House & Garden RV style!

Paeroa would have to get first prize here.. a fantastic place if you like looking at old interesting stuff.

We’ve passed through here lots of times but only stayed here once before  and that was at the Paeroa RV centre.

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I hadn’t booked or anything and just rocked up and as I checked in, there was something vaguely familiar about the nice lady checking me in.

After I gave her my name, she looked at me strangely and and said, “I went to school with you at Takapuna Grammar School”, the penny dropped and everything fell into place. Jane was also was at school with Fiona at Vauxhall Primary School.. amazing memory.  We spent the next hour or so going though all the common friends that we have and strangely enough, have managed to keep in touch with.

Jane’s partner Steve is the caretaker and they have an amazing old Devonport Ferries red bus, a real slice of history.

Jane with her and Steve’s ex Devonport Ferries Bus

Paeroa RV Centre has changed over the years and now house s a lot of permanent people in bigger vehicles and they’ve developed a real community there. I found all of them very welcoming and very friendly and with the less than friendly winter weather that we’ve had lately, its a great spot to get comfortable.

Some of the appendages to their parks .. think decks and little garden areas are amazing. I very definitely felt very undecorated and certainly not anywhere in the hunt for a prize for my park 🙂 I did have some moss and a neighbour pots nearby though 🙂

Click on the Gallery below to check out the Gardens

Having met Steve and Jane, they talked me into staying a second night and I spent the next day walking into Paeroa, getting a haircut and buying some costume jewelry for Fiona.

Downtown Paeroa
There’s a plastic bottle now !

A fantastic place to stay, great people and I was really pleased to catch up with Jane again and meet Steve.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Paeroa – Armada GPS

Wild in Papamoa

Glancing through my iPad recently, I came across a rather sad posting of a friend who had been battling a Melanoma for the last 10 years but finally lost the race. They had recently moved out of Auckland to Papamoa to enjoy their retirement by the sea.

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Hear those waves

When we found out the funeral was on and where, it was time to jump into Rafe and pop down to Papamoa to the funeral. Leaving Auckland early to beat the traffic, I found myself around the back of Hamilton by 9:20 in the morning. By 11:30 I was cruising into Papamoa after crossing the Kaimai’s. What a huge difference that new motorway makes by passing Hamilton.

Wild!

After checking into the Tasman Holiday Park in Papamoa, and settling Rafe down by the sea and after a cup of coffee, I called a Taxi to take me to the venue which was on the other side of Papamoa.

After the funeral, one of our old boating friends who also came down dropped me back at the entrance to the Holiday Park.

Click on the Gallery below to see an enlarged slide show

The camp has a lot of permanent Caravans all with their laid out decks and additions and I’m sure the place absolutely pumps in summer. The area where I was next to the sea was about 1/3rd full but it was pretty windy, cold and miserable with waves crashing in. Very handy to the beach which was probably less than 50 metres away.

I took the camera for a walk and it was wild with the sea absolutely raging.

Fantastic Beach
Some of the new beachfront chalets.

The ablution block looked almost new and was spotless. For the shoppers, its really handy to downtown Papamoa with a huge shopping centre right across the road.

Dusk at Papamoa -cellphone pic

The forecast for the morning was evil with thunderstorms forecast and high winds. When I woke up at 7, I thought I’d get up and get going given it was pretty exposed on grass and the clouds over Tauranga looked positively evil. It rained but I think the worst of it went offshore.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Papamoa – Armada GPS

Auction for Hospice of the best NZ news photos!

One of the saddest things I had to deal with earlier this year was finding out that my old buddy and ex boss, Rob Tucker had  cancer.

Several years ago when I went down his home town of New Plymouth,  Rob went to some trouble to give me a guided tour of New Plymouth. We later adjourned to his house for tea where I caught up with his wife Bonnie and brother Jim who was also an ex boss when I was at the Auckland Star.

While we were in the South Island earlier this year I received a phone call from another old friend Ross Land to tell me that Rob has organised an auction of our 3 best images from our days in newspapers. We were in Plimmerton at the time about to cross on the ferry and as there was plenty of time, we’d find some images for it  when we got back.

