Summer days part 1: Otari-Wilton and Titahi bay

The last few days have blessed us with lovely weather so we’ve been out and about. On friday afternoon we took a walk at Otari-Wilton Bush. There was abundant birdlife with dozens of tuis and kakariki flying overhead, plenty of kereru around and also a pair of k?rearea circling around a tree on the other side of a valley. We encouraged Alayna to walk as much as possible partially by having her count the steps we ascended, she did really well and also enjoyed crossing bridges, throwing leaves into streams for races and walking over rocks whenever possible. We ended up at the flax clearing which would have been better described as the daisy clearing for our visit, a carpet of flowers punctuating the dry grass.

Crossing the stream

Crossing the stream

Family in the daisies

Family in the daisies

Daisy Alayna

Daisy Alayna

Keryn made Alayna a daisy head dress and Alayna chased me around the clearing while I snapped away. We took a few family photos after clearing some (but not enough apparently) of the more intrusive grass stalks. We had some of the gingerbread that was left over from Christmas and watched a procession of birds fly overhead. There was a large pohutukawa covered in fading but still resplendent red blooms and the tree positively humbed with its audience of bees. There was time for some silliness and then we were off back towards the parked car.

Fading summer red

Fading summer red

The happy frog

The happy frog

It being such a nice evening we took the opportunity to purchase fish and chips in Porirua and then head over to Titahi Bay beach for a picnic dinner. We sat on some steps near the middle of the beach and watched the people wandering along the beach, the paddleboarders crossing the bay and the brave few playing in the water while the southerly breeze keep the temperature a little cool. We attracted a growing flock of seagulls and Alayna took great delight in chasing them away, at least until the numbers got so great that they just circled around behind her. It was a very pleasant evening.

Titahi Bay

Titahi Bay

The seagulls were persistent

The seagulls were persistent

Alayna chasing seagulls

Alayna chasing seagulls

Heading north for a holiday – Goat Island

With Christmas approaching we took leave of work early and drove north. Our plan was to spend some time camping in the glorious weather of a Northland summer while also spending a few days over Christmas at Keryn’s parents place. Keryn did mention that she had strong memories of Christmas at home being largely wet affairs, but we figured we’d see what happened. We stayed the first night in Turangi to break up the drive, choosing to again visit the A+ Backpackers (cheap, clean, arriving late not an issue). Next day we stopped in Hamilton and had good Mexican before I bought a wetsuit (always activities that go hand in hand I’m sure). There was more shopping done as we passed through Auckland before the final push towards Leigh and our destination at Goat Island Camping.

The campsite website describes itself as a free range campsite, and that it was. There weren’t a lot of people on site so we had a wealth of space to choose from to pitch our tent. Once settled in we got ourselves dinner and relaxed, taking in the lovely view while the temperature dropped and the cows in the nearby field had a mooing contest (calves running around having the time of their lives).

The next morning we were down to the beach and ready for some snorkelling. There were plenty of fish, though not as many as I recalled from my last visit here (years ago, probably when they were still encouraging feeding of the fish from the shore). Keryn spotted a small school of quid floating in a shallow area near the beach, eight tiny brown squid seemingly suspended in the water.

Goat IslandPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Goat Island.

GoatfishPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

A goatfish.

SquidPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Keryn spotted these squid in the shallows.

LeatherjacketPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

A leatherjacket.

We took a drive and ended up having a lovely lunch at the quirky home of Morris & James pottery. The food was very tasty and the setting a beautiful courtyard that looked like a piece of Tuscany plonked down in rural New Zealand; all wooden beams, terracotta paving and vines.

Back to Goat Island we took a second snorkelling trip later in the day nearer high tide and found that there were many more jellyfish in the water and the current was much stronger. We did get to follow an eagle ray for a while as it swam over and through the seaweed, stopping every now and again to give me a chance to take photos which was nice. It was quite tiring second time around so we weren’t in the water long. Back up at the carpark the pohutukawa was in full bloom and in the larger trees on the hillside shags were nesting, the fledglings looking just about ready to leave the nest for good.

Eagle RayPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

An eagle ray.

Pohutukawa in bloomPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Pohutukawa.

MG 8482Photo by Brendon & Keryn

A fledged pied shag.

An evening drive gave us a chance to stretch our legs on a coastal path at Ti Point. The sunset was good, big clouds glowing orange above the fast flowing water. A pleasant view to end the day.

Sunset from Ti PointPhoto by Brendon & Keryn

Sunset from Ti Point.

Plans for more snorkelling the next day were ruined by torrential rain. We unfortunately decided to have breakfast before taking the tent down and ended up struggling with a very wet tent in a proper downpour. Heading down to the beach to have a look we found the water now silted up with run-off from the very swollen stream so plans for the day were scratched and we drove north to Whangarei earlier in the day than planned.