Seasons change

Winter stops, sometimes quickly, sometimes it hangs on. This year it left quickly with warm wet winds stripping the snow base from the lower mountain and despite Turoa declaring Snovember we didn’t head up there at all through October, November. 

This is from the last big dump in early October, snow fell as far down as the house, and for the first time I was there for that. This is on the mountain road on the way up to Turoa. 

So, we now turn our minds to the warmer months, bike rides, mountain walks, river swimming, golf, BBQ, whatever. 

So, a long warm Summer is requested, and time with friends and family – hope you all have the same.


And the Spa is complete (almost)

This year has been the year (so far) of getting the deck built and the spa put into place and then setting it up to work correctly and be easy to use. So until last weekend we had much of this sorted, but not the last part.

Over the last weeks the electrician and gas guy/pumber  (it’s a gas powered unit remember) worked together; result, a permanent power source to the spa was installed.





The gas line put into place and made easy to access alongside the deck, at the bottom of the back porch stairs.






Then the heating unit was refitted, all electrical connections tested and certified.





Finally, all was in place, so when we arrived last weekend and set it all up we were very expectant of being able to set it up, get it going and enjoy a spa on Saturday evening. We flicked the main switch to on and everything burst into life, the airjets swirled, the digital readout lit up and the temperature started going up – very slowly, very very slowly.

Then it stopped. And would go no further.

A quick call to the gas guy (2.30 saturday afternoon) and remotely he toook me through a range of remedial options, bleed the gas line, check the fitting here / there etc. It seemed to work, then again we topped out at about 17 degrees, not warm at all. Saturday night spa was off. Sunday morning the gas guy rang, “I’m coming down” he said, be there about 11.30am.

He arrived, did his own testing, we checked all electrical fittings as well, strange – no power at the igniter switch – stood there scratching our heads…….then light bulb moment.

The airjets were running, not the water jets, and if there was no water running through the igniter switch, there was no ignition – the unit requires pressure there to get the spark going, so a quick push on the button on the top of the spa, air jets off, water jets on, ignition, flame = heat.

So, for all who come after us the set up is simple. If the spa is empty, fill from the hose reel fitted to the back wall of the house, fill to above the water jet nozzles, but below the mosiac line.







Attach gas bottle, turn on power, turn on main switch (the one of the right – the red one has to be in the on position as well) listen for the water jets to be running inside the pool and then the ignition kicks in and magic happens.

And, thanks to the gas guy / plumber we also have a drainage process that isn’t manual labout and involves buckets. The drain plug sits at the base of the spa, connect the hose and run the hose to the drain, then open the panel and reach inside, turn the red handle and the spa empties.

The gas guy / plumber?

Mike from Tuamaranui Plumbing, can’t say thank you, loud enough for all his efforts, he and team there are very, very good indeed. Use them if you can.

And still the work goes on…

Summer time in Raetihi was probably fairly quiet only a few years back, I know when we brought RaetihiRetro and started the renovations there didn’t seem to be much traffic or people around during the warmer months.

Raetihi Main

It’s great that this has changed – last weekend as I sampled a great breakfast at Angel Louise Cafe (between applying 1st and 2nd coats of stain to the new deck – more on that later) there was a steady stream of tourist vehicles pulling in (you know the Moa’s, Britz’s etc – NZ RV’s) and a number of languages spoken.

The German couple who asked about the best option to get to Pipiriki had already had a GPS induced calamity a day or so earlier so were happy to take my suggestion of taking SH4 towards Whanganui and turning in towards Pipiriki from there, they also enjoyed their coffees and cheese scones before they headed off.

Deck - Unstained1 Deck - Unstained2

With the help of Mal and Ian (a builder of great expertise and calmness, and the two lady hammer hands – I as usual did the food / drink duties) the deck was created and completed in two days over the New Year, my job last weekend was to apply the stain.

Another first for me, (cue the Aussie ad for the guy with the great deek) but all went smoothly, though a few minor touchups may be required this coming weekend.

Dec4 Deck1


Now, we have to move the spa into the space in the corner, put up the fencing and have the local sparky run power, probably rerun the gas pipe to the opposite corner for ease of access and that’ll be the deck, spa area ready for use through the Summer, Autumn and into Winter.

Heating will have to be sorted, Zoe does want to put the ‘fire pit’ up on the deck, I’m not convinced as yet – this on the deck may not be the wisest option…..


Anyway, another step on the journey to have the house completed, however those eagle eyed of you may have noted that the house now, by comparison to the deck looks (as Zoe put it) every so slightly huckery…..Kiwi slang for ‘not up to it, short of the mark, ugly’ so now we have a house waiting party to arrange, all welcome.

Adding new toys to Raetihi

Now onsite and working, runs off a gas bottle so we can make it available to anyone renting whether for a night or longer. It’s a late 90’s beast of a thing built into a frame which allows it to be free standing for now, but it’ll be built into a deck structure (and as such fenced as is required by the local Council bylaws) once we can get that arranged.

