Peter and Xiaoli – Our 2020 wrap up and dramas

2020 draws to a close. What a year!!!!!!!!!!

There is a little virus circulating the world killing hundreds of thousands of people and why the rest of the world is wrapped up in cotton wool, well those that will listen, here in little old New Zealand we party on oblivious with cases only in quarantine. Other than lockdowns earlier in the year to bring us to our elimination status in the community, we cannot relate to what the rest of the world suffers. Most of us have never even put a mask on and in a lot of cases don’t even own one. How lucky we are in New Zealand!

Personally, its been a shit year. Partially caused by the virus or the effects of our borders closed because of the virus. Its destroyed our comfortable six figure business. We may be lucky to bank maybe $25,000 this annual year. Enough to pay a few overheads but that’s about it.

The many contractors who we gave business to are unemployed or doing menial jobs to survive. I feel for them, I really do. But our hurting is much worse after many years of building a very successful and lucrative tourism business. We wont go belly up nor will we wind up the remaining business. We will just hibernate and enjoy the fact we had little debt and do earn a pension. Fortunately we acted fast enough to stop costs accelerating with no income coming in.

Finally October Xiaoli has been given the all clear from cancer after an 18 month battle. One breast less but at least alive and well. No energy but that is the affect of a long course of chemotherapy. Her birthday is on the 31st December so I snuck away yesterday and bought her a Huawei Smart watch so she can monitor the heart, the daily steps etc. Hoping she will once used to what it can do, challenge herself to do better each day to regain her health.

I have a smart watch which over the last year has been scary to see the performance of the heart after many years of being unwell and gradually getting worse. Finally after official complaints to the regional health board they took me, my doctors and the many specialists, they accepted I need an operation and that I was prepared to accept the very serious risks and odds attached.

Records showed I started complaining of health issues very fast after an operation in 2011. Finally they open me up December 2020 and the surgeon agrees the 2011 operation was a failure. Yet they would not listen all those years. Standard answer, lets do another gastroscopy  or colonoscopy. Then Peter will go away. Well I didn’t go away, did I.

The serious risks, well I survived and they corrected the problem on December 14 just past. A 3 hour operation became an 8 hour operation and it cost me a spleen. No spleen, means no immune system. But with daily penicillin and a medic alert bracelet I should be able once recovered, have a normal life. Just stay from sick people and try avoid crowds.

Due to no immune system after 4 days in ICU we were sent home early as a hospital ward with all the bugs is too dangerous for me. Loaded with the drugs including 30 syringes of antibiotics we go home. I am my own nurse following the drug regime and the nightly injections. And I hate needles.

The many staples holding my stomach together removed on the 24th. Now left with a hollow look one side of the stomach and a fat look the other. Lets hope it evens out with time. Another 7 days before I can eat solid food. A scotch fillet steak is high on the agenda.

What will 2021 bring for us.

  1. I have a 5m boat sitting outside that is sadly covered over . I know one turn of the key it will fire up. In the 3 years of ownership its seen the water maybe a dozen times because of my health. That is going to change, and change rapidly once I regain strength.
  2. The caravan purchased November 2019 has only seen a couple of trips. Currently for the last 6 months sitting with a broken window awaiting a replacement from England. I am assured the replacement is somewhere between the UK and here. Once arrived, that caravan is going to do so many road trips
  3. The business, well hopefully that will be wound up if the sale of the property goes through. Time for the next stage in our life. Probably a lifestyle property with maybe a house I can slowly renovate as a hobby. And one level. No stairs.
  4. Help build a business I help set up my my mate that employs my son. A business needing my time to give it the boot up required but something I couldn’t do with failing health.

The last decade has many ups and downs. A great ongoing marriage to my beautiful Xiaoli. A great human/animal bond with our 3 aging dogs. And anybody that knows us, knows we treat them as spoilt children who go where-ever we go.

From an age and health perspective I will be happy to see my sixties over. Welcome in my 70’s as of April 2021. And yes, there will be the traditional Peter and Xiaoli party which many know our reputation for. And yes I will drink one to many to ensure my legacy continues. So mark in the diary April 24 2021. Not sure the location yet but definitely Northland region. A banquet of seafood will be dished up caught by yours truly. Party time!!!!!

I have adopted a positive attitude to life. Those that know me personally know I battle to keep bipolar at bay. So I live for today and tomorrow. I cannot change the past. Now I am operated on I believe I will have great health leading into my latter years. Hopefully 30 years of bullshit left in this body yet.

