Saturday 27 February 2021

That Takaka Hill!

I mentioned in the last post that we had been away 10 days from Waikanae and hardly moved. Here's what I mean:

This shows part of the Tasman and Marlborough Districts - you can see Picton (where we started out) near the east of the picture and Collingwood, Pakawau and Puponga to the western side (where we got to in 10 days), with Nelson near the middle.

And here is the extent of the South Island and Stewart Island. We had been to probably less than a 20th of it at the point I wrote the last post and this one...


After leaving Ann and Salvi's place in Stoke near Nelson the day after Chris's birthday, we headed for Collingwood. I know we have been over the Takaka Hill years ago - I seem to remember it was Chris who took us over when the kids were little and we were staying with him in Nelson.

Travelling it in a car is probably a bit less scary than being in the motorhome because you are not so high up and therefore cannot see down the steep banks beside you... And currently there are big sets of roadworks strengthening the corners that get eroded by slips in heavy rainfall. The process they are using involves digging back across the road to where the roadway and its bed a firm and strong. Then they build up the corner outwards using concrete and bolts into the rock. After that they prepare and place rock gabions (big rocks and little rocks in wire baskets) on a bed of rock and clay, build them up to the road surface level and seal it. A very very big job. And scary to drive past!

The whole road is 25kms long and maybe my blood sugar was low because I felt quite anxious driving the road and declared I wasn't doing it again. David did remind me there was no other way out so I would have to do it at least once more ... However, I think part of my anxiety may well have been that the rear view camera stopped working while we were travelling - thankfully at the base on the far side of the hill. It is spooky not having a rear view camera - I have two side mirrors which do a great job, but as they cannot be angled sharply enough (given the motorhome sides are slightly wider than the mirrors) for me to see directly behind me, it is disconcerting to lose that view and it doesn't feel very safe!

We stopped in Takaka for a bite to eat - found a lovely organic cafe and bought a couple of very yummy things: definitely NOT what I have previously expected organic places to sell (in my ignorance and prejudice ...) Takaka has a very hippy alternative vibe and I felt drawn back to the late 60s/70s when I saw a woman who would have fitted in seamlessly back then almost dancing down the street, barefooted and singing to the music through her tiny earphones - they were the only thing out of synch with the earlier period!

The holiday park at Collingwood was delightful - it has a new part and an older area, and we were in the latter. A good thing as we were parked up under the trees - given the heat and intensity of the sun, shade was a good thing! The hilarious thing was the facility block - it was an open sided barn-like building with a very high roof. There were about 6 separate cubicles (unisex) each of which had a toilet, handbasin and shower. They did not extend up to the roof, but they did have mosquito nets over the top! A novel way to protect people from bity things!

Our place under the trees - good shade, but the beech trees bled sap on to the motorhome in the heat ... Better for us than being out in the sun though!

In the evening we went for a walk around the village - a number of the sites are on or close to the side of the river with the Wakamarama Ranges in the background.

Sunset over the Wakamarama Ranges, taken from just 100 yards or so from the Courthouse Cafe.


Now that looks like an old courthouse, doesn't it? Apart from the cafe tables, chairs and umbrellas, of course! Photo taken in the morning before we went in to eat ...

I am finding that cafes and restaurants here are very happy to accommodate David's dietary needs. And the Courthouse Cafe in Collingwood was no different. And the breakfasts we had were really good.

We breakfasted there before heading up to Pakawau and Puponga to see the approach to Farewell Spit. It was a day of exploration as we stopped and looked at beaches and the amazingly clear water in what is a very large bay.

As we crossed this bridge not far out of Collingwood, the river water was beautifully still and clear.

This plant was underwater on one of the beaches that we stopped to look at.

Near Puponga - I took this from the roadway because my friend Lesley in the UK and other UK friends were WhatsApping photos of their winter day. I admit it - I was being mean!


On Pakawau Beach we chatted with a couple, both of whom are truck drivers - it was the woman who told me about the road repairing process on the Takaka Hill. She was a fount of knowledge, and also had hair-raising stories about when the trees were felled on the roadside (leading to erosion of course) it became possible to see the cars abandoned after they had plunged off the road... AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

We decided not to head over to Wharariki to see the Archway Islands because pictures showed they looked very similar to rock formations in North Taranaki, albeit they are of different rock.

