'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Te Puke

Well folks, I warned you about the possibility of seeing the seamy side of New Zealand on this blog. Here's a rather sad scene snapped at the tiny locality of Waitangi, near Te Puke.

(That is of course, Waitangi, Bay of Plenty, not to be confused with the much more famous place in the Bay of Islands, Northland, where the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document, was presented and began the signing process on the 6th February, 1840).

And here's something also rather ugly. One of a series of this summer's billboards attempting to encourage drivers to drive safely. This year it's cartoon kiwifruit that need to buckle up, take frequent rests, secure their trailer loads and make sure they can see the road ahead is clear throughout their entire overtaking manoeuvre.

Now on to Te Puke. Yes, I know, I know, it is a funny name if it was English. There are plenty of examples of non-English words that are side-splittingly funny if they were English, but let's not let our Anglo-centricity show too much, shall we?

The town of Te Puke (Tay Poo-kay) is generally synonymous with kiwifruit in New Zealand.
I've posted about the Big Kiwifruit before, and shown you how to prepare kiwifruit too, but here are some everyday images that I took when traveling through the other day.
There's a useful dual lane main road with large trees down the centre, and this goes right through the main shopping area. Probably a necessity as large trucks use this route too. But it seems to work well, and there's usually plenty of parking. The roundabouts are in abundance, facilitating feed into and out of side-roads, but there are no separate cycle-lanes unfortunately.

Oh and there's another hairy brown thing entreating you to spend money in Te Puke. They're everywhere, like Tribbles on the Enterprise.

A quirky phenomenon in Te Puke is the name of some of the roads. A La Mode de New York, Te Puke has "No. 1 Road", "No. 2 Road", "No. 3 Road" and "No. 4 Road".
Navigation in the area can get confusing for mathematically-challenged people like me.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Matata - Pikowai Coast road

Leaving Whakatane coming towards Tauranga there's yet another roundabout. We like roundabouts in New Zealand. (We even have roundabouts with traffic lights, just to confuse you!*)

Matata (Matta-tar to the locals) is a sleepy seaside town with an interesting area of lagoon wetland running between the main road and the beach. Once you've passed through Matata you're on one of the loveliest stretches of coastal road in New Zealand. On your left is a series of steep wave-eroded cliffs held together tenuously by the roots of massive pohutukawa trees. As I've mentioned, these trees are breath-takingly beautiful around Christmas when they are smothered with masses of crimson blooms.
On your right is the sea, although mostly just glimpsed from time to time.

Unfortunately this length of road is prone to slips in winter, and can be down to one lane or even impassable for hours, sometimes days, as crews work to clear away the debris.

About half way between Pikowai (Pick-o-why) and Pukehina (Pook-eh-hee-nar) the road leaves the coast briefly, and curls inland to cross the Waitahanui (Why-tar-har-noo-ee) Stream. There's a picnic area at the top when it touches the coast again, and that's your last view of the sea for a while.

* More about these another time.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


Whakatane (fock - ah - tar - nay) is a pleasant little town. In the middle of the business area there is a large treed bluff, which is a distinctive picturesque backdrop for the everyday and mundane things that have to be carried out in towns, especially in midsummer when the red-flowered pohutukawa trees are in bloom.
But you won't see that in any of these images because I didn't go into the town itself.

Briefly, some facts:
Whakatane's population is about 15,000, with another 15,000 or so in the nearby district. 40% of locals have Maori ancestry (the NZ proportion of Maori is about 20%), and the economy is mainly agriculturally-based. Forestry (there's a mill), dairy farming and horticulture, fishing, and some light manufacturing. It's also a popular tourist destination for whale-watching, swimming with dolphins, bushwalking, hunting, and charter fishing.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Ohope and the Wharekura Reserve

Here are two more images of Ohope Beach, and three taken of the Wharekura Reserve area on the short gorge road between Ohope and Whakatane.

