Last Of The Summer Fruits At Our BnB

Figs mark the end of summer for us and are something we often associate with Easter.

Figs are one of those fruit that have a short season, and when they’re available we gobble them for breakfast, dessert and pre-drink nibbles. Figs go wonderfully with with cheese, particularly mozzarella, blue cheese and goat’s cheese. I like them stuffed with blue cheese or goat’s cheese and roasted quickly in a very hot oven. They’re also beautiful when paired with cured meats like prosciutto or ham and drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Figs are very delicate and perishable, and it is not a great idea to pick figs that aren’t completely ripe as they don’t continue to ripen once they’re off the tree; they may soften after a few days at room temperature, but they don’t develop the same flavour. We get our figs from heritage trees which grow wild down at one of our local beaches, and we like to pick them when they yield to a gentle squeeze but don’t feel mushy.

Fig_and_yogurt_breakfastBrunch or Breakfast Treats

The earthy sweetness of the figs is well complemented by the tang of yoghurt; we liked to use coconut yoghurt. We poach the figs in honey and vanilla and pile them onto sweet pastry cases. We then serve them dolloped with yoghurt, a wee sprinkle of cinnamon and a topping of walnuts, pistachios or almonds. They’re good.

As stewed figs also freeze well, we can serve up our fig tartlets outside autumn. I can serve them to our guests all year round, or as long as they last without being gobbled up!

Again, as with the other blog posts, the photo on the right is not mine; I am hopeless with a camera, even on a phone. This “found photo”, however, is pretty similar to how our fig tartlets look when served up as brunch or breakfast treats (except we add more figs). We got our inspiration for these goodies through a recipe from Wendy Campbell’s French Bistro which was in Martinborough.

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Breakfast at our B&B

Oven Baked Breakfast Rosti With Smoked Salmon

Thanks to Sarah Barnes from for this great recipe. These rostis are quick to whip up and they freeze beautifully. I slightly undercook the rostis so they can be freshened up in the oven for a couple of minutes.
These breakfast rostis are great to have on hand as a gluten-free option.

  • 2.5kg potatoes
  • 6 tsps wholegrain mustard
  • 4 eggs
  • fresh dill chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 200g butter
To serve
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado slices
  • Smoked salmon
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Salt and pepper
  • More fresh dill
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. Peel and grate the potatoes and then squeeze out  all the liquid by piling the grated potato into a clean muslin cloth or tea towel and twisting it together into a ball, hard.
  3. Stir in the mustard, beaten eggs, plenty of salt and black pepper.
  4. Brush 2 muffin trays (24 holes) with the melted butter and pour the rest of the butter into the potato mixture and stir.
  5. Divide the mixture between the tins, pressing down into each muffin hole.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden and crisp.
To serve
  1. When the rosti are cooked, allow them to stand for 5 minutes, before loosening the edges with a round ended knife and ‘popping’ them out.
  2. Fill the rostis with sour cream and top with slices of avocado, smoked salmon and a slice of fresh tomato. Sprinkle with fresh dill, a wee drizzle of balsamic glaze, salt and pepper.
  3. I also serve these with bacon, tomato, avocado and basil

We take breakfast to our guests in their room where they can eat it in the lounge or on the deck enjoying the views out over the park and Hauraki gulf. We’re only 45 minutes from Auckland and close to Orewa, Warkworth and Matakana.

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orewa bed and breakfast accommodation

Orewa lies on the Hibiscus Coast

Just north of the base of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and is only 40 kilometres north of central Auckland you’ll find Orewa. Famous for its beautiful beach, 3km of golden sand that all kids enjoy, Orewa is perfect for a day trip or a long weekend escape to a comfortable bed and breakfast away from home.

Orewa is a lot less crowded than many other beach-side places this close to Auckland and the beach is clean with great playgrounds and cafes all in safe walking, or bike riding, distance.