However we did walk across farmland (a very English pastime... ) to Pivot Point. 

Well, it's English in that it is a public footpath through farmland, but that is pretty much where the resemblance ends to be frank!

Up and over the steps (not a stile) and down through the bush and flax to the sand dunes and the beach. That is the sea you can see there - next stop: Australia.

There were 4 people sitting on the beautiful white sand, but I had to have a paddle. So shoes and socks off and in I went - but only up to my shins. 

Looking back to the hill we came over

And in the water

Now where's the best place to put my shoes back on? Find a grassy spot, check for spiders and then sit to brush sand off the feet - sand in the shoes is uncomfortable in the extreme! ...

A quick chat with the people as they were about to head back to the carpark - and where were they from? South Taranaki, of course: Manaia and Kaponga.

Of course I had forgotten to take my Lieke stick (even though we had moved it from the garage into the cupboard by the bed to make sure we would remember to use it) and my right hip, knee and ankle were not happy! David found me a stick on the way back which did help a lot. He's a kind husband.

On the walk back to the car/motorhome park.


We had been told by a couple the previous evening that the Langbourne store at Bainham was well worth a visit. So on the way back to Collingwood, still surprisingly with reserves of energy, we cut inland to Bainham. 

It was not what I was expecting - I had expected it to be an old store extensively upgraded. But no! It was original inside and out. And rather than selling groceries and all other things such a store would have sold back in the day, it had lots of old cups, saucer and plate sets, china teapots, platters etc. I was very very tempted, but realised that I had had to give away some of my c,s&p sets when we shifted to Waikanae, so accumulating more was not an option. The lady did say she would buy mine off me when I am ready to sell though, as they go like hotcakes! 

Mmm, shall keep that in mind as I don't think anyone in my family wants them when I shuffle off this mortal coil ...

Saturday 20 February 2021

Ten days in, and we've not moved much ...

I give you fair warning that this is an exceptionally long post, so make a cup of tea, make yourself comfortable and get reading...

Well, when I started to write this it was ten days into our holiday and we hadn't moved much. Now it's 6 days later and we are still only in Greymouth. But first, back to the original 10 days of not moving very far at all.

We are now (well, we were ...) in Collingwood Holiday Park - a lovely place; busy and friendly, and very close to the main street of the village, so everything is close by.

 We had a fabulous sailing down to Picton on Tuesday 2 Feb - we do LOVE the Plus Lounge. They were very helpful to David in providing him with very nice vegan food and making sure he wasn't going hungry while I had a piggy time with cheese and crackers, cake with afternoon tea and then dinner. No chardonnay though - I am finding it interferes badly with my sleep, so I have eschewed it. Needed to happen - insomnia is a bugger! I expect that chardonnay producers NZ wide are in deep shock though...

Waiting in line at Wellington Ferry Terminal. David eating his lunch, kindly prepared by his lovely wife prior to leaving home. Such a paragon, she is!

Just through Tory Channel, I think. I wasn't watching too closely as I was too busy feeding my face in the Plus Lounge ...

Approaching Picton - the yachts quickly got into the wake of the ferry.


We had previously decided that, while the proprietors were lovely, the Top 10 at Picton has sites that are too tiny to be comfortable - there is barely 3 metres if that between motorhomes and caravans. So we had booked at the Parklands Marina Holiday Park at Waikawa - it is fabulous! It's a lovely place, the sites are really spacious, the facilities are in very good condition and are very clean. Hayley and Nick are excellent hosts. So if you are wanting to stay overnight before or after a sailing, then choose their place. It is only 3.5km from the ferry terminal, and the A1 Picton Shuttle provides an excellent service. We haven't done it yet, but there is a walking track between the two places, so that will be explored and reported on when we head home.

I think I was having breakfast (late) while David was prepping carrots for juicing over in the kitchen. I'd put up the awning, spread the mats and set up the table and chairs, so I was entitled to relax in the warmth.

These tableaux depicts two Maori myths that explain day and night and the formation of the North Island: In this one, Maui is harnessing the sun to stop it going down each day.

This myth is where Maui fishes up the whale that is the North Island. The mountains and valleys, hills and bays, and the general shape of the North Island can easily be visualised as a whale.

We did a bit of walking down to the bay at Waikawa. Our first walk down there was the evening we arrived. I did have to send the photos to my cousin Gordon because we went to Southampton Water with him and Sharon. It has the hugest marinas I have ever seen! This one looks very tiny in comparison!