Once we got back to Auckland a few weeks later, I sent a selection of 10 or so images to Rob for him to pick what he thought would work and the three images below are what he picked.

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Tina Turner at a press conference under TV lights.

Rob was one of the NZ Heralds youngest ever Picture Editors.  A vacancy came up at the Herald for a junior and I jumped at it. I was 19yrs old, welding and repairing containers at the time biding my time so it came just at the right time. Rob did me a big favour getting me on board at that early stage as the Herald was a fantastic training ground and a great place to work.  Once you were out of the Newspaper industry, it was really hard to get back in.

Ross joined not long after me and later we shared a darkroom together and became good friends.

Ross and Kay have done a spectacular job over the last few years doing up a classic Caravan!

Michael Winslow outside the Regent in Auckland.

Hospice Taranaki have taken really good care of Rob and he felt he wanted to do something to help them fund their financial situation. He came up with the idea of getting as many of NZ Newspaper photographers to provide their best three images to be mounted and auctioned off for Hospice Taranaki.

Here’s a story from the  NZ Herald of Rob  Its an interesting video and well worth watching.

There is also a coffee table book with all the images in which will be a collectors item in years to come. The proceeds for this are also heading Hospice’s way.

Its a great idea of his to get behind a great cause and we need to support it.  I’m sure once you see some of the images, you will remember seeing them published.

Here’s a few that didn’t make Robs selection that I sent as well to give you an idea of some of the others.

Click on the Gallery below to Enlarge.

The Auction is being held at Plymouth International Hotel in New Plymouth on the 24th September.

Most if not all the photographers involved will be there too so it’ll be quite a reunion 🙂

Check out the Photo Journalism NZ page here.

Wonderful Waikite

We’ve been trying to get into Waikite at all the wrong times it seems. At the end of the weekend, we managed to bag a spot in their camping ground for a night. There are only about 20 powered sites so that explains why a holiday weekend is probably going to awkward.. 🙂

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The campground at Waikiti

Waikite is about half an hour south of Rotorua and in its own little valley about 6 k’s from Waiotapu.

Our park at Waikiti

The campground does its best to be level but does have a little bit of a slope on it. Nothing that can’t be fixed with a wheel ramp or a block of wood 🙂

Pool with a view

We arrived around midday and after setting things up in Rafe, plugging in and opening vents, I went for a walk with the camera. Its an amazing place with some of its history on the walls in the onsite café.

Click on the Gallery below for an enlarged Slideshow

There are 3 smaller scenic pools plus a big main pool in the middle. Attached to the side of the main pool are two small spa pool sized pools so plenty of choice. They are all different temperatures so you can chose your own comfort zone 🙂

View from the lookout

A walk up the back behind the pools will take to the spring where the water is so hot, it is constantly bubbling out of the ground and running down a stream beside the pools.

The boiling spring at the back. The source!

On the track back to the pools is a lookout up the hill looking out all over the area. Both well worth checking out.

Lovely pools

We spent hours in the pools off and on and ending up having a simple nice shared seafood platter from the café there.

One of the bigger (and hotter) pools

The outside temperature got down to 5 degrees that night so we took advantage of the late 11am checkout for another early warm up swim before leaving.

Spa pools on the side

Everybody we’ve met raves about this place and I can see why. Its like being in another world and you can’t beat those Hot Pools.

Rafe’s tracker map to Waikite – Armada GPS

A long weekend in Hot Pools

And this meant Rotorua.. one of our favourite places in winter.

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Amazing covered walkways to get to the Ablutions

We left early on Friday morning to try and beat some of the motorway traffic and it worked. By 9am we were in Pokeno topping up with some tax free fuel 🙂

Check out the walkways

We arrived at Rotorua about midday and had a quick look around but finally checking into Rotorua Thermal Holiday park down by Whakarewarewa.

