Saturday 29 February 2020

Friday 28 February 2020

The beach at Whangamumu


(Pronounced Fangamoomoo)

This secret blissful anchorage opens up as you enter a very unpromising wild rocky bay a few miles south of the formidable looking Cape Brett.

Exploring ashore, the climb gave us a view over the ridge to the west into the Bay of Islands, our next destination. As we walked through the bush there were areas sweet with the smell of honey. All along the path we heard cicadas, with the occasional tuneful call of the bell bird. A fantail said hello before dipping away.

A very good day will now be called a Whangamumu day

Red snapper supper

Courtesy of James

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Downwind past Matapouri

Tutukaka bound

We've been blessed with 12 knots of breeze from SE to blow us up the coast to Tutukaka. Here's Katherine getting the hang of the helm.

Our Yellowbrick tracker is switched on again, so if you are curious to see exactly where Tintin is then click on the "Where is Tintin now" page of this blog.

Tintin Angling Society: new term

James had a quick lesson in how to hook a red Snapper from Bill (Into the Blue) yesterday evening. Bill caught one within a minute. James hooked an even bigger one soon after, but it got away.
We live in hope and expectation.  The vital part is to get some fresh squid for bait.

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Happy happy happy

Back on the water and off we go.
We've anchored at Smuggler's Bay, tucked under the headland by the entrance to Whangarei Harbour. The forecast is good, the sun is shining, we have been swimming, pancakes for supper. 
Happy Shrove Tuesday 

Hull inspection and clean up

5 months in a marina and a certain amount of weed has grown on the hull. Anodes in good shape. Jet wash done.

Monday 24 February 2020

Sunset at Marsden Cove Marina

Back on board

Mitchell, of Nomad Campervans, made time to drive all 4 of us up to Whangarei to rejoin Tintin this morning after we delivered Bailey back to him. It was hugely kind of him.

The forecast is set fair, so after a few jobs tomorrow we will set off for our cruise of NE coast of the North island,  heading up to the Bay of Islands first before turning south to finish in Auckland mid March.

Sunday 23 February 2020

North Point Auckland

Fay took us to the best vantage point, North Point, to get our bearings of Auckland Harbour for when we arrive on Tintin in a few weeks time.

Bath time for Bailey

Fun at Auckland's Wash World today getting all the dust off Bailey before we hand it back to Mitchell tomorrow. The pink bubbles really smelt of cherries

Saturday 22 February 2020

Glenbrook Steel Mill

En route back to Auckland we diverted to Waiuku where Rob spent a few months in 1983 working on development of the Glenbrook steel plant. It is still in action, as a steel mill. On down to Waiuku's beach on the west coast, which has the blackest sand I've ever seen. It's another of NZ's beaches stretching as far as the eye can see both ways

Friday 21 February 2020

Ruatiti Domain

This campsite between Wellington and Lake Taupo in the N island deserves it's own blog entry. 17km from the main road, the council maintained campsite next to a river in a gorge was one of our favourites.  

More Blenheim, then up to Picton to catch the ferry

Sadly even the electronic specialist garage in Blenheim couldn't sort Bailey's problem, but Jim of the  Auto super shoppe was kind enough to lend us their courtesy car for the afternoon. So we went to see an exhibition of Peter Jackson's collection of WW1 aeroplanes...and explored the countryside. See how brown the hills are. Drought conditions exist on the east coast which hasn't had rain to speak of since October, while the west coast suffers floods and landslides due to too much.

So Bailey was no better but no worse, brake lights do work but only when the key isn't in the ignition! A problem that can wait until Auckland. 

We headed up to Picton and had a fun evening meeting Nicki Murray's friend Lynne, who had spent a week on Tintin with Nicki in New Caledonia last year, after we had headed back to UK.

Walk views

Tongariro National Park

We started the day sharing our breakfast with 2 great Dutch girls camping next to us, who had run out of food. They had walked the Tongariro Alpine Crossing yesterday but finished too late to get to a supermarket...Their smiles were huge when they joined us for bacon and eggs.

We headed up to Whakapapa to walk, and noticed interesting clouds en route...a prize from Rob to anyone who knows the name

Mt Ruapehu was hidden in cloud but we had a great walk up on the shoulders of the mountain to see lakes in volcanic craters

Tuesday 18 February 2020


Bailey the van is having electronic brake pedal switch surgery today at Blenheim's Auto Super Shoppe. So we are exploring Blenheim and environs on foot.

