North Island

We have been very busy planting. The thing about the Far North is that everything grows – lush and very fast. We hope to start the build of The House in January 2018 but, for now, it’s living in The Shed. So we are trying to make it as comfortable as possible. We are already eating salad from our garden. We just couldn’t get stuff to grow in the South: the frost or the cold would kill things off.

It seems that we are always at nurseries and El Hubs is learning about native plants and bushes. He is the one with the green thumb. Zeph loves to supervise and I run around taking photos LOL

This is one of our vege garden raised beds. In this we have lettuce, spring onions and spinach mainly. Where Zeph is, I planted some lavender but it’s not doing well, so I will replant elsewhere.

Saw this gorgeous trees outside one of the nurseries we visit.


Been a busy month settling in to The Shed. To tell you the truth, we feel like we’ve lived here for years. The Far North of NZ is amazing. It’s the end of Autumn (or Fall) right now and it’s still warm during the day. T-shirt weather warm. Nights and mornings you get the warmer layers on though.

My friend down South tells me that they’ve had a dusting of snow, very strong NW winds and an earthquake. Not missing any of that! The Far North region does not get earthquakes we’re told or, if they do, the last one was decades ago. And speaking of NW winds – last week, the weather report said strong winds were expected. We battened down the hatches as they say; something we used to do down South. Along came the strong winds….a mild breeze. The farmer behind our property said yep, that’s as strong as they get.

Meanwhile, Zeph is very curious about a giant hole El Hubs has been digging. It’s a dog’s job to dig isn’t it?! The giant hole is our greywater system. Greywater is waste water from kitchen sinks, showers, baths, and washing machines. It is not from toilets (toilet waste water is known as sewage or black water).

So you dig a huge hole and fill it in. We’ve filled it with scoria (volcanic rock material) and planted. The plants will use the food particles and other components of grey water that they need for their nutrients and growth (which is why you don’t use toilet water).

El Hubs then built two raised vegetable beds and a floating deck. Everything grows overnight here. We seeded some grass about two weeks ago and already it needs to be trimmed. The floating deck was built for us to have coffee and breakfast on but Zeph and Zsa Zsa have taken it over for sunbathing purposes 😉

Don’t remember digging such a big hole!

Zeph and Zsa Zsa enjoy the sun on the floating deck. Behind them, you can see the two vege boxes and the plants in the grey water system.



Well, Dear Reader! I’ve been offline a bit due to no Internet connection. We moved into The Shed (as I call it) on April 22 (after nearly 3 weeks in the pet-friendly motel) and then spent the next 10 days or so trying to get connected to the outside world.

We had to get the telecom company here in New Zealand to give us a phone connection thingo. This is technical jargon for some wire that they embed in the earth after having dug around a fair bit 🙂 Then, we had to get a long trench dug from this connection to The Shed. After trying to find a contractor to do this, El Hubs gave up and dug it himself, with me laying the phone cable in the trench.

Then….the real circus began. We needed the same telecom company to come back and do its thing. They were supposed to be here April 26 but it was a no show. El Hubs rang on April 27 and they said Yes, Sir we’ll be there today. You guessed it – another no show. We were shopping for food on April 29 and we get a frantic call from the technician to say he’s on the property and where are we?

We rush back and the technician fiddles around and leaves us saying you need VDSL. We go get VDSL and then ask the telecom company to come again because it wasn’t working. The company says you need VDSL. Ah yes, we have that now, we reply: thanks to your technician telling us. Then they say Nope, not our issue; it’s your service provider. So we ring them and they say No, the telecom company will sort this out.

Flummoxed, El Hubs decided to fiddle around and lo and behold, connected us. What a legend. He rings the telecom company back to cancel the request for them to come out again.

So now I can bring you photos of The Shed. We are still tarting it up though. Our 10 solar panels are fired up and give us light, and we are off-the-grid yeah!! We have two water tanks that hold 45,000L each, so we now have water. We use gas for hot water and we bought a huge Weber BBQ, which is amazing – I’m sure it could dance if I asked it to. We boil up our water for coffee on it; produce pizzas and BBQ chook; we’ve even baked a cake in it.

After two weeks of living in The Shed, I can tell you that I prefer the smaller scale of things. Our house down South had two-storeys but, in The Shed, everything is compact. The dogs love the property and their new home.

We are still decorating but I will show you the inside of The Shed soon.

The Shed, nestled in the landscape, with a contractor’s truck outside. You can see the two water tanks to the right of The Shed.

The dogs are far more active here. Zsa Zsa is exhausted from all the running and sniffing. We let her rest in our truck, which is one of her most favoured of places.

Long-distance view of The Shed – I took this photo from the bank of one of the streams.

We have to pave from the bottom of the property up to The Shed. It’s about 400m, so quite a bit to pave. We could have left it but, with the rain you get in the North, the driveway up to The Shed can get very muddy. We have been stuck a couple of times already. This is the first layer of paving and you can see Zeph and Zsa Zsa trying it out!!




Have you noticed the name change for the blog yet? Can’t change the URL but I thought it was time to pick a new name. So the Daily Oxford is now Up North.

In this post, I’ll give you a first look at our (rather large) property. We decided to downsize. We had 30 acres down South and we shifted to….wait for it….47 acres. Yep. We simply fell in love with the property and that was that.