Time 2021 to start afresh.

Love to all – Peter

My long awaited major surgery

I have fought the DHB since 2013 to have an operation to correct an operation done 2011 that had failed. 2013 to 2019 I had many gastroscopies and colonoscopies done each year and there was no argument with the verdict.On lodging an official complaint with the DHB they have no records for me 2013 to 2018. Then I reappear back on their records 2018 but a booking clerk lost me for a year. Their words not mine.The DHB gave an official apology pinning blame on the booking clerk. The missing 5 years they said I must have gone private. I certainly did not.

They promised my major surgery to be done late August, then it became Sept, then Oct 18 then finally Nov 23.We drove the 3 hours to the hospital on the 22nd. A mate dropped Xiaoli and I down. I went to check into the lodge at the hospital where we would stay, or at least Xiaoli would while I was in a hospital recovery bed. Get told at the hospital reception there is no booking in the system for us. Thankfully I had an email confirmation on my phone. Drama avoided.7.15am we present ourselves to the surgical ward. Given the gown and hospital underwear. Blood pressure etc all checked. Saw the anesthetist who informed me I had a heart murmur which she had only just picked up in the notes. I have had a non threatening heart murmur since I was 40. But a nurse who did a precheck in Kaitaia showed it with the wrong technical term. They checked my heart, and yes hospital error. Told now I will be wheeled in within minutes as I was first up. In walks the surgeons registrar. All surgery for my specialist is cancelled immediately for the day. Shock sets in but they say since I am there would I allow an ultrasound to be done by a heart surgeon. Sure. Passed that flying colours and yes I have a non threatening heart murmur.

Need get hold of my mate. Get back here, we need go home. He was not enthralled. The hospital in the meantime trying to appease the situation say they will give us petrol vouchers. I was furious to say the least and the drugs for preop they gave me starting to put me in la la land. Why waiting for my mate I got emails off to my hospital contacts who had full knowledge of my roller coaster ride they caused. They had already heard and very apologetic. Very rapidly got me rebooked for December 14. Will be into our peak business season so this time will need do it alone. This is a major op with a long slow recovery so it knocks me out until at least end of January. All the good plans of reinventing the business following the huge hit it took through borders being shut, are gone. I am furious. Still zonked out from the drugs. Not a happy camper

http://www.peterandxiaoli.com

A rewarding day out to clear the mind

And next week is November! Where does the time go?

Yesterday we had a day out fishing. 15 fish landed for 3 hours not very hard work. A good result capped by a beautiful sunny somewhat day.

For me the result was some items for a seafood chowder soup I planned. Xiaoli and her friend, fish head soup beckoned. Personally I think my choice was better.

Saturday just gone was a day for me often found bedridden with stomach and nausea issues. Ongoing issues ever since they operated back in 2011.

Today a reply from a complaint I lodged with the Northland DHB over my health issues and their handlings of. The complaint lodged back in September. And yes surprise, surprise. An apology. Somehow a booking clerk is blamed for me slipping through the system unnoticed from 2019 to 2020 for a period of 9 months. But no answer on the other period from when they stopped testing 2013 to 2019. In fact a denial I had a multitude of gastroscopies and colonoscopies. Apparently they must have been through private health providers and not the public health system despite me not having private health insurance.

How does this happen in our public health system which as our country politicians try tell us is maybe under funded but still of a high reputation? It appears no one can give me that answer so I have thrown that back to my doctor to look into. After all he ordered the many procedures trying to find my ongoing issues. How did I end up in a private system when he is part of the local hospital? And why are results not communicated between the private specialists and the public system?

Many questions, but no answers. A lot of people may not front up like me but I am tired of being sick all the time. Very tired.

But yesterday sparked me up. An afternoon up the beach with Xiaoli and my best mate Mike and his partner Fang. We had fun. We got sunburnt not realising how hot that sun was. And most importantly we caught more than a feed of fish. What we don’t eat being destined for friends and family in Auckland who we will do the 5 hour trip to visit tomorrow.

Fishing, a damn good relaxing time out sport. A time to relax the mind. And for me catching the fish is fantastic but not as important as just getting out and trying.

www.peterandxiaoli.com  

Our first 4wd beach tour since the March lockdown

Peter and Xiaoli VIP 4wd tour to Cape Reinga via the beaches

Not a great video as it was produced fast for our customers as a record of where we went. We also give them the stills. Just part of what we offer on the Ninety Mile Beach to Cape Reinga tours.