Sunset at Waikawa Marina - I was told it's NZ's biggest marina but I am not sure of that.

Outside the marina in the evening.

Maybe it is the biggest ... None of the boats match the size (or cost) of some we saw in Southampton Water though. They were huge huge huge!

I was going to say that David did the walk down there more often than I did - because he managed to leave his glasses on the table at the Jolly Roger pub the following afternoon after we'd walked down to Burnsco looking for something for the motorhome and decided a drink was in order. So he had to walk down to collect them. It was a shame that he wore his sunglasses on his walk to fetch his specs, because once he'd retrieved them and put them on, he left his sunglasses behind ... I did send a message to Kirsty asking her to find a rest home for him but she signally failed to come to my rescue, dammit! 

A drink outside at the Jolly Roger. See David's sunglasses on his head? Specs are on the table behind where he left them while taking other photos ...


The sunglasses were only identified as missing the following morning when we were getting ready to head to Picton (using the A1 shuttle taxi) for breakfast and the Mailboat Cruise. We had been tentative about doing the cruise because the forecast was for a fair bit of wind there, but we decided to brave it. But brekkie for me was first. As always occurs when I ask, the cafe staff were very happy to create a lovely vegan breakfast for David, so as well as fruit salad as his first breakfast prior to leaving the motorhome, he had a green salad as the second sitting. 

While we were at the Seabreeze Cafe (recommended by Ruby, the A1 driver) she phoned to ask if we had left a small backpack in the cab when she'd dropped us off. Yes, I replied. BUT it was David who was in charge of the backpack - leaving things in the wrong place sounded like it could become a feature of this holiday... Ruby came and dropped the backpack off - she is a gem indeed, and her price is above rubies (look it up...)

The mailboat cruise was lovely. a wee bit bumpy at times, but it traversed parts of the Queen Charlotte Sound we had not seen before because it went past Tory Channel where the ferry enters the sound on its way to Picton.

Even though it was raining, the dog was waiting, as always, for the mail boat to arrive.

The skipper always gives the dogs a biscuit - it ensures the dogs are listening for the mailboat and so they remind their owners to get down to the jetty! One bag handed over by the owner (empty or full) and the other handed over by the skipper, plus any ordered groceries or deliveries.

When we moored at Ship Cove to let some walkers off to commence the Queen Charlotte Track (they would go through Cowshed Bay where we stayed with Jim and Judy last year), one of the first things we saw was this weka. I think they are just as conditioned as the dogs to appear when the mailboat arrives in case anyone will feed them ...

DOC interp, as those of us in the know call it ;-)

The mailboat isn't terribly large - I think it can carry about 100 passengers - it's the passengers that enable the run to be profitable. In this era of user pays, the mail delivery cost would be astronomical without the passengers.

This is a pou whenua. It is used by Maori to identify areas of significance - this site is significant because it is where Captain Cook first met Maori. Ship Cove was used by Cook to provision the ship and collect fresh water.

This table and seating are shaped like a Maori waka, a canoe. I think it's beautiful.

This building is styled like a wharenui - a meeting house. This one is actually a shelter with an open back and front and has bench seating inside. I think it is also beautiful.

This bridge crosses the stream between the Maori section of the site and the British section. Difficult to see in this photo, but the uprights on the bridge are shaped like koru - baby fern fronds - a very distinctive shape recognisable by most NZers. By contrast with the Maori section, the British section had a cannon on a big plinth and plaques. We didn't get much time there as the ship's horn tooted and we had to return. I am really pleased we spent the time on the Maori section as it was much more aesthetically pleasing as well as more unknown, given the usual history we have been taught here (victor stuff...)

That evening we went to a restaurant called Thai Panda, that predictably serves both Thai and Chinese food - all very yummy and as usual, I ordered too much. 


David had two bowls of this Tom Yum soup. Very delicious, I gather.

Just so you know I was there too.

The doggy bag went in to the fridge when we got home - however getting back to the motorhome did require Ruby (A1 Picton shuttle) to make a detour so David could pick up his sunglasses from the pub at Waikawa Bay.  