I missed snapping you the rare sign 'KIWI WANDERING' at the beginning of the reserve. But I found one on a recent news item in the 'Whakatane Beacon'.

STOLEN SOUVENIR: The top of this sign on Ohope Road was stolen yet again at the beginning of summer, and replaced on Monday. Photo Monique Ford C3444-09
Photo Monique Ford

Theft of kiwi signs frustrates

Wednesday, 12 January 2011
By Samantha Motion

THE “kiwi wandering” sign on Ohope Road near Burma Road wandered off over the Christmas period, requiring yet another replacement.
The top half of the fluorescent yellow sign featuring a silhouette of a kiwi was taken around the beginning of summer, and replaced on Monday.
In light of the continued thefts, Whakatane District Council may consider painting kiwi signs on roads near the endangered birds’ Eastern Bay habitats.
“That will be harder to steal,” council transportation manager Martin Taylor said.
He planned to take a proposal on the painted signs to councillors in the near future.
Mr Taylor said the thefts were a nuisance and he was working with Opus International to look at better ways to secure the signs, which cost $100 each to replace.
Two signs near the Ohope Scenic Reserve were installed in 2007 – one near Burma Road and one near the reserve entrance, where a population of the flightless birds live.
In 2008 the whole sign near the reserve entrance was taken, and in 2009 someone changed both signs to read “iwi wandering”.
Fiona Hennessey, field centre supervisor for the Department of Conservation’s Whakatane and Opotiki branch, found the ongoing thefts frustrating.
“It is an unnecessary waste of time and money to have to keep replacing signs.
“We hope that the signs will serve as notices that there are significant conservation values in the area – our national icon, none the less – and will not become souvenirs.
“We would much rather be putting time and resources into successfully raising kiwi chicks and protecting them from dogs and other predators, than replacing signs.”

Monday, 17 January 2011

Ohope Beach

Forgive me bloggers, for I have sinned.

I admit I have been guilty in the past of promoting New Zealand.

I've taken lovely photos in lovely places, and left undone subjects that might have given a more realistic view of my country.
But I was overcome with a wave of honesty last time I was in the car. I resolved to do something about this omission. Unlike A & C, I will not intentionally take the 'alternate' New Zealand, ie, only the grotty, grubby and messy bits, but I will try and take more images showing the real New Zealand, not just a pretty version.*

So, while I was on my fleeting visit to Ohope Beach the other day, I snapped a few images. Rather than carefully select and compose them, I just pointed almost randomly through the window of the car, and clicked.
Here are the first five.

It looked like this little puppy's first trip to the beach. The man tried him on the ground but he just stood there, nervously quaking. So he had to be picked up again and carried.

* Not least, so that YP and Shirley won't be horrified when their trip to NZ turns out to sometimes be grotty, grubby and messy.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Another hot day

Phew. It's been another hot day. The soft dusky rose of the sky brings a welcome coolness after the day's high of 30.4ºC. I spent most of the afternoon in the car driving to Ohope Beach and back. I didn't stop long at the beach, as I was delivering my entry and fees for an art competition. I'd left it too late for the mail system to get it there in time. Very environmentally spendthrift of me, but the breeze through the open windows was rather pleasant.

Sauce up your life

My son's sense of humour has infiltrated his family and friends. We all know what kind of things he likes for Christmas and Birthday presents!

P.S. This is our frequently-made and popular self-crusting quiche about which I have previously posted. The recipe is here.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Ringing out the old and the new

Here is the last light of 2010 - a view from my studio window at about 9.30 pm last night.

And below, the first light of 2011 at 5.20 am a few minutes ago. It's a fabrication, but it is fun that today is 1.1.11, isn't it? Fabrication or not, looks like it's going to be another hot day. The blackbirds and the Tui are raising their voices over the sweet dawn chorus outside the open front door as I write this sitting here. Too warm for a dressing-gown already.

What will 2011 hold for us all? I wish peace and contentment for you.

My resolutions: To eat more from my garden and catch up on maintenance around here.

Eye Candy Day 29