A Tour of Hawke’s Bay Seafoods

Hawke's Bay Seafood case

In my quest for clam meat that I don’t have to buy in a can from the American store in Auckland, I came across Hawke’s Bay Seafoods website one day. I was actually overwhelmed at the amount of different types they offered. Razor, moon, cloudy, tua tua, and frozen chopped clams. The clams I AM able to find come in a shell, vacuum packed and cost a LOT of money. Having never even shucked a clam before, I couldn’t imagine that the few clams in that bag would even be found in a pot of clam chowder.

I perused the options on their site and found that the razor clams seemed to be the best deal and I’d get 2 pounds of them for around $25. SOLD to the lady with the Old Bay Seasoning! Since shipping was reasonable, I figured I’d look for some more things. Low and behold….ON SALE was a huge bag of HEADLESS (finally), deveined and de-tailed (is that a word?) frozen shrimp. I could even choose the size of shrimp I wanted. Again, a fantastic price around the same as the clams. I couldn’t WAIT for my order to show up!!

frozen prawn meat New Zealand
I need to start calling them ‘prawns’ instead of shrimp

My order arrived the next day and I put it all in the freezer until I needed them. I was really thrilled at the amount of clams in the bag and the prawns were big and meaty. I felt RICH!

Frozen razor clams new zealand
Frozen razor clams

Knowing pretty much nothing about clams in their natural state, I let these babies thaw out and then realized that was a SHELL on them! Here I was thinking I’d have a ton of meat if I cut these into small pieces. Hah…what a dummy I am. So I dug out the meat which still yielded a fair amount, but it did take some work. Ok, lesson learned. By the way, the chowder turned out great.

I had emailed into HB Seafoods with unsolicited advice on some errors on their website. After hearing from Adam in Customer Support, who was more than happy to have me send in some corrections, also invited me to come by for a tour next time I was in the neighborhood. I was totally down with that and met up with him last week when I went to Napier.

Hawke's Bay Seafoods bait sales
Loading dock entrance

HBS (as I’ll call it from now on) has a nice shop on the corner selling fresh seafood and also has a takeaway counter. The outfit looked pretty large and I wasn’t sure where to go, so I started there. He pointed me over to a two storey building next door and I popped into reception and met up with Adam.

He showed me out to the balcony where we could see their fleet of boats in the port (unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of that) and then around the nice, modern office space. On the other side of the building, we could peer down into the receiving bay and he pointed out the huge coolers full of seafood that could find themselves in Japan in a couple of days.

A huge scale where they weigh their bounty

Adam told me how HBS started off in a very small section of this street corner they were on and grew into this huge outfit today. We dove right in as I watched large containers of fish sloshing around on a forklift below. Downstairs we went and he took me by the chiller room.

Hawke's Bay Seafoods cold storage
I’m shivering just looking at this

I really should’ve gotten a photo of me with “smoke” coming out of my mouth when he pulled back the heavy plastic curtain that kept the cold contained in there. WHOA…this is not a place you’d want to stick your tongue on anything…you’d never get it off of there. I swear if I would’ve thrown a glass of water up in the air, it would’ve frozen before it hit the floor. Brrrrrrrr.

We then went into a room where bins of fresh fish were awaiting the cutting board for their internet orders. They had a handful of folks working in the back, filleting fish and packing up orders to ship out that day.

New Zealand crayfish

Then I got to see the shellfish room! A huge tank of crayfish bubbled away while some clams hung out in calm water next to them.

New Zealand crayfish

tua tua clams
Tua tua clams from Marlborough

I asked why those crayfish were always so expensive here ($95/kg) and he explained it was due to all of the overhead costs of sending out the boat, paying the fishermen and still trying to make a marginal profit. They don’t have trouble selling them, though. Often they’re consumed on special occasions or by visitors to New Zealand who like to indulge on things they don’t get back home.

Hawke's Bay Seafood case

We walked over to the shop where I got to have a better look at the cabinet (hey, there are those clams up there!) and told me that people could purchase their fresh seafood and also have it cooked to their liking on the spot!