Drying out near Blenheim

Exploring from Elaine Bay

Damp but not downhearted

A couple of days of mostly rain gave us the chance to make the most of having our house on our back. 
A jetty reaches out into Elaine Bay and we were visited by a big black stingray: here is James Heath saying hello.
At night the phosphorescence here is breathtaking.  I've never seen rain on water creating phosphorescence before; the sea was twinkling just like a star studded sky. 

Monday 17 February 2020

Elaine Bay

Between Nelson and Havelock in the Marlborough Sounds there is a turn off signposted to French Pass.
A very twisty road has brought us part of the way, to Elaine Bay, situated amidst the inlets and islands of this archipelago. Facing east,  it gave us some protection last night from the prevailing  weather, although it was a wild and wet night. As Rob said,  at least no worries about the anchor dragging. 
It's beautiful here even in pouring rain.

Sunday 16 February 2020

Nelson's Darwin Award

In the city of Nelson we found this plaque celebrating their own Darwin Award winner!

Abel Tasman National Park

Up on the NW coast of South Island, the beautiful beaches and coastal trails of the Abel Tasman park makes it a big favourite. We had a lovely afternoon walking and swimming.
But the paths were heaving with others, so we have moved on ....

Saturday 15 February 2020

Whales and Albatrosses

Just off the coast at Kaikora the sea floor drops into the Kaikoura canyon. A meeting of nutirent rich waters from the far south meets warmer tropical currents and results in an endless buffet for sea life, ranging from giant squid in the dark depths to fish, krill and plankton higher up. A large part of Kairkoura's economy is supported by visitors coming to swim with seals, and to watch dolphins and whales - from the air in little planes or by boat. James and Katherine (Heath) has stopped at Kaikoura on their way south (we had missed it by driving the Molesworth staion road) and had taken the opportunity to go whalewatching. Hearing their stories drove me to convince Rob to take Kaikoura in on our way north, while the Heaths remained on the west coast. We arranged to meet up again at the Abel Tasman National Park in the NW of S Island in a few days.

We weren't to be disappointed.

Out at sea over the Kaikora canyon, a sperm whale had surfaced just as we arrived. Their pattern of behaviour is to dive after a deep breath for around 50 mins, searching for prey with sonar then "machine gunning" the prey with 230 decibel sonar waves to stun it, then swallow it whole. Then the whale returns to the surface to breathe and relax for about 10 mins before diving again. They need to eat about a tonne of food a day. Everything about sperm whales appears to be awesome (a word used a LOT here in NZ!)  from their 60x1Kg teeth to their 2.5 tonnes of spermicetti oil carried in their forehead to help them control their bouyancy (by varying its temperature and therefore its density).

We sat about 50m away from this enormous creature as it floated and blew from its spout for a while. Then it arched its back ever so slightly and up came the fluke (its tail) to provide us with the perfect photo op.

And to completely make my day, Rob spotted a big bird that came right up to us and landed on the water nearby. It was an albatross, with a huge wingspan and such apparently effortless gliding and soaring. Other birds appeared, terns having a dogfight with an arctic skua who wanted their catch for lunch, petrels and 2 other sorts of albatross - a Mollyhawk and the others I will have to look up to identifiy.

This was a memorable Valentine's Day!

Friday 14 February 2020

Coast to coast

We've crossed back to the Pacific east coast, destination Kaikoura. Inland from Greymouth the road took us over the Lewis Pass, the most northern of the 3 road passes across the Southern Alps of the South Island. 
The final part of the drive was along coastal highway rebuilt after the Kaikoura earthquake of 2016. Like Dawlish in Devon, there's also a railway track clinging to the coastline with steep cliffs above.
If you want a good read, try Chessie Henry's "We can make a life", about a family who lived through the trials of the Christchurch and Kaikoura quakes.


From the breakwater in Greymouth you can view the harbour entrance over the shifting sands of the bar. On YouTube you can see some hairy footage of fishing boats making their way in against a strong ebb tide. We went to take a look, and found flat calm with a couple of porpoises playing around. We also found a fab Dutch guy making stroopwafels in an old lifeboat. He wants to sail round the world and we had a great chat.

