North Island

When I first came to New Zealand I was told nope, no spiders here. Let me tell you there are indeed spiders in NZ, including the Australian redback which has apparently hitched a ride on cars brought over from Oz. I know the redback is in the Otago region, not so sure about the North Island.

Then there is the white-tailed spider and the katipō. This latter spider I hope to never meet up with as its bite is extremely dangerous. I can take comfort in the knowledge that the katipō is endangered and no deaths from its bite have been reported since 1901. However……

what friggin’ huge spider spun this web???

It has appeared in the last week, just outside the door to The Shed and near my lavender bushes. I took the photo above in the early morning and it is not doctored. I shot it in black and white.

I am keeping an eye on this web!!


Been running around the property taking photos of trees and leaves – inspiration for a poetry contest I’m entering. I must say the quality of light in the North Island is really different from the South. It seems more subdued and it’s almost like there’s a silver haze in the air. Might need to go to SpecSavers!

In case you don’t know what this means – and I have run into a few people who don’t – it refers to the optical retail chain, Specsavers, and their very popular tagline, Should’ve gone to Specsavers. Meaning, I might need glasses.


I’ve never been one to sleep in. I’m usually up around 6.00-6.30am. When I was working a full-time job, it was up at 5.30am. So I’m usually in prime position to capture the early morning sunrise. You’re welcome.


In my last post, I mentioned that the 20-something year old girl I used to work with was coming up from the South Island to visit me. It’s a funny thing. I seem to get on better with 20-something year olds than people my own age (aka ancient). I am currently mentoring a 23 year-old writer in Nigeria (no, not some scam artist) and we are talking about doing a poetry chapbook together.

I guess I enjoy the different outlook on life that the millennials bring to the world. They don’t seem to be as caught up with power and profit.

So this week, I hosted the visit of the young girl and her boyfriend (an extremely polite 24-year old) and her sister, who’s about to turn 27 years and was my hairdresser down South. I’m not naming names as they are surprisingly private for millennials and don’t go about sharing what they ate for breakfast 🙂

We had a great day. We didn’t get to the local chocolate boutique but I took them to Te Waimate North mission. It was established in 1830 by members of the Church Missionary Society and at the instigation of Samuel Marsden. The mission was basically a village with a baker, blacksmith, flour mill, printery, and church. It was a model village intended to educate the local Māori. I wasn’t sure they’d enjoy visiting but they loved the quaint church and its picturesque setting.

Then it was back to The Shed and we all talked until about 11.00pm, when I told them they must go to their accommodation and sleep. If we’d had the space, they would have stayed with us but The Shed is too small. They loved the Far North and have promised to visit again in the future. I hope so!

The young girl I worked with is in the middle.

Te Waimate North church.


Really loving life in the Far North. We’re now well into Spring and the weather is t-shirt warm. Nights can be a little crisp but nothing compared to the South Island.

And have I mentioned before how things just grow overnight?! We now have grapefruit from our grapefruit tree and our pear trees have busted out their leaves.

The other thing I love about living here is the cafes. SO many to choose from. About once a month, I like to have poached eggs on toast – that is when I can drag myself away from our property. There is such an amazing amount of vegetation that I can literally spend all day walking in the forest at the back of the property; staring up at hawks flying overhead; walking in the English Garden part of our property (that’s what I call it); or walking up the hill that is to the side of the forest.

I really feel Zeph and Zsa Zsa prefer this property to the one we had down south. There’s two streams for them to explore and splash in; the forest to find rabbits; the hill to run up and down. It’s also sunnier up here and Zeph has a new routine. After breakfast, he likes to sit on his favourite chair and soak up the Vitamin D. Zsa Zsa prefers to luxuriate in soft blankets inside (she loves her blankets) but will often lie on her pet bed in the sun. The dogs spend more time outdoors here than down south because it’s not as cold and we don’t get those nasty NW gales.

Really loving it.

Grapefruit tree.

Pear tree.

Zeph in the sun on his favourite chair.

Nothing better than poached eggs on toast.

In the South Island we would often get spectacular sunsets. I’d catch a glimpse of bright oranges and yellows through the trees and (being Australian) immediately think BUSHFIRE. Then I’d calm down and enjoy the show the sky was putting on for me.

I find the light in the Far North less harsh than down south. The blue of the sky is more muted and the surrounding light seems soft and hazy. Might need to go to Specsavers 🙂

We also get rather beautiful sunsets and I captured this one on my trusty iPhone the other night. Look at the gorgeous apricot, lemon yellow and mauve slices in the sky.


We’ve been in the Far North now for six months. Can’t believe how fast that time has gone by. Last time I checked in with you, I think it was four months. I will do a post soon on how we are getting by off-the-grid and I’ll take photos of how we’ve landscaped. One very large totora tree has a family of five Tui. I talk to them every day and they look down and chortle and warble at me. They are beautiful birds. I really didn’t experience them in the South Island.

What is amazing here is the lushness of vegetation. You plant something and it grows overnight. We’ve travelled a bit around the area – about an hour’s drive each time – and the scenery is so varied. Not to mention the stunning bays and beaches. What I really love about the Far North are the giant ferns and glorious trees.

In the town near to where we live, there is a stunning pink tree. I have no idea what it might be, so over to any experts out there. I snapped a shot with my iPhone and the woman you see in the photo went back to the tree and took a ton of photos. It’s quite the tourist attraction actually. I recently saw a horde of tourists mingling around the tree, taking selfies and group shots.

Just around the corner from this tree is a working backpacker’s hostel and we recently gave work to two 19 year old German lads. They helped us plant over seventy plants and trees – liquid ambers, flaxes, native grasses and fruit trees. Very hard-working and polite. We intend to provide more work to the backpackers if these two are any indication of quality and work ethic.





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