We’ve stayed here before with our Grandkids and its a well setup park with a covered walkway system to the ablutions which is quite neat. Great in winter!!

We were allocated a spot on one side not too far from everything.

We settled the van, plugged in, opened some hatches and after a cup of tea, headed off for the first of many swims in the pool. Its amazing who you get to meet in a hot pool.

A Café but it was closed

The next morning we got an Uber into the Rotorua big barn shopping area. The Noel Leeming’s, Briscoes  and had a nosey around, headed off to Fiona’s favourite find of the weekend, an authentic French café and its lovely. I had a Crepe with bacon and eggs and it was every bit as the good as the one I remember when we were in Arras, France.

Fiona found this french cafe
The Crepe from heaven

After that it was time to walk off the lunch so we set off down to the lake front where they have recently finished a huge redevelopment of the foreshore. There is still more to come looking at the fenced off areas but what a big improvement. People everywhere so its good to see it being enjoyed by lots of young families.

The development on the waterfront
The Lincoln and other cars at Eat St.

We walked on towards Eat st and in there was a local Hot Rod / American Car display all down the middle of it. Some great old cars.. my favourite was an old Lincoln.

Click on the Gallery below for a enlarged Slideshow

As we headed back into the city, I managed to find a bus going right past the camp so we hopped on that and headed back to Rafe and then back to the pools.

The pools

There are four pools, one for families and 3 other smaller pools.. Not too hot so we literally spent hours in there off and on. What its all about!

The facilities are amazing, free showers, big kitchen area divided into sections so it can cater for several using it at once. Nice big lounge and huge dining room all connected..

The famous bridge where the kids used to dive for coins.
Whakarewarewa

And right over the road is Whakarewarewa and Te Puia which is always worth a visit.

Rafe’s tracker map to Rotorua Thermal Park – Armada GPS

Near a Hot Pool in naff weather!

We had not long returned from a trip around the South Island where we got a crack in the windscreen, courtesy of an oncoming truck speeding through roadworks. Our 8 year old Habitation door fly screen also lost its string too so after fixing these up, we were ready to go again or at least I was.

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It doesn’t often look like this.. early in the day.

As Fiona was working, she suggested I go away for a few days so with the forecast looking not that flash, I thought Miranda wasn’t too far to go and with the hot pools, was the perfect place to be.

The last time we came here was when we were baby sitting our grand sons Ayden and Liam and while it was wet, we had fun.

The weather was fantastic for the first of my three night stay and showery for the rest of the time so it was a case of dodging the showers from Rafe to the pool 🙂

I don’t think I’ve every seen the camp ground this quiet and this empty but this was my first midweek visit so hardly surprising but by the end of each day, the place seemed to fill up nicely.

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The camp has grown to now be more than 90 odd powered sites with BIG parks out the back and more doggy sites too. The dog sites is a great idea and is perfect for those who want to let their pets outside while keeping them close.

A doggy site.
The new Ablutions block out the back

The new nearby ablutions block looks the business too and with some of the trees out by the road gone, there is more room for walks and bike riding.

The new Children’s pool.

Its a great go to place for those who don’t want to travel too far and have and easy few days away.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Miranda – Armada GPS

Bliss at Pakiri Beach

Its a wee bit off the beaten track but being here is just magic. The weather was perfect too.

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Bream Head in the distance

It was the middle of the week and with Fiona at work, I thought somewhere nice in the sun would be nice. I last came here several years ago and post Covid, the only real thing that has changed is the trees have grown but I gather there are some big changes coming.

Chatting to one of the managers, they have a massive amount of unpowered sites which people don’t seem to want as much so they are powering a large bunch of them up. Some of the cabins are apparently well past their use by date but they seemed ok to me.

Great view from these Caravans

The camp is dominated a bit by long term Caravans but there is plenty of room for Motorhomes and more with the new powered upgrades to sites.

Some tenters popped in.
The view from one of the Units

The kitchen and lounge facilities are really good and there are several ablutions blocks.

Click on the Gallery below for an Enlarged Slideshow

The feature though is that amazing beach.

