I am the River. The river is me.

Ko au te awa. Ko te awa ko au

The river flows from the mountain to the sea, I am the river, the river is me.

The river gives to you and you give to the river by keeping it healthy.

The Whanganui River is the 3rd longest river in New Zealand, running from Mount Tongariro to the sea and is sacred to the regions Māori people.

Due to it’s importance the awa ‘river’ was granted its own legal identity in 2017, giving it the rights, duties and liabilities of a legal person.

Manu Bennett  explains in a Radio New Zealand interview that this agreement makes it recognisable to those people that weren’t brought up with the river.

European settlers called it Petre (after Lord Petre an officer of the New Zealand Company) however the name reverted back to the rightful original name.

Every bend and rapid has a kaitiaki ‘guardian’, who maintains the mauri ‘life force’ of the awa ‘river’.

These waters are navigated by the historical restored Waimārie Paddle Steamer offering guests a leisurely river cruise. She is New Zealand’s last steam-powered and coal-fired passenger paddle steamer.            Wai – water      Mārie – fortunate, peaceful, quiet
nz new zealand whanganui wanganui river maoriculture awa waimarie steam boat

Named one of the country’s top 10 swimming holes by the AA’s Directions magazine in 2015,  Mosquito Point welcomes river travellers keen for a quick a thrill. Also accessible by road the mōrere ‘swing’ is a popular place for picnicking and swimming, even though Māori legend tells of a taniwha in the waters, which is a warning to swimmers of the dangerous rapids that can form at the river bend.

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Rotokawau aka Virginia Lake

Being new to Whanganui I was wondering why this 4.5 hectare public space was more commonly known as Virginia Lake and not by its Maori name of Rotokawau. The answer to which I found in very small print on a rather large plaque hidden in a corner of the front entrance of the neighbouring Winter Garden.

Unfortunately the land was purchased for development by white settlers in the mid 1800’s. The Māori legend of the lakes origin can be found written on the plaque beneath a bronze sculpture of the beautiful Tainui.

The legend explains that the lake was formed from the tears of the grief stricken Tainui and the rain from the angry gods over the murder of Turere, Tainui’s love. Turere had been strangled by the jealous suitor Ranginui. Notice her tears as she gazes out towards the lake.

Rotokawau means ‘roto’ – Lake and ‘kawau’ – blag shag

Walking around the lake, the kids disappeared down a bamboo bush tunnel. Waiting at the end of the track I could hear a weird rather loud chattering. It sounded almost aggressive. I looked across the lake but couldn’t see the cause. The kids soon gathered around me and joined in the search for the sounds source. Then we looked up, and there in the trees were several nests with kawau fledglings. We watched as they continued their persistent squawks, calling out to their parents.

The lake offers a rich habitat for many bird species. Take your time and open your eyes

The rather large metal lily fountain sculpture was donated in 1970 by Mr Henry Higginbottom, a local philanthropist.

Don’t forget to spot the rather odd Peter Pan sculpture, who my kids found quite entertaining as it looked like he was peeing, complete with a puddle beneath him.

virginia lake rotokawau whanganui wanganui nz metal bronze peter pan sculpture

Whanganui Winter Gardens

Wondering what to do while visiting Whanganui? The Winter Gardens offers an all year round colourful display of flora amongst sculptures and garden art.

Built in the 1940’2, the Winter Gardens were built to commemorate the Centenary of New Zealand.

A walk in aviary was developed over the 1960’s and 70’s. Birds to be observed include pheasants, parakeets, finch and rosellas, and of course, what aviary would be complete without a couple of talking cockatoos.

Local artist have contributed to the sculptural garden next door. Exhibited pieces include punga carvings, mosaics and glass works.

More art can be found by continuing your journey to Lake Rotokawau (Virginia Lake), a half hour woodland walk. You can join in with the leap frogging children created by sculptor Hamish Horsley.

 

Muse

World famous for its surf breaks, Raglan is a key destination for New Zealand tourists. But regardless of whether its pumping or not, Ngarunui Beach offers paradise to it’s punters. There’s definitely something very special to be found here, with Facebook page’s littered with requests for accommodation and work from overseas travellers, who have fallen in love with the place and never want to leave. The endless beach opportunities offer weather dependant entertainment. The harbour, tidal changes, estuaries and cliffs beacon to be explored. And being a firm west coast location we are graced each night by the most amazing and forever changing sunsets. Just you try to catch a green flash!

Can you see an ape in the rocks?

Bridal Veil Falls

Being new Raglan residents we thought we’d better get exploring all that attracts thousands every year. I started an Instagram @exploring_raglan, a follow on from @thecoromandelguide and @exploringhamilton and look forward to adding our adventures.

Bridal Veil Falls is a NZ must do, and a short detour when en route to Raglan from Hamilton. You take a left down Te Mata Road off State Highway 23, go thru the township and follow the signs until you come across the parking at the bush walk entrance. Be weary of thieves, taking valuables with you.

