Philippines Eleven Days Dive Holiday Report by Margaret Howard

All I can say is how lucky are we. I had an email from some friends we have met through travel in the past with this wonderful invitation to join them for an eleven day Philippines Dive Famil. Ray and Penny from Pack Ya Bags Travel were getting a group together to experience the diving in the Philippines. We were being sponsored by the Philippine Airlines, On ground Suppliers, Philippine ‘Tourism Board’ and Pack Ya Bags Travel.

With very short notice Ray was trying to fill the trip, he had had little response from Travel Agents who he had invited. I phoned around to as many as possible and put the word out about the trip. In the end Chris Nipper and partner Monique Mearns, Roy Vale and a friend Charlene James from California, joined the group. Also Summer Abrahamson from the Flight Centre in Thames also joined us. Charlene did a refresher course and Summer and Monique did a full PADI course and they were both fully qualified in the end to join us on the last diving days we did, including their first open sea dive, which was diving with the whale shark.

The flight to Manila was through Cairns with Philippine Airlines. We had a short stop over in Cairns and another stop over in Manila before we flew to Tagbilaran on the Island of Bohol. There was a very interesting trip through the towns to the port where we had a boat trip to Cabilao. The Island of Bohol is under repair with major works being carried out on their roads, most being replaced with thick cement. All of our transport was very upmarket and the boats with the bamboo outriggers comfortable and dry.

Transport for our luggage to Cabilao

Our group arriving in Cabilao

The Pura Vida Cabilao Resort was a magic place, our accommodation was wonderful. Some of us on the beach front, one garden villa and Peter and I were very privileged to have a beautiful suite room on the cliff top with a magic view.

We were offered a dive when we first arrived and Ray Aucott, Chris Nipper and I did this, the others rested after our marathon 24 hours travel. We checkout the dive shop and geared up, good quality gear provided and headed out to Light House 2 with Santi as our dive master guide. She was wonderful pointing out so many things. First time I have seen frog fish, these were bright yellow and so hard to find on bright yellow coral growth. Many colours of lion fish, huge sponges, lots of soft corals and a very deep drop off. The diving was easy, lots of help from the crew on board. Santi even took a magnifying glass down with her to point out the tiny pygmy sea horses. The second dive turned into a night dive this one Peter and Roy Vale joined me. Roy’s first dive in 10 years; good on him at 81, getting back into the water. Water temp on all of our dives was between 28-30C; sometimes the water was warmer than the air temp. I had a total of 17 dives over the seven dive days we had. That was almost 16 hours in the water, bit water logged in the end. The next day we had three dives, we could do as many dives as we wanted, they were very accommodating. We had an electric clam pointed out and swam through a cave complex in beautiful clear brilliant blue water. Everywhere covered in hard corals and some very pretty and colourful soft corals, and millions of brilliant coloured small fish and often seeing unusual shapes and colours of nudibranchs.

A great sense of humour around the Dive Shop

 

Rather cute but ugly frog fish walking on the bottom

Charlene had finished her refresher course and was able to join us on the 3rd dive today, and this dive was called gorgonian wall, and what a wall and huge drop off it was. Most dives we saw turtles and sea snakes, the turtles were friendly and on one of my dives I scratched the algae off the back of the turtle and he just responded by rubbing his shell against me. What an incredible encounter that was.

After three nights at Cabilao we packed our gear and left early by a very classy outrigger boat to travel to Balikasad Island and a turtle haven. This area attracted many divers from all over, a beautiful island with white sandy beaches, and a very popular place. There are huge black coral outcrops at 40m around this island. We never dived to this depth to see it as the guides do many dives a day and don’t take the risk of going too deep. Most dives were around 20-28m, with 50 -75 minutes in the water. We were rewarded with seeing around 20 turtles on each dive, garden eels, coral coated huge bommies, and red and black fluro nudibranchs. The last dive being a very easy slow drift dive, all boats raft up and use buoys instead anchor, when we pop up they are there to meet us.

The tiny pygmy sea horse – totally camouflaged

Our first hosted dinner in the Pura Vida Restaurant

We left Balikasad Island in brilliant weather and travelled by sea, the three hour trip to Negros Island and a place called Dauin just south of Dumaguete. This is another Pura Vida Resort, a stunning place with beautiful gardens. A variety of accommodation and Peter and I had a traditional bamboo villa with a thatched roof in the well laid out and cared for gardens. Very comfy with tea, coffee, fridge en-suite etc. We were hosted to dinner by the Owner Chris under the stars on the beach. We watched the huge red super moon rise out of the sea, 14% larger and 30% brighter than normal and not to be as close again to Earth until 2034. What a place to be able to experience this once in a life time occasion.

