Posted by: glenswatman | April 11, 2007

200004 New Zealand-N

Saturday 1 April 2000  Fed up of life on the road, heading back to England to work again – April Fool.  Drive out to the Bay of Plenty Sun club $8 (£2.60) p.p.p.n. for our fix of R & R.  Grant settles us into a spot near the pool and no sooner are we ensconced on our sun beds than Barbara & Warren turn up.  We met them last weekend at the Nudvan rally and they have come to take us to Pikowai Beach where Peter is camped.  Pikowai is heaving with motorhomes which is not surprising as it is beach site and it’s only $5 (£1.65) per vehicle plus 50c (16p) for a hot shower.  Peter’s there for the "singles" rally but at 49 he’s the "baby".  Perhaps they throw their pension books onto the table instead of keys!  Return to the sun club where the area by our van is chosen for happy hour as it has the most sun.  Meet Vernon & Pam, Barry & Jenny with granddaughter Sam.
Sunday 2 April  Catch up with my computing before the sun gets hot and Steve gets up.  Chat to Vernon & Pam who come from England and would like to do a motorhome exchange there having already done one in Australia.  Grant has a computer with camera so spend time doing a video recording.  It’s set up inside his 33 foot bus which he built in 6 weeks as a motorhome.
Monday 3 April  Cloudy morning.  Leave mid afternoon heading up the coat to Papamoa.  Mike & Marion whom we met at Milford Sound live here.  At the moment they are living on site in their motorhome as they have just moved house New Zealand style.  They have a large section of land and have moved their original house from the middle of the site to the back.  It’s a big 3 bedroom property and we can hardly believe what they have done but the photographs convince us.  The building was jacked up and then a huge trailer slotted underneath.  Two trucks manoeuvred it to the new spot where it was lowered onto concrete blocks.  Brings a whole new meaning to mobile home.  They plan to build a property where the old one was and sell of the back part with house.  It’s a short walk to a shopping centre and also the nice sandy beach.  A Tiki tour follows and we head along the coast to Mount Maunganui known here simply as "the mount".  The big luxury beach front houses are fantastic and all very different.  The mount is a tourist resort with a few high rise apartment blocks and a campground.  It’s the done thing to climb the mount for the great views but it’s getting dark.  Back at their place we walk the plank to enter the house which is already in use.
Tuesday 4 April  Mention to Marion that we are long overdue a dental appointment and shortly after Mike has lent us his car to drive to our appointment.  A Yorkshire accent greets us as dentist John is from Todmorden.  He attacks our scrape and polishes with exuberance and pronounces that Steve needs a filling which he does there and then.  $160 (£53) and just over an hour later we are dispatched having been instructed in the use of our electric toothbrush.  Tauranga is a big but nice town which we drive around and then back over the harbour bridge $1 (33p) toll to the mount intending to walk up.  Steve is feeling a bit woozy from the anaesthetic so I take a stroll and return with fish and chips.  By the time we have eaten them it is drizzling so we cancel the planned walk and return via the Bayview Shopping Centre. 
Wednesday 5 April  A brighter morning and with Marion we head to the beach.  At low tide you can dig tuatuas out of the sand and after half an hour we have enough for Steve to eat but are advised to soak them overnight in salt water.  Mike has booked us in at a garage in Te Puke for the van service and Transport Services seem to do a good job.  Leave Tauranga area and detour to Omokoroa Country Estate to visit Ian & Shirley fellow Nudvanners.  Can’t remember if I mentioned what N.Z. N.U.D.V.A.N. stood for (New Zealand Naturists United Driving Vans Anywhere Naturally). They live in a retirement home complex which surprises us as the houses are all quite big and luxurious.  There is a community complex with superb facilities – Swimming pool, hot tub, snooker, table tennis, library, piano and stage, dining room and kitchens, TV lounge and bar.  Outside are croquet and bowling greens and nearby a golf course.  Shirley used to be a music teacher and on Wednesday evenings plays the piano for resident’s sing song.  We catch the tail end and then all go for a swim.  It’s a beautiful centre all fitted out tastefully and luxuriously making you feel like you are on holiday.  Ian was in the theatre for many years and is quite famous around New Zealand for his opera singing.  He regales us with many tales and Shirley lends us one of the books she has written about her time working at a vets. 