This got us talking about preparing seafood and he generously offered up some fish for me to take home. I admitted I wasn’t a huge fan of fish and I didn’t really even know how to cook it. When I had bought fish, it was either to make ceviche or give to my snakes. So we went back to the cooler where those bins of fish were and he picked up two large trevally’s.

trevally fish hawke's bay seafood

He reminded me that these were still swimming last night (then I felt kinda bad). We walked back to the processing room and had his pro cutter fillet these for me.

Having already forgotten the name of the fish, I asked again and then joked that it sounded like an Italian guy’s last name. So I kept repeating ‘Tony Trevally’ in my head on the drive home so I wouldn’t forget.

In less time than it would take to sing a Sinatra song, my fish was wrapped up and put in a chilly bin for the drive home! I told him I’d give ceviche a go and let him know how it turned out.

Thanks for the memories, Adam! The fish was really good and here’s how I prepared it…

Simply put, I love ceviche, but it’s usually reserved for when I go to the Caribbean. I had eaten some lionfish ceviche when I was in Belize last and it was time to make my own now.

No fresh jalapenos here in the winter

Ceviche is a method of cooking seafood in a citrus juice, such as lime. The acids in the juice work to literally “cook” the fish and you eat it cold. Some of the main ingredients in ceviche would be onion, jalapeno or some fiery pepper, tomato, salt, pepper and cilantro. I perused some recipes out there since it’d been a while and threw in some finely grated garlic using my planer and incorporated a bit of orange juice in with the lime. I also added cucumber since I failed to get any avocado and read that if you heavily salt the onion, it leaches out the water and makes it less bitter, so I did that.

ceviche ingredients
Pink sea salt on the onion then drained (see it sweating?)

I used the smaller fillet, which was still a ton and chopped it into small bite sized pieces, then put into a large bowl.

Then I threw in all of the veggies and covered it with the juice.

ceviche New Zealand style

Stir it up well and let the magic happen.

ceviche New Zealand style

Now, what everyone said in their recipe was to wait 30 minutes for it to “cook” and you should be good to go. Well, I don’t know what the problem was this time. Whether it was the fact that I bought NZ limes and they let them go yellow before they sell them or if it was because I had it in the fridge, but it literally took FOREVER before the fish was done.

30 minutes into it

Not even close at 30 minutes. I knew to stir it up so everything got coated with the lime and also knew it was best to be mostly submerged in it to cook evenly, so I pressed it flatter and stirred every 20 minutes or so.

Over an hour into it. This was supposed to be lunch.

The magic was working, albeit it very sloooooowly.

Dinner time

It was pretty much done by dinner time, when I had already made something else entirely! You can still see some raw parts so I just picked out the pieces that were done and had them with corn chips as an appetizer. The takeaway here: don’t count on a specific amount of time…eat it when it has turned white. It was really good…I couldn’t wait until (breakfast?) the following day and put them on corn tortillas for some fish tacos!

As I had been drifting off to sleep, I realized I wanted to drain most of the juice so it wouldn’t be a huge bowl of fishy mush by morning but I couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed.

Morning arrived and it was the first thing I did and it seemed to be just fine. For lunch, I heated some nice corn tortillas up and made tacos. I couldn’t believe how much I had in that bowl and felt like I was back in the tropics again! My boyfriend, who can’t stomach the idea of eating cold fish, left it all for me to have and it was even fine the day after that as well.

So thank you, Adam, for introducing me to the Trevally family. I froze the other large fillet so I may end up baking or pan frying it. By the way, the website is looking great…kudos to your team over there!

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Back To The Stomping Grounds: Part 2 – Virginia & Texas

BBQ at last!

Virginia: the place I spent my formative years until I left in 1989 (or was it ’90?). Although I couldn’t wait to leave, looking back, I’m glad I grew up there. A place rich in history and no end of interesting museums to visit in Washington, D.C., it was a melting pot of ethnicities which shaped who I am today.

