Lake Rotopounamu…finally!

Lake Rotopounamu

Latitude: 39.0260°S

Longitude: 175.7372°E

We’ve been trying for three weeks  to get here, but every week the weather is miserable or too many of us are occupied elsewhere. FINALLY, we have made it, and it did NOT disappoint.

Not only did we make it but we brought a few others along too…hubbies and mums keen to tag along. Great to make the party merrier. One took the kids and showed them how to find the perfect walking sticks. These sticks morphed at will by youthful imaginations…one minute a walking stick, the next a brandishing sword, the next a marching band baton…and all that transitioning at the flick of the wrist and executed with dramatic precision. It was impressive to watch 🙂



Those walking sticks kept them going as we walked the 5kms around the lake edge. Fascinating how something so simple can capture the imagination and keep boredom away. Of course, we stopped a couple of times for drawing purposes and then those walking sticks became wading poles as they ventured out in their “waterproof gumboots” (makes me wonder if there was another kind at home  that they had had adventures with 🙂 ) and then before we knew it we were back at the carpark with everyone feeling like they had had a good blow-out, hungry for lunch, some appreciation for nature filling our souls and a couple of good sketches in our artbooks.

Lake Rotopounamu, finally we walked you and enjoyed your beauty. What a great backyard we have!




Beautiful Bluster



Longitude: 175.9202

She’s lived here 40 years so I guess she should know. “It’s not often like this. Got to have just the right wind direction to get these waves. Doesn’t it feel like we are at the sea?”

I had to agree. Windy. Boisterous. Waves crashing over the rocks on the point. Cormorants on the pier gripping tight with their toes. Nature’s palette  almost 50 shades of gray. My dogs bounding around like half-crazed wild things…why do animals and kids go crazy in the wind?

That wind was going right through us and so the offer of a warm fire, freshly baked scones…with homemade peach jam, no less,… and a hot cup of tea was too good to pass up. How wonderful to have one of our own living here in Waitetoko…today’s destination  for #360in365.


We followed her down a dirt road lined with bush and then…voila…we were stripping off jackets and sipping hot tea. A potter’s home is a wonderful place to sketch in. Every nook had another vista of cute little objects. 40 years of accumulated magic and we were all in heaven.


Every window was a view of paddocks, cows and lovely Autumn coloured trees. Paperwhites nodding delicately throughout the garden. Little sheds and cute-to-draw fences dotted about.  So many wonderful new things to paint and indulge in so that before we knew it, it was time to pack up and head back to reality. Darn! I could have painted the entire day away!


Thank you, Chris, for a lovely warm haven to wile away a morning in painted bliss.


The rain had stopped so I got a quick sketch done of the lakefront as we left. Watercolour was added later as my painting buddies deemed it too cold  to sit around out there. Where’s their sense of adventure amidst this beautiful bluster?



Waipehi Reserve Track

Latitude: -38.881030

Longitude: 175.971257

Mind wandering as I drove to today’s destination I replayed my Mum telling me “He was doing a little wiggle, all excited that he could fit into one of his old shirts,”.  She was so excited for his success. And why not be excited when you have worked hard to loose some weight.?! I am proud of my brother for taking up the challenge of his health. A little voice…ok, maybe not so little…tells me I should take a leaf out of his book and follow his example. I retort with a million excuses well rehearsed and then choose to concentrate on the drive ahead.

Coming round the corner I have to smile as I pull up behind a very large tractor on a truck marked “Over-Sized” which took up a full lane and maybe a bit more. That’s a bit pointed after my daydreaming! Lights flashing and two pilot vehicles in front. Winding round the edge of Lake Taupo with all of it’s 25kph hairpin corners and cliff edges into the lake below was a real breath taking experience. Especially when another over-sized vehicle came the other way. Both vehicles had to reduce to a crawl. Pilot vehicles from both trucks radioing into their respective drivers on both sides of the road. With hardly an inch to spare anywhere, rock face on one side and cliff drop on the other, they slowly crept passed each other and I am sure, like me watching from behind, they all let out a collective sigh of relief when they had finished that manoeuvre.

At least that passing was managed as opposed to a few bends later when a car carrier trailer came faster than any truck should towards us and had us all pumping adrenalin through our systems and expecting to see St. Peter in a flash. Watching from right behind was quite surreal. Thankfully, MOST drivers slowed down and pulled over. There is only so much drama we need in one drive.

