Te Henga (Bethelle's) Walk 2007

After Holland its straight back in the bush, well sort of...

Auckland is one of the narrowest points of New Zealand nestled between the Tasman sea, Pacific Ocean and home to three large harbours. The east coast is littered with sheltered white sandy beaches where as the west coast is a lot more rugged with its black sand large surf.

The walk follows an established and marked route from the top of the cliffs and Murawhai and takes you North along the cliff tops to Bethelle's beach. All in all its not a long walk and the sea breeze certainly keeps you cool as there's almost no shelter from the sun along the walk. Wear sunscreen.

It takes about 3-4 hrs each way but we cheated and parked cars at both ends but in some ways you spend more time doing this that walking.

O'Neill Bay then Bethelle's Beach

O'Neill Bay

Bethelle's Beach

We finished the day a picnic dinner to watch the sun go down at the lake behind Bethelle's beach. All in all, it was a great day except for a bit of car sickness on the windy roads. 

Off to the lake at Bethelle's Beach 

Sunset at Bethelle's Beach


Whilst in Holland...

  • Two guests came to stay from New Zealand (not that I expected everyone to come over).
  • 5831 photos taken which in a 2 hour sideshow would mean less that one a second.
  • Two others deserted New Zealand indefinitely. My brother Rob and Stanley a good friend and Salsa instructor.
  • Visited seven other counties (Belgium, Germany, Turkey, UK, Czech Republic, Guernsey and Slovenia).
  • 8 babies born. Congratulations to the parents Matt & Belinda, Rob Hogan & Barbara, Norman & Victoria, Simon & Sandra, Simon & Cara, Kelly & Fiona, Sean & Tracy, Craig & Heleen and another 3 on the way that I know of.
  • 5 weddings of which I was able to attend a couple in Holland. Congratulations Corine & Hubert, Ginny & Nick, Vicki & Rodney, Geoff & Leigh, Brent & Mary and couple more scheduled.
  • 3 people have passed away including my May Sampson my New Zealand grandmother.


...and for the blog...

  • I've posted 39 blog entries but apparently they read like encyclopedia articles but I'm not exactly a writer :-)
  • 409 regular visitors to my blog and on average read it 3 times.
  • The most popular articles were Stone Marten (Martes foina), Koningindag (Queen's Day) and Istanbul and Troy, Turkey 2007.
  • Funniest search terms people used to find my blog "renate likes to" and "prague blog stag".
  • Wow, people came to my blog from 45 different countries including Maldives, Kuwait and Malaysia but the Dutch topped out the Kiwis in terms of readership with the US and UK coming in after that. The Dutch also spent longer reading but maybe that may be due to understanding the slang.


Likes and dislikes of living in Holland

After 7 months living in Holland where is what I have enjoyed the most:

  • Living with Renate of course but that is the point.
  • No rush hour. Ok so this isn't a Dutch thing but I can wake up in the morning and be working at 7:30 without sitting in a car for 30-45 minutes.
  • Biking pretty much everywhere. The movies, shopping for groceries, going to friends houses or even the forest.
  • Different foods. Lots more interesting types of food to try both at the supermarket and dining our or at friends places. Fresh figs aren't $2.50.
  • Being so close to everywhere else in Europe. Weekend trips to other countries.
  • Meeting new people
  • Learning all the subtle cultural differences (some not to subtle). I even went to a ballet :-)
  • The great selection of beers on offer and of course better access to South African wines.
  • Lack of chain stores - You can go to 20 towns and except for the supermarkets all the small shops are unique (unlike the malls in NZ).
  • Terraces and canals of HollandTerraces - The city centres are pretty much closed to traffic and every restaurant/bar has seating on the street.
  • The streets are alive with street performers and artworks


...but there also some things I didn't like or missed:

  • Being away from my friends, family and colleagues
  • The hard water always coating the jug with calcium?
  • The constant McDonald's signs whilst on the motorways. Its almost like McDonald's was the only company to get permission to put signs up above the height of buildings.
  • Unable to have great Asian food
  • Having to call an 0900 number and stay on hold to tell your Internet Service Provider (ISP) your Internet isn't working. Is there something wrong with this picture?
  • Missing the New Zealand bush and mountains... a lot and the first thing I'll do when I get back.
  • Only being able to buy small cuts of meat in vacuum packed containers.



Saturday morning soccer

NEC football club (Nijmegen)Just around the corner is the local soccer club NEC whose colours are black, green and red. Every time I go through the park and they are practicing or playing it reminds me of my soccer days.

Wind the clock back quite a few years and on Saturday mornings we would get up early, suit up in our outfits, shiny clean boots and the all important shin pads.

Rain, shine or hail, mum and dad used to take us boys off to our different games which must have been difficult (3 boys and 2 parents). They would stand at the side lines for more than an hour and a half as we warmed up and then played. If it was our turn we would bring along oranges for half time.

My team was East Coast Bays but my brother Nick and I also teamed up in the 2nd 11 for Rangitoto College.

Go East Coast Bays!

The Dutch are soccer mad in the same way as the British and in my reckoning the biggest sport in Holland as it in in New Zealand (if you're under the age of 16). Even kids as old as 5 can kick the ball better than me which isn't saying much :-)

Still, I am yet to attend a game so maybe that's one for the boys on of these days.


Camping on the Island of Vlieland in Holland

It's the end of summer here so the crowds are gone leaving the camp sites empty. Renate's parents were at the end of their 3 week holiday on Vlieland so we decided to join them for a weekend. It was such as good idea that Renate's sisters both came along as well with their respective friends/partners.

I've been here before but its nice to be back in the place where Renate and her family spent many years for their summer holidays. It's difficult to describe as its more of a feeling but the words baron and wild come to mind.

Vlieland camp site from the sea

Vlieland is one of the Islands just off the North coast of Holland. Although there are cars on the island they are just for the locals so you need to carry everything you need. After departing the ferry we balanced the tents and bags on the back of bikes and walked them to the camp but a horse and cart is also available.

The tents all have the same sturdy construction designed to take the wind and their sandy colour allows them to blend into the sand dunes. Mostly the camp sites are unnumbered so you can just find a spot in the dunes and setup however parts of the dunes are fenced off to protect them against erosion. Sites are also available if you need power or Internet access. Gosh everyone knows Internet access should be wireless :-)

On arrival we sat down for a spot of lunch after which we set up the tents placing a plastic sheet underneath to keep them clean rather than dry.  

Our tent site on Vlieland

Some keen campers rent a spot for the entire season. For their €1,300 they can come and go through the season leaving their tent where is stands. They normally decorate their tents with bits they find on the beach from old nets, buoys and driftwood adding real character to the place. The toilet blocks are very clean and warm include under floor heating. The kids even have miniature toilets and showers.

PeekabooAs all the tents look similar, small flags help distinguish your tent from others and help friends and family locate you  in the middle of the dunes.

The rest of the trip we took it pretty easy going out to dinner on the beach one night, exploring by bike but otherwise taking it easy.

If you want a good tent in Holland there is only one brand De Waard, and only 3 places in the entire country to get one.