My mother, knowing full well my love of BBQ (and specifically, Blacks BBQ from Lockhart, Texas) placed an order of my favorite ribs and brisket for a post birthday celebration. These Flintstone sized ribs easily make for a few meals and are fall apart tender.

blacks bbq ribs

Since I only get these when I come to the States, I try to get my fill as much as possible. Having quite a few things on my foodie wish list, a couple of things fell by the wayside so I could eat these ribs as much as possible (it wasn’t easy).

Camille enjoying the friendly banter

Bob and Camille arranged their trip up north to coincide with my arrival in Virginia and we played catch up after 4 years. We had met at mom’s while we hashed out our book together. Although it was too chilly to go for a walk around the lake (she was hoping I’d encounter another snake), we snuck out for a short walk up the street.

Cute as a button mushrooms

After a lovely dinner (and chocolate souffles), Camille unwrapped birthday gifts ranging from New Zealand honey products to an assortment of flavored lip balms (something she’s never without).

Bob and I exchanged stories of Belize and reminisced of how it used to be which gave me the warm fuzzies. Maybe someday we can all go back there together!

Here’s to our 12 year friendship and many more!

Another thing I look forward to when visiting is going to the grocery store. While you guys take this for granted (and see it as a chore), my eyes light up like it’s Christmas and I could spend way too much time seeing the amount of STUFF available for purchase.

I was absolutely blown away by the different kinds of fruits I saw in the store in my mom’s small town. A testament to the amount of immigrants who want a taste of home. I had never before seen jackfruit anywhere but Central America, yet here it was, among dragonfruit, huge aloe leaves and many other fruits. I love the idea of dragonfruit and always want to buy it when I see it, but forget how it can often be quite bland. Mom told me to get it since she had never eaten one. We weren’t impressed. With a name and look like that, it should be extremely exotic tasting. I combined it with a mango for breakfast and the colors looked great together.

Now here’s a little example of the difference between the U.S. and New Zealand:

Ice cream aisle in the U.S. (yes, it goes all the way to the end)
Ice cream section in New Zealand
Cheese selection in the U.S.
Cheese selection in New Zealand

Now some may say, “How many choices do you really need?” And honestly, I can say I miss Monterey Jack, Velveeta on occasion and some types of swiss cheese. But other than that, I can’t complain too much. Plus, I rarely eat ice cream so that doesn’t bother me. But when I want a decent cheddar, a very small piece can cost $12 here which doesn’t thrill me.

This display, however, stopped me dead in my tracks:

Ohhhh yeah

Being that mom lives far from a major town, a lot of driving was done and we visited some smaller towns nearby, like Woodstock.

It was fun looking at the antique shops and I even picked up a “new” computer from my childhood days!

A “computer” from 1972 which worked in mysterious ways

We popped into a vineyard one day and immediately found #48 row to mark my current birthday. I’m still getting through 48 therapy.

There was a crazy Trump house along a road we’d pass by often, so I just had to take a photo. I’d be mortified to be a neighbor.

I also spent a lot of time going through my stuff in storage. Mom was great about keeping things that were important to me as a child; one of them being this giant teddy bear I received from my Great Uncle when I was a few years old.

Not as plush as he used to be, but heck, he’s as old as me (and I’m not as plush either!).

Unfortunately, the time went by quickly and I was off to the great state of Texas to visit with dad at his lakehouse.

7 out of 10 people prefer a truck

BBQ was first on the list so we went to Opie’s and parked right next to the meat smokers….YUM!

Upon entering, you’re presented with the board of choices and a big pit where they kept a selection on hand.

I opted for the ribs as usual. That pork loin at the top puts NZ’s to shame.

Although it doesn’t look like much, it sent me over the edge as far as getting hungry again anytime soon. We took a lot home (other stuff not pictured).

The lake was lovely and buzzing with animal activity! Things I used to take for granted like lizards, birds, fish and deer all caught my attention as if I had never seen them before. I’m really deprived in NZ of this stuff.

No room for you!

Too many turtles to count! I liked feeding the little fish off the dock and seeing all varieties of water birds and hummingbirds go about their day. The deer were all over the place with little Bambi’s running around with them.

We took his boat around the lake for a tour of the upper 3% and pretty much found nobody to be home.