Arriving at Dauin Pura Vida Resort on Negros Island

 

Our bamboo villa at Pura Vida Dauin Resort

 

Monique & Summer with Airen their PADI Instructor

Monique and Summer continued with the PADI theory at every spare moment and Airen their Instructor travelled with us so the girls could finish their course.

 

 

 

Getting very used to this life style, I like it, weather around 30⁰C each day, being pampered – everyone had one or more massages and the diving is amazing. The next day the 5th of our travels we headed out to Apo Island, around ½ hour boat trip from Dauin, the sea conditions calm. On the first dive we saw the whale shark, and the first time one had been spotted off this island. Consequently no one believed we had seen it, they thought the whole eight of us were pulling their leg. Chris Nipper got the encounter on video, and what an encounter. I swam along side of the huge animal for around five minutes as it was cruising very slowly. We had three dives this day but nothing compared to that first encounter with the whale shark.

Like a big red ball of fire, amazing sight over the water

Beautiful setting at the Pura Vida Dauin Resort

No extra for the hair do that Airen is giving Summer

Ray & Summer, a hosted meal under the stars

The guides make all the up to date signals and have plenty of their own, I will have to brush up on these as at times they are hard to understand, maybe they are in Filipino..!! There are plenty of dive sites around Apo Island with hundreds of species of fish and a huge variety of marine life. One dive in particular was full of bubbles rising out of the sand, bubbles for as far as you could see in all directions. Very much like bubbles around White Island in New Zealand. It is a volcanic island covering 74 hectares in land area, 7 kms off the south eastern tip of Negros Island and 30 kms south of the Negros Oriental capital of Dumaguete. The village has around 1000 residents. Tourism is their main income and most sell souvenirs, T-shirts etc. It would be a great place for a very quiet holiday with very friendly, happy residents and amazing snorkelling at your front door. The name ‘Apo’ was derived from a Filipino word for ‘grandchild’.

We had an excellent lunch at this beautiful small Coco Grove Resort, only has around 8 guests at a time.

The following day we had three dives around Negros Island and not far from our Resort. Each dive is different with special high lights, this day we saw a variety of frog fish, a small orange one, one brown and white another all black. They don’t move when you get up close and eye ball them. There was also a very large coral snake and this one was blue and black striped, going about its business and not worried about us. A small dinghy wreck housed a number of lion fish one large black and white and one brilliant red. There was also a beautiful coloured flying gurnard with its wings spread out over the sand. We also found an abandoned fish trap that had many exotic fish trapped inside including an unusual bright yellow eel; we broke it apart to let the fish out. That is one complaint about the Philippines there is a lot of flotsam and jetsam in the water, a real shame for such a beautiful group of Islands. With a population on close on 103 million the people need to start to clean up and take care of their magic place in this World.

A very good oil painting of a lion fish at our resort

Dandan our guide and a deck hand eating sea urchins

We sampled the sea urchins, much smaller and more colourful than our kina, but similar inside and flavour, very salty and strong, not to my liking.

Getting very used to the turtles in the water on each dive, some very large, most have their own remoras attached and are tagged, they live in the sanctuaries and are protected, and very used to divers.

After three nights at the Pura Vida Dauin Resort we said goodbye to the wonderful friendly group of people and headed to the Damaguete wharf to catch Mike’s private ferry to Siquijor Island, known as the ‘Enchanted Island’. We waited for Penny to arrive via Manila as she was joining us for the rest of the trip. Mike Butler is the owner of the Coco Grove Resorts and the Coco Grande in Dumuagete. He has lived in the Philippines for 40+ odd years, formally from Australia. He has set up an amazing place, the staff love him and the gardens along the 1km beach front resort are just stunning. What great hosts Mike and his wife were, we all had the executive suites on the beach front, with our meals set up on the sand with entertainment and live music to listen to and watch the show.

Mike Butler’s private ferry, our transport to Siquijor Is.

Mike’s jeepney our land transport to the Resort.