An easy pram and wheelchair friendly walk leads you to the viewing platform at the top of the waterfall, 55m meters high!

Continuing downwards to the base of the falls is steep and tiresome, but definitely worth it. With viewing platforms and a bridge, you get immersed in the enormity of the Waireinga falls. The waterfall spray has enabled an interesting assortment of vegetation to grow on the sandstone walls, creating a tropical oasis.

‘Waireinga’ means leaping waters, referring to ‘wairua’  the spirits which leap the great height of this waterfall. Waireinga is also spiritually known by ‘tangata whenua’  the people of the land, to be occupied by ‘Patupaiarehe’, Maori fairies who are kaitiaki, the guardians of the area.

A photograph can be captured at the second viewing platform, where the origin of waterfalls name Bridal Veil Falls comes obvious.

 

 

 

 

Reminiscing about our retro Coromandel abode

What a funky home we had. We couldn’t believe our luck when we  managed to purchase this much loved 1970’s bach, perched up on Tairua Heights, over looking the harbour and Pauanui. Every room sported different retro wallpaper from the past.

As decorative as it was, the wallpaper was the first to go. In effort to pay tribute to the past, I left a strip of wallpaper in each room, adding to the character? A bucket of warm water and sugar soap was all that was needed. That, and a posse of little people, of which we had a few.

DIY landscaping building pink batts insulation

Installing Pink Batts was an extreme adventure of its own. My husband and I donned our disposable overalls, gardening gloves and glasses and headed for the rafters. It was hot, scratchy and dark. I gave up early in our mission and headed for the showers, leaving hubby in the roof for the rest of the afternoon. I imagined the professional installers, midget ninjas, who we nimble and flexible, flipping from joist to joist, slotting the bales in with ease. We just aren’t built for Pink Batt installation. However if a buck is to be saved, we will give most things a go.

A lot of landscaping later, wrangling in as many volunteer hands as we could, we opened up the view. Anyone who came to visit was put to work. Thankfully we had our own dumping ground for vegetation at the bottom of the section.

We had a lot of fun in the overgrown neglected garden. We encouraged the kids to get involved as we planted natives and fruiting shelter belts of feijoa and a hedge of lavender to encourage the bees. There was always plenty to do, mucking around on our property. What an amazing back drop to our children’s lives.

 

 

 

 

 

Tairua Chicks

So my kids are naturally very interested in all the things I get up too, whether creating stock for a market, embedding shells and insects in resin, casting concrete or mould making, and unfortunately some of those things they just cant participate in.

My daughter said “I cant wait til I grow up so I can play with resin” ; )

So I’m encouraging them to create their own business. There’s just so much practical lessons to learn; researching, accounting, success rates, mark up, profit/loss, biology, genetics, environmental conditions, marketing…

We used to have chickens. It was a constant struggle to keep them in our property. I was always chasing them around the neighbours yard and fixing mesh to the boundary.

Then there is the poo. Its everywhere!

We were fortunate enough to have a broody hen, so without my husbands knowledge, the kids and I ordered some fertile eggs, and swapped them for the ones she had laid and was sitting on. 21 days later to my husbands surprise we had 4 tiny chicks hatch! (out of 8)

The kids knew from the start we were not going to keep the chicks, but to sell them (after taking them along to Pet Day of course!)

We did this once more before we decided the poo just wasn’t going to be appealing to the occasional BnB’ers that we host, so the flock was quickly sold on, at $20 a chicken.

So spring is near, and we Coromandel inhabitants get pretty clucky, so in anticipation of the free range egg rush, the kids are starting a small business, and will attempt to hatch chicks using an incubator!

I explained to them that from the profit of selling some of my resin creations, instead of reinvesting in resin, I was going to invest in them, and that they had $183 to start Tairua Chicks

They had to research how to hatch chicks, find the best incubator, purchase it online and record their accounting. Next was the chickens. Whether to purchase mixed eggs or a particular breed. They opted for a x breed of Araucana x shaver, hoping to gain chicks producing a interesting coloured large egg.

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Unfortunately we learnt our first lesson on the arrival of the incubator; to receive the incubator before ordering the eggs! The incubator stated that it housed 12 eggs, but on inspection we could see that our 12 rather large fertile eggs were not going to all fit in the plastic frame, that enabled the vital automatic rotation of the eggs!

Dilemma: To manually rotate the eggs at least 3 times a day, use the frame and discard half the fertile eggs or to quickly get online and purchase a second incubator (at $109!)

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So here is Angus, doing the morning shift ; )

Another thing we didn’t quite think about, was its the start of the school holidays!

So we have to take the eggs with us! We package them up in an egg carton, pop them in a box surrounded in tea towels and a wheat bag.

I’ll be very surprized if we even get one chick outta this lot, but we will see in 10 more days!

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tairua chicks hatch own chicken hen eggs incubator kids chilidrens small business