States of Emergency being declared a number of areas South Island New Zealand

The poor South Island – being badly battered by severe storms


You got to feel for those the hardest hit in the South Island of New Zealand. A number of disaster areas now announced as the rain just keeps coming.

I cant remember when my original home town of Dunedin has ever had a declared a state of emergency. And joined by Christchurch and a number of towns. Rain easing but still not stopping. Snowing to reasonably low heights. It is bad.

Middle of school holidays so you need feel for the Children. On one hand they could find it an exciting adventure but it is far from that. It is very serious and going to take a very long time to recover from.

The tourist areas will be devastated. Loving the snow but no one can travel with roads blocked around the South Island everything has come to a halt.

China summer holidays so those poor tourists who headed here in their time off.

The very far north where we are. As they refer it the winterless north. Not sure what the temperature is but guessing about 10 degrees. We to have had our share of the rain but no where to the extent New Zealand’s South Island has been hit.

So yes a little saturated. Where we go and do a lot of our own fishing at the bluff up Ninety Mile Beach. 7 metre swells predicted today. That is fierce. We normally wont fish there if much over 1.7 metre swells just to put it in perspective.

When this atrocious weather abates the Mussel Spat pickers will once again out there in their special tractors harvesting the weed floating the water which the spat clings. Eventually that spat heading to the South Island to grow into mature Mussels.

My recommendation today. Stay home, wrap up and read a book. Or cuddle that special person in your life.



South Island New Zealand Mussels. Are they really?

South Island Mussels. Are they really?
Have you bought green lipped mussels in your local supermarket and they are from Marlborough Sounds? Yes they were grown there but their life started in the ocean off Ninety Mile Beach in the far north of New Zealand.
The Mussel spat pickers harvest there quota from the sea off Ninety Mile Beach. The lose seaweed that washes in after a storm. The tractors and trucks and trailers come out in masse. No fear of the sea these harvesters drive their tractor units with the mesh basket on the front harvesting the spat.
This is stored in the far north in controlled conditions before being freighted to the South Island.
The next part of the process I cannot remember exactly but the weed with spat is put into pools and as the seaweed deteriorates the spat then attaches itself to the ropes you see at Mussel farms eventually being put at the farms to grow to maturity. As the Mussels grow more buoys are added to the main line to stop the weight of the mussels from pulling everything below surface.
If you are a fisherman you will know there is often great fishing in and around the mussel farm. Especially when the barges are harvesting the mussels.
Today the boys were out in force collecting the spat as we arrived at the bluff on Ninety Mile Beach. Not a spectacular days fishing but what a superb day to be standing on the rocks with rod hand. Middle of July, how could we complain

Searching the archives

Searching the archives


I was searching the archives to day for some photographs I particularly wanted for some marketing I about to do and came across the video I had done. Brings back great memories of some of the guests that have toured with me over the years.

I still look as dashing as ever and Xiaoli as beautiful as ever.

I love looking at slide videos I have put together after tours for our guests. The slides normally set to appropriate music telling a story of their tour with us.

Each year I take about 10,000 photographs. I have 3 cameras which I utilise each with its own specialty. I am a quick click person, not a get the settings right, be precise person.

I do not believe in photo shopping my photos. May sometimes crop them but that’s about as far as I go.

I enjoy people in my photos. Normally on a tour it takes a couple of days before people stop posing when they see me with camera in hand. I like to capture people just as they are. So my slide videos I put together last night of each tour tell the story of them on tour mixed with scenery shots.

All my photographs on completion of a tour I donate to my guests on our own specially printed USB sticks.

A beautiful winters day on the beach

Ninety Mile Beach about 60km up this morning. A beautiful winters day.

The fish we went to catch obviously also felt it was just to beautiful day to come visit us. So sadly no fish.

The spat pickers were out in numbers with their machines trying to get their quota of Mussel Spat. The spat that they collect on Ninety Mile Beach is then trucked down to Marlborough at the top of the South Island. Once it attaches itself to the ropes they are lowered into the sea at the Mussel Farm in Queen Charlotte Sounds. There they will just slowly grow until ready for harvest.

A green lipped Mussel which is famous for its healing powers. The Mussels will be sold in shops around New Zealand but a lot are grown for the export market. Shipped still alive.

Want to watch the spat boys in action for yourself then book a 4wd beach tour with Peter and Xiaoli Tours. One of only 2 licensed to do 4wd tours on Ninety Mile Beach and on up to Cape Reinga.

A beautiful mid winter on the water

A beautiful mid winter days fishing


10 lovely people from China staying our accommodation beach front Ninety Mile Beach far north New Zealand we took our fishing. The fish didn’t seem to really want to bite but then again it is mid winter in New Zealand. But what an idyllic winters day. Raining when we left the jetty but turned into a superb day. Weather remained fine and no wind plus flat calm.