From Coco Grove we headed out on another of Mike’s boats ‘Coco Adventure’ well set up for diving, to the town of Oslob on Cebu Island. This was the first dive for Summer and Monique after finishing their course. The Filipino guys feed the whale shark at Oslob and they draw tourists by the thousands from all over the World to dive and snorkel with them. The whale shark  is a slow-moving filter feeding shark and the largest known of all fish species, weighing up to 19,000kg and around 12m in length, although the ones we saw on this occasion were a little smaller. We had five around us and had to be very careful as they were so intent on getting a feed that they missed seeing us in the water. Not a natural encounter but one way to bring income to the Island and people, and one way for many to see this magnificent fish that you would otherwise not see. We had the most sumptuous lunch laid on for us; with a whole ham, every salad imaginable, chocolate log for desert, drinks etc. the girls on the boat did a wonderful job, just so much food.

Our second dive was not far off Cebu Island, a small island called Sumilon Island. It was very beautiful to just snorkel this area, which I did for an hour before we geared up. Then we drifted along a shear drop off with millions of brilliant coloured fish, sea turtles, snakes – the works..!!

The next day we headed back to Apo Island and had our last two dives, no whale shark this time but a gentle drift dive along the coral faced wall, and loving the last of our dives in the Philippines.

After so much diving we had some time off and toured around Siquijor Island, visiting the Cambugahay Waterfalls, the fish cleaning farm, old churches and a few other touristy spots.

We all took part in feeding the fish

Part of the Cambugahay Waterfalls 130 steps down

We were ferried back to Dumagete on Negros Island and stayed at the Coco Grande Hotel for our last night. We had time to look around Dumagete, there was a carnival taking place with utter chaos with the traffic. We visited some of the old churches and shops, a great coffee shop, a flash mall, a tropical rain forest with an interesting Forest Camp with waterfalls and water park. Then onto a stone carving place, the likes that I have never seen before, such amazing talent. All done with tiny pieces of natural coloured stone, set in and then resined over, you could buy all kinds of things from key rings to wardrobes.

We had another flight back to Manila and our last dinner together as a group at the ‘La Fiesta’ in busy Manila.

This is a lazy susan and some of their amazing stone art

Thanks to Ray and Penny from Pack ya Bags – for organising this wonderful trip and inviting us to share it with them

Posted in Recent Dive Trips | Leave a comment

Browns Bay Reef and Waiake Beach Cleanup – 19th September 2015

Three boats ferried the five divers out to the Browns Bay Reef while the other group walked around the beach and reserve to pick up any rubbish they could find. The result was good and not a lot of rubbish was collected.

Margaret Howard, John Freeman, Ren Waring and Charlie Hazeldene coming in from dive

Margaret Howard, John Freeman, Ren Waring and Charlie Hazeldene coming in from dive

The Browns Bay Reef is in excellent condition with plenty of fish life, a few small crayfish, big sponges, only the occasional kina, healthy looking kelp and a variety of small fish and star fish. This years cleanup netted very little bootie which is a great result to think there is a lot less rubbish washing around the reef at the moment.

 

Some of the Dolphin Underwater Club Members that helped with the Beach and Reef cleanup

Some of the Dolphin Underwater Club Members that helped with the Beach and Reef cleanup

The divers collected a couple of anchors and chains, also a large net and rope with buoys attached. Other than that the area we were diving had very little fishing line or other debris.

The group walking around the beach found the usual cigarette butts and bits and pieces of rubbish, but once again considerably clean. It has been Keep New Zealand Beautiful Week with a big cleanup around different areas which is great to see. If only people would take more pride of our beautiful Country and surrounding Seas.

 

Richard Humphries with the net, buoys and rope found on Browns Bay Reef

Richard Humphries with the net, buoys and rope found on Browns Bay Reef

The Club raised $200 to donate to ‘Project Aware’ Dive Against Debris, NZUA got behind it this year and were hoping to raise $10K throughout New Zealand Dive Clubs and Shops. The last time I checked the NZUA website they were up to $1,128 a long way to go to their $10K target.

 

 

A Club BBQ at Ren and Chris Waring's place

A Club BBQ at Ren and Chris Waring’s place

Ren and Chris Waring very kindly offered their home for a Club BBQ.

Thank you to the divers Martin Saggers, Brian Stafford-Bush, Margaret Howard, Charlie Hazelden and Yuin Foong. Also thank you to those who bought their boat Bruce Nixon, Richard Humphries and Charlie Hazelden.

