Sunday, January 16, 2011


The news is awful.

My heart reaches out to all who have suffered loss.

Finding it hard to compute/accept the huge area, the amount of water etc.

Beyond belief!


Hope all SFL people and families are safe but I guess you all know people caught up in it even if you are not.

Stay safe through the clean-up.

One way you can contribute to the Relief Fund is to go to Delia's Blog where she has posted a beautiful gift and details of how to help.

Talented and gifted people are auctioning their beautifully crafted work with the proceeds going to the Queensland Flood Relief Fund

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Matarangi has it's own International Celebrity in Phil Koeghan, front man for The Amazing Race TV show. Phil owns a holiday home somewhere here and has holidayed at Matarangi with his family for 20 years or more.

There are two other International Celebrities currently making news in New Zealand.

Today David Hasselhoff arrived on the beach at Mt Maunganui in a surf rescue boat to promote icecream. He went to Australia first and now New Zealand. Streets, an Australian company which manufacturers icecream, should be delighted with the publicity. David Hasselhoff was mobbed by a crowd of 4000 delighted fans. I was surprised to see, on the TV news, how young the crowd was. I find it hard to believe Baywatch has fans among today's younger generation.

The icecream being promoted is called a Split and has been around since the 50s. It's a vanilla icecream on a stick with an outer, sorbet like coating. The Berry Delight, which consists of swirls of raspberry sorbet through vanilla icecream covered in a raspberry shell, matched David Hasselhoff's trade mark red shorts. The Blurb describes the Split as follows, 'The combination of creamy vanilla and refreshing fruit ice shell will delight your senses and take you away on a tropical escape'. It is supposed to contain 20% real fruit, and is 97% fat free. I wonder if that makes it diet friendly.

The other Celebrity, tennis star Maria Sharapova, is in Auckland for the ASB, Auckland Savings Bank, Classic Tennis Tournament. Maria Sharapova, who is not only a great tennis player but also a beautiful woman, is a popular player at this tournament and guarantees the 'sold out' sign. It's not the first time she's decided to start her season in New Zealand. Maria Sharapova said in a rare interview that this tournament would be an important part of her preparation for the Australian Open. She has been recovering from surgery to her shoulder. There are a lot of disappointed people tonight as she was beaten in the quarter-finals today by an little known player, Greta Arn from Hungary. It was certainly a surprise as Maria Sharapova is ranked 18 in the world while Greta Arn is 88th.

This is how one news media report of this afternoon's game.

AUCKLAND (AFP) – Top seed Maria Sharapova was bundled out of the Auckland Classic women's tennis tournament in the quarter-finals Thursday when she was beaten in straight sets by unheralded Greta Arn.

We watched the game and were disappointed to see that Maria Sharapova just didn't seem able to spark and her game had many unforced errors.

Our thoughts reach out to flood stricken Australians. I can't imagine what it must be like. I read a report of women shooting dozens of brown snakes before they were evacuated from their homes. Brown snakes are deadly and the flood waters are all the more dangerous as snakes and crocodiles are being carried into urban areas.

John and I were discussing disasters and wondered which would be the most horrible experience, flood or earthquake. We decided flooding on this scale is far worse than the Christchurch Earthquake. Neither one is something we want to experience. Sometimes it feels as though the whole world has gone crazy

Tuesday, January 4, 2011



The map marks the route from Auckland International Airport to Matarangi and on to Whangapoa Beach via Whitianga.

New Chums beach is accessed by wading across the Estuary from Whangapoa. It's a 30-40 minute walk to paradise.

View Larger Map

New Chums Beach is considered to be among the top 20 wild, (undeveloped), beaches in the world. This tiny beach remains an unspoiled gem but it is owned by a developer who has PLANS. Until recently not many people knew of it’s existence and I have to admit that I've never been there by foot or by boat. It's on my To Do list for this year but not until the crowds of holiday makers and tourists have gone home. I want my first visit to New Chums to be alone with John. Isn't that romantic?

On January 3rd, yesterday, Phil Koeghan of The Amazing Race, with a lot of help from his father and other local people, organised some aerial art. I wandered down to watch the fun.

All the photos except the very top one were taken at Matarangi. I wandered onto the Village Green and began taking snapshots until the camera battery became flat.

Matarangi was chosen for the message in the sand. Gathering a crowd at Matarangi is a simple matter whereas it's unlikely that a large number of people would go to New Chums Beach, where access involves a trek in.

The following quote is from the NZ Automobile Associations website of 101 things for Kiwi's to do.

About New Chums Beach

This is how locals describe New Chums Beach in the Coromandel: "I love it for its beauty, peace and tranquillity and it's such a clean beach with awesome fishing and shellfish."

And this is how the international media sees this secluded little beach: a "slice of Coromandel heaven" and a "wide swath of pale sand backed by wooded hills."