Thursday 6 April  We all take a walk around the peninsula surrounded by beaches backed by fine houses.  Drizzle turns to rain so we head back.  Steve scoffs all 46 tuatuas for lunch pronouncing them "not bad at all".  Next time we’ll get more, cook them then preserve them in vinegar like cockles and mussels.  It’s a miserable day so we drive to a P.O.P. stop in Katikati on the same road as the naturist club.  Brian and Dutch Marianne Haworth have 4 boys ageing from 8 to 17.  They make us very welcome and for $5 (£1.65) we have power and use of a toilet and hot shower plus their outdoor pool should the weather improve.  3 years ago they did a toured Europe and visited Haworth near Keighley.
Friday 7 April  Torrential rain is forecast so with the offer of videos to watch and free access to the computer we stay put.  No rain and it turns into quite a pleasant warm but cloudy day. 
Saturday 8 April  Phone David who is off to work in Europe again despite outstanding community service punishment.  It’s hard to accept it but it’s his choice and he is fully aware of the consequences.  The weather man tells us the predicted rain has passed by New Zealand and the outlook is for a sunny weekend.  Drive 3km down the road to privately owned Katikati Naturist Club.  The $11 (£3.65) p.p.p.n powered site fee includes everything and as they have a washing machine I will surely get my money’s worth.  5 loads of washing on the line and the heavens open up.  The van begins to look like a Chinese laundry with washing strewn around and the fan blasting away.  Relax first with a game of pool and then a spell of hopping between the hot spa, cold outdoor swimming pool and the sauna.  Can’t believe our ears when the evening weather forecast says that we have had a dry but cloudy day in this area.  Does no one think to stick their heads outside where it is still bucketing down?  Will now either ignore the weather forecast or take it to mean the opposite of what they say.
Sunday 9 April    Even more rain. Leave at noon and venture to Bowentown which would be a lovely spot with many fine beaches to choose from if it wasn’t raining!  The P.O.P. at Waihi Beach has closed down and the free camps in Waihi town are car parks adjacent to the main road.  Most of the fields look like small ponds and we hear that Tauranga has been flooded.  Press on to Whangamata to meet Stronach & Judy tomorrow (they have visitors tonight).  Drop upon a lovely P.O.P. run by Glyn & Jennie who have put a small hut in their garden with a shower, toilet, sink and power point for $6 (£2) a night.  Jennie works at the tourist office and offers plenty of good advice.  An evening watching T.V. which has to be turned up to overcome the sound of the rain on the roof.
Monday 10 April    A brighter morning.  Glyn proudly shows us the doll’s house he is building for his grand-daughter and also the sets he has made for the local theatre groups.  Drive around the town enjoying fine views from Pacific Heights.  Wangamata is almost an Island surround by a long harbour on one side, sea on another and an estuary on the third.  This makes for lots of lovely beaches.  Stop at the Moana Scenic Reserve for lunch before calling on Stronach & Judy.  Fellow naturists they are friends of Keith & Diana whom we met in Darwin. They make us most welcome and take us off on another Tiki tour.  Pauanui up the coast is the Coromandel’s answer to Port Grimaud in the south of France.  Enormous luxurious holiday homes back onto canals where equally enormous and luxurious yachts/boats are anchored still leaving space for the odd "Roller" or "Jag" at the front.  Talk about seeing how the other half live.  We could just afford to buy one of the land sections but that would be our limit and I don’t think a motorhome would look quite right on it.  Whilst sitting in he dining area enjoying our evening meal are spooked when the lounge curtains start to close – a sensor makes them open and close according to the light which is a great idea. 
Wednesday 12 April  A beautiful morning and having joined Stronach & Judy for porridge and toast Stronach leaves for his bowling tournament.  We relax in a sun trap by the house.  After lunch Judy drives us to Opoutere naturist beach.  A steady 10 minute walk through pine forest brings you to a lovely long stretch of white sandy beach with naturists to the left and textiles to the right.  Manage a couple of hours sun before the clouds stop play.  Stronach has a computer and I spend far too long making use of it egged on by Stronach himself who wants to show me all the jokes and card facilities etc.