The boatmen and beach helpers were John Freeman, Tarryn Young, Jill Hazelden, Ren Waring, Peter Howard, Kiri Humphries, Denis and Trish Adams. The weather was kind and we had a very successful day.

Tarryn Young taking photo of her Mum Margaret Howard

Tarryn Young taking photo of her Mum Margaret Howard

Margaret Howard Report

Posted in Recent Activities, Recent Trips, Social | Tagged | Leave a comment

Puhoi Kayak Trip

On Sunday 23rd August we had a kayaking day up the Puhoi River teaching first timers how to kayak and also how to steer a dinghy with a small outboard motor and how to row a dinghy.

 

The weather was kind and those partaking had a fabulous day.  We took a few hours getting there and the boys were sure tired and ready for their lunch at the Puhoi Pub.  As usual the Pub was very busy with the biking and old car enthusiasts.  What an amazing meeting place for such a wide range of people.  Quaint little old Puhoi sure comes alive with so many visitors.

 

Sarita Lewis in a kayak for the first time

Sarita Lewis in a kayak for the first time

Geoff Hammond, Peter, Tarun, Sarita, Craig and Bhevan Lewis in the kayak

Geoff Hammond, Peter, Tarun, Sarita, Craig and Bhevan Lewis in the kayak

Sarita Lewis having a go at rowing

Sarita Lewis having a go at rowing

Geoff giving Craig and Bhevan a few instructions

Geoff giving Craig and Bhevan a few instructions

Sarita Lewis in a kayak for the first time

Sarita Lewis in a kayak for the first time

Craig and Sarita Lewis with their boys Tarun and Bhevan are leaving NZ and the Club and returning to the UK to live, we are going to miss them.

Posted in Recent Activities, Social | Leave a comment

YOUNG OCEAN EXPLORERS STEVE AND RILEY HATHAWAY

Steve and Riley Hathaway have just completed their first book and DVD ‘Love our Ocean’ which is being distributed to 2540 schools throughout New Zealand and the Cook Islands. The idea is to teach from a very young age to love and respect the ocean. This was a project they made happen with vision, passion and tenacity. Such an amazing gift to all of our kids. I’m inspired! The book and DVD are a wonderful achievement and the culmination of a year’s work.

A great gift idea to encourage young and old to ‘LOVE OUR OCEAN’.

The books and DVD’s are already in Whitcoulls and the Warehouse and also available from Steve and Jo, if you email Steve he will make sure you get a copy stevehathaway@xtra.co.nz

Riley and Steve on the cover of the book

Riley and Steve on the cover of the book

A great deal of the funding was provided from The Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation and from the Kickstarter Fund. Steve and Jo Hathaway thank everyone for their incredible support in helping them produce the books and DVD’s

Thanks to the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation

Thanks to the Bobby Stafford-Bush Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the helpers after a busy day packing books and DVD's

Some of the helpers after a busy day packing books and DVD’s

Some Dolphin Underwater Club Members helped with the packaging of these books, it was a great fun day and with many helping the task was not so daunting.

Margaret Howard and Anne Waddington busy packing

Margaret Howard and Anne Waddington busy packing

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lake Wainamu, Bethells Beach Tramp Saturday 11th July 2015

The tramping group is getting bigger, a beautiful day and fifteen Club Members joined in. This was such a diverse tramp with the amazing black sand dunes, a short climb over the hill to view the beautiful sheltered Lake Wainamu and then on into the native bush.

Some of the group at the start of the track

Some of the group at the start of the track


DSC_4016
We all took plastic bags and cardboard to do the slides on the dunes. After viewing the mess everyone else was getting into, none of our group took the plunge. Some were losing control and not stopping and ending up in the river wet through, covered in sand and looking pretty cold and miserable.

Kate's river crossing

Kate’s river crossing

 

The length of the walk around the lake was 6km and we took our time with a leisurely morning tea and then another hour on a lunch stop near the waterfalls at the head of the Lake. Kate passed around her amazing muffins and other soup and fodder was also shared. We circumnavigated Lake Wainamu and returned back to the car park around the river and neighbouring farm land and holiday batches. The car park was full by this time as people were turning up because of the beautiful weather to play in the dunes and surf at Bethells Beach.