So far our daughter and friends have got it set up and running over a weekend, the water was not treated chemically so their comment was ‘it smelled very farty’ which I can assume is due to a level of sulphur in the local water – it comes from the streams on the side of Mt Ruapehu after all.

I haven’t been up as yet, the seasons off to a slowish start with snow only falling in this last week and enough of a base in place for an opening today; and I’m stuck in Wellington this weekend. 

Bright & Shiny, floors like new…..

before the furniture goes back in

The lounge floor before the furniture goes back in

From day one we always wanted to get the floors done, the Matai boards were aged and somewhat dulled through many feet across them; then we thought to do it all ourselves but talking with friends the advice was to bring in an expert (Bryan Searle – Whanganui) did the work and what work.

Warm Manuka honey and gold tones and every area just glows.

the burn mark treated well

And then all the furniture got added back in – we’d lifted the original carpet from the bedroom and had Norca Rugs in Levin edge/bind this and now it’s gracing the lounge floor instead.

Fully set up and looking great

The main bedroom now has the fuzzy rug down and the floor reflects the tapa and curtain colours – this room gets evening sun and lights up in that warmth.

main bedroom

So, it’s all come together nicely, gleaming wood and in start contrast in some places we now have to go back and redo the work that earlier we though t’good enough’ and touch up skirting boards, and door frames etc


Now the plans extend to a deck out from the French doors at the end of the   kitchen, the family keep saying ‘add a spa pool’ in which comment I only hear more work for me, but we shall see. The deck will have some level of cover, either slide down sides with a half roof, this will allow winter time use with a brazier or heating source out there, will be stunning when done

and the snow came down……..again

Headed up to RaetihiRetro last week as Zoe had some time off and we wanted to get on the mountain, wasn’t sure with the forecast not looking great and so it turned out on Thursday, with the road closed at the 3km mark


Friday the conditions cleared and from 9am the lower mountain was open, with High Noon opening around 11am. With the dump (blizzard) the conditions were amazing with powder everywhere and deep, I’ve not spent time in these conditions so the first time I got stopped I did the usual, pushed down to get up and simply sunk arms length into the snow. Had to pull the soft dry fluffy snow into a central mound and compact it to allow myself to stand up and then work my way out.


Just awesome conditions but a bit tiring compared to the usual slip n slide you can get on Turoa at times. Well worth it though with it being the day before the school holidays and with the forecast suggesting another dump on the way. Sunday forecast was for continuing fine weather until late in the day so off we went, the day started well with clear skies – even frosty first thing which was odd as it had been very misty on Saturday night.

However forecasters get it wrong, and very quickly the high cloud came down and white out (dry snow) hit across the whole hill, with glasses on and poor light I was struggling and considered a final run around 1pm, then the liftie on the Giant told us all that they were worried about the hill road conditions and it was a good idea to start heading down. Called Zoe and gave her the news and headed to the car, under that much snow all cars are white.


And if a 2 wheel drive (and for a lot of 4 wheel drive) these conditions were unfamiliar and dangerous. While I waited for Zoe I helped push a few cars out and watched them slide away, Zoe arrived and we started down. A lot of people just went to fast, slid and went into snow banks so the first part at the top was mainly avoiding others while ensuring our own safety. It took about 45 minutes to get down – normally about 20 minutes is normal.

The rest of the afternoon we got text and Facebook updates from others still at the Cafe on the field who were stuck while others were pulled, pushed and rescued. One of our friends showed up at the house after 7pm, after waiting all afternoon for her chance to come down the hill.

This photo was taken while we sat behind this large 4×4 who had no idea how to manage the road and slipped and slid for a while, then the driver got out and waved us by, I have to say the old Subaru Legacy, set to the Snow/Hold drive setting managed beautifully.


The really good news? This snow fell and sat and once the conditions cleared on Monday the holiday renters should be having a great time, fully booked out until the final weekend of the holiday now. And the mountain (Turoa side) is at close on a 2m snow base and the forecast is for a few more dumps to come so a long happy season looks a distinct possibility.

Winter’s here (and how)

Well one big southerly blow (200km+ winds down in Wellington) and Turoa was blanketed with so much snow at one stage the problem was getting to the mountain up the access road, not if there was enough to open the field.

Opening day was clear and bright with 140cm+ snow across the lower slopes

Parklane was the only lift first thing so the queue was longish if you were slow out of bed and up the mountain, despite only leaving to drive up at 11pm Friday night and getting to RaetihiRetro at 2.35am, I was up early and on the 12th chair of the morning and straight up Giant to get one of the early runs in, open runs, great views, and then the crowds arrived. Once Movenpick was running the queues at the bottom opened up but Giant was a long wait most times.

Having had little sleep I came down early and planned a full day Sunday, unfortunately when visibility doesn’t exist the options for a fun time are slightly reduced. So rather than play all day on the mountain I accepted the conditions and headed home and then back to Wellington later in the day.

The bookings are beginning to build for the house which is both good and bad, good that we will see a financial return from it this year, bad I don’t get to use it as often as I want. never mind, mid-week access may be what I have to accept – shame.

See you on the slopes folks, ciao