Thursday 13 April  Heavy rain through the night but steadier by morning.  A last fix on the computer and then off again heading North.  Can’t believe we have only know Judy & Stronach for 2 days as we got on so well – yet another example of the splendid Kiwi hospitality.  In Tairua we drive up Paku Hill for the view but pass on the final climb as it would mean walking in the rain from the car park.  At Cooks Beach we have lunch at the Shakespeare Cliffs view point above Mercury Bay where Captain Cook anchored.  Problems visiting Cathedral Cove and Hot Water Beach, both only accessible 2 hours either side of low tide which is 7.30pm tonight and 8.15am tomorrow.  We now appreciate that "time and tide waits for no man".  Intermittent drizzle so park by Hot Water Beach to wait until low tide when we can dig our own hot pool in the sand.  I stroll down the beach at 4.30pm and find a hive of activity with people already relaxing in pools.  Back for Steve and our shovel.  Time for action and having wiggled our feet in the sand and scalded our toes we know where to dig.  It’s a bit of a battle as the big waves can break the wall down before it is high enough.  A man with a big spade offers to help and in no time we have our pool.  The underground 60C hot water spring runs in a small channel here and having tapped into the source we adjust the temperature with the cold sea water.  5 of us wallow in our own pool amidst clouds of steam.  There must be 100 people spread between a linked network of around 20 pools.  It starts drizzling again but it is quite pleasant and it’s also nice to dash into the cold sea then back into the hot pool.  You have to be careful as you climb into the pool as some areas of sand are too hot to stand or sit on.  Had planned to stay here after dark looking up at the stars but clouds rule that out.  Back to Hahei to Cathedral Cove car park.
Thursday 13 April  On the track by 7.30am for the 40 minute walk to Cathedral Cove (completed in 20 minutes).  It’s a fantastic day with clear blue skies and already hot enough to strip off and run into the sea.  There are no footprints to be seen and we have the place to ourselves.  At low tide you walk from the first beach through a huge rock arch to enter Cathedral Cove.  It’s a magic place with fine soft white sand, turquoise sea and unusual rock formations just off shore.  It looks like the pictures I have seen of Phuket in Thailand.  Back on the first beach we find a cave and a cold freshwater waterfall where Steve showers. Gemstone Beach was named when precious stones were found there under the huge boulders but we much prefer sandy Cathedral Cove.  Stronach & Judy have passed us on to the their friends Geoff & Dawn who live down Golf Road in Whitianga.  They have an ideal property adjoining the golf course but with their paddock separating them giving them privacy and safety from stray balls.  Dawn’s playing in a bowls tournament so Geoff greet us.  A fellow naturist he has us in the car and down to Otama Beach in no time.  Another beautiful beach with sand so clean it squeaks (actually because of the high silica content).  Pohutukawa trees are profuse in this area and we are amazed at their powers of survival. We see upside down trees half embedded in the sand.  The roots are exposed at the top of the cliff from where they have fallen yet still they grow. After a suitable sunbathe Geoff drives us over the hill to Opito Bay which is also lovely but backed by many houses.  Otama Beach is back by a bird sanctuary which we think is nicer.  Kuaotunu stores do huge ice creams for only $1.20 (40p) and I sample the jelly tip flavour.  Return for Geoff to put the meat in the oven whilst Steve & I fester beside the swimming pool.  At around 6.00pm a black Labrador appears at the door and nudges it open with his nose.  Jimbo lives next door but visits every evening and morning.  He likes company but is not allowed inside his own house. Geoff & Dawn have a soft spot for him as he’s a young dog but crippled with arthritis.  Dawn returns and we are soon enjoying a roast dinner with the nicest lamb (not strong or fatty) I have ever eaten.  It’s from their son’s farm and they say it is how good lamb should taste. 