Some of the fun others were having before they ended up in the river

Some of the fun others were having before they ended up in the river

 

Diana Williamson crossing the black sand hills

Diana Williamson crossing the black sand hills

 

We all take it in turns to share transport to these various places, meeting at Kate and Martin’s in Milford then returning there for drinks and nibbles after.

Tarryn and Dad Peter, cold but a beautiful day

Tarryn and Dad Peter, cold but a beautiful day


P1050899

Waterfall at the head of the lake

Waterfall at the head of the lake





Peter and Tarryn, the best river crossing yet

Peter and Tarryn, the best river crossing yet

 

A cold start with these frosty mornings at the moment, but it turned out to be a beautiful clear day with lots of exercise and a lot of fun, with some Members bringing friends along. Everyone is welcome, are you booked into the August tramp on the 15th, this time to Fairy Falls.


Cheers Margaret Howard

Posted in Recent Activities, Recent Tramps | Leave a comment

Mid-Winter Swim Sunday 12th July 2015 – Waiake Beach

A group of hardy Dolphin Club Divers joined in this years’ mid winter swim. Funny but the group watching these hardy fellows was bigger than the participants.

The swimmers or should I say quick dippers were Martin Saggers, Charlie Hazelden, Peter Howard and Diana and John Williamson. Martin wore the most obscene togs, good job there were no police around; he would have been booked for indecent exposure.

IMG_2536 Martin and his revolting togsIMG_2533 John and Diana Williamson

Woolly hats instead of bathing caps, what a bunch of wimps..!!

IMG_2533A John and Diana Williamson, Charlie Hazelden, Peter Howard and Martin Saggers

IMG_2541 Too cold to stick aroundIMG_2542 Martin, Diana, Charlie and John

The usual Peter Howard hip flask was passed around, very coveted by swimmers only.

With the promise of hot soup and mulled wine the hardies jumped in, got the photo for proof and then off to John and Diana’s place for BBQ and far too much food.

The weather certainly turned it on for the afternoon, beautiful clear skies and calm sees after a -2 morning frost, with ice on all of the cars and roofs of nearby houses.

A great afternoon of fun and camaraderie.

Cheers Margaret Howard

Posted in Recent Activities | Leave a comment

Waitakere Tramp to the Dam, Old Railway and Tunnel

Kate once again organised a wonderful tramp for the Dolphin Adventurers. We met in Milford to share transport and headed to the Cascade Carpark at the end of Falls Road. There were new Members Jill and Charlie Hazelden and Audrey McLean-Au, along with Peter and Margaret Howard, Ren Waring and Kate Ellis.

Kate, Audrey, Jill and PeterKate, Jill and Ren crossing the Waitakere DamIt turned out a wonderful day, no rain, sunshine, bit muddy underfoot and a river crossing, but an easy going 3½ hour return 7km loop circuit.
IMG_2499 Jill, Margaret, Audrey, Charlie, Ren and PeterWe started at the Falls Road car park and the circuit tramp we did included parts of several tracks. The Auckland City Walk, Anderson Track, across the Waitakere Reservoir, and along the Waitakere Tramline Track and into the West Tunnel mouth Track and returning to the carpark along Fence Line Track and Auckland City Walk Track.IMG_2497 The old service railway trackIMG_2500 The Wettas in the old tunnel

A lovely nature and a history circuit with mature kauri, lots of steps and board walks with bird song and the occasional friendly native Wood Pigeon.

IMG_2503 Ren, Audrey and Pete waiting to give a handIMG_2505 Large friendly wood pigeonWe also viewed the Waitakere Falls from a distance, the highest waterfall in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park but not a very popular one due to difficulty with the access to it.

IMG_2498 The Waitakere Falls largest falls in the region

Back at Kate’s for a beer and nibbles, a great day if you want to join in the next tramp, let Kate or Martin know.

Posted in Recent Activities, Recent Tramps | Leave a comment

ANZAC Weekend Trip 2015

Gary, Jay, Chris2 and Yuin headed out on Sunday 26th April on board Oceandiversity with Blair Jones.  The plan was loose and weather dependent between the Mokohinau Islands and Great Barrier Island.  A forecast N/NE meant Great Barrier Island was our only option.  After a bit of messing around with a postponed trip and a miscommunication about exactly which day we were going out, we locked in the date.  Disaster struck before we even boarded the boat with Jay not bringing tanks, lessons learned for both Jay and Yuin!  Fortunately Yuin had a 4th tank so Jay was to get at least one dive.  Chris N has only brought 2 tanks so was able to lend his belt to Jay for the 3rd dive.

