Life goes on in the paradise of the winterless north of New Zealand. I still debate that word winterless as the cold certainly seems to get to me.
The fish are still biting and the weather is perfect this week to go chase them once again. Probably Wednesday or Thursday at this stage. Not sure I will do the surf casting from the rocks as the body is still causing a few issues, so maybe I will just stick with the kontiki. To be reviewed when we go the 50km up the beach as I do love my surf casting. The thrill of hauling that catch in.
It is booking time for tours now. I had hoped I still had a couple of months of grace before I needed accept tours for the coming summer tour season. But now contracted for 2 x 14 day tours and 2 x 22 day tours starting October and finishing February. That’s enough for me with anything from 4500 to over 6000km per tour. And I have ensured this year there are gaps between each one so I do not get so tired. Last year I reached the burn out stage.
A good feeling to have my summer tours locked away this early. It means I can just concentrate in getting the healing complete. The old head is still very forgetful and I have become on the road one of those slow old men drivers we all curse. Its called head trauma from the accident but I need defeat it.
Must look at my boat also and fire up the motor. It missed making the water last season but with gaps between tours next season I should once again be able to take fishing. A lot of money just sitting doing nothing right now.
Need start marketing our holiday accommodation again. We had shut everything down but still have a stand alone house plus a 2 bedroom unit available and with family saying we have the help needed to service. Need start living a normal life and most importantly getting some revenue coming through the doors again.
If you are reading this and want a Northland tour, contact us. Or even just want to come stay beach front at Ninety Mile Beach. We can even offer restaurant style meals again. Catch a fish and we will cook it for you
A holiday weekend to be remembered
No bookings for our accommodation. That seems a bit strange but then because of our little accident we have for the time closed up shop. Hopefully in another month or so we can open the doors again and welcome guests.
An offer of 3 14 day tours for me to do this coming summer tour season. That was a bonus as I never expected bookings yet, again because we have not been touting for them. This time last year I was full time marketing the business to agents in a variety of countries. This year I do nothing again because of our little accident, and the bookings come to me. I guess its another summer on the roads around New Zealand for me.
I completed the building of a BBQ area for guests. A project started prior the accident and now all but completed. And already had very positive comments about it.
And we went fishing Saturday, and what a successful day it was. Firstly rock fishing then when the swells started breaking over the rocks we headed back down the beach a little and put the kontiki out twice for 2 good hauls. A very satisfying day. And bonus for me was watching Xiaoli cast her line and pull in a good sized Snapper. She only had the energy to do it once but it’s a very good sign her healing is going well. Her decision to try and good on her for doing it.
Been a weekend of very mixed weather from beautiful and fine to heavy thunderstorms. What a contrast.
We have decided to relist the property again now we are both more agile again. I wrote to Resort Brokers to let them know it could go back on the market as we withdrew it after the accident. It just happened the agent was in Kaitaia so that is all now done. Now time to start the hunt for a small farm somewhere.
Sunsets over Ninety Mile Beach
As injuries heal I am bored silly but do have this magnificent view over Ninety Mile Beach. So armed with the cell phone camera each night over the past week as the sunsets I capture the event. I used to years ago if I saw a good sunset happening rush outside with my Canon and the tripod and capture many shots. The energy levels and enthusiasm of the past have evaporated for the time being so its now grab the cell phone and shoot through the lounge window.
They are spectacular some nights and I have never lived anywhere prior moving to Ninety Mile Beach that gave me such good unobstructed views of the setting sun.
I need finish a building project I started prior our accident. A large BBQ area. Enthusiasm is just not there, nor the strength to hammer nails. Its frustrating me to heck. My brother in law living with us while Xiaoli is so unwell tries to help but with the language barrier he is more hinderance than help. And because of the language barrier we have hands being waved as he disagrees with what I am doing. Very frustrating for us both but the only one that can translate is Xiaoli but 95% of the time she is in bed as the healing goes on.
I told Xiaoli when our bodies are well her and I will go away for a short holiday. She interpreted that to mean we go to Australia or Fiji maybe. I was more thinking within NZ. A remote spot we can just be alone. A quiet space. I guess that’s not going to happen.
Friday I learnt in recent days there was another head on accident with tourists on the wrong side of the road just 20 minutes from here and unfortunately 2 elderly locals died. Looking at the photos now I realise the difference for us was that we were in an SUV much more strongly built. We were lucky.
John Carter, our Mayor and ex MP phoned yesterday to check up on us and see if I had heard the news. He was able to fill me in more. Again a major tourist road where it comes to a dead end at Houhora Heads before you turn and go back to the No 1. And again no white arrows. It seems poor old Northland is sadly missing on the big white arrows compared with other areas.
I have again written to all MP’s but this time addressing it to the Associate Minister of Transport. Last time I only got 5 responses, 3 which were from members secretaries. 2 of these referred my letter to the Associate Minister of Transport. Yet this Julie Anne Genter obviously doesn’t have the time to respond. Or her secretary for that matters. I guess victims don’t count.