Wednesday 12 February 2020

Hokitika beach driftwood sculpture, West coast South Island


I know the UK is being battered by storms at the moment. We are in sympathy here. Tropical cyclone Uesi is due on Sunday in the south island.
Batten down the hatches!

Tuesday 11 February 2020

Views, wifi and coffee

Heading up the west coast of South Island, we have had wonderful vistas of lakes and mountains. Now catching up with admin via wifi over a coffee by Fox Glacier,  but low cloud means no view this time!

Monday 10 February 2020

Kepler track pictures

On top of the world

The sun shone for us all round the 60 km of the Kepler track. Up through forest to the hut for the first night overlooking Lake Te Anau. On to the open ridges, over the tops and then back down into forest to the second hut in a hanging valley by the Iris Burn river. Here kiwis call in the night and keas (alpine parrots) enjoy eating tents, boots, even passports and wallets if left unguarded. 
Yesterday morning's path took us along the valley floor as the sun came up over the mountain ridge, creating rainbows on the morning mist.
On down gently to Lake Manapouri. The 3rd hut sits by the lake, beautiful but beset by biting sandflies. Rather than a 3rd night in a roomful of 40 others some of whom may snore, we continued on to the finish on easy soft flat track in the beautiful green mossy and ferny forest.

Friday 7 February 2020

Kepler Track

Our hiking boots are back on, and packs laden for the 4 day Kepler Track hike around Mount Luxmore and the Kepler range, by lake Te Anau. Sun is shining 😎 for now but here the weather is very changeable so we are prepared!
No blog for a few days as we will be out of range. Bye!

Thursday 6 February 2020


Kayaking on Doubtful sound.
Waterfalls cascading down the steep sides of the 42km long fjord. Rain and cloud then sun then rain, and cloud.

Doubtful Sound

Wednesday 5 February 2020

Trapped! Sort of....

We're now in Manapouri, down in the deep south of the South Island Fiordland.  Some of you may have seen on the news that the area has an incredible amount of rain - some places got up to 1m of rain in 3 days.  The rivers are raging and some roads are closed due to being washed away or blocked by landslides.  It seems that we're actually trapped in this part of the country.  That sounds rather dramatic, but actually there is no drama at all - we got wet as we finished the Hump Ridge track yesterday but are now drying out in a quaint little motel looking forward to steak for dinner.

The bad weather has moved off into the Pacific and the it's been quite a nice day here.  We went around the local area and got a feel for the amazing landscape.

Tomorrow, we'll be kayaking in Doubtful Sound - should be great.
Looking towards the mountains

Over the lake

Sound advice not to jump into the raging river

Tuesday 4 February 2020

Humpridge trees

Humpridge track flora

The Humpridge Track

This 3 day trek has been quite an experience.  We had the luxury of huts to stay in complete with hot showers , very welcome after really quite wet weather and a fair bit of up and down. The path has taken us up hills and around the coast, on the beach and winding through breathtakingly beautiful forest with ferns, lichen and ancient mossy trees. Finishing yesterday's walk on the level along an old logging tram line we ended up at Port Craig where ships used to be loaded with logs by cable from a pier. A bit like Makatea, Port Craig has had its day and from 1000 residents in the 1920s there are only a couple today who man the track hut.
We swam in the bay and to our delight we were joined by a few Hector dolphins, not scared of James' skinny dipping.
Today it rained nonstop but it did seem to fit the damp forest. We heard a crash at one point, a rotten tree falling under the weight of vines, fern and moss.
A flat route today meant we finished the 20 k in good time. But cold, fingers too numb to do much! We warmed up in Bailey with  a very welcome cup of tea. 
En route up to Manapouri we heard news that flooding and landslips mean a state of emergency has been declared in Fiordland and Southland. The Routeburn track was closed when a landslips fell onto a hut and walkers were rescued by chopper. The road to Milford Sound has been closed in 3 places by landslides.

Lucky us. We just got wet, not stranded.

A few days off then we start the Kepler track on Saturday if it is open.

Saturday 1 February 2020

Off tramping...

As planned a couple of years ago, we have met up with the Heaths in Invercargill. This morning we are setting off to walk the Humpridge track, 3 days from hut to hut in far south Fiordland. It was still blowing a gale last night, but is a bit gentler now. We will have mixed weather but  I can't wait to get up into the hills!🏃‍♀️