What a great feel to be out there working again. Its been a very long time between tours and I forgot how much I actually enjoy them. The scenery. Showing people our paradise here in the far north of New Zealand.

Interesting, we get to Cape Reinga and the lighthouse and only 1tour bus arrived. Normally this time of year there would be 5 to 10 buses as summer approaches. The beaches were desolate, the Te Paki stream no sign of wheel marks given the very distinct impression we were the first 4wd to drive through there yesterday.

My mate driving the Fullers bus from Paihia was very fast to greet me as I arrived at the lighthouse. He said to me how lonely it can be at the lighthouse when no other tour buses or 4wds arrive as no one to talk to why his customers go for their walk. A strange new norm. No sharing of food we all carry for our customers on the day. Always good to see what the other driver/guide have aboard to share.

More enquiries are coming, in particularly for the summer holidays. Still mainly accommodation though, but hopefully the day tour bookings will also follow.

As much as I enjoy having our international tourists around, their absence allows you to see some of our most scenic spots in a different way. More what we saw in our childhood growing up. Getting beaches almost to yourself.

http://www.peterandxiaoli.com

The effects on business in the new COVID world

Our website stats for the last 15 months showing whats happening albeit stats I show you do not give full info I have. See the notable drop coinciding with the first lockdown then a smaller drop coinciding with the 2nd Auckland lockdown.
Not seen on this graph is the big change affecting our website. Hits used to be 90% international with a sway towards the UK and Europe. Stats since COVID hit and directly affected us, hits are now 95% kiwis.
Are bookings happening given the huge upswing in Kiwi’s clicking on our website? Yes! Our accommodation bookings are currently running about 40% of what we would normally achieve but very positive signs these are increasing.
Our long haul tours (14 to 25 days) which were our real money earner, zilch bookings and zilch enquiries. Just fortunate we had sold our main tour vehicle back in January after deciding to go with rental vehicles in the future as it gave us greater flexibility dependent on the size of the tour group.
Our Ninety Mile Beach 4wd tours which we hold one of the very few licenses available, no tours since February. But starting tomorrow our first new season tour and further enquiries being received. Over the past 10 years our customers for the 4wd tours were 95% international with again the sway towards European and UK visitors.
Our 4wd tour vehicle needed replacement at the end of the last season with the beach having taken its toll on it. Replacement purchased but we slashed our normal purchase amount 60% given the uncertainty. Our 4th Mitsi Pajero silver colour. Not intentional to buy silver but it seems our destiny.
The benefit of all the Covid effects on our business? Certainly not monetary obviously and we have drastically changed our business plans and normal outgoing expenses to try help the reduction. But the real benefit is the quality of life we now have. Xiaoli and I get quality time together. We have enjoyed a number of trips away with the caravan exploring places that I have never had the time therefore opportunity to take Xiaoli to.
Money is not important as long as you have enough to survive. Quality of life is and through all this new norm we are discovering our new found freedom and enjoying it.
Peter
http://www.peterandxiaoli.com

A well overdue blog plus a COVID update

Here at Peter and Xiaoli Tours (& Accommodation) we are very quiet. Strange new norm as they call it caused by the COVID virus lockdown and border closures.

Our long haul tour business (14 to 25 days) down country has been wiped out.

Our exclusive VIP 4wd tours up Ninety Mile Beach to Cape Reinga devastated. We have got only 1 booking in place moving forward.

Our accommodation is running about 50% occupancy and reduced nightly rates as we try capture the few kiwi tourists around.

At this rate business over the current financial year will be no more than 20% of our normal revenue. We are trying to address some of it by putting offers out there for our 4wd tours and our accommodation. Even offering some fishing packages, something I swore I would never do as fishing is our own passion. And I never wanted to start baiting people hooks, taking the fish off when they land them, or fillet at the end of the day. But it is what it is by offering beach tours, accommodation and fishing we are positioned for package deals.

2018 we were badly injured in a head on with tourists on the wrong side of the road. We survived after a 6 month period battling injuries. Then March 2019 Xiaoli was diagnosed with breast cancer. A year of chemo plus a mastectomy hopefully we have now beaten that. And then later this month I have what is termed major surgery with serious risks to correct a past operation (2011) that has gone wrong. If we can survive all this, we will survive COVID 19.