I went out there not long after I arrived and the sense of peace and quiet is just amazing. I sat out there for an hour or so before heading back as I’d forgotten to take a hat but its just beautiful.

I did the same the next day with a hat 🙂 and its glorious.

Looking back to the camp from the beach

The nights were starting to get colder so there was only me and a couple of others in the campground so there was room for Africa. I bet it gets busy in the summer though.

Dusk

Next time, I’ll bring Fiona too.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Pakiri – Armada GPS

Heading North

The Ferry’s were chocker and the number of people we’d met while travelling that were having trouble getting bookings made me think, “I’d better make sure we’re in Picton in plenty of time for the ferry”!

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We left Richmond about 8:30am and headed straight for Havelock for morning tea. Our check in time was 1pm at Picton. We arrived in Havelock at 9:30am and had morning tea eventually getting to Picton just after 11 so making it with plenty of time.

We went the long way around the coast past Momorangi Bay where we’d stayed a few years ago in wee Rafe, our wee Caravan.

On arriving in Picton, we found a good park outside a Pub in Picton by the Railway Station. As we walked in, I received a text from Bluebridge saying that they had communication issues and they’re eftpos system was having a moment and could be have cash for anything we wanted on board.

I don’t do cash at all these days so we decided that we’d have lunch where we were at the Sports Bar. What a great decision too as the Seafood Chowder was something else. Washed down with a G&T as you do.. a perfect start for our trip on the ferry!

In the Queue

At 12:30, I thought we’d better head over and check in and although we were early, there were several rows of Motorhomes and Caravans already there.. good call I thought 🙂

Just after 1:15 pm, they starting loading us on the ferry.

Fiona on the Landing pad on the way out the Marlborough sounds

We’d booked a cabin so it was a rush for the shower 🙂 Then we were mostly up on the deck enjoying clear blue sky all the way over.

The Tory Channel
The Tory channel looking south

We arrived just after 6pm and started heading north. We’d decided between us that as the new transmission gulley motorway was open, we’d go as far as we could stopping for tea along the way and maybe get to the brand new NZMCA park at Foxton.

Rafe in the garage. Fiona ready to go!

What great park and although it was just 7:30pm, it was dark but there was plenty of room and keeping the parking simple with plenty of room around us made it easy.

The Foxton NZMCA park
Great parking

There were a few motorhomers parked together in the corner with a small contained fire to keep them warm which was nice, and there were others well spread out so that made it really easy to park.

Easy to see where you are.

In the morning I went for a look around and signed in and once I’d found the “fridge”!. Its a fantastic park and although I’m not sure that we’d do the drive after a ferry trip again, like we had all the way from Nelson, I’m sure its perfect option for Plimmerton with the new Motorway.

The crew in the corner

A really nice park with plenty of room next to the Foxton Racecourse grandstand in a separate area.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Fox / Upper Moutere – Armada GPS

Sunny Nelson by Bike

The Racecourse was quite handy as the Bike Trails all ran around where we were parked.

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The Richmond Motorway

We set off to ride into Nelson for lunch via the bike trail along around the waterfront. The whole Nelson area is spoilt for bike trails, they’re everywhere.

Riding along the Tahunanui

The first section runs right alongside the Richmond to Nelson motorway and goes around the back of the airport. Eventually it comes into the Tahunanui area and then onto the bike lanes following the traffic around the waterfront.. I rode on the footpath here as it felt heaps safer and there only a handful of pedestrians anyway.

Rutherford Park
Nelson main st
The city council building

Coming into Nelson via the Bike trail at Rutherford park, we found ourselves virtually in the main street next to an amazing, seen only in Nelson, two level bike park. Fantastic and after a few minutes of figuring it out how it all worked, we stuck our bikes in there and off we went for lunch.

Amazing secure bike rack

Often when you’re biking it is sometimes hard to find somewhere to park your bikes safely and securely, this is the answer!

