On the Road in New Zealand

Kia ora. Well we have experienced that feeling for sure. What is about the wandering Wilsons? They are life’s friendly people. 

This morning Chris went for a short photo opportunity on the golf course outside our villa. He was missing quite some time and we went out looking and there he was chatting away to the only other person within a 1 kilometre radius! Jill and I pondered how they came to meet in a deserted golf course. 
Chris claims he was approached as he took a photo and suddenly he had a new best friend. He knew all about him and his business I. After ten mins talk! 

The Villa was great. Situated on a golf course with views to the sea. Was so peaceful and quiet and I could have stayed a week 

After check out – now that’s another story! We drove to Kaitaia for morning coffee and searched the Main Street for an appropriate cafe. It was narrowed down – due to no other place – to one called The Sh_t Hot Cafe. That will do we thought. With a name like that it’s sure to be ………. Sh_t good. 

It was great. Lovely coffee and lovely people. Especially in the toilets. I was in the only toilet with Jill waiting just outside and heard someone come in and the next minute I could hear chatting. 

I came out and found Jill smiling and chatting and looking at wedding photos. 

Of course she ducked in and I was left to hear about the granddaughter’s wedding – in a tree! And the sobbing grandfather. Jill’s new best friend! So friendly here in New Zealand. 

The things you see along the way ……. the fire station in one small town was opposite a business called The Fryer Station Cafe! ( See pictures below) The chooks at the river edge clucking around us while we waited for the river crossing ferry, the selection of fun cars and vans participating in the Charity Bash, the green rolling hills, the car with the bumper sticker “If you love Jesus honk‘ then underneath in smaller writing ‘ Text while driving if you want to meet him!’ , another one Drink, Drive and Die. 

The many kilometres of little timber fence posts, the unpronounceable place names, a little cemetery with lots of flowers out in the middle of no-where, the new looking signs to schools that are closed and best of all the great roads! All make travelling in this beautiful country interesting and fun. 

Talking of unpronounceable place names. Our friend David Parker said it was easy. Pronounce all the vowels as they are and make all Wh words ( there are a lot) sound like a F…. have a go. Whangaroa is Fangaroa: Whangarei is Fangarei. You get the idea. 

Back onto the road through the greenery towards the Kauri forest with a short stop for lunch at Opononi. We also got advice and booked our accommodation for tonight. The Old Post Office in Paparoa. 
About 25 minutes south we stopped at NZ’s oldest Kauri tree. It is over 2000 years old. The boys were enthralled. Steve renamed it. He said it was a Big Whukka of a Tree’. ( refer back to my ‘ how to pronounce’ guide earlier!) 
Almost at the Post Office B&B where we’ll let Chris be in charge , after his years working at Australia Post. 
Our B&B turned out to be great. I’m heading for the feather bed right now! Deb our hostess is a very funny lady and the place is packed with old tea cups, books and bric a brac. 

Dinner was at the hotel the Thirsty Tui. It’s a ‘gastro pub’. Very nice dinner – not to mention the wine! 

Such fun travelling with the Wandering Wilsons. 

Kia ora : hello in Maori

Last night was like sleeping on a boat in a little ship’s cabin. Our cosy room was indeed cosy but so comfortable. We woke to foggy skies and a feeling our trip around the Bay of Islands was going to cloudy and foggy.

Breakfast was in the old fashioned dining room and Steve was  most upset that bacon and eggs were off the menu as it was Monday!

Down the wharf by 9am we waited in the quiet of the misty morning.


The boat started in Paihia and arrived at Russell for us and another couple and as it drew close we could see it was crowded. Turns out there were nearly 270 people on board. So we scored an inside seat. ūüė¨Not so bad as we were able to move around and catch the sights. And there were a lot of sights to see.

This area is magnificent. The Bay of Islands lives up to its name  There are 140 island  88 of which are genuine Islands  all shapes and sizes with vegetation and animal life living happily together. And very few people.

We headed north and before too long came across a pod of dolphins playing and feeding. They put on quite a show, circling the boat and drawing ‘ohhs’ and ‘arhs’ from the crowd on the boat.

We headed off across the Bay towards a really pretty island with a blue lagoon ¬†and rippling waves. ¬†I couldn’t help thinking what a wonderful spot for a swim trek. I’ll be emailing Simon and suggesting it!


We motored towards the famous Hole in the Rock. ¬†It’s wonderful. Everyone rushed to the side of the boat and I thought we might tip! But our funny Maori captain had it all under control.


We couldn’t go through the hole. Too much swell. Sensible but sad I say.

Along we went past some more islands ¬†before stopping for a lunch! We had our bananas – we’d been carting them around for at least a day so thought it was time to eat them. We were saving ourselves for our return and a a late lunch of famous Mangonui fish and chips. We had 30 mins to walk up to a lookout and it was worth the climb. Views both ways across the many islands that make up these Bay of Islands.




Back on the boat we arrived back in Russell by 1 and set off with a coffee in hand for Mangonui and a fish and chips.

Only a little detour along the way. The Stone Store in Keri Keri which has been operating since 1830. It’s set in the most beautiful grounds of what used to be a Mission Station.

Finally time for ‘fush an’ chups’ at a well organised little shop sitting alongside the Bay. What a hit! ¬†We inhaled our delicious hapuka, a local white fish along with our choice of chips – fat , thin or hand cut!