We visited a nice winery with the most immaculately manicured vineyard I think I’ve ever seen. A gentle reminder not to carry your gun inside was present at the gate.

A fat lizard chased ants around the patio and sat still long enough for a shot.

Cashing in on my recent birthday, Dad arranged a dinner at the old Chainsaw Massacre house for me! My friend and I had gone there a long time ago to meet the cast, have dinner (not THAT kind of dinner) and watch Chainsaw Massacre outside on a big screen. We even spent the night in one of the railroad cars on site. It was nice going back. They had added on and there was a large bar area, separate from the house itself.

The original Chainsaw Massacre house in Kingsland, Tx.
Me being choked by Leatherface on the first trip there

Craving seafood, I got the fried shrimp and huge baked potato and was surprised by a chocolate brownie cheesecake with amazing mascarpone cheese topping.

With my time nearing an end, we drove into San Antonio on a typical 100 degree day.

Ahhh it was already feeling good to be back home. It had been five years since I was there and where my new life began in Costa Rica. I hardly recognized 281 when approaching the city limit due to the amount of stores and housing going up. We passed by the Thousand Oaks exit near where I used to live and work and the memories came flooding back.

Seafood fondue at Bourbon St. Cafe

My friends indulged me and my craving for seafood fondue at a restaurant that was down the street from my old house. This is my “death row” meal, consisting of shrimp, crawfish, mushrooms and plenty of cheese and garlic bread. Far too much for me to eat this time around for a mere $12.

Fondue at the Melting Pot was another place on my list and was just as good as I remember it. We could’ve used more chocolate (although my thighs were screaming NOOOOOO!).

Dad was staying downtown at the Emma hotel near the Pearl, which was pretty unrecognizable to me with a lot more buildings having gone in since I was there last.

Pool at the Emma Hotel

I went back to this area of the riverwalk over the next couple of days and took advantage of the river taxi to take us down to the original section of the river and save my feet.

Little duckies look like bumblebees

I also made a visit to the Witte museum and saw these animatronic dinos.

My last day in San Antonio provided a final lunch of BBQ across the street at the Smoke Shack. The line was out the door so you know it had to be good.

I can still taste those ribs and that mac n cheese with brisket was brilliant. What I’d give for this again.

As I was being driven to the airport to begin the long journey back, I became a little misty. Feeling like I didn’t have enough time to do everything I wanted and the memories of leaving five years ago only served to remind me of where I am now. I still don’t regret any of my choices I made back then and know that San Antonio will always be there when I want to come back. I miss the people and places I knew so well and will try not to stay away so long.

Thanks to friends and family for making my visit the best ever! It means so much to me that you took the time and indulged me in my culinary desires. You’re welcome any time to this side of the world (just be sure you eat plenty of Mexican and BBQ before you come)!

 

Back To The Stomping Grounds: Part 1 Belize

The month of June took me back to the Americas with a birthday celebration in Belize for the seventh time. Travelling over 22,000 air miles round trip, it was not only a physical journey, but an emotional one as well. This is Part 1 of 2, starting off in Placencia, Belize.

I had decided that a night in Houston after my 14 hour flight was in order before heading to Belize the next day. A friend I hadn’t seen in 6 or 7 years picked me up and took me to my hotel where we caught up over a glass of wine. Even though my body time was about 10am, Mexican food was calling my name for dinner at 5pm.

I’d been dreaming of cheese enchiladas, rice and beans with a side of flour tortillas for a few years. Everything hit the mark and set the tone for my trip south where I’d be looking forward to Belizean food.

I showed up a day before my friend Dahnelle, to a lovely house along the canal in Placencia. This was a town I have flown into before, but never stayed, opting instead for accommodation on a caye. The landing strip was short, but at least the ocean was nearby in case the pilot overshot it (which has only happened once according to a local).

The Italian property manager, Stefano, met me there and gave me a run-down on the area. His thick accent and funny stories kept me in stitches and then left me as the sun went down to get acquainted with my home for the next 9 days. My first reptile encounter was this tiny gecko on the steps who willingly let me hold him for a photo then scurried off.

