Summer Is Here And I’m Lovin’ It

November 29, 2013
Iain MacLeod

I love this time of year. Early summer. Mother Nature flicking her season switch about three weeks ago when almost overnight temperatures went from 17-18 degrees Celsius to 24-26 degrees. Balmy evenings and overnight temperatures of 15-16 degrees. A warming ocean.

Last weekend I was up north at my beach house with some friends. There I was Sunday, swimming in a somewhat tepid Pacific Ocean about to catch another wave that had risen on an easterly swell when I turned and said to my buddy, ’Man, if this is global warning I do hope you left the car engine running when we came down to the beach’. Sorry Greenpeace but it does have some advantages….I don’t recall the sea being this warm at this time of year.

We have up here in the north of the country had little rain in recent weeks and already with higher temperatures the soil is starting to dry out. I was amazed at what I call ‘March cracks’ appearing in our garden at the beach last weekend. No substantial rain for six weeks has the gardeners and famers fearing a second consecutive year of debilitating drought.

However this is New Zealand and six weeks of warm to hot weather with low rainfall doesn’t necessarily mean a long dry summer. In these parts we could still have the wettest, hottest, driest, windiest, cloudiest and sunniest (or some combo of them all) before summer ends in April.

For now things are great.

The garden is full of flowers. The blue grey flax plants that grow 4 meter flower spikes are in full bloom, attracting many local native nectar feeders like Tuis and Waxeyes that have hungry broods to feed.

We are also now seeing native birds, long lost from this part of New Zealand returning to Lang’s Beach and surrounds. It is thought a number of Bellbird and Kaka (a species of large native parrot) flew the 15 kilometres last summer from their drought ravaged offshore refuges to the mainland in search of food and water. Many have stayed. So now we awake to the melodic single tone warbles of the Bellbird – it is quite mesmerising. That such a song can come from a bird the size of a starling seems incongruous. We have at least one nesting pair round the beach house now.

We also hear the raucous screech of the kaka as they fly in search of food.

Over the past few years I have been setting poison out in traps for rats. I am about to start setting traps for ferrets and stoats which have ravaged New Zealand mainland native bird populations. One of my less intelligent forebears brought these killers to NZ a hundred plus years ago to deal with the exploding introduced rabbit populations. The rabbits, an introduced species, had no natural predators and having been introduced were off doing what rabbits do so well and their offspring were laying waste to newly cleared farmland. Showing an ignorance we might find pretty hard to comprehend today, because in England ferrets, stoats and weasels eat rabbits they assumed these furry Mustelids would do the same in New Zealand. Of course the ferrets quickly realised catching a rabbit can be quite hard work – far easier to go after the native birds, many of which, like the Kiwi are flightless and slow and if they could smile, probably would. The result has been nothing short of ecological disaster.

Now however many of us are fighting back on behalf of these native birds and reptiles through the use of humane traps and poisons.

There are fewer more wonderful sounds than the dawn chorus of a New Zealand forest that is functioning as it used to before all those introduced predators moved in. It is going to take a lot of work and many years of planting native trees and fighting back against these pests but to see a Kaka fly overhead, a Tui being chased by a rival, to hear a Bellbird at dawn, makes the fight and effort both justified and worthwhile.

I plan on giving my beach house neighbours predator traps for Christmas.

So as summer unfolds we will continue to see temperatures rise slowly through the mid to high twenties Celsius. The nights will get more humid and muggy and battles against the mosquitos will rage.

The sun now rises around 6.30am and on the longest day on 22 December it will set around 8.45pm up here in the North. It sets about an hour later at the bottom of the South Island.

Summers always hold the promise of being outdoors and doing all those things New Zealanders love and take for granted – children riding their bikes and playing with their friends in the many playgrounds, playing cricket and football, al fresco dining with friends on decks, trips to the beach, teenage romances, car trips to explore new places, picnics and exploring all that is on offer here.

Which seems quite a bit. I see that this week 17,000 readers of The Daily Telegraph in the UK voted New Zealand to be the number one holiday destination. Here is what the paper said:

“The Land of the Long White Cloud casts its spell over many people in many places, but seems to exert a special hold over British travellers”

“Apart from its sheer physical beauty, New Zealand is also a very compact country, which is fully geared to the needs of time-poor visitors, whether you’re enjoying a family campervan trip or staying at a top-notch country lodge.”

New Zealand’s people – “friendly, relaxed and a little eccentric” – were singled out as being one of the country’s biggest assets.

“Passionate travellers themselves, New Zealanders are the world’s most natural hosts.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

I am lucky. I live here. I get to enjoy all this every weekend I am in the country. I sincerely hope that those of you who have recently moved here get out to places like Tauwharanui Regional Park, Shakespeare Park and Goat Island Marine Reserve over the summer (especially those of you from crowded cities like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and further afield). You won’t know yourselves.

Respect the ocean, put on plenty of sunscreen (burn times here are only around 8 minutes by February given the air is so clear and free of dust and pollutants), grab a bucket and spade, make some sandcastles with your kids and take your rubbish home with you when you leave. This is not Africa or Asia people…..!!!!

I have said it before but it always saddens me how many of our clients especially from South East Asia so seldom seem to go and enjoy the beaches and forests that surround us in this country. All moved here for a variety of reasons but children’s education and/or lifestyle being the two top – yet so many don’t make the effort to get out and live that lifestyle.

I hope this summer I will see more of you out and about and enjoying everything that is so wonderful about this country.

For me, one finial trip to Malaysia and Singapore presenting seminars this Sunday and the following Saturday respectively. I am treating myself to some scuba diving at Sipadan in Borneo in mid-December with my youngest son before returning home.

Although we will send out an email to all clients soon we are closing on 20 December for our summer break and re-opening for business on Monday 13 January.

I am counting the days.

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