Orewa is a great destination if you like swimming, surfing, kayaking, windsurfing and kite surfing. For coastal views, you can’t beat a stroll along the Millennium Walkway. Orewa also has a comprehensive shopping centre and a wide selection of eating places.

A recommended way to pass a very agreeable hour is cycling the Te Ara Tahuna – a 7.5km walkway / cycleway around the Orewa Estuary. The 2.5m-wide path includes 5 bridges and state-of-the-art lighting to create a safe, shared space for pedestrians and cyclists. The route is entirely off-road, although there is a road bridge with footpath on the Hibiscus Coast Highway. There is a short uphill section on the bridge over the Orewa River at the western-most point of the pat and a couple of other gentler slopes, but overall the route is mostly sealed and quite easy to ride.

Orewa has everything you need for a good old-fashioned beach holiday – even if it is just for a weekend. Stay with us at Mahurangi West Wing Bed and Breakfast which is just a quick drive up the road and you’ll leave feeling refreshed and ready to take on your next challenge!

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Puhoi River Kayaks

Auckland: Puhoi’s paddling playground

Novice kayaker Debbie Griffiths and kids go down a lazy river.

The six-year-old seems a little bemused when he glances back at me from the front of the kayak.

“This is fun; we haven’t even capsized yet!”

It turns out Nate had been keeping his serious misgivings about this adventure to himself. We’ve already exceeded his low expectations of our kayak trip by remaining inside the vessel.

A 20-minute drive from our North Shore home gets us to the rural settlement of Puhoi on a crisp, clear Saturday morning. This historic community was originally settled by people from Bohemia in the mid-1800s on the promise of free land, Kathy Mankelow’s ancestors among them. After a stint working overseas, she returned to the settlement 22 years ago with husband Cody to begin their own family.

They set up a weekend kayaking business from their home, which backs on to the river so that Kathy could stay at home while the kids grew.

“It got so busy that it quickly became full time for both of us,” she explains.

Puhoi River Canoe Hire is now popular for corporate team building days as well as for day trippers, tourists and families with children aged three years and up. Cody tells me it’s the repeat business that makes it particularly satisfying.

“We get people who remember coming here as a 10-year-old and now bring their own children for a paddle.”

It’s a friendly and warm family operation and the years of experience mean it’s a well organised, tidy set-up without that sterile “sausage factory” feel.

When we arrive, several other groups are being briefed about the route they’ll take down the river, which includes a map and helpful photographs. Others are being fitted for lifejackets and shown the correct way to paddle.

Puhoi translates to mean “slow water” and that’s the big drawcard for families. It’s a safe 8km-long glide down towards the coast with the outgoing tide. More experienced paddlers are encouraged to paddle up for a kilometre first to see Puhoi township or to branch off to explore Hungry Creek River before doubling back to continue on to Wenderholm Regional Park.

Our family has booked two double kayaks and are advised to paddle upstream first to get a feel for them so that we can easily return to get any problems fixed on our way back past headquarters. Husband and 10-year-old Asher are confident and soon disappear around the first bend with Nate and I close behind. Birds, the splash of the paddles and the breeze in the trees are the only things we hear as we watch the changing landscape.

Crowded overhanging willow trees soon thin out and the river widens as we pass green paddocks dotted with cows. As we near the estuary, we see the mudflats.

“Cool. Look at those birds.”

Asher has spotted a pair of herons gliding across the river to land on the bank ahead of us. That begins the game of “what bird do you see?” in which Nate scores big with ducks, a kingfisher and a circling hawk.

It’s not long before we’re approaching the bend in the river that runs underneath then alongside State Highway One. On a day when feeling “at one with nature” was the main aim, this close proximity to modern life is the part I was least looking forward to. The traffic, though, is a mere murmur and gliding under the road bridge proves fascinating to all of us.

After that, the passing cars are forgotten and we’re back to studying crabs on the marshlands and discussing likely homes for crocodiles and other deliciously ridiculous things that young kids and parents chat about when there’s no homework or after-school activities to rush off to.

