On the farm

Tom’s family place sits on a pretty but relatively rugged stretch of coastline.

The family is engaged in a long process of subdivision by which each sibling will get a chunk to build on while the bulk of the land is going into a preservation trust.

Apparently it’s never been great farmland… currently it supports some cattle and a bunch of pine trees, now being harvested after 25 years of growing. All the land will be restored to native bush plantings, which means an aggressive anti-predator campaign.

Tom’s brother Guy runs the Tawapou native plant nursery on the property, which is a lovely place. They are very active in conservation of native species and there are some interesting stories about the rare/important plants.

Tom is building his holiday home on a bluff overlooking the sea. It has a unique semi-circular design, completely off the grid, and it will be stunning.

It was cloudy and windy, which spoiled our plans to go out to the Poor Knights Islands, but we had a fun day anyway… touring the farm, taking a couple of swims, tasting wines at the neighborhood winery.

And of course finishing with sausages on the grill.

Ngockin aroung Ngunguru

We are up north this weekend visiting ex-boss Tom at his family farm in Tutukaka. But the hotel there wanted way too much for a room, so we found an Airbnb in Ngunguru, the ngext towng over. Pronungciation has beeng a topic. There’s no hard G, so no gurus in Ngunguru.


Ngunguru sits on an estuary. There’s a few hundred houses, a mix of second homes, retirees, and some people who make the commute into Whangarei. Pretty sleepy.

The next morning we went for a walk around. Despite there being nothing to see, we saw a lot…

The jandal fence.

The time capsule.

A whole series of funny little ant-themed pictures on the sidewalk.

The blue car that drove off the road.

A funny sign at the golf course and sports complex clubhouse.

And more. Would you want to spend your remaining time here? I don’t think I would, but it’s always a nice surprise to find some of the “more than meets the eye” stuff that surely exists everywhere.

The Maul of Auckland

Construction continues on the big mall overhaul in Newmarket. This is the view from my office window… at least the new, taller, building will block the view of the freeway…

Supposedly the mall be open this year. Seems impossible but I don’t know… they have a lot of guys working on it.

Stop Buggin’ Me

Two encased insects, two different stories…

The Venus flytrap totally does its job, but only after I stunned the fly with a flyswatter and placed it in the pouch. Not a scalable insect control strategy but very cool anyway.

And here, one of our last monarchs about to eclose… which is lepidopterist-speak for when they come out of the chrysalis.

Happy New Year

Happy Year of the Earth-Pig!

(In an early recognition of the impending Chinese global takeover, I’m just calling it “New Year” instead of “Chinese New Year”)

Pay Attention

Warnings and disclaimers have become so ubiquitous and so wordy that it’s all too easy to ignore most of them… stuff they’ll use to deny your insurance claim rather than stuff that actually keeps you safe.

But we paid attention to this sign at Browns Bay yesterday after some tourists were caught in a land slip over Christmas.


Friend Brian in town for work last week. We couldn’t get a table at our first choice restaurant so went to Gerome’s where we’d had a good experience one other time. Not so great this time but the conversation more than made up for it!!

Hot roddin’

Last weekend we loaded the tandem into the van (I can hear some people yawning already) and headed up to Orewa to check out the Te Ara Tahuna Estuary Cycleway and Walking Track.

The ride was lovely, although we got lost in subdivisions a couple of times (welcome to Orewa, where you can check out any time you want…)

But wait, there’s more! We were apparently the only people in New Zealand who didn’t know that Orewa over Anniversary weekend means hot rods. Lotsa lotsa hot rods.

I’m not really a hot rod guy, mostly for political/ snobbery reasons… those are, for the most part, not my people. But OMG the cars are magnificent. The giant engines, clean enough to eat off. You can reach into the metal-flake paint jobs up to your elbow. It’s all good: the ball fringe, the greasy food truck smells, the Betty Boop costumes.

And of course it’s almost all Americana. There were maybe 5 or 10% right hand drive cars… the rest was pure Detroit. There were more Mustangs and Camaros than anything else. We pulled in to the sounds of Johnny Cash, and later saw a very convincing Polynesian Elvis grinding away on the little bandshell stage, mopping his face in the heat.

Part of me does wonder, back to the political/ snobbery discussion, whether there’s a need for some additional work so that the next generation of li’l rodders is more fully empowered and socially tolerant than those that came before. But in the meantime, listen to that engine roar!!

Shoo flies

It’s great to live where it’s a nice temperature to leave the house open all summer. And even better a place with surprisingly few biting bugs.

But we do get flies in the summer, and they’re annoying. So we went to the store and bought all the methods to kill them.


One of our regular vegetable sellers was absent from the farmers market this morning but phoned in with a pretty good excuse.

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