Mar 252015

driving along the edge of manukau harbour towards whatipu

yesterday we decided it was our last chance to drive to whatipu to have a look at the beach there and the entrance to manukau harbour. its only about 10kms south of here but because the waitakere ranges are so steep and rugged we have to drive around to titrangi and then back out thru huia and out to whatipu. once again the scenery is just breath taking, how such a small country has so much beautiful, pristine wilderness, rugged coastline and general eye candy is a revelation.

we stopped at huia for a stretch of the legs – which for monkey boy means climbing any available rocks, trees, towers etc – in this case it was huge pohutukawa trees.

when we got there we walked from the car park out across the wetlands and onto the wide, wild, windswept whatipu beach, the mouth of the harbour marked on this northern side by a quaint lighthouse on a rock. kai and i had a surf just so we could say we had carved it up at whatipu!

we finished the day by driving down anawhata rd, its a gravel rd that winds its way about 15km from near the start of piha rd, out to the houses at the top of whites beach and onto finish at the anawhata beach car park. it was one of those things we kept saying we should do, but we always were either on the way home, or going somewhere else when we went past the turnoff, we realised that given we leave piha for tauranga on friday it was now or never!

kai & I made a spur of the moment decision to walk home from anawhata rd above whites beach, which was basically the second half of the walk sal & i did on the weekend. sal drove back out of anawhata rd and back home, beating us walking by about 20 minutes!

there is no doubt we are really going to miss piha when we move on, its been an extremely happy and fulfilling few months and i suspect we will be back in the future!

Mar 242015



looking down into piha as you drive down piha rd. *home!*

our time in piha is drawing to a close and likewise the warmth of summer is slipping away, the evenings and early mornings are getting ‘brisk’, getting in for a surf needs a little more prep talk, jumping in to harvest a feed of mussels needs to be offset by the thought of the meal and a walk on the beach needs more than just a pair of boardies if its not in the middle of the day!

last weekend we had jeremy, leesi and friends of theirs, geoff & orla over for dinner, jeremy did a dash over to hendo and stocked up on a suitable selection of boutique beers and kai, sal & i bolted over the ridge and braved the surf and cool afternoon to bag a few kilos of massive mussels off the reef. we found the mother lode of the monstor mussels and luckily kai lugged the backpack most of the way back home! it was a great night with lots of mussels, beer, chat and laughs.

we had intended to do a big walk down a ravine, along the pararaha creek over at karekare with jeremy, leesi, geoff & orla the next day, but sal & I piked out and stayed at home, it was a 5 hour walk thru the forest and along the beach and as the weather was a bit dodgy in the morning we gave it a miss.

later in the day sal & i decided to have a walk ourselves and decided to explore a track thru the forest behind our bach which we hadnt had a chance to check out. we just intended to have a quick walk to blow the cobwebs away, but it was so beautiful, meandering along a stream before climbing gently up a ridge behind north piha beach so we just kept going.

the track got steeper and steeper and the views, when we got glimpses thru the dense forest, were stunning, and we kept thinking we were nearly at the top so we just kept going. in the end we realised the track followed all the way up the spine of a very high ridge that peaks up behind whites beach and is one of the highest points surrounding piha – quite a few hundred metres in elevation!

we ended up at anawhata rd above white’s beach and then had a climb all the way down from the peak of the ridge back to the end of north piha beach and home – it took us a good 2 ½ hours. it was breath taking though, so steep – especially down into whites beach, it was pure luck we did the walk really, if we had known how hard a climb it was we would never have set off to do it, but we were both blown away by the scenery and so grateful we got a chance to see it before we left.


the ridge we climbed in the background, we started out of frame on the right

midweek we had another meal with jeremy & leesi, they had been over on waiheke island for a few days and got back late so we told them to come down for a stir fry with us, they came armed with french cheeses and sticky dessert wine to go with! we had the gewürztraminer with the soft goats cheese and pear, and then a nice syrah with the camembert.


