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.

 

Whats in a name?

If you have had a child then you will be familiar with the enormous responsibility of choosing a name for that wee individual. The pressure would keep me up at night.

I managed to refrain from looking at name books and from google searches such as “old lady names” until I got that double line of positivity. But as soon as that bun was in the oven I was consumed. I started focusing on the credits of movies.

During one pregnancy I was working as a receptionist at a vet clinic. I would spend time searching client names. Dog names make great little people names. The thing is, naming a baby is one thing, but that name has to last a lift time. What suits a bonnie wee baby boy may not suit a rather large masculine man.

And then there’s ‘namer’s remorse’. I had this bad with our son, Angus. I didn’t regret that we gave him the middle name of ‘Danger’. He will, unfortunately for him, always know that his parents have an odd sense of humor. But I was not happy with ‘Angus’. We loved that our Scottish heritage was evident, and its meaning is “strength”, but I had a bad case of ‘namer’s remorse’. I even looked into what I would have to do to officially change it, but I had no idea what too, so Angus it remained.

On a more recent google search I found that it also means ‘one’, which is fitting as he is my only boy, besides the baby that resulted from my egg donation, but thats their ‘one’, and another post all together. Also appropriate as he was a twin!

As I’d had two previous pregnancies I knew when we were pregnant within the first couple of weeks of gestation. All my pregnancy cues were in full force. I went for bloods, which showed higher results than expected for someone at that gestation. We were sent for an early scan. I think it was about 8 weeks. Sure enough the scan showed two little heart beats. The problem was that one little line was the expected length for 8 weeks and the other 6 weeks. We loved the idea of having twins, but were told of this vanishing twin syndrome and knew it didn’t look promising. While superfetation can coccur in animals, such as rodents, rabbits and horses, it’s not known to occur in humans.

Sure enough by the next scan, 2 weeks later the little line was just a line, without the flickering heart beat. Perhaps the loss of this little spirit is why I didnt feel complete after our third child, and lead me to donate eggs…. which still didnt satisfy my need for another little spirit.

We had our fourth child, Daisy, five years later.

‘Old lady’s name’…… Tick

On the move…. again

 

 

After 10 months in Hamilton we decided it was time to move back to the coast. With a surfer husband it was only a matter of time before we enlisted the help of local real estate LJ Hookers to draw in buyers to invest in our basic do up in Pukete.

After a month on the market we received an offer which enabled us to purchase the tiny 3 bedroom bach we had put a conditional offer on. We were thankful the tedious open home staging was over and we started downsizing our belongings. We were moving from a rather large 6 bedroom home to a 3 bedroom, with an amazing view.

Moving day had us jamming in boxes and bikes. I had booked a 50 cubic metre truck, and two burly men, however the guys turned out to be weaker than my 10 year old, and needed some training in Tetris, as the top third of the truck remained void.

A cat escaped from the car as the rain started. After a quick search all was back in order and we were off.

The excitement of our new abode was  quickly diminished as we found there was no power. I spent an hour trying to sort this while I directed colour coded boxes to either inside or to be stored under the house. The downsizing was going to take a while to get used to. Good in theory.

As boxes were emptied and thrown from the deck, belongings were shoved into cupboards. The kids beds were set up and their toys littered the floor.

We were in, well kind of.

 

 

 

The new purchase/project

So with only a few weeks to purchase our new home, every waking moment was spent googling realestate.co.nz and trademe for potential properties. We knew nothing about the suburbs in Hamilton, or the deciles of schools. Every weekend we would truck the kids down to Hamilton for day trips, driving around the addresses of houses we had printed out. For most of them we took just the one look and kept driving.  After a day of screwing up print outs we would head home deflated.

Then came our 10 year wedding anniversary. My mother shouted us a night out and offered babysitting. We headed off optimistically, to spend our romantic evening in Hamilton, searching for a property.

Thankfully the search soon came to and end, after exhausting all our options, and we put in a crazy offer on a piece of crap in Pukete.