After an uncomfortably warm and humid night and being feasted on by mosquitoes and sand flies, I awoke to a purple sky around 5am.

I took the bicycle out early to see what was in town and naturally went the wrong way on the road, all the way back to the airport! Figures. Once I got back to where I started, the town wasn’t far and went on for longer than I expected. I stopped at a little shack that advertised tamales with a couple of locals standing around. How could I go wrong? They actually weren’t that great after all. I stocked up on groceries and started prepping a pot of pinto beans, fruit infused water and chopped up a pineapple.

One very odd fruit I had never seen before was this giant passion fruit. I’ve only seen the small round ones and had to buy it just to see for myself if it really was one. Sure enough, there is a giant variety and the flesh can be eaten (although it didn’t taste very good to me).

giant passion fruit

giant passion fruit
I know…it looks disgusting, but made fine juice!

Getting acquainted with the house, the ‘crow’s nest’ at the top provided a fantastic view of the lagoon and ocean, while on the bottom floor, the deck invited you into the water for a float or a swim.

Mango all over his body

Mango trees were in the yard (and everyone else’s, too) and small lizards went about their daily routine.

Blue mango tree

Placencia boasts having the narrowest sidewalk in the world. While only a small section of it still remained, it had been expanded for tourism and took you through shops, restaurants and homes until you reached the pier.

Depressing sight of conch shells being worked into jewelry

Lovely smelling flowers on a tree

The end of the pier
View of a storm approaching from the sidewalk

Unfortunately, the weather was awful most of the time, which is very unusual for the first week of June (the locals admitted to this, too). We only got out on the ocean ONCE. Dahnelle did a dive and I did some snorkelling with Sunny Side Tours out at Southwater Caye. I had stayed out there in 2007 or so, not realizing there was more to the island other than Blue Marlin lodge!

Southwater Caye, Belize

Southwater Caye, Belize

Southwater Caye, Belize

Southwater Caye, Belize

Southwater Caye, Belize

Southwater Caye, Belize

A man patiently tried his luck at catching a bonefish which were all swimming in a large group. We told him to just get in the water and catch one by hand…I don’t think he found the humor in that. A small barracuda floated near the dock waiting for something exciting to happen.

bonefish on Southwater Caye, Belize

barracuda Southwater Caye, Belize

pelican on Southwater Caye, Belize

The highlight of my snorkelling was seeing two squid, one of which was quite interested in my goofy appearance and got closer than most ever do.

We went out with Sunny Side for a tour of Monkey River where we saw, you guessed it…monkeys! There were a lot of cool creatures like bats on a tree, a boa curled up on a branch, a few small crocs in the water and a large one sunning himself.

Bats on a tree

We went for a walk in the forest and I took advantage of the offer to eat some termites. For some reason, they just sounded good and it’s one of those things I’d always wanted to try. The guide told us it’s like jungle Listerine…if you’re on a date and need to freshen up, just eat some termites. They were really minty, surprisingly!

Eating termites in Belize
Eating termites
Weird mushroom
Howler monkeys

 

Dahnelle enjoying a typical Belizean lunch of stew chicken, rice, beans and plantain

Since the weather wasn’t cooperating, we went on a spice and chocolate tour one day, heading toward the Maya mountains.

The spice farm was planted on 500 acres by an Indian man from the U.S. and boy, did he do it right! They were putting up archways for a gorgeous backdrop when hosting weddings. The grounds were well taken care of and we were taken on a golf cart through the area to learn about the trees, vines and bushes which were all harvested throughout the year and sold locally.

Some of the highlights included the hundreds of orchids which produce vanilla. Since it’s very difficult for vanilla to be self-pollinated, teams of people go out during the very short flowering period and manually pollinate the flowers using a toothpick. And by short, I mean in a matter of hours. The flower only opens in the morning and that’s their window of opportunity. This happens daily until flowering stops. When we were there, there were no pods available to harvest or buy.