Concentrating so much on the scenes unfolding right in front of me, I almost missed our turn off. Today we were doing the Waipehi Walk through the Moturere Reserve for our #360in365. The brochure said it was a 1-1.5 hr easy walk with great views out to Motutaiko Island. They were right about the views. Just stunning! At one point the path runs along a ledge on a rock face and we sat perched above the traffic below looking across Jellicoe Point all the way back to a hazy Mt. Tauhara in the distance.


Not too sure about the easy walk bit though. It might have been fine in summer but all the rain of late on a dirt track had sent it to slimy mud beneath a layer of slippery leaves. There were a few near ‘whoops-a -daisy” moments for us all. And with it being so slippery underfoot the hills seemed even harder to scale and descend.

One of us decided to stay at one end and be picked up later rather than try and retrace the path. So that she didn’t have to wait too long we set off at the best scramble pace we could. My ticker was doing a workout in no time. The dogs were loving this faster pace. No problems with their tickers. They were having a blast.

I decided that I could tick the box for exercise today. and as I don’t want to heave more than I have to up these hills on future visits …we have to carry our painting gear, etc, as well…I also decided to stop making excuses and join my brother in reducing the ‘Over-size’. It’s time. Hopefully, when I see him in July we can do a happy wiggle dance together 😛

Motutaiko Island

Motutaiko Island



Magic Remedies

Hinemaiaia River

Latitude: -38.8499966

Longitude: 176.0166666

It’s been two weeks since we went out sketching together…my fault entirely as I had given myself a concussion after having an altercation with a garden pot, and then got a bout of the prevailing flu. Finally, though,  we were off on another adventure and I, for one, was pretty keen. It’s felt like an age.

Our destination today, was up the Hinemaiaia River. Bouyed up by clear blue skies and a brisk frost, we piled into the car with all our gear. Cranking up the heater and rubbing our hands together while quickly catching  up with each other we realised how we each, in our own set of circumstances, was struggling a bit. Saying helped.

A path created by anglers keen to have a go in the mill pond waters of the dam became our little sun-drenched sanctuary for the morning.and we all began to have a go at getting an impression of this little beauty down on paper.



As luck would have it, in  just two days the 30×30 Direct Watercolor 2018 challenge begins,. This is a watercolour challenge to create 30 paintings in 30 days. Part of the aim is to not use pencil or ink but the watercolour itself to do the defining and drawing. As preparation for this we all had a go trying to follow this new method. It’s hard not to want definite boundaries to paint within, especially when the wet paint runs into other wet paint. I know, they are all ‘happy little accidents’. I tried to remind myself of this.


Time seems to disappear so fast when we are out sketching. But the really neat thing was that our ‘troubles’ disappeared too. Nothing works quite so well as time with others, enjoying fresh air, warm sun and amazing beauty. A few good laughs together, not taking ourselves too seriously as we painted in a new manner, and feeling heard are all magic remedies which we each took a good swig of. Mary Poppins would have been proud

The magic worked.


An ‘Eeyore Weather’ Day

Week 5: HATEPE

Latitude: -38.856212

Longitude: 176.014326

I fell in love with the quaint cottages all grown topsy-turvy and nestled in close to each other with little lanes almost too narrow to drive down connecting them all. Once again we didn’t have enough time here to paint all I’d like to have a ‘go at’. I’ll have to pop back over the hill another day.



Found a great website telling the history of Hatepe. It describes it perfectly. Have a read here. They definitely got it right. Being the end of Autumn and a grey. blustery kind of day with lots of showers, we didn’t see the fishing, hiking, type activities. In fact, we saw only one fisherman returning from a romp up the river away from the blustery winds, and no one else at all. Wisely, they must have been all bunkered down inside keeping out of the weather’s way.

We were holed up in Claire’s van each painting the view from a different window and being thankful that the rain couldn’t get us. Memories are made this way. Despite the weather, I am really glad we made the effort to go. Out painting new sights with like-minded friends is a great way to spend an ‘Eeyore weather’ day. Much better than staying at home.



Too Hot For LongJohns

Week 4: Waitahanui River

Latitude: -37.83333

Longitide: 176.5999976

It was too hot for longjohns, but who was to know. It had been a cold wind blowing through us all for a few days, like Winter was nearly here. So we came out to sketch all prepared to ward off the cold drafts that seep through your jacket and up between your layers. We had beanies and jackets, vests and longjohns. We were prepared.

But we had prepared for the WRONG season!

This day was an Autumn picture-perfect, glorious sunny day with clear blue skies and virtually no wind at all. We were UNprepared for this surprise gift.

