Exploring the Hahei Coastline

A weekend on the Coromandel Peninsula, New Zealand
Labour Weekend 2016

We decided to be tourist’s today and headed up the coast to Hahei – home of Cathedral Cove, Hot Water Beach and the Hahei Marine Reserve.

From Tirau it was a short drive of 20 minutes along a slightly windy road – we did make one stop on the way at the Colenso Café which was a recommendation from my friend Michelle.

Definitely worth a stop with good quality seasonal food, freshly made with ingredients from local growers; Colenso is one of the Coromandel Peninsula’s best known establishments with its shop, garden and mandarin orchard. Take a wander around the grounds and you will not only see that pigs do fly! But the fresh garnishes on the delicious food served comes from the café’s own gardens.

Colenso Cafe.png
Colenso Cafe

Hahei is known for the many fun activities you can do that are water-based like scenic adventure boats trips, sea kayaking, scuba diving and snorkelling. The beaches are just gorgeous with soft white sand and clear clean water – you could be forgiven for thinking you were on an island from some Hollywood movie scene!

We had picked up a brochure about the ‘Hahei Explorer’ at our rented holiday house – you can find more information on this at the website: Hahei Explorer

The tour is an hour-long and takes you along the volcanic coastline including the world-famous Cathedral Cove; having never done something like this before we decided it looked like fun! The ‘chief tester’ has missed his JetSki which was stolen a couple of summers ago and not replaced. This boat trip was a real treat for him and he only mentioned how great it would be to do this if he had his JetSki maybe 3 or 4 times?

Anyway we met the boat at the south end of Hahei Beach and boarded the flexi-haul vessel which could take up to 10 people. We were given life-jackets and introduced to the skipper as we climbed aboard. Today was our lucky day as there was just the two of us with the skipper!

Within minutes we came across a little blue penguin and were able to get quite close to it before we headed around the coast to Champagne Bay which was just stunning. We ventured through a sea cave underground into a huge rock cylinder 80 feet highorua-seacave – an amazing blowhole!

The skipper had a great knowledge of the local area and its history of Maori encampments and sacred burial grounds of the chiefs of the Iwi. He chatted throughout the trip pointing out areas of interest and explaining the volcanic nature of the coast.

Across the bay to Whale Cave and then to Cathedral Cove which despite it being week day was populated with holiday-makers taking in the beautiful scenery – some even swimming!

The trip took an hour and was just great. At different times of the year you would see whales and dolphins – today we took in schools of snapper swimming around the boat – tempting for any fisherman 🙂 Labour Weekend is the beginning of the summer weather and not as busy as later in the year; even so we did have to book ahead so if you are keen on a boat tour make sure you call up and book early.

The ‘chief tester’ and I headed back to Tairua a little windswept and slightly sun-kissed – and reflected on how fortunate we are to live in such a beautiful country.

Life Lesson from today? – take the time to visit your own backyard before heading off overseas – there is much to see and do in New Zealand!
Happy travels xx

Cathedral Cove.jpeg


Book Review -The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

Book Review: The Memory Keepers Daughter – Kim Edwards

The ‘chief tester’ and I have snuck away for a few days R & R to a rented beach house on the Coromandel. When you can not remember the last time you took a long weekend away from the office, home and your busy everyday life; you must know it is time to take a break!

Labour Weekend is traditionally not the best of weather anywhere in New Zealand however I don’t really mind if it is raining where we are; it’s not home where there is a multitude of jobs that could be done. A house that could do with spring cleaning, to lawns that need edging and dogs that could do with a bath; you can probably tell that escaping to the beach even if the weather is not the best is very attractive!

We are in Tairua; about 2hours drive from our home on the North Shore of Auckland. Tairua is a destination town with lovely beaches to enjoy and at this time of the yea, it is still relatively quiet with the holiday houses sitting empty waiting for the summer holidays to fill up.

One of the things I like about renting a holiday house other than the obvious escape from the big smoke is that there is usually a stack of well-read books and magazines left by previous holiday-makers. And this little house was no different –and to my delight reading the blurb on the back cover immediately drew me to turning the book over and finding the beginning of the story.

I settled into the comfy sofa with a cup of green tea and the ‘chief tester’ soon realised that I was lost to his conversation and engrossed in a novel that began on a winter night in 1964.

Norah & her husband David are expecting twins – labour starts early, and with a blizzard preventing Norah’s doctor from making the delivery; David, an orthopaedic doctor at the local hospital is forced to deliver his own babies. A little boy comes first, and then a girl; when David looks at the baby girl he sees she has Downs Syndrome and makes a decision that will have an impact on his life and his families for years to come.

He asks the nurse to take the baby away to an institution but instead she disappears to another city with the baby girl where she raises her as her own.

The novel takes you on a journey that spans 25 years – David develops a passion for photography and over the years seeks solace in his camera as he tries to make sense of his life through the images he captures. Norah who never forgets her daughter, and carries the burden of her ‘death’ for years and the little boy, Paul who grows up feeling not good enough for his father.

You will journey the life of the little girl and the nurse who raises her – and her struggle with the secret that changed her life too.

‘The Memory Keeper’s Daughter’ is a poignant family story that centres on one individual’s startling decision that affects the people he loves the most. I read it from cover to cover, not wanting to put it down so intrigued was I to read what happens to the two families.

As Jodi Picoult (a favourite author of mine) says: “crafted with language so lovely you have to reread the passages just to be captivated all over again….this is simply a beautiful book…”

Lessons from this novel?: I thought how far society has come with our attitudes towards people with Downs Syndrome since the 60’s. Could you imagine giving your child up to an institution because of this today? The progress is thanks to the parents of children with Downs Syndrome who refused to accept their child had any limitations to living a full life.