Calm is always good as it means we  don’t get the odd person adding their own berley to what we have already lowered into the water to attract the fish.  Plus not pleasant for others to watch someone being sick.

The fish just were not there today, but that’s fishing for you. Especially mid winter as the Snapper tend to head north for warmer waters. The birds were working around us so I guess there were Kahawai around, but our lines were not attracting them. And we did try an assortment of bait.

Tomorrow Xiaoli and I will head up Ninety Mile Beach with my mate Robin and see if we can pull a few through the waves. The guests are off back to Auckland then I guess China.

Xiaoli didn’t join us today as she needed spend the day making internal flight bookings in China for my trip end of August. Going to be doing a good amount of time in the air with meetings arranged various provinces. Another Southern China travel agent contacted me today to say please, lets meet. So the trip is already looking a success. What business comes from it is another thing but at least we have got past emails to invitation to visit.

I have decided I will fly light, buy clothes over there. Allowed 46kg of luggage but certainly wont be taking more than about 10kg.

Now time to get the 4wd ready for tomorrows beach fishing.

China, here I come

DSC00119 (1)

China, here I come

All booked Auckland to Shanghai return late August. Still to book the various internal flight as I need go from the bottom to the top. To many meetings China so Singapore and Malaysia now relegated to another trip.

A good feeling to have bookings in place. Over 5 years since I have seen Xiaoli’s family in China so long overdue and I no I will be spoilt rotten once there. Better brush up on my Cantonese. After 5 years of not seeing them they may be in for a little shock.

Business appointments slowly coming together 3 different provinces. Shandong just added which was not on my agenda. But bonus is all fishing equipment is made that province so need allow time to source reels in particular.

Well that has committed me. No more procrastination why I talk about but don’t do. Now its just cement a few more appointments.

Get the China visa and here we come in a bit over a month



A business trip 3 countries, or not?

me andLi Li

Why do people send out mixed messages?


I have spent recent months marketing Peter and Xiaoli Tours to travel consultants abroad. Mixed reactions which I totally expected. Some just no response and it could indicate contact lists I have sourced through Tourism NZ and other places are not totally up to date. Some say they will keep our details on file which I guess is great but you know probably you may never hear from them again. Then there are those that respond positively that get you excited.

So I have tuned my lists into 3 categories. No response and those I will email again but no hurry. The ones keeping our names on their books, they will receive what I term update emails just to see if maybe we can get them to the next step.

My favourites are the ones that have given an indication with a bit more prodding they may just start working with us. So for 2 months I have taken subtly different angles without being pushy. But 24 hours ago I decided well I need hop on a plane and go see them. 4 particular travel consultants, 3 countries. So I have asked for appointments.

One has responded with a need to talk to her team. Not quite what I expected given previous emails. 3 are yet to respond. There is a 5th but I know for a fact they will see me as I am already quoting their tours.

It’s the weekend now, so I guess I need wait until Monday, well Tuesday our time. Frustrating as I need lock down travel arrangements which involves more than me as my boss (Xiaoli) will be China and for 2 probable appointments that country I need her to change her itinerary so she and her South African friend Jen can meet up with me. I need a translator. My spoken Mandarin and Cantonese is as good a zilch although I can understand a bit.

Then there is Xiaoli’s family. They will come together from various areas in Guangxi so we can all have a family reunion even though apart from Xiaoli plus a niece we will not be able to understand each other. But 5 years since I have been there. An overdue visit.

So we wait now until Tuesday. Then hopefully we get appointments and make the necessary travel bookings. And I conquer my hatred of long haul flights yet again

Flowers for my wife


Today I bought my wife flowers


I know, you are saying how romantic but its exactly the opposite, I am really fuming/angry with her but cant seem to get through to her potential damage she could cause doing actions helping others in what I term dodgy ways.

No benefit for us can come, maybe only a slight chance of harm but why take the risk. Letting someone else use our untainted business name in a way that can never benefit us but can potentially harm us. And this person in the meantime she is helping is robbing people blind. Or at least that’s my take on it.

I know as a reader you are thinking what could be that bad but for me its principal. We are very good smart operators who do everything above board. We do not fleece people on the way through. We are not in China where sometimes shoddy things may happen. We are in New Zealand where I value our reputation and have no intention of tainting it.

It wont happen again and if it does I am sure I wont know about it. But my buying flowers is a gesture of peace. No she is not angry with me, its vice versa. But I need take the mood away so I can talk in a calm peaceful way.

Why is life so awkward. I know for Xiaoli and I even after 9 years the issues stem from us coming from 2 completely different cultures with different ways of doing things.