Starting at the river mouth we listened to the rhythmical slosh slosh of the gentle waves. Seagulls standing perfectly still for an age staring out to the far shores. Ducks and swans  enjoying a gentle paddle in the still waters. All of us dotted around sketching the vista before us…


the bar and lake view…


turning 180 in the same spot and sketching the State Highway 1 Bridge over the Bridge pool. 

Doug and Shirley had come to fish just to make sure that we had some people fishing. The recent bad weather had sent everyone back inside and yet, Waitahanui River is renown for it’s Trout fishing, especially Rainbow trout of really good size. To make our drawings authentic to this area we needed some fisherman doing their stuff. It made a good study for us all drawing moving people casting those lines out, the flash of light on the nylon skimming across the water, trying again to reach another eddy. Sadly for them there wasn’t much fishing luck, but they had lots of appreciation for their efforts to help our sketching.


Eventually though we also began to give up one by one as we got soo hot sitting by the river edge with as many layers as was decent already stripped off. One expiring sweetheart came over to say she was leaving as she just had to go home and take her longjohns off. Even the most awesome sketching opportunities and fantastic company need to stop when it’s  too hot for your longjohns. 

Next week we’ll be better prepared… hopefully.

A Great Group of Birds

Latitude -38.71068303 Longitude 176.08646320

Week 3 of #360in365. (week 2 was a public holiday here in NZ, being ANZAC Day)

Our destination was Kaiwaka Point. To be honest none of us have ever heard it called this, but the map had it named and Uncle Google agrees, so who are we to disagree. Kaiwaka Point it is.

Trying to find a spot out of the wind to draw, while still keeping that all important sun…Autumn is really here now… we enjoyed a lovely spot sporting golden Autumn colour in the trees with ducks and swans hiding in the sheltered bay as well.


I love the camaraderie as we all have a go at painting the same scene together. They’re a great group of birds. ‘Nana Wendy’ gives the kids an ‘on the spot’ art lesson. We all have a giggle when she falls off her stool rather less than gracefully. But we do love the gift of joy she brings with her.


After saying ‘Goodbyes’ I go to the next bay to continue sketching as I have a while to kill till my next appointment in town. Picking up my paints to carry on I am suddenly aware of quite a few visitors…the girls have come for tea! Ducks sporting fashionable rust reds with blue bonnets, or demure browns and fawns are waddling right up to my seat…another great group of birds!

Trying not to move too suddenly I surreptitiously take a few photos so I can paint these girls in to my sketch later, though they seemed so eager to stay and chat that I think I could have drawn them from life quite easily. Maybe next time…



Hasn’t it Been A While

Well, hasn’t it been a while since I’ve written on my blog. I wish I could say I have been sunning myself in Tahiti…don’t we all?…but, instead we have shifted into a wonderful little ‘do-er upper-er’. With no fences on some sides and rotten fences on others, we have been running since the moment we got here. It’s also a down-sizing event as there are no children left at home now. I didn’t realize how hard it is to part with ‘stuff’ until committing to this venture. To start with every room and the garage too where bulging at the seams and as the year has progressed I have worked my way from room to room culling and re-culling. It’s still a work in progress.

As for art, I spent the last year of shifting and culling, teaching a range of art classes while my own creativity languished in a corner. This present year has seen my studio space begin to emerge and with it a few fun ventures back into creative land including a new adventure that began today.

Having bought our own little piece of paradise I decided it was time to learn about my new backyard. I know it’s the biggest freshwater lake in Australasia but I’ve never circumnavigated it, and would love to explore more. So, full of zeal and craziness I have committed to sketching my way around the entire lake in one year. Our new adventure is called #360in365.

A few brave souls have expressed interest at coming along with me as they are able which will be really nice to have their company and encouragement…I hope I haven’t bitten off more than I can chew, but, hey, it wouldn’t be the first time!!!

So, today we started here at home with a visit to Huka Falls. Nothing like starting big where you have people looking over your shoulder all morning…sorry, Claire…and a subject that is quite difficult. Perhaps we should have gone the other way around the lake…too late now. The rain held off beautifully till our first sketch was done and then we sat in the car to sketch the local kiosk. Busloads of tourists from every country were bustling around and providing us with entertainment as we tried to get them quickly down on paper.

Didn’t take long though and being true women we got talking with both the art and the tourists falling off our radar. Nothing quite like a good chinwag to get you all connected and satisfied with life.

So, until next week’s adventure, here’s my sketches from today. Enjoy.


