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New Year’s Day Pottering


Day 4: Waterfalls and Beaches

As the sunsets on 2019 we helped a couple of fullas get their boat onto the water #gooddeeds #hogmanay #roadtrip #campervanlife #summerholidays #exploringnz

A late start after last night’s riotous Hogmanay celebrations – haha! Last night we wandered along to the pub for a beer and to watch the sunset on the beach. Stopped on the way to help a couple of blokes get their boat into the water as it was beached. Then came back for tea – ‘damp stew’ – Nigel’s description! We read for a bit, played cards then poured ourselves a Hogmanay drink and came out to watch the fireworks and the stars and wish each other Happy New Year. 

So back to Day 4 – New Year’s Day so it must be 1st January and it must be Wednesday? A very gentle day but a lovely start to 2020. 

Part 1: Waterfall. After a coffee and a browse of the shops we headed off to Waiotemarama Waterfall. Might as well do the other end of the walk we did yesterday – seems like a good bookend to the end of the year and the start of a new one.

Waiotemarama Waterfall

Waiotemarama Road is a through road and so you can start at either end. We set off from Opononi campsite and turned left towards Rawene then Waiotemarama Road is about 2km further on ont he right. It is a metalled road right the way through – about 8km to the waterfall car park. How long it takes depends on whether the local farmers are moving bulls!


The walk to the waterfall is only 550m according to the DoC sign which was remarkably accurate. It’s a gentle climb on a well-made path. The waterfall tumbles down in stages to a small pool surrounded by boulders. A family were playing so we carried on past up the hill. According to the description of Hauturu Highpoint we read in a RamblerNZ  blog there is a stand of Kauri on a loop track on the trail that leads to Hauturu.  That description and the DoC one talk about the track being steep and rugged.  Clearly there has been a heap of work done on it recently and there is now a well-built boardwalk and plenty of steps.

Boardwalk and steps all the way!

As we climbed up we started to see Kauri trees, young rickers as well as mature and maturing kauri. It really is beautiful. The forest is not so dense that you can’t see them and there is plenty of light for other trees and ferns to grow. I think this walk even rivals the Waipoua Forest for the number of trees or at least that feeling that you are amongst them and they are abundant. Maybe it’s because we were climbing through them so could see them all around us.

Kauri Trees
Kauri branch on a tree
Surrounded by Kauri

We kept on climbing expecting to reach a junction but one never came!

In the end I checked the TOPO map on my phone to find that we had climbed up to a high point at 350m – well past the loop track junction.  We had already had glimpses of Hauturu Highpoint and at this level we had a clearer view of it. It is always good to see where you have been and make a note of it!  I have to admit I was tempted to keep going and try to get there but we weren’t dressed for it, nor did we have any food and enough water. We also suspected that the trail would be much more rugged from here on in.

View of Hauturu Highpoint

Back down we went keeping an eye out for any junction we had missed. We definitely hadn’t and we wonder if DoC have taken it out when the boardwalk and steps have been put in. It makes sense to have one route, elevated to protect the Kauri. 

Handstand between giants

Back at the waterfall, I couldn’t resist standing underneath it to cool off. So refreshing! 

Having a refreshing shower!

Part 2: Beach. It was well past lunchtime and we planned to go out to Te Arai Uru to explore a bit and have a bite to eat. On the way, we spotted a sign to Mamaku Beach and on impulse – not something we do often – decided to explore. 4kms down a metalled road, it is a beautiful beach at the mouth of the river.

Nigel walking along the beach

It is also one end of the Coastal Walk that ends up at Signal Box …… or Te Arai Uru which is 10km one way. Too late for today, tide dependent and unless you want to do there and back, you need transport at the other end so there is another one to bank for another day. The tide was on its way out and so the narrow bank of the river was passable – indeed so passable that 4WD cars and scooters were on it. Families paddled, picnicked and relaxed all along the river out to the beach.

Looking southwards across the estuary

We walked right round to the beach itself and parked ourselves up at a washed-up tree trunk and had our picnic. Still eating Christmas ham and lamb! In a bid to escape the black flies that were eating me I jumped into the ocean. Still a bit chilly but there were warm waves washing in too! Then we walked along the beach for a bit watching the waves and the Terns before heading back to the campsite for tea. 


On the way back we spotted our mountain again! Hauturu Highpoint and the Waima Range.

Walking back along the river with the Waima Range ahead
Waima Range and Hauturu Highpoint

Campervanlife …. WOMAD 2018


We have been trying to get to WOMAD ever since we came to NZ. We often went in to the WOMAD Festival in Morecambe when the kids were little. It was just down the road so we could easily drive in for the day and come home.

New Plymouth is about a three and a half hour drive away from Hamilton and so it was always going to be a stay over event and tickets for the whole weekend are expensive. We would have liked to have taken the boys but it is during term time and we couldn’t justify taking them out of school, or indeed me having a day out either! So, boys no longer in school + me no longer in school + campervan = Let’s go to WOMAD!