 Posted by at 6:17 pm  Tagged with: ,

Mar 152015
the track from the bach, beside the creek down to th e beach.

the track from the bach, beside the creek down to the beach.

well we have moved down the hill from jeremy’s bach into our little rental bach on the beach in north piha, its a very basic but comfortable little home, we only have to walk out the backdoor, across the lawn and down a 25m track to be on the beach.

we can see the ocean and lion rock from the house which is pretty special. kai and i have new boogie boards and we are living in the surf, as well as doing lots of walks on the beach.

now that jeremy and leesi are back we have been hanging with them which is really cool – we have had so many good times at home hanging out so to do it here with the is special.

they brought over a fantastic thai chicken salad the other night and we had a huge night that put us all of drinking for ever, well, at least until next time!

the weather has been stunning, lots of blue skys and gentle breezes – although we look set for some unpleasant weather with the remnants of cyclone pam due to swing past, the wind is already coming up.

this weekend sal’s cousin luke, zekiah and lorenzo came over, we had a huge day yesterday, once they got here luke and i did a quick sprint over the ridge and down to white’s beach to grab a feed of mussels off the rocks, the tide was a bit high and the swell was up so it was potentially a setup for an episode of piha surf rescue, but with luke as spotter and me jumping in between the big sets we managed to bag a feed.

the rest of the day was spent lazing around at home or in the surf and by the time we cooked up the mussels in a chilli coconut cream sauce we were all pretty knackered! an ecclectic range of nz boutique beers helped wash away the stresses of the day on the beach and it was just lovely having them over for the weekend, kai & lorenzo are great together and i suspect lorenzo idolises his big cousin!


Feb 082015
feb  004

karekare beach


thats karekare beach which is just next door to us at Piha, its where they shot the film ‘the piano’, we went for a swim in the waterfall which is just a few hundred metres behind the beach. we quite often come over here for a swim and a surf, its an incredibly pretty spot – even by NZ standards!

we have had a busy couple of weeks since my last post, slowly bedding down our plans for nz, jeremy gets back later this month so we have to be out of his place in piha, we have scored a housesit next week for a few days in henderson which is nearby, then we go down to a farm at patetonga, east of hamilton for a week, we have some sheep and calves to look after!

then we come back to piha for most of march, we have rented a bach right down on the beach, as in walk out the door and across the lawn onto the beach, so we will be back here for 3 weeks or so, then we head to tauranga to stay with friends a few nights and housesit a home right on the beach at papoama beach, tauranga for a couple of weeks.

with all this moving around, and the fact that jeremy and leesi would be back and need their car, we tossed up renting a car for a couple of months or buying, in the end we bought a little toyota carib station wagon, we will sell it when we leave and it should work out cheaper than renting a car, even if we lose quite a bit on it.

other than that the strawberries and blueberries are finished, but the corn season is in full swing! we are getting 6 cobs for $1.50 at the moment! needless to say we are living on corn! avocados are still 6 for $1 so guacomale is the other staple.

i have also given in on the coffee front, i realised that we were not going to survive 12 months without decent coffee in the morning, so after some hurried research i decided on a ROK Presso for the best compromise between decent coffee and something i could fit in the suitcase, matched with a knock, hausgrind grinder from the UK. for the coffee tragics you can read more about the ROK and the hausgrind on the seekrit squirrel forum, HERE



Jan 262015
piha  004

nightfall silhouette

last night i was putting the rubbish out just before sunset, ended up spending 10 minutes or so watching the orb of the sun dip below the horizon from the vantage point of our bach perched on the side of the hill high above piha.

i thought the images deserved a post of their own.

 Posted by at 2:46 pm  Tagged with: ,

Jan 242015
dport  015

kai on the devonport foreshore with auckland in the background


i realised its a while since i posted, and in fact when I uploaded the images I realised I had completely forgotten to post about our trip to devonport, takapuna and dinner with the fabulous luke, zekiah and lorenzo!

we were heading over to auckland to sal’s cousin, luke’s for dinner last friday week and as it was a glorious summers day we decided to head over to takapuna on the north shore, for some shopping and a swim before going to dinner.

we arrived in takapuna about lunchtime so i suggested to sal we head down to devonport where we would be more likely to find a nice cafe for lunch, so thats what we did. we had a wander thru the trendy shops, grabbed a bite of lunch, had a great coffee, kai had a play in the playground, climbed a couple trees and had a swim and then we bundled back into the car and headed back to takapuna.

just as we were leaving zekiah sent sal a text saying she was going to takapuna with lorenzo for a swim and did we want to come over from piha early and meet her there!! of course we rang back and said, ‘guess what! we are on our way there now, see you when you get there!’

so a relaxing swim and lazy afternoon was spent on the beach at takapuna and then we went back to luke & zekiah’s for a lovely dinner – zekiah had made a yummy chicken and chorizo dish which we polished off with gusto along with a few beers and a nice wine!

i also found some more images from round piha that i hadnt posted yet, so here are a few more summer snaps! white’s beach is our little private beach, its only the next beach north from piha but the access is a very steep climb up from north piha and then a magnificent view from the peak, and then a mountain goat climb down the cliffs into whites beach! most of the forest tracks start from the back of piha, so its easy access for us and an alternative to getting our exercise on the beach!

