Tawharanui

Well we went off up to Tawharanui for a look around ….. definately somewhere to go back to when it’s not so wet and windy. It is a lovely place about 80 mins north of home. There were sheep (surprise, surprise) and cows and lots of Pukekos
pukeko
The beach at the end was deserted except for the mad surfers. Views around there are stunning with windswept hills and bays. Our day there was windy, chilly and a few spots of rain. It was still a great time having races on the beach, looking at all the shells and seeing a nice day trip for the future. It’s all part of a marine reserve so no fishing or taking anything from the beach or shoreline. In the summer people go and feed the fish by hand around goat island.
fish
family
Our day was short (picnic lunch in the car and leaving for home by 3pm) but a sunny day and we’ll be off for a full on area tour. So out of the way yet close to home.

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North

Well we headed up to a town called Whangarei last weekend. It’s a big town / city by NZ terms but think of the size of Ramsgate and it would be an exageration of it’s size. You get there on SH1 (State Highway) which is the main route from the far north of the north island (Cape Reinga) to the far south of the south island (East End / Bluff). As a main route it goes through several size variation from Motorway (about 80km of it!!!!) through to single lane bridges in the far north and far south. I don’t recall any metaled surface in my travels down it in the past but it wouldn’t surprise me at it’s extremes. Anyway back to Whangarei, it’s about 1 hr and 40 mins away from home and our travels took us through the infamous Dome Valley. It’s part of SH1 that’s the size and has the bendabillity (??????) of the Wingham bends but with a worse accident record.
I decided, before we left, that Lisa was going to be inducted into life at a backpackers (hostel). I chose one from the internet and I sold the idea to Lisa. All but 1 of my previous (numerous) encounters with backpackers have been great. This time the 1 previous bad encounter was joined by another. The Whangarei falls backpackers is old and outdated. The best words to describe words it are – functional – good location – has potential. The cabin we had was very basic. It had a few 60’s – 70’s throwbacks still in sound condition so why update!?! The spa was being updated (priorities?), the pool far too cold and the trampoline had metal surround protected by padding as thin as a thin thing on an especially thin day. It was right next to the waterfalls (nice) and a stones throw to various walks and close enough to the city.
We had a walk through various bit’s of bush along tracks of different condition but mostly well marked and non-slip bridgelets. We saw Kauri trees. They are the king of the bush, huge straight and only have branches at the top. They live for ages and have decorative wood too. Some are dragged from swamps after 50,000 years (yep it’s no typo) and made into stunning …. er …. stuff.
Kauri Bowl
Tane
The walks were great with native bush and rivers, bridges and the occasional Tui.
Tui
We ended up in the city on Saturday afternoon, almost (very, very nearly) everything was shut at about 3pm! Disappointed and disillusioned we bought fish (pronounced foush) and chips (chups) and retired to our luxury abode. In the evening the boys were showered (an adventure in a separate shower block) and in bed. It left us with nowhere to go but bed (in the same room) and read books by candlelight and my phone light but things looked up when we cracked open the Jim Beam that was on special offer at the local bottle shop.
More adventures in the bushlands (A H Reid memorial park) and then we started to head home.
The journey isn’t bad and gave us inspiration for other places to go in the near future. The kids were very good and were rewarded by the much asked for Mickey D’s home of the slime burger followed by the lovely ice cream of Orewa. A Kiddie cone (about the size and quality from Morrelis) costs just over 50p and an adult cone is almost a meal, which means that the twin cones are pudding as well?!?

Wet

We have all had an er …. interesting time?! Last Saturday night whilst we were all sleeping, a mysterious thing happened; we had a flood. Not of inspiration or from the nearby stream but from the inlet hose to the dishwasher. It must have started some time after I got home from a 10 – 10 shift (with a late finish from Western station). The dishwasher was on and going well, nothing unusual and I went to bed. In the morning we were woken by about 3 -4cm of water over the top of the carpet. For once there was more water in the house than outside! The kids splashed around and played as we franticly turned water off and started sweeping water into dustpans and into buckets. After my failed attempt to suck it up with a the carpet cleaner (there was too much water) many hours of many people helping and getting nowhere; we gave up.
I had left many messages with the rental agent and heard nothing back. We even went to the office but as it was now Sunday, there was no-one in the office.
A pleading phone call later and we had accommodation for a couple of nights with our NZ family Peter & Margaret (HUGE thanks). The rental guy was contacted first thing on Monday, he was …. er …. impressed. Within 90 mins there was the dishwasher man (don’t trust his judgement ….. he’s been out about 5 times to fix a dishwasher that is at least 6 years old …. probably older. It would have been cheaper to buy a new one but then he wouldn’t have his call-out fees but it’s all down to the rental agent), and the carpet guy.
Carpet was amazingly going to be cleaned and dried so surface water was sucked up, it was cut into room-sized pieces (previously all one piece!) and put in his van. The underlay is foam, for foam read sponge. This too was dried. It was funny seeing water pouring out of his van after the cabs foot-well had filled up. It’s all currently dry and in the garage waiting to be refitted (tomorrow).
We had to move out. There were 6 industrial fans. They were like upside down old fashioned hair dryers on steroids and several de-humidifiers.
powerblo
After 5 days and no doubt a huge power bill the fans went off, dehumidifiers off and silence was golden. That is until you walked on the bare chip-board floor. Still at least it was dry (almost) and most of the smell had gone … oh and they didn’t have to replace the walls!!!!
We stayed in a Motel in Albany whilst things were happening.
motel
It would have been great for a couple but with the kids it was awkward. There was a bedroom with a bathroom off it and a kitchenette / diner / lounge, with a pull out double bed and a single bed. The older two slept well in the pull out, Liam slept in our bedroom leaving the bathroom as the only place that you could light. We worked it all out and life was better when they were all asleep and Liam magically moved to be in his brothers room. It wasn’t a child friendly place; the boys could just open the front door, play with the oven (it goes “ping” when it’s finished) and climb on the glass topped tables. As soon as we could we returned home. Bliss is the safety of rooms with gripper rod around, staples sticking out of the floor and no carpet.
“Manicmedic перехода к Новой Зеландии . Я желаю вам великий день и я надеюсь, что вам понравится мой блог.” Just trying to get some hits from Russia as there’s a gap in the map.

