Last weekend we were back in Tutukaka, and got to experience some great visibility and dive sites. This trip we dove 2 days, with 2 different operators. Darin and I decided we prefer Poor Knights Divers to Dive Tutukaka, mainly because Dive Tutukaka is a larger operator, has bigger boats, and thus has more divers on board. Poor Knights has a new, fast catamaran. The dive operators seem to visit the same areas, so there's no difference there. Lunch, however, was much better on Poor Knights- we got fresh smoked, locally caught marlin, mmm!! And, they gave us a kick ass deal on the trip. But really no complaints about Dive Tutukaka- in fact I really liked the dive site overviews and background about the islands. Oh, and their steps to get back on the boat are better.
Let me see if I can remember the dive site names... my favorite was probably Middle Arch, for its overall healthy fish, encrutsing coral, and kelp environment. This is where we saw the boarfish (first fish photo) and tons of stingrays. Second favorite was Jan's Cave or Cove. You swim into this channel, getting shallower as it narrows, then under an arch, and surface inside a private "lost world". There's a big dark cave, too. The other sites were Trevor's reef and Nursery Cove. The visibility was nearly as good as in Hawaii, and the water was still warm. There was only minor current surge at Middle Arch. We've been to the Poor Knights Islands 3 times now, and even though the conditions are calm at the islands, it has always been rough crossing. It is so worth the ride, though! The islands are a marine preserves, so there are lots of HUGE snapper, and other yummy fish like the odd-looking John Dory and Kingfish. Well I guess the photos can show you just how great it was. What was also great was meeting new people. We stayed with our friend Roberta and her coworker/friends Graham and Darren. Graham makes a mean cup of tea! I also met a couple people from a dive club in Auckland, which I have been intending to join. Getting away from work was just so great. I try to avoid posting anything about work, because it's not often fun, and this blog is my escape from thinking about work. It's a good thing they pay me.
Now another weekend is at its end, and I dread having to leave the warm fire and get into the cold bed. We worked hard and played hard this weekend: We played the game Settlers with my sister and her husband on Friday, using the Seafarer's expansion pack for the first time, and I won (narrowly). Great game, sort of like Risk but with resource cards instead of armies. Saturday, Darin rented a woodchipper and made mulch out of all the tree and shrub trimmings from our yard. We also picked up the new hens, which were bought from a nice family in nearby Henderson Valley. The hens are 2 years old, so egg production had dropped off, and the dad wanted to make some modifications to the coop. They are very nice birds, and I was really sad we had to cull some, but we just cannot have 14 hens in our small coop. So we culled 7 of the 11 new chickens (butchered for dog and cat food). Earlier this morning, we met my friend Aleada at the monthly outdoor arts market in Titirangi, then went to lunch (home cooking, mmmm!) at another friend's house, meeting spouses and kids along too. I tried a new recipe and made pumpkin soup for dinner, since we had volunteer pumpkin plants in our garden. It turned out great! Find it here if you're interested. The recipe doesn't say to blend it, but DO put it in the blender. Also, I added 3 chipotle peppers in adobo with the pumpkin. Then you don't need the black pepper.