I’m surprised that despite the dozen or so other kayakers who were being launched into the water when we arrived, we hardly ever see anyone else. The peaceful river is ours.

Older child, Asher, is enthusiastic about WaterWise lessons in school and now takes the chance to relax with her feet over the side while dad paddles. Nate – who’s revealed himself as a nervous Nelly – has been given a kid’s paddle that doesn’t need to be turned and now feels confident enough to dip each side into the water.

“Wow!” he exclaims again. “This is so much fun!”

The double kayak is easy for me to paddle and control thanks to the rudder. Another dad is assisting his daughter with a tow-rope attached to his single seater. There are options for everyone to enjoy the day. One woman I chat to afterwards had not paddled before and is thrilled by the experience.

“That was so lovely,” she says.

“I have some amazing photos and I’ll definitely do it again.”

Kathy agrees it’s the perfect introduction to kayaking for beginners.

“The river is so slow-moving, it’s considered safe enough for customers to go down by themselves,” she says.

“It gives first-time paddlers the confidence to go on to try sea kayaking or faster-moving rivers.”

About two hours after setting off, we reach Wenderholm. We’re helped out of the kayaks and given a ride back to our vehicle in Puhoi. We have packed a picnic but the historic Puhoi Pub is also an option for lunch – it’s just steps from the Canoe Hire property and has plenty of tables out front where kayakers can eat and drink in the sun.

I find it’s sometimes difficult to gauge whether kids have enjoyed a new experience but, in this case, it proves easy.

When we get home, Nate writes a story about his kayaking trip. He calls it: “My super duper amazing day out.”


Puhoi River Canoe Hire is open daily from September 1 until June 30. The river is tidal so bookings are essential to ensure your kayaking adventure coincides with the high tide. Contact Kathy or Cody to find out the best time for the date you’d like to go out.

Need bed and breakfast accommodation and a quick break? Puhoi is just two kms from the end of Mahurangi West Road and paddling the Puhoi River is a great way to pass a few hours while staying at our B&B at Mahurangi West.

NZ Herald

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Less than an hour from Auckland city you will find one of New Zealand’s most picturesque destinations. Between Auckland city and Northland is 1500 square kilometres of rolling green countryside with stunning beaches, native bush, exotic islands, sheltered harbours and  coastal reserves, walking tracks, beautiful regional parks, boutique vineyards, friendly towns, villages, cafes, restaurants and  markets. The Matakana Coast area offers everything from a traditional Kiwi beachside holiday, to a day out wine-tasting at one of the many vineyards.

Matakana Village itself  is a small town in the Rodney District of New Zealand. Warkworth is about 9 km to the south-west, Snells Beach the same distance to the south, Omaha is about 7 km to the east, and Leigh is about 13 km to the north-east.

The area surrounding Matakana contains several vineyards and is well known for its farmers’ market, cinema, cafes, restaurants and boutique food shops.

As word has spread of Matakana as a lifestyle location and weekend getaway for many Aucklanders, so too has its popularity, transforming Matakana Coast & Country into one of New Zealand’s hottest new holiday destinations.

Mahurangi West, on the Matakana cost is about 5 kms from Puhoi, the gateway to the Matakana Coast and about a 30 minute drive to Matakana Village. Mahurangi West is a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of Matakana and is only a 10 minute drive from Ransom’s Winery. We offer luxury bed and breakfast accommodation and have excellent walking tracks through the Mahurangi Park and along the coast.

Call us on 09 4220521 for more information about the B&B accommodation at Mahurangi West Wing or go to our reservations page to make a booking.

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bed and breakfast warkworth


These dolphins were happily playing just outside the Mahurangi Harbour. Jenni and her husband Brett, our neighbours at Mahurangi West, took this video while out in their lovely boat , Rosanna.

We often get some quite large pods of orca coming in to Mahurangi Harbour during winter and spring as they chase stingray. Quite a sight!

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