Lisa and computer update …..

Lisa is back and well and back earning some cash already. Her flight was on time and was just as bad as the trip out. Still nothing on the house! Anyone want to buy it …. look Here?
Well that computer that I bought for the kids has been great. The seller came round and gave me the money back for the computer but didn’t want it back. She was only going to dump it anyway and decided to see if she could get something for it on trademe. So the boys have got a computer costing nothing. It is so slow! The only expense has been traveling to Army Bay and back and I am buying a set of speakers and a subwoofer for it (as it has none) from trademe for just over $10 new! Trademe …. love it! Try a little game ….. what is the most ‘Kiwi’ thing (or the most strange) that you can find? THIS is my best effort so far

Heat, Hair, Big Cock (pea), Mint Sauce and Computers

Just a few silly little things.
It is sometimes quite hot in winter (mostly cold though) but some days are extreme as this sign from Northcote says!
Hot!
Liams hair with thanks to Dyson.
Dude
Peacock at Shakespear Regional Park, Agnes got some fully fanned out shots.
Peacock
Lovely little mint sauce catchers at Shakespear Regional Park.
Mint Sauce Catchers

We went today to pick up a computer for the kids. It was on Trademe (a Kiwi version of Ebay). It was an absolute bargain …. whole package for 56 bucks (£25 give or take). specs as follows:
CPU Speed: 2 GHz
Memory: 512 MB
Hard drive: 1 GB
CD / DVD: CD reader
Monitor: CRT monitor
Computer for sale, includes hard drive, monitor, keyboard & mouse. Old system but does have windows xp. Will be excellent for beginners.

Pretty good except the Hard Drive we thought. The kids were SO excited. I was fed up of them smashing my computer and colouring in on the LCD screen! I got it set up immediately so the kids would settle …… reality strikes!

It was old but the contents of the box were too old.
CPU Speed: 200Mhz!
Memory: 64 MB
Hard drive: 3 GB
CD / DVD: CD reader
Monitor: CRT monitor
Running Windows ME but with Office XP …. it is slow and not as described ….. waiting for a return phone call …. kids gutted!
It wasn’t all bad. We bought it from a place that is almost at the end of the Whangparaoa (Fung-ar-par-rower) peninsula. Right at the end is Shakespear Regional Park which is lovely. We all walked along the beach collecting shells. Distant views of the city but as far from it as you can imagine in attitude (can a place have an attitude?).

Weather and stuff

Well a few days have passed and the weather has changed from stormy and cold to very warm still and dry (I hope it stays). The temperature has gone up to about 18C during the day …. Hmmmm lovely. I think that it will be a cold night as the sky is so clear.Yesterday after Connors kindy we went for a walk along the sea wall from Mairangi Bay
Mairangi Bay
to Murrays Bay.
Murrays Bay
There was a little storm damage at the Murrays Bay end. I decided to take the pram with us in case Liam needed it. He didn’t and I ended up dragging it all the way whilst holding Liams hand and the others too when things got a little difficult. The walk is easy for adults and for Connor and Aidan it too was easy but Liam did very well. As always the views were lovely.

Just a couple of typical / classic Kiwi tee shirts:
Tee 1
Tee 2

CBD

Well yesterday was busy, we all went to the CBD (Central Business District) or what makes more sense … the City. We set off from home not so bright (Liam had been awake quite a few times) and not so early for the town of Devonport. Devonport has 2 great things (many nice things too); it’s the home of the NZRN (Navy) and the ferry (pronounced fairy) to the city. We dashed to the boat without a ticket jumped aboard and we were relieved to find out that the chilled out kiwis allow you to buy a ticket once you have got off. We headed off past what I can only imagine is most of the NZRN fleet (see picture) and into the city.
Navy
Our main aim was to go up the We alighted (do you like that …. using posh words) the ferry and got on the free bus that tours the city every 10 mins. It takes a detour past the University but that’s no hardship, then stops outside the Skytower.
We were just in time to see some Muppet jump from the top. Don’t worry it’s an organised thing, not a suicide attempt.
Skyjump
Then up we went in the glass floored lift, quite freeky for some. The views are amazing on a clear day like ours. The boys and I watched a clown show as Agnes explored (it’s half term so there are lots of kiddie events going on). Then up to the Skydeck (next stop and $3 lighter ……. less crowded and higher by about 9 floors). Soon we quickly descended (but not as fast as the freek who jumped) and off for lunch.
The choice of food in Auckland is amazing. We often have some Asian food (like today) but there is a huge choice. The kids love it. Last time it was Korean (no not dog ….. or cat) and this time Cantonese. 5 of us eating our fill for $18 (just under £7 or just over US$14) and that is on Queen Street (the main drag through the city). It’s about as busy as Canterbury High Street on a weekday during school term (so not very busy …. until evening, then Sky City is busy, the boy racers come out but the rest is quiet).
After getting told off for eating popcorn (thanks Skytower for the freebie) in a souvenir shop we hopped back on the ferry and back home. In a week or so of really crap weather, this was the start of hopefully some great days. Shame Connor starts Kindy full-time on Monday.