Jan 042015
whites beach

whites beach

today was a classic summer sunday, warm, sunny and lazy! we pottered around at the bach, sunbaking, cleaning, washing and a little bit of gardening inderspersed with eating and resting while listening to tunes. all very chillaxing.

this afternoon kai wanted to go for a walk so we he and I jumped in the car and drove down to north piha, he beaches were packed at piha, everyman and his dog had jumped in their cars and driven out to piha for a bit of sun ‘n surf, we had the hot tip from jeremy though, head up into the hills and over to white’s beach when its busy in piha!

i can see why its quiet! Its a vertical climb out of the north end of north piha beach and then an even more vertical scramble down the other side into white’s beach – not for the faint hearted! in fact best suited to sure footed mountain goats. jeremy was right though, there were 4 other people there, so it was like a private beach really.

kai and i braved the cold water for a quick body surf and then we discovered the rocks were carpeted with lovely green lip mussels, so we filled our boardy pockets up with a feed of mussels and began the mountain climb, clamber and scramble back to north piha and then dashed home to cook up the mussels.

i decided simplicty was the order of the day, steamed them for a few minutes in water and then ate them with sushi vinegar, soy sauce, chilli, mayonaise, fresh thyme and coriander as a range of dipping condiments! all washed done with a cheeky little sav blanc!

life is sweet!

Jan 022015
nz  012

the view from the summit of mt eden across auckland city

Ok, i am sorry there have been no posts since last year, but nothing much has happened since last year!

today we headed into auckland to see sal’s cousin, luke, his wife,zekiah and their son lorenzo. they live in the shadow of mt eden hence the photo above. kai and lorenzo had a play and i suspect lorenzo was rather taken with his big cousin! i am sure we will spend some more time with them over the next few months.

we popped down to a little cafe in mt eden for lunch after our visit and went to a place called ‘the garden shed’, the food was nice, but the garden was amazing!

we went for a lovely walk to kitekite falls on new years day, its a walk through kauri forest and ferns that winds its way up from basically the center of piha to the falls at the top of the surrounding hills. there are lots of walking tracks up here and we are only just starting to explore them.

meanwhile i have been enjoying the fresh produce and cooking up a few storms, we got some lovely salmon fillets which i pan fried and served on a bed of fresh parsley and rocket from the garden and a caramelised fennel side, with local asparagus, roasted potato and garlic chips.

today we picked up enough mussels for sal and I and i cooked them in coconut cream with ginger, garlic, onion, chilli and coriander – $2.50 worth of mussels and it was sublime.


Dec 232014
piha  011

13 pendrell rd, piha

as most of you know we are staying in our friend jeremy’s bach in piha for the summer, piha is a little surf village on the west coast of nz, its technically a suburb of Auckland. you will have seen from the images just what a beautiful little place it is.

(if you dont already know, ‘bach’ is the term kiwis use for a small holiday house.)

jeremy’s bach is hidden away in the hills above piha, from the street there is no visible sign of the house or an entry point – which makes it incredibly private. although there are houses all around us, there is no point in the bach that we can be seen by the neighbors.

the toilet is a long drop – elevated about 12m above the forest floor! it has a walkway from the main vernadah out to it and the view is magnificent across the surrounding, forest clad ranges.

the bach has a ground floor with a nice large timber deck, and a small living space, dining area and kitchen, the washing machine is on the deck and there is a shower outside. kai is sleeping on the day bed on the ground floor. upstairs is a small loft where sal & i sleep with its own little deck.

the actual village of piha is about a 15 minute walk down the hill, although we nearly always drive because there is no footpath for much of the way, there is not much there, a little shop, a cafe, post office, the RSA club (RSL) and the surf club. For any real shopping we pop across to New Lynn or Henderson, about 20 minutes away.