I am a person that will never go bed with anger in the house. I like calm. So it is me with the anger but Xiaoli causing it so I must pacify it.

I left Auckland over 10 years ago because the stress of being in very big business got to me. I was a wreck but only those that were close to me knew how close I was to derailing. Many years of dealing with clients million dollar budgets and the worry of whether campaigns we were doing were going to work or not. The 12 to 15 hour days of meetings with creative people, with clients, with the media all with their own theory on what was right and wrong with the final decision always resting with me.

Life is short, at 54 I realised that and took early and to most very unexpected retirement from an industry I was very good in. I went fishing in the far north of New Zealand. Mainly off Ninety Mile Beach. Fish I caught I often gave to elderly friends who would then distribute amongst their other elderly friends who couldn’t afford to buy fish. And being the far north I knew the fish would be eaten from head to tail and appreciated.

My time out before starting in tourism with Xiaoli in 2009 I discovered the real me. I had succeeded in big business I realised. I did extensive fund raising over 15 years for a childrens charity. I had played many sports but had never slowed down enough to discover me. Fishing on my own off a beach for a year or so gave me space to think, who am I and what do I really want to do.

First thing I made up my mind about was never again would I go to bed angry, without having vented my thoughts. I wanted to wake up the next day with a smile at the start of the new day.

Hence the flowers for Xiaoli. I don’t want to be angry with her and I don’t want her going to bed thinking I still harbour that anger. Say your piece, move on. Life is to short.

What else did I come up with on the beach as I fished all alone, I wanted to enter tourism. Didn’t know exactly how then but I went home and started working on a business plan. I still have that plan albeit direction changed considerably, and yes I love tourism

Winter in New Zealand has struck with force


Who the heck named the far north of New Zealand the winterless north?


Today we have not received so far the gale force winds predicted but our farm is in a valley. Maybe our beach property 10 minutes away is suffering the winds though. But we have received hail both yesterday and today. And now we have sun shining and our solar power unit you can hear working its heart out recharging the battieries.


Last week we moved our fridge/freezer unit across to the beach property for guests to use and purchased a fridge only unit for the far. We already have a stand alone freezer here so hopefully the new fridge should use a lot less power. So far after 5 days and some gloomy weather the batteries have lasted the night so maybe the change in fridge units has helped.


Last night I had the gas heater on 2 bars to warm the lounge why I sat on the computer. Xiaoli disappeared to bed with one of the dogs for company to do her work as she felt under the duvet was warmer.


Right now I could not call our area the winterless north. I have no idea what the temperature is but it feels single digits.


Its good to hear the snow is falling down south. Once it lets up and roads thaw out again it will make for some beautiful tours down there. The mountains abundant in snow. The trees on the Milford road covered in snow. I love South Island winter tours if you can get great days and yet heavy snow all around. The only part I hate is having to get out in the freezing snow to fit the chains to the vehicle. That is not fun

20 years ago!


Painted over 20 years ago


I looked young once obviously as this painting was painted some 20 years ago by a Mary O’Callaghan. Memory says she lived the Whangarei Heads area but for this portrait I sat stock still for 1.5 hours in a shopping mall in Auckland. I remember vividly all the passers by obviously observing how handsome I was but I think more interested in Marys talent of capturing me.

Those were the days when I was in very senior positions in advertising agencies. Certainly my dream of becoming a tour guide running a small tourism business was not even thought of then as far as I can remember.

The days of 3 piece suits and colourful ties. Memory says I had about 5 ties with different style smiling faces. I was known well for my vast selection of character ties. When I departed Auckland I threw them along with about 5 3 piece suits in a dumpster. Should have kept them, the grandchildren if there are ever are any might have had a good laugh at them.

About 10 years after that painting was done I moved to the very far north of New Zealand to start my foray into tourism. A risk at the time and some very loyal clients were asking me to reconsider but I had made my mind up. Time for a change. Less stress but still a challenge, and I thrive on challenges.

Just had lunch with an ex client today who was visiting the far north on business. Finally he has decided enough of big business and will retire in the not too distant future. Six months older than me so I always refer to him as the old fellow. Over 30 years I handled his advertising business creating television commercials and print advertising. Hugh and I travelled New Zealand a number of times why I spoke to his dealers at conferences. Several times in Australia and even one conference Singapore. Happy not to speak at conferences anymore and try excite and motivate people.

How time fly’s. 20 years since sitting for that painting which now hangs in one of the holiday units at Ninety Mile Beach. How fashions have changed but more importantly for me, how I have changed. Now a laid back attitude to life. No stress that I cant manage and an absolute passion for tourism and doing our tours. I never dreamt I could actually love working.