Finally we finished lunch by 4.30 and headed to the nearest supermarket for our cheese, biscuits & wine to go with the prawns we bought for our late supper tonight. We always have food on our mind.


Our room tonight , despite being the same cost as cosy room last night is actually a 3 bedroom villa at Peppers resort on the KariKari peninsula. It’s gorgeous. We started with a swim in the infinity pool before freshing up and having an aperitif on the verandah at sunset. Around 7.45pm.

Bliss. Tomorrow is our last night before returning on Wednesday.

Exploring the Bay of Islands

What a beautiful part of the world. Today we turned left out of our hotel and crossed a bridge and entered the lovely area of Waitangi Treaty House.

Such a surprise. Such a beautiful place, where the Treaty of Waitangi was signed in Feb 1840. A Treaty between the Maori people and the representatives of the British Crown.

We started with breakfast in the garden cafe and chatted and ate before Kim& David left for home in Auckland, a four hour drive away.

Last year a new centre was opened on these significant grounds. It’s a wonderful museum. For $40 we entered the grounds and the interactive museum. Had a tour and a cultural show. So well done.

Our guide, a rather large Maori man had a wonderful gentle approach and took us on a tour of the grounds and gave the background to the history of the signing of the Treaty. All with jokes along the way.

We walked through a small forest of trees and emerged at a lawn facing the Bay. We saw the Maori boat which seats over 100 paddlers and has an intricately carved side and end piece.

Seven smiling Maori people performed a dance and song show ending with a Haka. They became fierce. Just like the rugby players we try so hard to defeat.
Three hours later we left for Russell the small township opposite Paihia. It’s where Steve left for his 3km swim yesterday. We took a car ferry for $12.50 and drove through the green surrounds before arriving at the gorgeous little town of Russell. It had a bad reputation back in the 1800’s but is now a quiet beautiful bayside town. It has white painted wooden buildings along the road facing back to Paihai. It’s tree lined and has a lazy feel.

Our hotel, the Duke of Marlborough, is an old world place facing the water. It’s great. Our very cosy room is well appointed – we didn’t take a big room for just one night, so it’s small and cosy! But drinks on the veranda and dinner was great.

Our after dinner walk was peaceful and prepared us for the wonderfully comfortable bed.

I do love a short break holiday.

New Zealand: Perfect Paihia

Who doesn’t love a mini holiday?

New Zealand is the perfect place to go for a ¬†short break. It’s an easy 3.5 hr flight from Brisbane to Auckland and in the Emirates 380 was super comfortable.

The drive from the airport to Paihia took longer! A 4 hour drive through Friday afternoon traffic before reaching the approach to the Bay of Island area, arriving just on dusk at the very pretty Paihia.

Our swim trek friends Kim and David ( from our Greece trek in 2014) were there to greet us and we headed straight out to dinner. What better to eat than fresh fish in a restaurant by the water. A few glasses of NZ wine later we walked back to our very comfortable apartment and had a great nights sleep.
I was a little nervous. I had entered the mini swim – only 300 mts but I thought it might be too cool. Lucky for me Kim brought me her old wet suit. So this morning I wrestled my way into the suit and was ready to go. Felt like a sausage in a skin but probably looked worse than that!

Steve had left earlier with Kim & David to catch the ferry to Russell just across the bay. They were then swimming back. Around 3 km. I thought it was too far or me – with out fins!

So Chris Wilson & I, supported by Jill, made our way to the beach for our mini swim. The weather was cloudy but not too cool. I felt pretty good in my wet suit!
So off we went in cool waters – but how good is a wet suit? Buoyant and warm I didn’t have any trouble swimming along the front of the beach. Except maybe for my foggy goggles.
We made it in the respectable time of 8 mins and ran up the Beach thinking “that was a bit short………. could have done more!” That’s just a warm up at squad.
We sat in the now clear blue sunny weather and listened to the prize giving. Ears picked up when we heard Ladies over 60 1st place Frances Maitland! Men’s over 60 1st place Chris Wilson. What a hoot. We had won the Gold medals.

Oh boy we couldn’t wait to tell the others when they arrived in from their 3 km swim.

We celebrated with a lovely lunch at the wharf restaurant along with Martin & Jo some swim friends from Brisbane who also happened to be here.

Rest time now! Well we are over 60!

And we have to be ready for a nice dinner out in this pristine beautiful place.

These few days will be the tonic I need after a hectic week at home. Rob & Jordan had moved in for a week – along with lots of bags. They left on Friday to begin their new adventure in New York. So I shed a few tears!
Pete and El have also signed a lease on an apartment in West End. A new start and we are so happy for them.

So life at home will settle when we return.

New Zealand here we come

What a few days we’ve had! 

It’s been a whirlwind of family activities. 

And tomorrow we head to NZ with our friends Chris & Jill Wilson to visit Kim & David Parker our buddies from the Greece swim trek back in 2014. 

We went last year and Steve did a swim with them and then we had a few days in the Coramandel. 

This year we are heading north of Auckland to Paihai and Russell and further north. Just 5 days. I’m supposed to be swimming but I’m a little afraid of the cool water. That sounds very wimpish I’m sure but it is NZ and we all know how cool it can be there. 

So follow the blog and see if I do indeed swim.