Nelson at lunch time

We found a Café which had an empty block right next to it, this might have once been a carpark or a commercial building, but they’ve decked it out on one side as a dining area and on the other side made it available to several specialist food vendors with caravans selling all sorts.

The Caravan Vendors
The Caravan vendors
People enjoying lunch

We opted for a Japanese fried chicken dish which was yum. There were lots of people there coming and going so it seemed to be well known around the town.

Fiona had a another look around and then we were off back to Richmond. The trip was a round trip of 36k’s so we felt like we’d done some exercise by the time we got back to Rafe.

Riding outside the Tahuna Campground. Fiona out in front.
The view out from Tahuna

A nice day out in sunny Nelson.

Staying at the Racecourse

Another great weather day was there to greet us as we rose to leave Reefton to go to Richmond.

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The grand entrance

We were gagging for a coffee by the time we approached the Nelson area. There is a nice wee place at Kohatu called the Flat Rock Café where we’ve stopped several times before.

Easy parking for big vehicles and a good coffee so we stopped there for half an hour or so before we carried on towards the Nelson Racecourse in Richmond.

Rafe parked under the trees

At $20 a night with power, water, rubbish, toilets showers and laundry its very affordable and in a nice spot.

Relaxing in the sun

After parking, opening vents and settling down, we went for a 20 minute walk into Richmond to have a nosey around the shops and a coffee. Last time we were here, they had half the main street all ripped up and it was impossible to get anywhere. It was nice to see it all finished and it looks good too.

A happy James with his car

The next day, we met our neighbour James who was on his own in his Motorhome. We were keen to visit upper Moutere and when James found this out, he asked us if we could take him up to Woodstock so he could retrieve his car. He was getting it fitted with an A frame and going to tow it behind his Motorhome. There is no public transport or any other way for him to get his car.

We’ve never been to Woodstock and it wasn’t far out of our way so we were off with James to get his car.

We took a wrong turn and for a moment we weren’t sure that James knew where his car was as he wasn’t familiar with the area but after retracing our steps for a few k’s, James recognised where we were and we found his car. It’s so easy to get lost up there as we found when we tried to get from there to Upper Moutere without the GPS.

The Moutere River at Woodstock
My chatty friends at Woodstock

After we dropped James off, I found a bridge that crossed the Motueka River that flows through the Woodstock valley. After parking in a gravel pit so I could get some pictures of the river from the bridge, there were two cyclists coming the other way and I got chatting to them. They were local Caravanners who regularly did 30 odd k’s every few days around the area. We must have chatted for about 20 minutes about all sorts.. lovely couple.

It was time to head to Upper Moutere for lunch. This is when we got lost !

One of the nice things about these small towns is its usually pretty easy to get a park.. there was one big park left when we got there and we sort of fitted in it 🙂 See the pic.

The main drag at Upper Moutere
The old Post Office

We headed for the old Post Office which now sells Fancy pickles and breads and also has a very talented Jeweler making some amazing stuff. She used to work in the UK but returned home to NZ after winning a bunch of awards for her work.

The Oldest pub in NZ

After this we headed for the oldest Pub in NZ, the Moutere Inn.  We came here a few years ago so we knew the food was good and it didn’t disappoint!

Click on the Gallery below for an Enlarged Slideshow

I had Nachos with Bacon and Cheese .. Wow and Fiona had a Seafood Chowder.. washed down with a local cider made less than a few paddocks away 🙂

Amazing Nacho lunch

After this we headed back to the Racecourse.

We were sitting in Rafe enjoying a cup of tea when there was knock on the door. It was James with a nice bottle of Scottish Gin he’d bought for us for taking up to Woodstock. We were bowled over as he had offered us money for diesel which we’d turned down.

If you’re reading this James.. a really nice surprise! a big thank you mate and it was lovely to meet you and be able to help you out.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Richmond – Armada GPS
Rafe’s Tracker map to Woodstock / Upper Moutere – Armada GPS

Fiona & Chris, two empty nesters put their dreams of doing something different into reality… Living in their Motorhome, come along for the ride.

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