In fact, in 2006, the Observer went as far as rating this shy stretch of sand as one of the Top 20 Beaches in the World.

So just where is the beach that's reached international celebrity status, and how come many kiwis are unaware of its existence?

New Chums Beach is in Wainuiototo Bay, north-west of Whangapoua Beach and approximately 15 kilometres north-east of Coromandel township.

Reaching this beach means taking a 30-minute walk. Wading through the estuary at the northern end of Whangapoua Beach, follow the shoreline and you'll find a track that crosses the low point in the headland saddle over to the scenic New Chums Beach.

It'll be worth the walk, for you too will get to meet a stunning stretch of golden sand, fringed by pohutukawa trees and native forest, which is deserted much of the year. And you’ll see for yourself just why this little piece of paradise has hit the international limelight.

A group of people have become very active in an effort to preserve one of the last unspoiled beaches on the Coromandel Peninsula. It's become a political scoring point and attracted significant international interest. There are a number of things being worked on to save the beach and give the current owner and developer a fair deal. Unfortunately a lot of money is involved, and our Government is being asked to be a major contributor to the fund. It's easy to understand Prime Minister John Key and the Government's reluctance to fork out this money.

We are in the middle of a Global recession which makes our future unpredictable. New Zealand's economy is based on our ability to export what we produce off the land. This makes us extremely vulnerable to Global Markets. In the last few months there have been two major disasters which affect our National economy. The Christchurch Earthquake on September 4th continues to cause many financial headaches. After shocks, now numbering more than 4000, keep Canterbury on edge. The West Coast Pike Mine Disaster not only left families and friends grieving for the 29 men who died, but is a serious cause of lost income into the West Coast. There was a lucrative contract for the Pike River Mine to export coal. The total cost into the future, of these disasters, are filled with uncertainty.

After standing around with my camera for a while I ended up joining in. You can see me in the middle of the back curve of the C. I'm wearing my New Year Bling cap which we bought in Hollywood back in 2005. Bet you can't find me. *giggle*

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Today we drove to Pauanui so I could go to Church and meet up with friends from Taupo. Taupo is a long way from here, nearly five hours driving time. My friends, Trevor and Linda, are hard to catch up with for another reason. They travel overseas 9 months of the year. They are the International Directors of Father Heart Ministries.

Become a Christian and see the world, it's better than the Navy. Now wouldn't that make a good advertising slogan? Maybe not! I have friends who've been to the Pacific Islands, many African countries, India, Burma, North and South America, Great Britain and Europe not to mention Israel, and Greece and more than I can remember right now. I have friends pastoring a church in France just outside Paris. The world has become a very small place in spite of distance and travel costs.

New Zealanders are right up there with the Travellers of the World in spite of our remoteness and small population. It always amazes me that no matter where you go there are Kiwis or if they have already been and gone they have left their mark, and it almost always seems to be beneficial.

Coming back to my title, we don't normally drive around the Coromandel Peninsula over New Year Holidays. There is just too much traffic on our roads and it's not fun. I was really glad when John said he'd drive me because it is a tiring day. We left home at 8.45 am and arrived at Pauanui just before church was due to start at 10.30 am. Good trip, good timing and only one idiot driver who was passing everything he saw without proper regard to safety.

John went down to the boat ramp and watched the activity in between reading the Sunday Paper and I enjoyed being in my 'home church.' We always have a shared lunch after the service and John came back to join in. There was quite a crowd. Only 4 Pauanui Residents plus a few others from nearby who belong to the Fellowship. The remaining 50 or more people came from all over the place including Northern Ireland, Wellington, and Auckland. Pauanui has a normal population of about 800 people of whom more than half would be retired. The little Baptist Christian Fellowship probably has about 50 regular members and many more, like myself, who still feel as though it is their spiritual home. Isn't it amazing that so many people would rather spend 2 or 3 hours in church than the beach on a gloriously sunny day.

I'd better explain the two or three hours. Most churches in New Zealand would be keeping their service short and sweet, barely one hour, on the first Sunday of the New Year. Our regular service is approximately 1.5 hours plus some, and no-one gets bored. We have all the usual stuff like offering collection, children's talk, notices, worship songs and sermon. Nearly half our meeting is taken up with singing and sharing special moments. Today Trevor preached and I can promise you most of us were shocked to find it was after mid-day when he finished. he is so interesting the time flew. When the main part of the service closes we have lunch, everyone brings a plate of something to eat. At the same time those who desire prayer ministry wait at the front and the prayer team members minister to them. No-one is hurried, no-one is overlooked. We have it all. The meeting with all the elements that make up a church service, excellent prayer ministry and time to catch up with friends over lunch. Many times I've been there when it was after 3 pm before everyone had left and the door closed.