This week the man that hit us is in court. The Police said don’t hold our hopes high with regard to the case and they are surprised he is even still in the country.
ACC have arranged a counsellor to come see me this week as I battle the demons. The nightmares. The fear of driving. Need try to overcome all this so I can once again be a tour guide. Right now that passion has gone.
My wife. My life. My boss!
Just over 3 weeks ago we were in that tragic accident meeting tourists on a corner on the wrong side of the road. Xiaoli was termed a status 2 which is very serious. I was a status 3.
Today with help I launched our kontiki on Ninety Mile Beach out in front of us. Xiaoli sat in her chair and watched. I tried to get her to stay home but she wasn’t having a bar of that. She said if Robin and I could participate with our broken ribs and sternum, then the least she could do was watch. And if you know my Xiaoli, you cannot win an argument with her.
First set went all wrong with the kontiki probably only going 300 metres before coming to a stop. The help that insisted on not letting me do anything later I found out hadn’t plugged the battery in correctly. Anyway regardless we gave it 30 minutes and low and behold a really good size Kingfish. My first on the kontiki.
Second set I insisted on taking charge. Paying for it now with chest pains, but the Kontiki travelled about 2km from shore. We let it sit for 40 minutes then winched it back in. 10 good size Snapper.
3 injured bodies now very sore but tonight we sleep well knowing that finally we got outside. Got to step on Ninety Mile Beach again. And although we cant surfcast, with help we still caught fish
A very special day for us today. Another step on our road to recovery.
Saturday we were to transfer to Kaitaia Hospital but on discussion they let us come home.
They say on rest will now heal our broken bones, and lots of it. Well from our perspective that rest is better done at home watching sunsets like that I captured tonight.
We with help set up our lounge with the superb as they term it, million dollar views so Xiaoli and I can lie or sit as we require surrounded by our children, our dogs. Two still recovering from their injuries also.
Xiaoli’s younger brother and wife have arrived from China which means we can just now concentrate on our healing. For Xiaoli the stomach staples will be removed this week then for both us just the healing of our multiple broken bones.
The fateful crash seems a distant memory as we have battled with our health in the 10 days since. Police statements have yet to be asked for which I find a little disappointing but then I guess they are very aware of our situation regarding broken bones etc.
The other driver goes to court assuming he has stayed in the country on the 27th of this month charged with 2 counts of reckless driving I believe. Is that the maximum they can charge him with, I don’t know. All I hope his charges would be the same as I would get if I was at fault in the same way.
We know we are financially out of pocket and an accident is something you never budget for. But we will get through that. I am just so grateful that Immigration NZ got over their hiccups in the process and got urgent visas arranged for my brother and sister in law.
Where do we go from here? For me I have a personal crusade to bring many people from the Government to Rental Vehicle Industry to Tourism bodies together so we jointly discuss how we can better educate tourists re our road rules. How we can maybe legislate the rental industry to ensure we have some screening of this renting. Many things need happen and with help in the last week, people are talking.
We will never stop these accidents happening but we can certainly reduce the frequency.
Personally we are taking stock of everything that happened. Looking at our vehicle we are very lucky our injuries were not severe. So what have we learnt, live every day. You never know what tomorrow holds.
Right now I have no interest in being a tour driver/guide again. My confidence to drive the huge kilometres has gone. I am just hoping it will return.
Xiaoli and I look at our window and can only dream about the fish out there for the time being. We are looking several months away before we have the chance to cast a line again. Certainly couldn’t lift a Kontiki. Sad, as this is our favorite time of the year to fish.
Tomorrow is another day!
A horrific head on accident obviously!
Anybody in New Zealand who read or watch any news media will have seen that photograph. A direct head on. The silver car came around a corner at Waipapakauri Ramp to hit front on tourists driving towards them on their side of road. There are no skid marks it was that instant. Horrible isn’t it?
How are these tourists with no English able to rent vehicles. Not sure how long they had been in the country but I know they were due to fly home about now. That’s obviously not happening as they are all hospitilised.
It stinks that our ACC pays all their medical costs. Their only bill will be $1400 each. That’s it.
With the charges they will skip the country once able and not come back. Take their passports does not stop them getting new ones.
Our laws in many ways are wrong.
Why am I writing this you ask. Well I was driving that silver car. Xiaoli in the seat behind me and my mate by me.
I walked away. Broken ribs and sternum, my mate the same. Xiaoli had life threatening injuries now out of danger but not over issues. One operation already and broken ribs and sternum.
Our 2 little dogs survived but are in an animal hospital.
There are emails flying through very high circles politically about tourists driving on the wrong sides of roads etc. I have not done this but some very powerful friends are driving it. The NZ Herald and others have more stories being written. Hopefully out of our misfortune finally the laws may be looked at. Finally!
Our businesses are all closed indefinitely and all bookings cancelled. My long haul tours the overseas consultants are finding new guide/drivers. And top it off the vet bill will be larger than the hospital fee the guilty party will pay. It stinks.