Friday 14 April  Another nice morning so we all set off in Dawn’s car for a drive along the coast towards New Chums Beach.  You have to walk from Whangapoua but we can’t make it round the rocks so "settle" for another visit to Otama Beach.  Have to pass Kuaotunu store en route and  I opt for a cornet of cookies & cream with boysenberry and cream on top, Dawn has hokey pokey, Geoff vanilla and Steve steak & cheese (in the form of a hot pie!).  Having sunbathed and strolled for a few hours Dawn mentions that we will leave when everyone is ready.  A little later a huge cloud rolls in and a cool breeze gets up so I say that I am ready when everyone else is.  Dawn dresses and we then have to listen to half an hour of the "lads" whinging about being dragged off the beach whilst they were asleep. Of course by the time we reach the car the sun is out again. Geoff is like Steve and they milk it for all it’s worth.  Dawn is like me and the two of us have another ice cream.  Mine’s hokey pokey (pieces of butterscotch in vanilla) and gold rush (chunks of chocolate coated Crunchie bar in caramel ice cream).  The lady says she will have more flavours tomorrow!  Backgammon tournament in the evening with us all playing each other and me lucky enough to win overall.  Jimbo returns having been sent home at tea time and they have great difficulty persuading him to leave.  Thought at once stage we might end up with him in the van!  
Saturday 15 April  The narrow winding road leads over the Tokatea heights, where past mining has left a maze of workings.  Drop down to Coromandel Town which developed following the 1869 Tokatea gold strike.  Its a quaint and pretty old town with no traffic lights just one pedestrian crossing linking the doctor’s with the pharmacy!  3km further is Driving Creek Railway and potteries.  $12 (£4) for the 1 hour round trip on New Zealand’s only narrow-gauge mountain railway.  Geordie Barry Bickell is a potter who discovered excellent clay on his land then built the railway to get it down the hill to the kiln.  He extended the railway to take paying passengers to finance his pottery.   Tunnels, viaducts, 2 spirals and 3 reverses take us to the ridge with magnificent views.  We pass sculptures hidden in the forest, embankments made of bottles and fancy brick walls.  Shame we are not here for the sunset BBQ trip.  Down the coast we venture a short way on the dangerous "309" track.  Waiau Waterworks where whimsical wonders are worked by water is wonderful.  $6 (£2) to roam around the gardens with amusing and educational gadgets and playthings all worked by water.  Steve meets his waterloo in a battle of water canons against a couple of kids.  I am fascinated by the very accurate water operated clock.  The coast is very different here with rocky or shingly beaches and the road having dropped from the hills follows the winding coast.  Steve stops to buy a dozen shelled oysters for $7 (£2.35).  Ron & May’s P.O.P. in Te Puru is our stop – $3 (£1) with power. They live in a bungalow with only a grassy reserve seperating them from the beach.  Whilst joining them for a drink neighbour Lawrence calls to borrow their boat to get his fishing nets in and before I know it Steve is in the boat with him.  No catch but he re sets the nets and asks Steve to go out with him in the morning, recommends a local fish & chip shop, invites us to his house this evening and offers use of his computer.  Trouble finding Lawrence’s house in the dark as Steve only saw it whilst out on the boat.  Spend considerable time skulking round the neighbourhood looking very suspicious as we walk up drives and then spot the wrong people in the houses!  Eventually find him and spend hours on the computer as he show us his high tech equipment. Lawrence is Malaysian but has a New Zealand wife Karen (in bed early following a hen party) and boys Reuben 4 and Meyer 2.  Meyer joins us in the computer room and reminds us very much of Daniel.  
Sunday 16 April  A good catch – 7 flounder, 2 snapper, plus a hammer head shark and mullet. Lawrence fillets the snapper and gives it to us along with a couple of flounder – amazing.  Back to the fish & chip shop at Boomerang Store.  $1.40 (45p) for a huge 2 flavour ice cream cone – caramel swirl and goody gum drops with loads of wine gums in.  Quick shop in Thames then round the coast to a nice beach spot just south of Kaiaua.  Good for an afternoon sunbathe on the shell beach and an overnight stay.