Yesterday a beautiful day out on the boat on Doubtless Bay. Unfortunately the fish also adored the day and forgot to bite on the yummy bait I sent their direction. The few we did catch were legal by law but not legal by my own boat rules so they were returned to the sea to live to see another year or so out. I told them I will come back for them in 2 or so years, but please send mum or dad in the meantime to see us. But typical children, they forgot to pass on the message as their mum and dad never came to visit.

Today we have the accommodation booked out for 13 fisherman up here for the next 7 days. We gave a reduced daily rate as it is a bonus to be booked for 7 nights solid under this new norm.

I feel for all those that contracted to us prior COVID. Now no income from us or any others they contracted to. I just hope like us they will find a way to survive as gut feel says we have a long battle ahead before borders reopen and people start travelling

Four plus weeks of lockdown

Four plus weeks of lockdown. This video is only 20seconds of the view from my lazyboy day after day. The tides come, the tides go, I dream of the fish just out there in those waves which finally Tuesday I can invite to come out of the water and grace our table.
Our website has gone from vibrant to almost zilch viewers. Bugger!
Two of our three businesses will close as they are 100% reliant on international tourists. The third being our accommodation also was 95% international tourists so marketing will need to be geared up towards attracting Kiwi’s to come visit.
Tourism is devastated. Hopefully part of the Government package to help motivate the Kiwi tourist might be to reduce the cost of travelling through the country. In particular between Islands.
We need encourage Kiwi’s to go and explore the magnificent beauty that NZ offers. The beauty that people from all around the world come to see and rave about.
Hands up Aucklanders or those further south. How many of you have ever visited my beach, Ninety Mile Beach.
Aucklanders, how many of you have ever visited the South Island in its entirety?
Moteliers/Hoteliers. You are no longer going to regularly have No Vacancy signs up. Try lowering your costs and attract the Kiwi market.
Life will not be the same again for a long time to come. Xiaoli and I are survivors. Financially we are going to take a big income hit but we are in a position we can ride it out. Our only decision is whether we close all doors for good or just put the businesses in a holding pattern.
Maybe finally its time to retire. Use the boat sitting outside more regularly. Hitch the caravan on that we purchased last year and just wander.
I am fortunate in that there would not be many places in NZ I have not been. But knowing NZ like I do its time to explore some of favorite locations in more depth.
Stay safe out there. Once clear of lockdown, if you want a holiday think about what we offer Ninety Mile Beach. ( www.peterandxiaoli.com )162c0107

February 21 we celebrate 10 years!

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Time certainly passes fast

Xiaoli and I celebrate 10 years married this year. And I must say a pretty happy 10 years it has been.

10 years ago at this time I was waiting on Xiaoli’s visa approval to come to New Zealand. Fortunately the visa process went smoothly just complicated then by Chinese New Year holidays in Hong Kong where the visa was being processed by NZ Immigration. But I still remember today the very cooperative Crystal Li that helped process the visa.

10 years ago I was around 120kg in weight. Today a mere 85kg but in great health compared with 10 years ago albeit a few internal modifications. Part of growing older.

10 years ago Xiaoli spoke no English. Only 5 Chinese languages but now fluent English and has been for many years. But an accent some struggle with at times. Haha

10 years ago my mum and dad were still alive and with family help attended our wedding on February 21 at Waipapakauri Ramp (Ninety Mile Beach). Unfortunately dad’s eyesight finally failed that trip but I was delighted they and 3 of my brothers attended with my sister in laws. Probably all though I was crazy but I don’t think any say that now.

February 23 we will celebrate the marking of 10 years with friends, family and even our local Mayor. And I am sure that will go as smooth as it did 10 years ago.

2018 was not a year we wish to remember thanks to our head on accident with tourists on the wrong side of the road. But 2018 is now behind us as we move forward with life. Looking back achieves nothing, time to move forward again.

What does 2019 onwards hold for Peter and Xiaoli? Many more years of happiness together I am sure. Hopefully at some stage the sale of our beach front property allowing us to purchase a lifestyle block where we can both follow our dreams.

Peter and Xiaoli Tours will continue but in a modified format given we will not long term have the accommodation we currently offer. And to that end our listings on NewZealand.com have been adjusted awaiting approvals from Tourism NZ. We are not going to let a business we grew successfully from a zero base disappear.

Come join us here at Peter and Xiaoli Tours (& Accommodation). Shortly we head off fishing. Sashimi for dinner. Yum!

www.peterandxiaoli.com

A boating we will go!

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A boating we will go!

16 months without seeing the water initially because of heavy work commitments with tours then a stupid tourist choosing to drive on the wrong side of the road putting us out of action.

