesday I headed up to see my son in Whangaparoa and parked at the Gulf Harbour Marina. I then cycled across to visit them as I was worried about loosing my spot in the car park due to the large number of motorhomes and caravans arriving, I had a lovely dinner with them after a neat visit to the beach with everyone. The kids were having a great deal of fun in the lovely warm water.
 I then spent the night at the Gulf Harbour Marina.
Looking towards Auckland

Auckland in the distance....zoom in....

So finally the kayak loader is up and operation well.
As I had promised Mike from Cullen Engineering a video as soon as possible I headed back to see my friend Dave from Badger Films and we managed to shoot and edit a video for the kayak loader in his front yard. 
Didn't realise how much I missed editing (NOT) as we finished it off at 1am! But it was good to know that I haven't lost my skills and was able to slot into the new Final Cut X without too much effort. Some interesting changes and some strange changes, but the principles remain the same. 
Quite weird editing yourself and hearing yourself! Doesn't sound at all like me!!!!

So go have a look at Kayak Loader 

So I'm sitting here updating this and ready to head north, but I've been invited to stay for dinner at Dave and Yana's again tonight so will head off up north tomorrow, heading towards Mangawhai for my Aunt's 90th birthday on Sunday.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

952 meters straight up!

Well today was a great day, starting off with a trial run/first fit of the kayak loader and it went well. They carefully checked everything and it all fitted. It’s a lot shorter than I thought it would be.


Then I decided that I would do a wander up the ‘hill’ to the top of Mt Te Aroha and see the transmission tower close up.
Once the fitting was complete and I had got things ready, I left the domain at 11.15.
Well the track was bloody tough! We missed the Bald Spur lookout by about 7 minutes the other day! What a view from there. 

Then it was slog, slog, up and up and up, from there to the summit. It was stairs, climbs up roots and rocks and climbs and stairs. It was one heck of a climb.

I arrived at the summit at 1:30 and took some pictures

and headed off down the TV road for a while…. a long while and it was downhill ALL the way. And very steep in places and it went on…. 

Eventually I found the Tui Link track that headed back towards the starting point. Came across the Mayflower mine and had a look in, wish I had brought a torch.

On the way through the Tui Track I cam across a very strange occurrence, A grove with a whole stack of stone cairns...spooky

 There were also a number of creeks and crossings

Arrived back at the domain at 4pm after 17km walking, exhausted but proud of getting there and back!

Showered, did some washing as my walking clothes stank! And am now sitting writing this and sipping on a glass of vino, with my feet up.

Te Aroha is an amazing area, with lots of stuff to do. Some great shops and businesses and the thermal pools, some awesome walks and bike rides, road, rail trail and mountain bike.  You could happily spend a week here doing all the great things.

BTW the pile of dirt next to our overnight spot is a BMX track in the making. They are trying to get some basic jumps ready for the holidays.

I’m heading back to Cullen Engineering at 8am tomorrow for the final fitting!

Pasta, bacon and salad for dinner!