image010image011

The ride out to the Broken Islands was pretty rough and we were all shattered by the time we got there.  Great Barrier Island and the islands provided some nice sheltered options for us.  We anchored off the West side in 18m of water between two pins.  Plunging into the still warm 20ish degrees, the terrain was great with lots of sheer faces to explore looking up and down cracks for feelers.  Only Chris M was successful on this dive with one Crayfish.  Schools of small Kingfish and other pelagics hung off the rocks tempting us out into the deep just that little bit more.  Our 2nd dive was on an Isolated Hazard marker which has claimed more than its fair share of small craft.  We didn’t manage to find our way to the debris as we got distracted by the tempting crayfish.  The whole reef had lots of holes and sea life to explore and hunt in.  Recent rain meant that there was a layer of silt over everything but that didn’t stop us.  Chris M regaled us with first hand accounts of days gone by, it’s always great to hear these tales!  Our final dive was on a wall in some moderate current, working our way back and forth there were some nice sized Schnapper lurking about.  Chris M managed to land a whopper of a Crayfish as well.  On ascent we were treated to a BBQ of home kill sausages provided by Garry, freshly shucked oysters, mushroom and onions before cleansing out palates with Chilli Lime Chocolate! Just delicious.

image009

The trip back to Omaha was a little smoother with the weather following us.  En route we had a chance encounter with three Orca, two mature females and a Juvenile.

image012

All in all another awesome weekend on Oceandiversity with some more divers getting involved which is excellent to see.  And hopefully one new club member in Chris N!  The water is still warm out there so hopefully you’ll all still be looking for some diving in the coming weeks.

 

 

Posted in Recent Dive Trips | Leave a comment

Goat Island Dive and Dinner at the Sawmill in Leigh Saturday 1st June 2013

Sunny day at Goat Island diving

Sunny day at Goat Island diving

Denis is always scratching for an article for the news letter; trouble is though with the Club’s Goat Island Dive and dinner at the Sawmill, there is not much to rave about. The weather was being very kind on the day, although quite cold and seas calm, viz not too bad and a great turnout from the Members. It was good to see several new Club Members joining in on the day.

IMG_1491A - The Sawmill Cafe - Leigh

The group at the Sawmill in Leigh

The group at the Sawmill in Leigh

 

Jenny-Garry-Cozens-playing-up-as-usual

Jenny-Garry-Cozens-playing-up-as-usual

 

Saw a number of crayfish, nothing really big

Saw a number of crayfish, nothing really big

After 45 minutes in the water even with a dry suit on I was starting to feel the cold, and those diving in a wet suit came back freezing. Some divers went out past the point and were lucky enough to see a couple of stingrays. I dived with Emma and we saw a number of crayfish, nothing of notable size though. We had some very friendly and large snapper following us around the whole dive, possibly looking for a feed. I would say they are getting fed by divers or else they wouldn’t be so friendly or interested in us.

Snapper follow you everywhere at Goat Island

Snapper follow you everywhere at Goat Island

The glass bottom boat was very close to us a number of times, and being so shallow makes you wonder about your safety. Perhaps we should be towing a diver down flag to indicate our exact position.

Back to shore and getting fins off and undoing BCD etc is not easy with frozen fingers, glad Peter was there to give me a hand.

The divers all changed and packed their gear in their vehicles and the general consensus was no body wanted to stick around for a BBQ. The night air was cool and the thought of a warm room, hot pizza and beer at the Sawmill won the vote. We booked a table for fifteen and when there was around eighteen of us the waitress wasn’t impressed as she was busy and we had to move tables around.

Most of us enjoyed their gourmet wood fired pizza and hot chips or kumara chips with the Sawmill’s own brewed beer.

I am sure the night would have continued but we were told our table was booked for the late show with the Turnaround Band playing, and our group were thinking of the drive home.

Peter and I were in our Campervan and had a wonderful night at Matheson Bay, waking up to a million dollar view. We also called to see Paddy and Brian Stafford-Bush at their Matheson Bay batch.

Jenny and Tony Enderby, Dolphin Underwater Club Members live at Leigh and joined us at the beach and later at the Sawmill. Tony and Jenny take school children and interested groups snorkelling at Goat Island. They are also honorary marine reserve rangers for the Department of Conservation making sure visitors respect the Marine Reserve. Tony is also involved with the Leigh Volunteer Fire Brigade.