We arrived on April 3 and went immediately to the property and let Zeph and Zsa Zsa run wild and free. This was before going to the pet-friendly accommodation! I promised the dogs that they could sniff and explore their new home as soon as we made it up North.

We will be living temporarily in a shed, which I refer to as The Shed. Next post, I’ll show you what it looks like. It is a serious downsize – from a two-storey home to a shed.

The Shed was not quite ready for our arrival. We started the build around November of last year not knowing when we’d actually sell our house. We have no power or water on the property, so we have to install solar panels, a composting toilet and get a phone line put in. This has taken a bit more time than we had hoped because it was hard to organise things whilst still living in the South Island.

We’ve been at the pet-friendly accommodation for two weeks now and I think one more week to go before we can move into The Shed. But we take the dogs to the property every day so they feel right at home there already. El Hubs is now project managing the build so things are moving faster.

The best part of the property for Zeph and Zsa Zsa I think is two places. The first area I call The Forest. No idea what the trees are but they are massive, tall trees and underneath them is a lovely shady area with mossy rocks and a small stream. The second place is a part of the stream. We actually have two streams that merge into one. Near The Shed is a gorgeous spot – shallow pools of water with green ferns.

When Zeph first saw the water he was a bit scared. He gingerly put one paw into the water and drew it out immediately. Two weeks down the track, he runs through the stream and uses the mossy rocks in the water as a bridge to get to the embankment on the other side. This embankment is a bit steep and Zeph and Zsa Zsa found it tough the first few days. You could see they were worried about their footing. But now they are like a couple of mountain goats.

These photos show you just how happy they are to be on their new property.

Three days in the car with the dogs! We were originally going to send them up to the North Island by pet bus. In the end though, we felt they would be safe and secure with us. I wouldn’t want to do this road trip again though. But I’ve noticed that Zeph is a lot less worried about noises now. Before when a car zoomed by, he would get a fright. No more. And especially after surviving the ferry to the North Island with all its loud noises, he’s pretty well bomb-proof LOL.

We stopped every two or three hours to exercise the dogs. There were a few pet-friendly cafes along the way where Zeph and Zsa Zsa could sit with us.

Because I was an anxious mother, I didn’t take a lot of photos along the road. But here are a few to whet the appetite!

For some reason, Zeph decided to steal Zsa Zsa’s pink blanket to make himself comfortable in the car.

I took this in Picton. We stayed there the first night so we could catch the inter-island ferry early the next morning. I have a strong liking for Picton. My Dad, who was from Wellington, wanted to retire to Picton but never got the chance.

We rarely eat out but when we do!!! This was a yummy hamburger with waffle-cut chips. At a cafe on the Picton waterfront.

Getting a glimpse of the Kapiti Coast, just outside of Wellington. This was the area we were very keen on but there is a major fault line around here. My Dad always said that when Wellington goes, it will be pretty bad. We also felt the Coast is a little crowded.

This was a great pet-friendly cafe. I didn’t get the name of it, sorry. I think it was somewhere between Matamata and Lake Taupo. Zeph and Zsa Zsa loved it and the girls serving us coffee loved the dogs and spent time patting them.










What a schlepp dear reader! It took us three days’ road travel to get to our new home in the Far North of NZ. My biggest fear was the dogs – I was worried that they would not travel well. But they did just fine and were such good dogs.

The worst part was the ferry ride across the Cook Strait. You can book a dog kennel but the kennels are right next to the door where they load and offload vehicles. You can imagine how much noise there was and how scared Zeph and Zsa Zsa were. No-one is allowed in the cargo hold area, so we could not check on them for 3.5 hours. All sorts of things went through my mind!

Staff on the ferry though were great. They allowed us to go immediately down to the kennels, after the ferry turned and headed towards the Wellington dock. They were both sitting in their kennel and barked and jumped up when they saw us. We gave them their pet beds and blankets to sit on and I think that helped them feel a bit safer.

We had three nights’ accommodation and had to find pet-friendly places along the way. Let me give a shout out to Spirits Creek Cottage in Picton. We stayed there on the first night. Lovely cottage and a very understanding owner with her own dogs and miniature horses. She allowed us to shut the gate so Zeph and Zsa Zsa could roam around the yard.

Our next night was in Lake Taupo. I will not name the accommodation as I’d be up for defamation. Horrid 1960’s era motel that has seen better days and an owner who carried on about no pet hair to be left behind. We did not feel welcome and we hardly slept. So we did an hasta la vista outta there and left at 5.45am.

Our third and subsequent nights were at Kerigold Chalets. Great accommodation! Zeph and Zsa Zsa had a welcoming bowl of water and the owner put up a childproof gate so Zeph could sit on the balcony and watch the world go by. The chalets are located in gorgeous sub-tropical gardens.

In my next update, I’ll show you our temporary accommodation. We bought bare land. No power; no water. Well, we have a beautiful stream that runs through the property. We will be living in a shed on our property whilst we build the Dream Home. But…we have to get solar power and water tanks for the shed.

I must say people up in the North Island are a lot friendlier than down South. The weather is also warmer. So far, I’m not complaining!

Here’s a photo of Zeph on Day 1 of our road trip to the North Island. We decked out the back of the car with lots of cushions and blankets to make them both comfortable.