Vanilla orchids
Vanilla beans

To make vanilla extract takes approximately a year from the time the vanilla bean is picked, dried and bottled (usually in vodka) until the time you can purchase it on the shelf. No wonder it costs so much! I inquired about how many times you can “water down” (meaning, add more vodka) the bottle the pod is kept in and he said about 3. You can also use the pod in a jar of sugar to flavor it.

Nutmeg and mace in the same pod (mace is red)
A type of weird bamboo
Drying of cacao (chocolate) beans
Cinnamon bark
Black pepper

Nutmeg and mace

We had a browse through their lovely shop on the way out and picked up some spices, chocolate powder and coffee beans.

Next stop was a small place which made chocolate and gave very informative talks on the subject along with a delicious lunch.

Everyone was presented with hot chocolate upon arrival which was pure cacao powder and water only. We were then advised to add certain spices, one at a time, to see how the flavor was affected. First was chili powder, which cut the bitterness. Second was cinnamon, which added a bit of sweetness. Third was nutmeg (then one other which escapes me) before we could then add sugar. We were also given a bowl of hand made dark sugar which was almost like molasses.

Everyone was shown the inside of a cacao pod and was able to eat some of it. This brought back memories of Costa Rica when I could buy these on the street for a couple of dollars each. Sweet and bitter at the same time, it’s one of the most beneficial foods you can possibly eat.

Dahnelle’s eyes lit up when we were given a full plate of chocolate to sample which contained different fruits and spices.

We were given the opportunity to remove the shells of some roasted cacao beans and prepare them for grinding. Our master chocolate maker used a stone to smooth out the chocolate into a paste.

This was usually given as a gift to newlyweds in the Maya culture (think Cuisinart)
Roasted, unshelled cacao beans

Perfect little beginning of a cacao pod

A flycatcher watched on in a tree during the presentation and we were taken for a tour of their chocolate making facilities (which was VERY small). It was the perfect way to spend a day.

Finally, we went to a waterfall where a large party was taking place by the police force. Music was playing, lots of chicken was being BBQ’d, families were having fun and swimming. And keeping in my typical fashion of breaking up a party, within about 15 minutes, everyone was gone. I don’t know what it is about me, but this happens way too often to consider it a coincidence. The place was silent and we were the only ones left. Really weird. The only way you’d know anyone had been there was by the few trash bags left to be picked up. I have no idea how they put that BBQ out so fast or how that chicken even got cooked.

This spot was buzzing with activity just minutes before

Although the weather didn’t cooperate, it was still a great time in a place I love. It made me a little sad to see that it was becoming a lot more popular with tourists and that the airport had expanded almost beyond recognition. I had hoped it would remain a nice little secret, but not many of those places exist.

The locals were still friendly as ever and I reconnected with some I had met over the past years through other family members. My network continues to grow and I have no doubt I will see them again in the future.

One memory I have during this last trip was seeing a 60something Rasta guy squinting to look at his cell phone, as if it was a new, necessary evil. It didn’t look right, nor did it appear it felt right to him. I just don’t want it to be like that. My first visit to Belize 20 years ago was much different than it was this time. I miss the old Belize and the disconnect from technology it used to have. I miss being one of the few Americans that would visit it; instead only hearing American accents everywhere we went this time around.

Well, everything and everyone changes with the times…for better or worse. I wonder what it will be like the next time I go back?

 

 

Te Angiangi Marine Reserve Part 2

Seven armed Star Astrostole scabra new zealand hawkes bay

Wanting to take advantage of it still being warm here, we headed out to the Te Angiangi Marine Reserve again (part 1 was last month). It was so much fun, I wanted to write about it once more because we found different stuff and we were almost a witness to a sheep falling off the cliff!

We got there around 10am and walked a bit farther than last time along the track. We could see Blackhead beach ahead of us and 4 wheelers and a few cars were driving toward us. I did notice a sign that said cars were not allowed to do this, but apparently others didn’t. Sometimes there was a rough track but it often dropped down to the shoreline. Something about cars on beaches that annoy me to no end.

We got to a small cliff and decided to walk the beach back which took quite a while since we wanted to explore the tidal pools. The water was nice and warm…all 3 inches of it!