The following morning we were trying to work out what to do for Waitangi Weekend (a three day weekend with Monday as a public holiday) - our original plan was to head down the east coast but the weather there was due to pack up. And because we hadn't booked anywhere, the places we were keen to stay were fully booked. So a change of plans and we checked in to our favourite spot at Salvi and Ann's in Stoke. There followed a lovely few days with them - games of Sequence, laughter, David and Salvi checking out the new generator, lots of lovely food. Lunch and a catch up with Sarah and Jack, a BBQ and a catch up with Chris and Ann - plus a 6 handed game of Sequence. 

On our way to Nelson and Stoke, I stopped at Pelorus Bridge - it is a stunning area. There were lots of people in the water, sunbathing on the rocks. Isn't that water beautifully clear?

The bridge is pretty spectacular too.

Sorting out the generator - not yet used to power anything on the trip though. But who knows ...


It transpired that the coming Thursday was Chris's birthday, so we arranged that we would attend his celebratory lunch. We thought it would be too much of imposing on Ann and Salvi's hospitality to stay until Friday (after all, that would have been a WEEK! Too much unwarranted punishment for them.) So we decided to have a couple of nights at Cable Bay - we had passed the turn off on our way in to Nelson a few days earlier and thought the reviews of the camp there looked promising.

It was beaut - peaceful, casual, friendly. And the scenery was stunning.

From the raised causeway out to sea

Towards Tasman Bay

Dumpers - would hurt under them landing on the stones, I reckon!


I think David took this photo late the previous afternoon when he came up here by himself - showing the bay and mudflats in the lagoon. The land looks so different in different lights.

From the lookout at about 7.30am: that island, connected only by the causeway (the isthmus - that is a Level 10 spelling word from my primary school days ...) therefore a peninsula, is a single farm.

The steps up to the lookout - DOC does some amazing work opening up this beautiful country to us all.

There was another couple up early that morning too to catch the view and the early sun. A better view of the mudflats, the lagoon opening and the surrounding hills. Plus we are featured so you know we did go up there - and it was shorts weather for me even at 7.30am!


We also managed to help another couple sort an issue with their fridge - they had the same motorhome that Jack and Sarah used to have and Sarah had told me about their hassles when they first bought the motorhome. So we Facetimed with Sarah, and she gave the woman the information she needed to get it resolved and the name of the firm in Nelson that she had found knowledgeable and helpful. 

The next morning the woman told me breathlessly that she thought it was just mean to be - Bollocks, I said - it's all about networking, and listening when people tell me things so I can pass on the information when required! Just meant to be, my arse ...

Our possie - we were close to the kitchen and bathrooms. And as the road is a dead-end, being close to it was no bother! We had good shade which was nice. What we also had was sap dripping down on to the back of the motorhome from the birch trees behind us - very hard to remove, but Handi Andi and the pot mitt gently applied did the trick. Meths and turps did not...

While we were in Cable Bay we decided that as well as changing our proposed route around the South Island, we would also continue the slow pace we had established since arriving a week prior. And to make that viable, we would fly home for a weekend midway, attend Bruce and Gary's 40th anniversary party, and fly back to continue our travels. That meant deciding where we would get to by that time. The options with airports included Blenheim (nope), Nelson (possible but that would mean slowing down to an absolute crawl), Hokitika (that would mean two flights) or Christchurch. We plumped for Christchurch on the basis that would would easily get to Christchurch with DAYS and DAYS to spare. We fly back next Thursday and where are we now? Greymouth, and we still want to go to Hokitika and spend a couple of days getting over the Alps - there's some lovely (read spectacular) places to freedom camp. I used to look at them longingly when I drove between Christchurch and Hokitika back in 2015/16 when I was working at DOC. 

Chris's birthday lunch, after our sojourn at Cable Bay, was fun - Ann and I walked and Salvi and David drove - we arrived within seconds of each other. I think that may have been because David was still getting ready when Ann and I departed on foot. Lunch was partaken with a lot more laughter and reminiscing. And when we left (all of us in the car this time, Ann and I dropped David and Salvi off and headed for Spotlight - the fridge needed a severe bout of organising so a number of Sistema containers were purchased to undertake said organising. 

This exercise was necessary because I had had at least two fridge tantrums. You may know what I mean by that: when the fridge is full to bursting with vegetables and fruit in opaque plastic bags and when said plastic bags allow their contents to freeform, keeping the fridge tidy and being able to find things easily becomes impossible, and leads inevitably (for me, anyway) to a full-on fridge tantrum.