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Pakira Marae Opening in Waitahanui

A special day was dawning so in the dark  we all gathered outside waiting to be welcomed in. The call went out and slowly the crowd moved through. We filed along with them expectant. Ipads and camera flashes illuminating the dark along with fire drums emitting both light and heat. The drone overhead capturing the moments for everyone. Such a variety of people…plenty of colour amidst the sea of black clothes.

Arriving at the door of the meeting house we followed the example of those before and took our shoes off carrying them with us to avoid the incredible confusion that would occur if a thousand shoes were left at the door and you had to try and retrieve a matching pair afterwards (that appealed to my messed up brain and I saw a cartoon emerging 🙂 )


I was amazed standing in the line outside as to how many people reached up and touched the carving over the door. Inside was even more so. Admiration abounding for  the artwork and carvings with lots of ooh’s and aahs and affectionate touching of the works. Imagine going into the Louvre and touching the paintings? It wouldn’t be allowed and yet here it was pretty standard practice. A tactile people, maybe?


Finding a corner out of the road of the masses I had a go at capturing the scene in front of me. I may have no reason to come back here and I want to remember the insides well. Panels interspersed the woven walls with a panel for Ratana and another in the centre top. A big carved statue was on the floor in the middle.  A simple design, but very effective.


People gathered outside and through the wharekai (Foodhouse or kitchen). SO many catchups and conversations. People greeting each other with the traditional hongi and a kiss. There were soooo many scenes and interesting people that I would have loved to sketch but I need to do more work on honing my ‘fast’ skills…30 seconds or less is a pretty hard call.

After breakfast at the local community hall there was a Haka Powhiri.  Good, loud and fierce. Then inside again for speeches and song.  After a few speeches, a man in a blue suit stood and began to sing. A beautiful voice and right on key. Many joined him and some with harmonies. Then after he had spoken the Ratana Brass Band played a hymn very tastefully.


For a little Pakeha (white) girl who grew up with virtually no Maori contact, I am constantly surprised on our return to the Land of the Long White Cloud, at how strong the Maori culture is now. Although English was spoken today, the Maori language was much more prevalent. I heard parents talking to their kids in Maori, greetings in Maori… ‘morena’ is my new word for the day…speeches and singing totally in Maori. They have a respect for the elderly common to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders we previously lived with.  Today was an opportunity to show respect to my fellow Waitahanui community. …to give them honour. May they enjoy their new marae.

#Grateful for this opportunity

Kindness in Rotorua

They offered and I accepted. And thus, we got to spend a day together travelling over to Rotorua for my appointment at the hospital.

This was only Miss C’s 2nd trip to New Zealand, and her first to the North Island. I knew that she was seeing more of the country by taking me over but how exciting was it really for two girls in their early 20’s to take one of their mothers for her hospital visit? I felt kinda guilty for taking away their precious time together, especially as they had been planning this visit for such a long time.

Instead of worrying I decided to make the most of the day as best I could. It’s true that we didn’t race down the luge at frightening speeds together, Hang glide across the lake, or zip through the forest canopy on a harness, which I know they would have LOVED! But, we had lots of laughs as we chatted about this and that, had lunch at the Lakeside Cafe and enjoyed the glistening sunshine on a lovely day at the end of Winter.


I would have loved to have stopped here and there to do my sketching on location but there was only so much I could ask of them, so instead they happily drove round the roundabout a few times until I had a photo I could sketch from later. Fun can come in many forms 🙂 The clock tower in Rotorua is an icon of the area.


All still feeling adventurous, we hived over the hill to the Blue and Green Lakes. It has been years since I have been up there. And, although Miss C was looking at all those hills and wanting desperately to go and conquer them, Miss J kept the laughter and silliness going to keep her from being too bored with our little dilly dallies around the lake edges. We are really blessed here in New Zealand to have such beautiful scenery all year round.


We hived over yet another hill on our return home to the Wai-O-tapu geothermal area. Watching that mud plop and steam was fascinating. You found yourself kind of mesmerized as you anticipated the next plop, or how high it would go. Miss C got a lesson on how the geothermal works in our area (once a teacher…always a teacher. I just couldn’t help myself 😦  She was polite enough to be enthralled.)

I was really grateful to these girls for the day. Their kindness in being so willing to drive me over to save me pain. Their enthusiasm for the activities we did do, albeit not at their energy or ability levels. They thought of someone else other than themselves and in this day and age you don’t always see too much of that quality. Thank you Miss J and Miss C for the day. It was appreciated greatly.