Water cooler: Persimmon cake, the Nikau Caves and how to mow your support for Emirates Team New Zealand

This week in the water cooler: We wage a fruit war with Lynda Hallinan over persimmons explore a handy travel photo app, and mow our support for Emirates Team New Zealand.


Water Cooler’s favourite garden guru “Hurricane” Hallinan (also known as Lynda ) took a pot shot at the humble persimmon this week.

On her public Facebook page, she wrote “Does anyone, seriously, love persimmons? Does anyone out there start salivating at the thought of eating their weirdly mushy bland flesh (he he)?”

Well, Lynda, you clearly haven’t tried persimmons grown by our own Molly Coughlan (Kate and Rosemarie’s mum) which at the moment appear weekly in our offices delivered via the Persimmon Express (any member of Molly’s large family traveling from Tauranga to Auckland). Nor has she tasted the delicious Persimmon Cake which Rosemarie has developed. Drop by for a piece Lynda – any time.



3 cups of chopped persimmon
Juice of 1 orange (about 50 ml)
1 cup self-raising flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup wholemeal flour
1/ 2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup neutral oil (rice bran or canola)
1/2 cup unsweetened yoghurt
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence or paste


Preheat oven to 170 fan bake or 180 regular bake.
Lightly grease and line either a medium round tin (2 cm in diameter) or a square tin (20x20cm)
Soak the chopped persimmon in orange juice and set aside.
Sift the self-raising flour, baking soda, cinnamon & salt together in a large bowl then add the wholemeal flour.
In a separate bowl mix brown sugar, oil, yoghurt, eggs and vanilla. Stir to combine, add this to the dry ingredients. Finally, fold in the chopped persimmon and orange juice.
Spread in prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Cool on a cake rack for about 15 mins before turning out onto a cake rack. Ice when cool.
Traditionally these cakes are iced with a cream cheese icing says Rosemarie but she prefers it sprinkled with icing sugar and served with a mixture of whipped cream and yoghurt.

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PS- when persimmons go squishy try Kate’s persimmon sorbet recipe.

Emma Rawson
thisNZlife Editor


I felt like I’d reached the end of the world. And it was the last place I ever thought there would be a cafe, serving its own wild pork sausages, and home-made shearers’ pie (that’s bacon and egg, not like the shepherd’s version).
The view pictured above is from the garden at Nikau Caves, an hour and a half south of Auckland City and a good two hours closer than Waitomo Caves.
That’s an important distinction because buried under the hill around this cafe is a 1km long cave of glowworms. It takes about an hour and a half to get through the cave, including a short section in which it is required to crawl -not for the likes of a closet claustrophobe like me.
For an adventure with a hearty meal at the beginning and/or end of it, this place is fabulous. It’s a lovely drive (or ride) for a relaxing lunch in a very pretty natural garden. It feels like deep rural NZ without having to have gone deep into rural NZ.
Guided tour; $100 for 2, school children; $40 each.
Book in advance, wear good, grippy shoes and take a change of clothes.
Nadene Hall
Editor NZ Lifestyle Block

Ed’s Note: The wonderful Woodward family of Nikau Caves starred in Issue 31, NZ Life & Leisure March-April 2011. We will posit their story soon on thisNZlife.


While it is easy to share personal experiences with large groups of people via Facebook and Instagram, recent studies indicate social media may be having a negative impact on mental health. A 2013 study by Germany’s Humboldt University and Darmstadt Technical University found that almost 30 percent of people felt worse after a Facebook session, with holiday photos being one of the biggest contributors to a phenomenon they call ‘Facebook Envy’.
How do we share holiday experiences only with people we know will enjoy our photos? Or in the case of my parents, how do I share my holiday with family and friends when they don’t use social media? The answer might be Tripcast, a fantastic free app that works a little like a private Instagram travel journal.

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Once the app is downloaded onto your smartphone, you can invite friends and family to join your trip. Start taking beautiful travel photos with the phone, write a short description, find a wifi café (on your Greek Island) and post! Your friend group can then comment and ‘like’ in a similar way to Facebook, but it’s kept private and is not searchable on the internet. The app allows users to share both photos and short videos and a map links images to their location.

It is possible to download the trip journal as a digital file. The interface for the app is very easy to use and intuitive. Do I still feel envious waking up each morning to see my parents’ gorgeous holiday photos? Well yes, but I did feel special that only a chosen few were feeling the envy.

Milla Novak
Designer, NZ Life & Leisure


Stacey Simpkin’s photography features in the exhibition ‘Sense of Self’

The Auckland Festival of Photography draws to an end on 24 June, but there’s still plenty left to see. ‘Sense of Self’ is a new exhibition that opened in Studio 541 in Mt Eden this week. Studio 541 specialises in photographic exhibitions. This gallery is in a lovingly restored and character-filled 1910’s brick building with a colourful history. In a former life, it has been a tobacconist, a grocery store, a cobbler and more recently, the toyshop Mainly Toys.

One of the 18 artists exhibiting is Stacey Simpkin who won the 2013 AIPA Image Nation Award for her portrait series ‘Garage’. Her latest project ‘Te Kuiti’ is an exploration and reconnection with her birth town. Beautiful composition and powerful photography.

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Yolanta Woldendorp
Art Director, NZ Life & Leisure

Sense of Self runs from 16 June – 25 June
Opens 6:00pm on Thursday 15 June
Hours 10-5 Mon-Sat
Where 541 Mt Eden Road, Mount Eden


Does Emirates Team New Zealand know just how much support they have from home to bring that Auld Mug? We especially love Danvers Devereux of Matakana Botanicals for his Mow for Victory campaign. He’s encouraged Matakana locals to leap upon their ride-ons and send a message into the sky. Support from the more jam-packed suburbs, such as mine (without lawns, ride-ons or drones), will have to come via a pair of the original red socks. Still got yours? I do – though they’re a bit close to being holey.
Go Emirates Team New Zealand.
Kate Coughlan
Editor, NZ Life & Leisure

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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