 Posted by at 7:21 am  Tagged with:

Dec 202014
piha  002

kai playing with kelp

I feel like there has been a significant shift since our arrival in piha, we always knew the first month was going to be a lead into the ‘gap year’, a month still in australia and a month staying with friends and family rather than on our own.

already, after only a couple of days we can feel the difference, its great to be just us in the house again, (as nice as it is seeing friends and family!!), we are also starting to find our way on this path of the gap year, we are becoming very relaxed, but also really enjoying just living.

its the little things – we have been going for big walks on the beach at piha and it crossed my mind that when i get home i must try and walk the beaches at home more – then it came to me that the reason we can do it so easily here is precisley because we are not working or going to school!

piha  001

kai in silhouette

i think our thoughts and minds are becoming very peaceful too, not just from the no work, no school, but on top of that the tranquility of a little coastal surf village in NZ!

i feel like we are also having a cleansing of sorts, eating really well because of both the abundant (relative) supply of fresh produce, but also again because of the time we have on hand, and combined with daily real exercise its got us all buzzing! (excuse my purple patch).

even within the tiny confines of jeremy’s bach, we are finding our own individual enviromental spaces – which has always been important to all 3 of us.

piha  004

looking down from the loft bedroom

little things are great too! the morning coffee ritual continues because jeremy brought one of my Caravels and a Lido grinder and I brought a bag of our coffee with us – so I get up and put the caravel on, grind some coffee while i wait for it to get up to temperature and then pull a couple of shots of caffeine nectar!

piha  005


its also giving us a chance to consider some of the aspects of what life in retirement might look like, and I think over the next few months that will be an interesting insight – what will we fill our days with to replace the routine of ordinary life?

that also informs our choices for what we choose to do over the gap year – i get the sense already that as nice as it will be catching up with friends all over the world, having a series of bases like piha where we are in our own space and free to do as we choose, will be our preference.

i will sign off with a picture i took just on sunset last night down on the beach, a surfer and his girlfriend having a kiss, watching the sun slide away.

piha  003

love on the beach!

Dec 192014
nz2  001

lion rock from the front of the bach

we awoke to a glorious sunny morning this morning, then the wind dropped away and an amazing sea fog rolled in, this is the view out the front of jeremy’s bach and you can see lion rock, or te piha, shrouded in fog out the front of piha.

kai and I went down to the beach for a walk and play, it was quite eerie with the sea fog rolling off the sea and up the beach, meanwhile people were swimming and surfing and generally enjoying the beach.

nz2  002

te piha shrouded in sea mist

you can just make out te piha in the background, kai and I climbed to the top, well as far as you are allowed to go – a good workout for the calves!

i walked up to the end of north piha beach while kai played on the beach, a good morning routine I think!

nz2  009the northern end of north piha beach

 Posted by at 11:20 am  Tagged with:

Dec 182014
nz1  001

bubbly in the air nz lounge


it was with some sense of relief that we flew out to auckland from melbourne yesterday, the tragic consequences of the seige in martin place in sydney hung heavy over most australians I suspect.

the tragedy was overhung by the disgraceful reporting from all of the australian media, the murdoch gutter trash the worst, but even the abc was awful. it was a feeding frenzy of sensationalist misinformation, culminating in the disgusting headline from the daily telegraph “death cult CBD attack”. the media’s misinformed hysteria encouraged all of the loony, racist, xenophobic redneck elements in our society to make a range of threats against those they saw as responsible.

in the end it wasnt terrorism, it wasnt even political activism like our none too bright PM claimed, it was a lone, mentally ill, criminal who should never have been out on bail and who should never have had access to firearms. no doubt the one’s that failed to keep society safe from this sick man will now use the cloak of terror to try to further erode our rights, the government has already signalled this in debate on the proposed data retention laws – while ignoring the fact that a man who was out on bail for conspiracy to murder an ex-wife and multiple sex offences was free to lay seige on a cafe not because the AFP couldnt access his data but simply because he wasnt locked up in gaol.

out of all tragedy comes hope though, the #illridewithyou project that came out of twitter and went viral was a reaffirmation of the true australian spirit of tolerance, support and unity across diversity.

also its worth remebering that the last similar, lone, mentally ill, criminal killed more than 30 people in port arthur – but that was before the subsequent gun laws and the banning of semi automatic weapons. imagine the result in america from a similar siege – it wouldnt only be two killed.

anyway, enough of that! we flew to auckland with air new zealand, on a B777-300 in business class,  it was damn nice to say the least, the new style of business class seats are fantastic and it made for a very comfortable trip, the wine and food was not too bad either!

we arrived to a very wet auckland and took a taxi over to pick up our frien leesi’s car from her mum’s house, then drove out to piha in the pouring rain with no internet on the phones and no map! luckily my internal gps seemed to fire and we made it just before dark. we got a handover from friends of jeremy’s that had been staying there and settled in for our first night. i havent bothered taking any photos because its been very grey and dull. today we did a big shop in town and got settled in. hopefully the weather will lift and we can start to enjoy the beach!

nz1  011

cant argue with that!



 Posted by at 7:10 pm  Tagged with: ,