By the time Nigel picked me up from Taupō where I was at a conference and we stopped to get petrol and pootle along at campervan speed, it was after 9pm when we arrived at the festival grounds. It was a wee bit atmospheric as the sun went down.

We headed straight out to find some food, taste the ambiance and catch the last few bands of the evening. We saw the tail end of Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band (Ghana) and then Adrian Sherwood.

A great start to the weekend’s entertainment. Vibrant, funky beats from Pat Thomas followed by the one man disc spinning and magical soundmaker that is Adrian Sherwood. I was mesmerised by the sounds he conjured up using his turntables and a whole heap of gadgetry.

Next morning we went for a walk into New Plymouth to find coffee and explore a bit. Love the new arts building – a real juxtaposition of old and new. The ocean-front walk helped blow the cobwebs away.

The afternoon was a medley of colour, sounds, tastes and smells. Music and food from all around the world and feast for the senses.

We were fortunate with the weather; it was pleasantly warm without being too hot and the threatened rain mainly stayed away. I loved wandering around the food stalls and choosing what to eat next. Everyone was friendly, relaxed and happy and there was a real mix of ages and ethnicities. The ‘Over 65’ seating was a new one on me and there were areas for wheelchair users too.

Flower crowns seemed to be the ‘thing’ and so I duly bought one, and we also bought a colourful ‘flag/banner’ for the campervan so we can mark our spot!

The app proved very useful for planning our weekend so that we could see all the bands that we wanted to and know exactly where to go at what time. There were a few artists that Nigel knew he wanted to see but after that, it was just a case of reading the blurb and seeing what fit in.

We had to do some half and halves to get to see as many bands as we could and it was sometimes hard pulling ourselves away. Highlights were – Anoushka Shankar – close your eyes and be transported, Daymē Arocena – young and vibrant with a real different sound and she had the audience in her hands as she asked for words in Te Reo Māori to sing – Arohanui was offered to her which she turned in to a beautiful song and had everyone singing along , Lemon Bucket Orchestra who continued to play in the crowd after their time was up on the stage so that the next band could set up. They played conga style with the crowd following behind. Such energy and passion! Maisey Rika and Blick Bassey were two others who really stood out to me.

  • Bixiga 70 (Brazil)
  • Blick Bassy (Cameroon)
  • Chico Trujillo (Chile)
  • Daymé Arocena (Cuba)
  • Ghada Shbeir (Lebanon)
  • Havana Meets Kingston (Jamaica / Cuba)
  • Hopetoun Brown (Aotearoa)
  • Jojo Abot (Ghana / USA)
  • Kamasi Washington (USA)
  • Lemon Bucket Orkestra (Canada)
  • Maisey Rika (Aotearoa)
  • The Miltones (Aotearoa)
  • Tinariwen (Mali)
  • Violons Barbares (France)
  • Anoushka Shankar (India/UK)
  • Adrian Sherwood (UK)
  • Aldous Harding (Aotearoa)

Campervan Adventures Part 2

campervanlifeholidayleisureNZNZ PlacestravelUncategorized

It’s been a while since we started our adventure driving Vera north from Christchurch. I don’t mean we’re still driving, just that I haven’t got around to continuing the story!

Where were we?

We awoke to a beautiful sunrise on the Kaikoura coast. Vineyards and rolling fields took over from rugged coastline as we drove towards Picton. Made a brief stop in Blenheim for a cup off tea with one of my colleagues, lunch in Picton then onto the ferry.

An uneventful but always beautiful sailing. The scenery is stunning especially as we sail through Queen Charlotte Sound but it was a bit chilly on deck so after a while we made our way to a sunny spot in the bar!

Onwards then to Silverstream where we parked up at Chris’. Somehow I needed to get in at least a 3km walk/run as I was taking part in a ‘March run streak’ which meant I needed to run everyday in March for at least 3km! The offer of wine was tempting but it would have to wait until after a run. I managed my fastest ever 5km run… nice and flat along the Hutt River! Then it was time for wine, dinner and a catch up with all Chris’ news.

We spent the next day at Nethui combining work with pleasure and plenty of opportunity to walk as we got the train in from Silverstream and then walked along the front in Wellington to Te Papa. It was a special copyright edition of Nethui with a keynote by Cory Doctorow. But more of that elsewhere.

We headed north the next day on a wee tiki tour of central North Island taking the opportunity to visit some places we hadn’t been to before as well as some old favourites.

Foxton; a visit to the Dutch windmill and a picnic on the windy beach accompanied by scavenging and very bold seagulls!

Taihape; quick coffee stop in the old post office which is now a cafe. New Zealand’s clock towers are an interesting study; they all seem to be of a similar vintage, equally ugly but strangely charming!

Taupõ; on our holiday in 2005 we stopped on the shores of Lake Taupõ for a cup of tea in the campervan we had hired. Where better to take a break after a wee walk in the bush to get my 3km run in!? Blackberries as a bonus too!

After a brief stop in Taupõ itself to get dinner we set off on the last leg home to Hamilton planning our next trip on the way.



Writing the first part of this retrospectively so please excuse any stupid changes of tense and apparent precognition of events yet to happen!

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