It was an enjoyable day and evening, and hopefully soon to be repeated. Margaret Howard

 

Posted in Recent Dive Trips, Social | Leave a comment

Another Snippet from the Howard’s – Our Campervan trip to the Coromandel Peninsular

Te Puru looking over the Firth of thames

Te Puru looking over the Firth of thames

I suppose writing this is having a bit of a brag, but we really enjoyed our trip to the Coromandel and Denis is trying to organise a Club trip down there at a later date. Although we never went to Whangapoua the area he has in mind where there is a section he can use with power and caravan on site and extra space for boats, tents and campervans.
Through the NZ Motor Caravan Assn we are able to buy a Department of Conservation pass and at certain times of the year the camping is free for Members at DoC camps other than that it is $10 a night per adult.
We headed off on the Monday and had a night at Kaiaua a place called Ray’s Rest on the East Coast Road just along from Miranda. What a stunning place, suitable for self contained vehicles only as there are no facilities. Parked a metre from the waters edge this is an internationally important wetland and a ‘stop over’ for many of Miranda’s migratory birds. There is a huge stretch of shelly beach that takes hours to walk, and there are birds everywhere.

Te Puru looking back towards the Hunua Ranges

Te Puru looking back towards the Hunua Ranges

We left and bought a few supplies in Thames and headed to Te Puru for lunch. With our size camper just under 6.5 m we can pull in most places and nearly every stop is right on the water edge with million dollar views.
The roads to Coromandel Township are good, narrow and windy in places but still on bitumen, we were heading to Fantail Bay Recreational Reserve and a DoC Camp. From Colville along the Port Jackson Road it is gravel and very narrow in places with a sheer drop into the ocean. Not many people take their campers over those rough dangerous roads. I was driving and more than once had Peter on the edge of his seat.
Fantail Bay has a launching ramp and plenty of fishing spots off the shoreline clear viz and diving from the shore would be achievable. The camp itself has around 30 sites and at busy times you have to book. It has basic facilities with cold showers, water and toilets. There is a two hour tramp in the native bush behind the camp with spectacular views all the way up.

Migratory birds everywhere

Migratory birds everywhere

Port Jackson is only 8kms further on, some very interesting roads but so worth the effort. We were lucky with some amazing days, the view to Little Barrier and Great Barrier was so clear with the sun shining off the water, very pretty. We stayed two nights over the hill from Port Jackson at Fletcher Bay and did the walks from that bay. Plenty of fishing off the beach and only Tim and Miriam the DoC Ranger and his wife for company, place to ourselves – who could ask for more. There is a bunkhouse at Fletcher sleeps 24 people, very flash $25pp a night.

Ray's Rest on way to Coromandel

Ray’s Rest on way to Coromandel

We headed back to Colville to fill our gas bottle and then up the East Coast along the Port Jackson Road to Stony Bay. Not even a Ranger here, same facilities as the other camps with a smaller bunk house. Nothing like the World to ourselves a starry night and sitting around a camp fire, Stony Bay is remote but so worth a visit. We did a four hour walk back towards Fletcher Bay but didn’t go all the way as it was a seven hour return.
We headed back to Waikawa Bay for the next night, very mod Ranger facilities here now.
We have been in this area before around 30 years ago camping at Waikawa Bay with the kids and Cathy and Keith MacKinven and their family. I remember getting a cray on snorkel close to shore back then, there seems to be plenty of diving and fishing in the area still, but things have changed. The original camp and facilities was washed away with a huge mud slide that caused flooding.
After Waikawa Bay we headed to the Kauaeranga Valley for a couple of nights, to do some walks around that area. We had been very lucky with the weather with a bit of rain, mostly at night and some of the days were really warm.  The camper is comfy and warm, we did have a major drop in temperature as there had been huge snow storms down south, but the camper has a small gas heater which brings the temp up to 20⁰.  We put it on first thing in the morning before getting out of bed.
On the way home one last visit, we went to the Miranda hot pools, it was really nice and once again not many people around.
Our next adventure, we are off to Rarotonga to celebrate Peter’s 70th birthday. We are heading out to Aitutaki a diver’s paradise and will spend most of our time there.  It is getting so cold here now the warm will help to oil the squeaks and keep the old bones working.

Posted in Recent Activities | Leave a comment