Armed with a number of Sistema boxes of various sizes and two basic shapes (square and rectangular), home we went and commenced the fridge reorg. The contents were re-structured to within an inch of their lives - if they'd been human, they'd have been calling on HR as soon as I started ...

Cauli and broccoli were chopped into the appropriate sized bits to fit their designated containers, Cabbages (red and green) were quartered to fit, the bunch of celery was chopped in half lengthwise and consigned to two containers, ginger root and turmeric were consigned to a smaller square box, peaches into another larger container, tomatoes too. Then the stacking began. We had phoned David from the store to find out the dimensions of the shelf spaces (H, W, D) so we knew they would fit. By hokey, it looks organised and I have had no real fridge tantrums since. Of course, now that most containers look the same, David cannot find anything. But he couldn't anyway, so no change there! At least one of us has a pretty clear idea what is in which box and that is an 85% improvement, because I am the one who gets things out 85% of the time.

I'm going to stop here - I will write about heading for Collingwood in the next post. It deserves its own spot in the sun...

Wednesday 3 February 2021

Migraines, Visitors and Neighbourhood Watch and Packing...

 Our summer holidays have started - I know, we are retired so every day is a holiday. But we are now off on a South Island odyssey, this time for several weeks. 

Before we headed away though, we had a visit from Jim and Judy who are staying with other friends in Wellington and came out to do a bike ride around Waikanae. 

They love their electric bikes!

Jude is ready, Jim is still getting the bag sorted .

And they are ready for the off!

It was Saturday morning and I had been to the fruit and veg market, on the way home from which I started to see the dreaded aura that presages a migraine for me. I quickly took ibuprofen, so the aura stopped and the drugs held the headache part of the migraine at bay for a couple of hours while we went for brekkie and did some errands in Paraparaumu. But by the time we got to the electrical wholesaler I was toast. 

So home we went and off to bed I toddled with more ibuprofen. I got up when J&J arrived and had a cup of tea with them, then went back to bed for the rest of the afternoon. But I did valiantly get up and make coleslaw for David and sliced up a peach and a nectarine for my dinner. Considering I'd been feeling nauseous, they were a good choice and felt lovely. The effects of the migraine lasted into the next day - unusual for me, so clearly not going straight to bed when the aura strikes is a mistake!

On late Sunday afternoon, our Neighbourhood Watch group had drinks and nibbles out on the berm across the street - I was well recovered by then fortunately. It was lovely being out there for a couple of hours in the sunshine. We don't often have get togethers but it seemed like a good time to do so - no community COVID-19, everyone who had been away was back off their holidays. I've just taken over the role as coordinator of our group so I was pleased that it went off well. Drinks and nibbles are a lot simpler than doing a pot luck dinner or a BBQ -  a lot less organising for a start!

Richard was at ours doing some gardening, so he and David took the chairs across the road. I am amazed that we have so many outdoor chairs!


Kay and I guarded the chairs while waiting for other people to arrive - who knows? Someone could have driven past and thought the chairs were being given away! She and I had to start on the Lindauer Rose - rather yummy. We interspersed it with drinking lime and soda so we stayed sober. It isn't a good look to be the most inebriated at a Neighbourhood Watch event ...

A beautiful warm late afternoon.

I know the photos don't show it but I was there, I swear!

Monday was spent packing the motorhome (me) and trying to get the insurance claim finished for the eye operation and treatment in the UK - back in 2019... (David). It always seems to me that packing the motorhome should not take very long, but somehow it does. Decanting most of the contents of the fridge into the motorhome fridge is always the last job, but requires a great deal of spatial awareness and, if future frustration is to be avoided, a laser-like memory for the position of each and every item within it ...

I think part of what takes the time is prepping some of the food so I don't have to take all the ingredients with me. This time I made a batch of David's crackers, and I packaged up 3 batches of all the seeds so when it's time to bake some more, I can just decant one bag into a bowl, add herbs, seasonings and water, and Bob's your uncle!

This time packing clothing was easy - I absolutely know I will have brought about 5 x too many clothes, but at least now they are in Kathmandu clothing bags so they are not going to cascade out of the overhead lockers each time I pull something out of its precarious position - precarious because of overcrowding!

But as I write this, I still don't understand why it takes so much time!