After a short negotiation, the humble abode was ours! It was final, we were moving to Hamilton!

 

 

A lot of wall paper stripping later…

It was a fun couple of years in our 70’s house on the hill. And now it’s time for it to have many more years with another fortunate family.

Our move to Hamilton was such a mess. I thought I had it all worked out. I had packed snacks and filled the tank. Mum had already been and packed a trailer with ‘specials’.

My husband had already moved and had started the new job. He had been staying at a camping ground for the past 2 weeks until we took possession of our new project. The kids all went off the school and kindy while I waited for the truck to arrive. I started to move furniture outside in anticipation of the trucks arrival, but it never turned up! With the threat of an impending rain cloud, I called the delivery service, who informed me of a mix up. The truck had only just left Hamilton, after being delayed at an earlier job!

The car was chocker with fragiles, the cats, the dog and the fish, and I was yet to pick up the kids! I left instructions for the truck, picked up the kids and left lil ol Tairua.

I thought it would all be smooth sailing from here, but alas, it wasn’t. The truck finally arrived in Hamilton, but as the guys had gone over their ‘drive time’ they weren’t able to deliver our belongings until the next day! And for some bad luck, all the motels in Hamilton were booked out, due to shows that weekend. In the trailer my mother had delivered were our sleeping bags, but nothing else we could utilise. We packed the kids into the car and headed to The Warehouse for some pillows and picked up pizza.

Not only was our new home the worst house in a nice street, but we had no choice but to sleep our first night on inflatable mattresses and towels!

And so our new journey begun……

 

 

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 Wet n Wild

 

Tairua is host to the Wet n Wild event that runs over a summer weekend. It is an action packed couple of days with plenty to see and do! Tairua is a perfect location for such events as it has a great surf beach for those ocean flips and sprays, and a harbour which on full tide, hosts the jet ski races. These include circuit races, a  slalom track and a public novice track for anyone keen to give it a go!

-unfortunately Tairua Wet n Wild is not running in 2016

There is even flyboard demonstrations!

The weekend is action packed with a good ol Kiwi water slide, and those brave enough can jump off the bridge scaffolding and onto the giant inflatable blobby! Fun for the spectators! I was continually laughing at the children being flung into the air, and the water sliders water entry attempts ; ) An awesome weekend!

NZ Jetski on Facebook

The Coromandel

NZ Jetski WetnWild

This post includes photos from last years event.

For more information on New Zealand tourist attractions pop in and see the volunteers at

Tairua Information Centre

at 223 Main Rd Tairua, (07) 864 7580

Find them on Facebook too!

https://www.facebook.com/tairuainfocentre

Mill Creek Bird and Animal Encounters

Mill Creek Bird and Animal Encounters, also known as Mill Creek Bird Park, is located 10min South of Whitianga, towards Tairua. There is signage on State Highway 25,  leading you to a dirt road and onto their driveway, lined with mini train tracks ; )

Mill creek bird and animal garden

As you wander the grounds you will find a range of animals for the kids to feed, from donkeys to eels, from to turtles to geese. There is over 400 birds housed in 45 aviaries ranging from tiny finches to huge Macaws.

They have been operating a  Bird & Animal Rescue Centre for the past 3 years, and have DOC authority to hold injured protected wildlife in captivity, so you may get the to opportunity to see New Zealand native birds such as the Ruru (Morepork) or the Kereru (Wood pigeon) up close!

There’s plenty to keep the kids occupied, with mini train rides, a playground and a mini putt. Mum and Dad can relax at the Station Café.

There is even accommodation to suit, whether it’s a campervan park, a self contained unit or B’n’B you need, they can provide it. They will even allow your dog or bird to stay with you at the campground! (prior arrangement)

 

For more information on New Zealand tourist attractions pop in and see the volunteers at

Tairua Information Centre

 223 Main Rd Tairua, (07) 864 7580

Find them on Facebook too!

https://www.facebook.com/tairuainfocentre