Money is not important. We are alive. We are survivors
A long absence from writing blogs
I came home from 3 months solid of guiding and driving tours with durations of 14 to 27 days burnt out physically and mentally. Arrive home and Xiaoli and I jointly make the decision to leave the farm and head back tour beach property. In my absence Xiaoli had also been tested with running the farm, our 3 units of accommodation plus the house in our right of way we manage. So it wasn’t a hard decision to arrive at.
We are now well settled back at the beach housing ourselves in the studio unit so our guests can utilise the main house. That’s been interesting for us. We are the easy part but training the dogs (our children) was a little more difficult, but they to have now settled and behaving themselves, well most of the time.
I unfortunately with the 25,000km I clocked up and daily lifting then unloading suitcases have damaged both shoulders/arms. Last year each shoulder had 5 of the magic steroid injections which worked great until I decided to test them to the extreme. Now the left is definitely facing an operation and the right likely to follow. Bugger! I hate hospitals, catheters etc. And once operated I have a minimum of 6 weeks out of operation each time. There goes the next tour season.
First project back at beach was to catch up on maintenance then build a large BBQ area. Improve appearances for guests. Build Xiaoli a glasshouse plus numerous planter boxes so she can beautify the property. Plus the glasshouse allows her to grow her Lily bulbs to a size we can sell. A new business she wants to establish selling bulbs and seeds by mail order.
She now successfully sells local Manuka honey plus other varieties by mail order so this just adds another arm to the business.
I started the boat up yesterday. It is yet to see the water through summer and now here we are in autumn. Hopefully in the next week it may actually get out on the water. I think I only caught 2 fish all summer and that was off the rocks up Ninety Mile Beach. The enthusiasm just doesn’t seem to be there for fishing right now.
I miss touring but I don’t miss the long hours driving, the living out of a suitcase and changing hotels most nights. Eating out at restaurants has also lost its appeal. Sleeping in my own bed is something I am relishing.
I promised myself once tours were over I would buy Xiaoli a new car and have now done that with her reliable little RAV now sold to a friend. A week or so later she is yet to drive it as there has been no need but she has already added the female touch to it.
2018 is my year to get the body back in shape with the help of several hospital operations. Then maybe enjoy a slower pace life. Contemplate a possible retirement. Yeah.
I didn’t know people cared if I wrote or not. But facebook tells me they do.
My long haul tour season has come to a close certainly for this season, and maybe ongoing. This season I stretched it a bit and the body has suffered. Recovery not as quick as I hoped so I guess I really did knock myself around.
I love long haul tours. What do I mean by long haul, 2 weeks or more. They are a challenge mentally and physically, You really get to know your group, most positively but then there always the one or two that you just can seem to reach. But invariably the others on tour have the same problem with them.
For me I feel I have let myself down if I don’t get that connection yet I know its not my doing. Just different personalities.
I have come home with a mission. To get our lives in control. We have reached out in to many directions trying to do to many things. So after discussion with Xiaoli we have agreed to get back to basics.
Xiaoli feels she can get us more Northland 3 or 4 day tours and maybe if I target the right groups I can to. That will grow our accommodation off season and will get our 12 seat van working harder.
Our license to drive 4wd tours up Ninety Mile Beach we still hold yet have not pushed ever since I was chronically ill 4 or so years ago. Time to address that. Drive the business again. Build the business up to the levels it used to be.
The farm we are going to wind down. It worked well but added to our work load in a way we did not need. It taxed us to much and distracted us from where our tourism businesses were headed. Time to get back to our core businesses.
The long haul tours I enjoyed but just not sure I wish to continue. Maybe I will feel different around mid year. I guess I will wait and see what tours are offered. I am real tired of living out of suitcases and a different hotel every night.
This year I told Xiaoli we must go to China again. I felt bad that last year I only gave her family 24 hours with us. Her mum is around 80. Great health. And she deserves to see us a little longer and not so rushed.
2018, a year of change for us but in a positive way. Ease some of the pressure and get us more focused on our core strengths plus finding ‘Peter and Xiaoli’ time. We lost that with all we were doing.
To think I have a boat sitting outside that has not seen the water this summer. That is not good. Got to correct a few things.
ps The bird is the Northern Pelican I photographed just off where they breed on the Otago Peninsula. A spectacle I am glad to have been up and close to a number of times this summer
The penguins at Kelly Tarltons, always keeps my groups fascinated. As an attraction it never disappoints.
Today an Auckland tour although some opted out of the museum part.
We finished tonight with a farewell function at the top of the Sky Tower in the Orbit Restaurant. Lots of speeches in Swedish which I found I could get the gist of. But one speech in English. In fact the first speech where I was thanked. A tear jerker for a few. I guess they enjoyed our tour together. Haha
Tomorrow after breakfast its off to Yam Cha for my Chinese sons birthday. 21 again. He seems to have a more than a few 21sts now. Then my mate who has specially come down to collect me will take me the four and a half hours home. I look forward to seeing Xiaoli. Its been a while. And I know the four dogs will mob me.