Monday 17 April  A lovely morning for continuing up the coast detouring round the headland at Clevedon.  Get our first views of the sky tower in Auckland.  Nudvanners Des & Margaret live in Howick.  Margaret greets us and in no time we are off on a Tiki tour.  Howick is now often referred to as Chowick because of the large numbers of Chinese living here.  The shopping complex has restaurants representing almost all the Asian countries.  Fine views from Musick Hill with the local radio station.  Drive past many of the local beaches then settle for Mellons Bay with the nudist section.  They are having a temporary problem with seaweed on the Howick coast and the smell is not too good when the wind changes direction.  Return to meet Des, eat and plan for tomorrow.
Tuesday 18 April    Des drops Margaret and us off at Auckland Harbour for the 10.00am Fullers Waiheke Island ferry $23 (£7.60) return trip. For an extra $2 (65p) we buy the return crossing to Half Moon Bay near Howick.  $11 ($3.60) for the 1 1/2 hour commentated scenic highlights bus tour which includes public transport for the rest of the day.  The weather deteriorates on the 35 minute crossing restricting our views.  Arrive at Matiatia Bay then tour round the main settlements and bays.  It’s a popular Island with a very small bach (New Zealand holiday home) having recently been sold on Onetangi Beach for $440,000 (£146,000).  Stop in Oneroa and brave the beach before catching the 3.00pm ferry back to Auckland.  Discover we could have taken the Subritski ferry from Half Moon Bay for $20 (£6.30) return or the Pacific from Auckland at $14 (£4.60) return and still used the bus tour option!  Stroll around the America’s Cup Village before taking the Half Moon Bay ferry.  Des & Margaret’s daughter Sharon joins us for tea. 
Wednesday 19 April  Continue round the coast to visit Kelly Tarlton’s Arctic Encounter centre.  $22 (£7.30) includes a ride to visit live penguins in their own world of real ice and snow and a moving conveyer through a glass sea tunnel aquarium amongst other attractions.  Emerge to heavy rain so we head straight over the harbour bridge to Devonport.  Originally a 4 lane bridge the Japanese built 2 extra lanes to clip onto each side hence it’s nickname of the Nippon clip on bridge!  We met Jenny, Ron and daughter Rhonda in December 1998 in Spain when they were spending 1 year discovering Europe in a motorhome.  Check out the village before parking on their drive.  Son Jeffrey is at home with his friend fellow traveller Louis from South Africa   It’s great to see everyone again and we don’t know where to start as we all have so much to ask and tell.  Phone Mick & Shirley in Wales whom we were also all with in Spain.  Again it’s great to be with like minded people.
Thursday 20 April  Drive to Devonport port in Jenny’s car and with Louis for company.  The Auckland Day pass at $7 (£2.60) gives all day use of city buses and ferries.  Back to the America’s Cup Village for a proper look before boarding the Link Loop Bus to get us to the Auckland Domain Museum.  Entry by donation to the museum which like many in New Zealand covers many things including New Zealand at war, Natural history, Decorative art, Pacific pathways and a Maori section.  While away a couple of hours then continue on the Loop bus for a sightseeing tour before getting off to visit the sky tower.  $14 (£4.60) to the Observation Deck and an extra $3 (£1) to the highest viewing point of the Sky Deck is worthwhile.  Magnificent 360 degree views are our reward and on the main observation level you can scare yourself by walking on the glass floor and looking straight down to the streets below.  Heading back to the ferry we catch sight of some tourists going up in the bungy Rocket.  Looks fun but at $35 (£11.60) seems expensive lasting only a few minutes.  Tomorrow all 7 of us are off to the bach on Great Barrier Island so much preparation is needed.  Ron pops out for fish & chips and comes back with 2 portions each which are so delicious that we finish them all.