I came across the head of a crayfish (or lobster) which reminded me of the ones in Australia which are called painted crayfish but these weren’t nearly as beautiful. What I hadn’t noticed before is that they have hair on them!

Check out those fine little feathery looking things…I’m not sure if “hair” is the correct term. Although there are a lot of hairy crabs here as well. I found a dead one chilling on a rock and saw a lot in the water blending in really well.

hairy crab te angiangi reserve

I was taking pictures of the cool trees up on the hill and I had noticed a bunch of sheep under that wind swept one. It made me think about the sheep bone I had found near the beach last time. It’s hard to show how steep it really was up there.

I wasn’t fast enough to catch what happened next. One of the sheep made a move and I saw its back end start to slip off of its ledge. She caught herself and watched the big chunks of rock and dirt fall and fall and fall. Lucky girl! That’s her looking down, probably pondering what would’ve happened. And you know me, I would’ve been scurrying over to help…if I could!

sheep almost fell off hill

I kept an eye on her…looks like she’s kind of stuck in that spot!

nz spider with silk

I was inspecting the eroded spots by the beach and saw a small spider. Nothing too exciting there, but when I viewed the photo, I could see the silk coming out of its abdomen which I thought was pretty neat.

The paua shell sticking out of the sand was sure pretty.

abalone shell in the sand

More mudstone surrounded by the neat impressions in the sand which also made me think of Blacks Beach in Mackay.

mudstone new zealand

But the real excitement began when we got back to the beach. For some reason, I never bothered inspecting the rocks that were sticking up here last time. We had been lying on the beach for a while and it got too hot so we headed to the water. I noticed a bunch of small, round jelly looking things with some tiny purple blob inside. At first, I thought they were jellyfish but there were no tentacles coming off of them. That made me think back again to Blacks Beach where I found the snail eggs and thought these were tiny snails in them. There are a lot of snails around, so it made sense.

However, upon further research, I came across that they might be salps and then saw this great blog post that talked about exactly what I had found. You can see from the closeup photo the distinct body in there. I wonder if these are babies because from what I can gather, these are really much larger and stick together. It looks like they’re encased in this jelly. The part you can see are actually the intestines. Now don’t hold me to this, but I’m pretty sure that’s what it is. They’re neat creatures, usually in a chain floating around together and they eat plankton while removing carbon from the water. You can read more about them here.

People have said they tend to show up on beaches when bad weather hits. The cyclone just went through the South Pacific and is headed our way tomorrow, so that might be it.

There were a bunch of crabs and a few weird black sea slugs (maybe sea hares?). It was wild how everything started coming to life once the tide came in.

But the coolest thing of all was watching this seven armed sea star crawl out beneath a rock and start looking for food. It was the largest one I’ve ever seen and it was cold and slimy! It even had spines on its arms. I took (a fairly bad) video of it as well. I believe the scientific name is Astrostole scabra.

Seven armed Star Astrostole scabra new zealand hawkes bay

We watched it as long as possible until the water got too deep. We’ll check for it again next time!

By 3pm, EVERYONE had left the beach…it was weird. We had the entire place to ourselves. We didn’t stay much longer though as we’d been there quite a while already and were getting hungry.

Oh, another thing I found were these:

possibly sheep teeth on a beach

At first I thought they were whale teeth, but found out those would be pointy. Then I thought maybe they were sheep teeth but they seem really large for that. They don’t look like shells or anything like that…they were found on the beach. Maybe they are remnants of  the dead sheep…if anyone can ID them, chime in!

And a little bit of comic relief from the garden…I’ve started picking my carrots and after I tore the leaves off of this one, realized it looked like a half person! Although it also had a tail.

These are about the only two Cherokee Purple tomatoes that didn’t get completely messed up. Too bad…they’re really meaty and huge but I’ve had to throw away most of them so far because of sunburn/bugs/cracking.

We’re still being graced with great sunsets, too! No Photoshop needed.

We got a cold front in and I was worried summer was over. Thankfully, I was wrong! It’s been fairly unbearable in the house between 2:30-5:30 but I’m not complaining.

Until next time…