After lunch John and I went down by the sea to a quieter place and watched people playing on the water for a while. We went back to the village for coffee before coming home. The little shopping centre was crowded. There was an Art Exhibition and sale going on, the car park was overflowing, the square buzzing and the Cafes busy, but not too busy for us to find a table and be served quite quickly.

We left Pauanui about 3 pm. I fell asleep and woke up as we drove up Pumpkin Hill after going through Tairua. I was interested to see how much traffic there was. The little town had looked chaotic in the morning. I missed it but I didn't miss the south bound traffic which had backed up at least 6, maybe 7 kilometres from the one-way bottleneck bridge at Tairua. We couldn't believe our eyes. There are still 2 more days before most people have to return to work so why so much traffic? We decided that a good portion were the people who had come over to Whitianga just for the New Year's Eve Rock Concert. We were travelling in the opposite direction and although in a stream of traffic it was spread out enough to travel at a decent speed.

Tonight our daughter phoned to ask if we had gone to Pauanui. She was working, weekend roster and on call, for Whangamata, (about 20 minutes drive further south of Pauanui), and Tairua. She must have been about 15 or maybe 30 minutes later than us and where we had a clear run through to Tairua she said the traffic had backed up so much it took her 45 minutes to travel the last 3 kilometres into Tairua but the huge back-up of traffic we saw on the north side had reduced to a couple of kilometres by the time she got there. How we 'year round' residents dislike holiday traffic yet without the holiday crowds there would be very little work in the area.

We have narrow winding roads up and around big hills, we have one way bridges and we experience 100fold population increase for a few days each year. It's easy to see why people want to come to our beautiful beaches and when you've had enough sun there are lovely forest walks. Our infrastructure will never be sufficiently developed to cope with such a dramatic influx over such a short period. It's times like this that I become aware of the great difference between a country with a large population and ours with barely 4 million people.

I've rambled on much longer than I should. I hope you enjoy my photos of the Community Church in the shopping Centre at Pauanui and a few random shots from our day which could not be spoilt when we paid $75 for petrol.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


New Zealand on holiday and it was almost perfect. We do have a cool breeze but the sea is warm enough.

All these photos were taken today and I'm sorry you have to twist around to get them straight but I'm not too hot at editing and I also ran out of time. I'm sure the photographers out there will be horrified that I have published such raw talent. Some were taken zoomed up so the beach looks a little foreshortened. We are roughly in the middle of a 1 km long piece of paradise in Mercury Bay. Mercury Bay was named by Captain Cook when he stopped to take sightings of the planet Mercury, of course.

It's been an interesting New Year's Day for us. Why? You might ask. It's very quiet where we live. We are right alongside the main road. There's been no traffic for hours. There's been silence from the houses around us. I can hear drums from somewhere way in the distance. There are almost no popping and crackling of fireworks.

There were a few family parties in out vicinity last night but all the younger ones went to the Rock Concert in Whitianga and left us with SILENCE unimaginable. The young ones renting our house have been very subdued. They did go to the beach for a few hours at the peak of the day's heat. They are sleeping now and no doubt preparing for a full on day tomorrow before going home to work on Monday. I can't rmember ever such a quiet New Year's Day night.

We had a slow morning, I stayed up way too late last night so slept late today. After lunch we went to my mother's where I had a swim and we had showers. Our bus shower is unsafe so it's only sponge baths while we live in it.

The water is not quite freezing and I had a very nice swim.

The house was built in 2009 after my mother sold the farm she had lived on since my father died in 1974. My mother lives upstairs and the ground floor has 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms and a living area with modest kitchen. Perfect holiday flat for family. Our daughter, a Community Nurse, lives downstairs and is Mum's primary carer with us backing her up so she can work a minimum of 15 days a month. Mum is now 95.5 years and in reasonable health in spite of serious heart problems.

Top two photos are family and friends on the beach in front of Mum's house.

3rd down looks toward the Simpson farm where a paddock has been kept for camping. This is not a formal or registered campground and has no facilities. One or two families have been camping here for 3 generations. Fully self contained Motorhomes are allowed to park for up to 3 nights at a time but I don't think there's too much counting. The farm owners have a seriously disabled son and payment is made in the form of a donation to a Disabled Persons organisation.

4th down is the South East end across to Shakespeare Cliff. The Bay continues around the point to Buffalo Beach and Whitianga.

5th photo is of neighbours

6th shows the untidiness of a crowd at the beach and the next two are of one of my great nephews and a friend playing with inflatable chairs our daughter bought for this season. A great idea.

I couldn't resist Mum's backyard stacked up with 5 cars and a small truck. I've seen 7 cars and an 18 foot boot all jammed in.

There are cars parked everywhere, on the grass verges of the road, reserves, wherever one can find enough space and be reasonably sure it's safe from all but the worst drivers.

Th final photo is tonight's sunset at Matarangi. Nothing special but still beautiful.