Friday 21 April  Up at 6.30am to catch the 7.30am ferry to Auckland.  Neighbour David helps shuttle us and mountains of luggage to the port.  Barrier is very remote and although goods are available on the Island they are very expensive.  Despite the island having no power or running water it has about 1000 permanent residents.  Jenny buys concession books of 10 tickets making the return crossing $70 (£23.30) instead of $90 (£30).  Arrive in Auckland amidst chaos.  Fullers largest ferry has broken down and they are re allocating the remaining ones.  We are eventually crammed onto a smaller slower catamaran and underway by 8.20am.  Baggage is piled everywhere and the route is now taking us via 2 other ports making the normal crossing of just over 2 hours into a choppy one of over 4.  Arriving at the first stop Port Fitzroy the tannoy asks for "larger men to gather and form a chain to pass the baggage off"! Into Whangaparapara before arriving at Tryphena in torrential rain.  Ron & Louis walk to collect the Land Rover and by the time they return the rain has eased off which is good as our luggage has to go on the roof.  We pile in for our journey over to Medlands Beach on the other side of the Island.  Feel like we have arrived in another country.  Views are limited but we can make out the bach up the hillside with a new one recently built in front.  Cross a stream then plough up a steep winding hill and finally into a very muddy track.  The Land Rover comes to a halt and we hop out ankle deep in mud and begin unloading.  Jenny warned us the bach was very basic and small but we find a good sized lovely wooden cottage which even has a bathroom with a toilet (all be it a composting version).    It’s a great spot and in no time the "kids" are off surfing on the beach whilst we unpack and settle in.  Lighting is a mixture of candles, torches, gas and kerosene lanterns.  Food is cooked on the gas stove, gas BBQ or the wood burner.  Wind up the evening with a game of bush rummy before climbing up to join Jenny & Ron who are also sleeping on air beds in the loft.
Saturday 22 April  After a rainy night we wake to a brighter morning which enhances the fine views over the bay.  A morning stroll along the length of the beach whilst the youngsters are collecting mussels for tea.  Rain starts later which makes the walk down the muddy hill even more interesting.  Drive to Claris where the group "The Young Lovers" are performing at the social club – $7 (£2.60) admission.  Rugby is on the T.V. which passes the time until the band starts.  We have been told they are going to play Rock and Roll but it is the strangest type we have ever heard.  We think they are awful and the only people applauding are the band’s girlfriends.  Stick it out but when Jeffrey comes over to say they have got themselves a lift back we make a break.  Pick up a lad hitching who had paid $30 (£10) to taxi with his mates from Tryphina but can’t stand the music and is walking alone for 3 hours to get back. At least we can shorten his walk.  It’s high tide and the stream is fast flowing so Ron gets out to check it over.  As he walks through the water we see a mystical sparkling effect called phosphoresecence.  Make it through in the Land Rover then take our shoes off to waddle up to the bach as it is too muddy to take the vehicle nearer.  It’s bliss to sit around the fire with a drink listening to our type of music at the right volume – if this is getting old then we definately are!
Sunday 23 April  Start the morning with a plate of assorted Easter Eggs for breakfast – yummy.  It’s a dull miserable day so I  join Jenny & Ron to drive to the shops at Claris.  Stepping onto the mud slide I lose my balance and very un gracefully sit down amidst much laughter.  Clean up in the stream before continuing.  Ron adds a scenic tour to Windy Canyon but it’s not the weather for doing the walk.  Pick up 2 drowned English lads on the way back.  At the supermarket I can’t resist buying a pack of cones and tub of "mud puddle" flavour ice cream for us all to share.  Mussels make up part of the meal again and Steve thinks he’s in heaven.  An hillarious game of Scattergories winds up the evening.
Monday 24 April  Ron has started to make a path using mussel shells so I continue it and try to make patterns with them.  Ron goes diving and returns with a lovely crayfish (lobster).  Steve & I sunbathe on the beach behind Shark Alley then I stroll along the main beach with Jenny.  There’s a good view from the top of Memory Rock half way along.  Seafood supper with crayfish, mussels in batter, mussels in chilli sauce, mussels in garlic sauce and paua all caught fresh today.  The family keep a type of diary/visitors book in the bach and it’s obvious when reading it that they all feel it’s the best place in the world.   Steve says he would love it in the summer but my comfort level is a little higher although we have loved our short visit and felt privaledged to share a genuine New Zealand bach experience with lovely people.