I’m sure we have some way to go to fully integrate into our communities those individuals who have a disability – however we are still light years ahead of the 1960’s when this novel was written. And thank goodness for that!
Day One of our holiday break complete and one novel read from cover to cover! I can see two dogs and the ‘chief tester’ looking at me as if to say ‘are you done yet’ – a walk on the beach is the next order of the afternoon those 6-eyes are telling me so I had better get up and find my sneakers!

Happy reading xx


Ps…my 2016 Reading Challengehas been a struggle but this novel has inspired me to find another book from the list – and with 4 more days of this holiday left time is on my side for a change 🙂


Bali – this time last year!

Bali – has it really been a year since we were there?

Facebook kindly reminded me of what I was doing this time last year – tripping off to Bali.

My eldest son and his partner decided after 11 years, 3 children, a mortgage and emigrating to Australia; it was time to tie the knot. Since they had always wanted to go to Bali themselves and were keen to ensure there ‘big day’ was memorable for everyone – to Bali we all travelled for their wedding.

The chief tester and I travelled from Auckland, our daughter and her husband from Wellington – and the best man flew in from Germany. And the bride & groom from Melbourne. It was going to be a small family wedding and we were all excited to be travelling to a place none of us had been too.

Bali is an Indonesian island known for its forested volcanic mountains, iconic rice paddies, beaches and coral reefs. The island is home to religious sites such as cliffside Uluwatu Temple. To the south, the beachside city of Kuta has lively bars, while Seminyak, Sanur and Nusa Dua are popular resort towns. The island is also known for its yoga and meditation retreats.

We had expected it to be hot and crowded – and it was! From the moment you leave the confines of the airport you are confronted with a humid 30°c – do yourself a favour and dress in cotton, and as little as is decent 🙂 The city was dry & dusty, crowded and noisey – so alive with activity.

We stayed in Seminyak because it was not too far from the wedding venue. There are absolutely dozens of options for accommodation; and a budget to suit most. The hotel cost us about $300.00 for 7-nights; it was spacious, air-conditioned and clean.

Bali Safari & Marine Park was a great adventure for the whole family. You want to get there in the morning and plan to spend most of the day there – there is lots to see and experience. We were impressed with the educational aspect of the park with a conservation & education show on the elephants; and the Animal Educational Show which is at 11am every day.

The Waterpark was great and the children had a ball splashing about & cooling off!

It is not until you get out into the countryside that you really see the lush green rice fields and this requires you to have transport. We used the same driver for most of the time; he was great with the children & like most of the drivers pretty negotiable! We did use Uber too; and like at home this was an especially cheap option.

Wherever we went in Bali we were impressed with the people; friendly, happy to interact and obliging.

Monkey Forest is a visit worth making – it was a lovely walk through the forest;  out of the heat & under the cover of the forest trees. From here we went to Uluwatu; an amazing temple built on the top of a cliff beside the Indian ocean. The guide ensures you arrive there ahead of sunset which is quite spectacular.

I wish I could show you how beautiful it was; however I was recovering from a very nasty bout of ‘Bali belly’. It was not my finest moment to be taken to the emergency GP severely dehydrated & very nearly missing the main event of this trip; the wedding!

A day in Ubud is a must; it is a craft village and a centre for painting & wood carving as well as jewellery. The rice terrace and neighbouring villages were full of life and loads of tourists!

If you are looking for a romantic evening activity; try Jimbaran for a BBQ Seafood dinner. The chief tester enjoyed choosing his squid from the live fish tank; and having it prepared for him; delivered to a table set on the beach. Still in recovery mode; I nibbled plain white rice 😦 and watched with food envy as he had a delicious meal!

We spent a week in Bali; and if we venture there again would probably do the trip a little differently. We would head to Nusa & stay in a resort rather than in the middle of the city. The city life is great for the younger crowd; but for us a more relaxed holiday is wanted now.

Drink plenty of bottled water, dress in loosely fitting clothing, and take something from home for tummies – just in case! I certainly learnt a valuable lesson on this front.

Oh…and the main event? The reason we all travelled to Bali. It was just beautiful 🙂

All of us!
The happy couple!

Happy holidays xx

Feeling housebound? Visit the Ponsonby Central Markets

Feeling a little house-bound? Need to get out and about for a change of environment? A quick trip to Ponsonby Central this afternoon where everything is under cover did the trick for us today – it was cosy warm with gas heaters firing, humming with people shopping   and stopping to eat at any number of interesting and delicious smelling eateries.

Ponsonby Central is situated at No 4 Brown Street in Ponsonby. It has a great range of places to eat including the popular ‘Burger Burger’, and ‘Fish Fish’. ‘El Sizzling Chorizo’ looked really appealing with the flames licking the Argentinian BBQ grill….crêpes, noodles, organic chicken, pizza and much more. We will definitely head back for a meal another time.

The produce market was well stocked with fresh vegetables, meats and fish ( and Buffalo Milk?). I picked up some Wagyu Meat Patties to make burgers with one night this week, and boned chicken legs stuffed with chorizo, ricotta and fresh herbs and wrapped in bacon…..mmmm. I will probably serve these with a confetti couscous and fresh salad? I’ll check out the pantry and see what’s there soon.

In amongst the great eateries are a selection of retail shops including a linen store, shoes, clothing and several pop-up shops which I guess change out. Get your man groomed at the Boar & Blade while you have a tarot reading if that is your thing!

I took some pics to share with you – worth a visit on an afternoon when you are at a loose end, or like us, just wanted to get out of the house on a wet day!

Happy Sunday Driving…next week! xx