The boats serviced. I have removed the inbuilt petrol tanks that someone installed prior my ownership which caused a lot of balancing issues. Now back on tote tanks as it was originally designed and built for. Once these southerlies we seem to be suffering currently die down then its going to hit the water once again. And hopefully a regular event this summer.

The trailer through a WOF on Friday. Its registered for the first time since 2016. Probably one of a few in the far north that is registered and warranted. I own up to not doing it prior as the ramp I could get to down the back road.

My shoulder seems to be getting stronger so hopefully retrieving it back on to the trailer shouldn’t be an issue. If it is then I just need make sure I have someone strong with me that can sucker into winding the winch. On a boat ramp it shouldn’t be to big an issue as with the trailer positioned right I should be able to drive it on pretty well.

So who of my family in friends is coming to join me for the odd day out I wonder? It is just the beginning of our peak season so there is still a need to juggle my time between 4wd tours, helping the boss (Xiaoli) clean after customers depart etc etc. But its not going to spend another 16 months without seeing the water

We are getting well booked in both houses now for the summer season. Still holes left though so if you are thinking about a far north holiday whether its with us or another accommodation provider I suggest you do book soon.

4wd tour bookings up the beach are slow but I wouldn’t expect that to be any different this far out.

The beach buses other than Fullers don’t run Christmas Day. But we will have available one 4wd for beach tours. The second will be parked up so my driver can have their family Christmas. And we may yet run the 12 seat tour van but like Fullers it cannot get through Te Paki Stream anymore as its just to soft. So it would join the beach at Waipapakauri Ramp and exit at Hukateri .

Its going to be a great summer!

www.peterandxiaoli.com

ECSTATIC – ANGRY – RELIEVED

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ECSTATIC – ANGRY – RELIEVED

I know an interesting heading but I have an explanation. I know I am a good tour guide but sometimes tested by the odd tourists who in themselves tend to be the odd one out in the group. But I handle them not showing my frustration or yes sometimes, anger. That I need always keep to myself knowing at the end of the tour they fly home. Ironically they often are the ones that refer you for other business. But back to my heading.

 

ECSTATIC – Today I have received an email from a UK travel group I have done several NZ group tours for. In fact was contracted for several October and November but ongoing accident injuries required me to withdraw. Well it turns out I was in the running for their international guide of the year but never won. Well I didn’t know they had such an award and I am probably right in thinking all their guides are in the running. However, they sent me the following comment which apparently is one of many from a past traveller from one of their groups I showed around NZ.

We (myself with husband Paul) thought Peter was exceptionally good at low-key management of the group, supplying schedules, historical and current information, and conveying enthusiasm for New Zealand, generally while driving the bus or sharing dinner or a drink. He also brought humour to deal with potential conflicts among the group members, and managed consensus decisions for changing the itinerary, and any grumbles, extremely well.”

They booked through a UK group but are in fact Americans. Until today I was unaware of the words they posted. I am ecstatic as often you just never know.

 

ANGRY – On Friday I had another consultant who had booked me for a 23 day tour in December and again in March advise that they had reconsidered and no longer required my services. Why I asked? They felt the accident would still be affecting me and could not risk me with their tourists for 23 days.

I was flabbergasted. I know the accident is not yet behind us. Only last Friday I got the sign off physically. Xiaoli still suffers and in her case we see the surgeon on Thursday to find out what they do next.

I am angry but at the same token understand where they are coming from. There is also the ongoing mental battle that neither of us can let the accident go and that probably wont change until we both no longer physically suffer.

 

RELIEVED – Yes I am relieved. Xiaoli plus my good far north mate knew I didn’t want to do those tours. In fact I keep talking about retirement, just doing the odd tour of our own. Keep our 12 seat coach and when its no longer required as a tour vehicle then turn it into a campervan. So yes very relieved that a decision out of my control helped make things happen as I kept talking. No more stress. Any stress now is of our own making.

I can be home January 1 for Xiaoli’s birthday. The first time in a number of years that I have been able to be home with her.

I can be home for our 10th wedding anniversary in February which up until Friday was not the case. So planning has now started in my head for a surprise party to celebrate our 10th anniversary. In fact in 3 days time we celebrate the day we first physically met in Nanning in China. I still remember coming out of the China customs to see her there waiting. Memories – beautiful ones.

2019 is going to be a great year for us. I feel it!

http://www.peterandxiaoli.com