Tuesday 25 April  It’s a nice morning and Steve leaps out of bed to go snorkelling.  Enjoy sitting on the deck reading until it clouds over.  Pack everything up to drive back to Tryphena for the 4.00pm ferry.  A very fast and smooth crossing gets us back in Auckland just after 6.00pm.  Spend the evening looking at Rhonda’s, Jenny’s and finally Ron’s photos of their trip around Europe.  This brings about mixed feelings of home sickness, happy memories and the realisation that there is very much more that we have yet to explore.
Wednesday 26 April  A sunny morning –  perfect for washing the muddy clothes.
Thursday 27 April  A beautiful day and we head North hugging the coast.  Long Bay is a lovely scenic reserve with lots of picnic areas.  We walk North along the shore past Granny’s Bay to Puhutekawa Bay which is clothing optional.  A lovely bay with a soft sandy beach, clear blue sea and pretty scenery.  Return via the cliff top walk with great views to the many islands in this area.  Nudvanner Peter lives on Whangaparaoa peninsula and once again we are off on a Tiki tour.  Shakespear Park is a great spot for beaches, walks and camping.  Golf Harbour a very posh area with a double 18 hole golf course and marina area in mediteranean style.  We stop at the smaller marina further round and have a drink in the local bar.  Someone brings out a fish on a plaque and when you press a button it starts singing and wagging it’s tail and at appropriate moments turns it’s head towards you – absolutely brilliant.  Next stop the local Indian restaurant where we have our first curry in months – good but not as good as the Keighley Balti’s.
Friday 28 April  Call for Peter’s friend Terry then drive down to the marina.  Peter gets into the wooden rowing boat whilst we pile into the dinghy.  He rows us through the yachts to his trimaran "Lady Victoria".  Up the Wade River and towards the islands where we anchor to fish.  Try a number of different spots but it’s cloudy and windy and not the weather for persevering so we return even though it’s only the second time they haven’t caught anything.  It was still good to see the coastline from the shore as there are dramatic clifffs with lots of caves below.  In the evening we visit Julie the daughter of our friend Clare from Spain.  She lives in a lovely wooden 3 level house overlooking the Wade River.  Meet the children Lucy and Emily but her husband Graham is out.  The girls are fascinated to hear about our lifestyle.  Julie comes from Yorkshire but married a New Zealander after doing a lot of travelling so we find the conversation very interesting.  It’s incredible that when we first thought to visit New Zealand our only contact was through Barbara & Malcolm whom we met in Turkey and now we have over 4 A4 pages of new friends here.
Saturday 29 April  It’s Peter’s 49th birthday and we have been invited to his party tonight.  It’s a beautiful day and had it not been cloudy first thing we would have gone out on the boat again.  Steve seems to be going down with the ‘flu which I am just shaking off.  People start arriving at 5.00pm and it’s a mixture of friends, neighbours and members of the singles club.  Everyone brings a side dish to go with the meat which is being cooked on the BBQ.  Peter has a karaoke system and as the evening progresses a few stars emerge.  Steve dissapears into the van whilst I’m one of the last to leave just after midnight having stayed to lend a hand with the clearing up.
Sunday 30 April  Follow Peter to Hisbiscus Sun Club at Orewa. They are holding a chicken on the spit roast $10 (£3.30) and there’s a good attendance of about 30 people, half members and half visitors.  Des & Margaret from Howick surprise us by turning up.  It’s a cloudy day and only the people around the BBQ fire find it warm enough to un robe, good job sausages are not on the menu or we could end up with a few extras!  Anyway the food is excellent with heaps of it and beer, wine and soft drinks included.  After desert it’s all hands to the pump in the kitchen where I have trouble on my washing up stint keeping up with 3 dryer upers.  I use the left overs to concoct an evening meal which we share with Peter and the club president Jim.  Having already visited Southland Sun Club which was the most Southern sun club in New Zealand (and the world) we are now at New Zealand’s most Northern one.  Again the club is struggling to keep going with only about 30 members compared to a peak of 170.  We enjoy the small clubs (and cheaper fees – only $8/£2.60 a night) although we also like the saunas and hot tubs at the big ones.

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