The Place to Eat

A few years ago I stumbled across this amazing blocked off pedestrian section of Tutanakai St in Rotorua. It is totally set up for Wining, Dining, Craft beers and anything else food and beverage.
It is covered by a huge roof so is all weather as well.

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Looking towards the Lake

On my first visit, it had not long been opened and was closed but this time, it was all on although at lunchtime on a Saturday was not at its busiest. I’d love to see it in the evenings.

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What a great concept and being 5 minutes walk from the Lakefront and domain, it is right in the Tourist centre of Rotorua.

Looking down the main street.

If you’re heading to Rotorua, a great place to check out.

Grandchildren and Rotorua

Every now and then its time to grab the Grandkids and take them away in Rafe for a weekend and give Mum and Dad a night or two off.

Rotorua is the popular spot as they love the hot pools and the things to see and do there so we were off.

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Ayden and Liam on the swings during a Cup of Tea break at Gordonton

We stopped off at Gordonton to give the Boys a break and they very quickly found a play area and set off to give it a workout while Fiona and I watched with a cup of coffee.

Cruising on we eventually arrived in Tirau and the boys spotted a Subway so that was lunch sorted ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Rotorua was always a favourite place to go when I was in short pants. We used to stay in Motels opposite Kurau park where there used to be a miniature steam train that you could ride on. Sadly that’s gone now but its still a magic place.

We arrived in Rotorua around the middle of the day and decided to check in at Cozy Cottage Holiday Park which is right on the lakefront and has its own hot pools. We’ve stayed here a couple of times before when we first got Rafe, 5 or so years ago so we knew it was easy.

Rotorua Lakefront

After settling down, plugging in and opening some vents, we set off for a look around to see what was where. Ayden and Liam are 10 and 6 and the first thing they found was the playground and they were pretty happy with that and soon made some new friends.

Fiona and Liam in one of the pools

Not long after that, we were all in the pool.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The next day, we decided that we would walk into Rotorua and have a look at Ohinemutu, the waterfront and find some lunch.

The boys were hanging out for McDonalds so after a walk there and a look around, we caught the bus back to the park.

The boys digging with Mokoia Island behind

One of the features of this Motorhome park is its proximity to the lakefront and they have a track that takes you directly to the beach where you can dig holes with a shovel and make your own hot pools. The boys were keen to give this a go soย after another hot pools swim, we headed down to the lakefront to find some hot water ๐Ÿ™‚

Ayden had first pop with the shovel and he got straight into digging some holes. Within 5 minutes or so he had created a new pool with the only problem being that it was just too hot to put your feet in. Just two feet down right by the water and steam was coming out !

The boys on the Lakefront digging for water!

Cozy Cottage was $22 for each adult and $10 for each Grandie per night. With the hot pools and the facilities and being an easy walk to Rotorua, I thought this was pretty reasonable.

Aydens pool.

There are Cabins and Motel Units there too for friends without Motorhomes or Caravans.

Rafe in his spot

A fun weekend.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

 

Bent Keys

We were just about to pick up our Grandchildren and take them down to Rotorua for the last weekend of the school holidays when a fault came up on the dash that I hadn’t seen before.

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It was an image of a door and a padlock in orange and prevented the motor from starting. It would turn over with the key but never fire.

The key code fault

Out came the Fiat handbook which said the fault was related to the key and the code that needs to come from it and go to the engine management system. If it persists to check with the dealer.

I tried taking the key out and putting it in the opposite way and the engine started straight away.  I thought this was a bit scary so thought that given we were about to take the Grandies out of town, we should get it checked out, so off we went to the Andrew Sims Fiat service centre in East Tamaki.

The key in its incorrect position
The key in its correct position

After talking to their service manager Nick, he immediately said yep, its the way you’ve got the key in the ignition and you’ve solved the problem . It was all solved in seconds and I could relax  ๐Ÿ™‚

How the dash should look !

Because the keys flip out with the push of a button like a flick knife, the weight of my keys on the key ring and the fact that the lock on the key is getting a bit long in the tooth and isn’t what it once was, it is folding and preventing the code in the key handle from getting down the key to the engine management system. .. the answer… Take it out and put it in the other way so the key can’t fold and all will be well.

They don’t work when they’re folded.

So after 5 years of owning Rafe and running all over the country and never seeing this before, a new little thing to know about an ageing key.

The key in its straight form

Even one of the senior Andrew Sims guys there at the time wasn’t aware of it either, so we all learnt something new that day. If you didn’t know this, you could easily get stuck somewhere and not know that the solution was so simple ๐Ÿ™‚

A happy Rafe with his key in the right way around!

Our Motorhomes new park

Over the last month or so, our Motorhome Rafe has been stored up in Albany getting covered in Motorway dust and crap from a concrete distributor close by so it was somewhat of a relief to be able to park it back at our house again and give the van a good wash!

Our house is one of three units on a cross leased section which run down the hill overlooking each other and then over the golf course. When I say overlooking.. just our roof but we’re at the top closest to the road.

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It had a parking ramp here already but it was in the shape of a triangle and we all know that Motorhomes and cars for that matter tend to rectangular ๐Ÿ™‚

Our neighbour Doug is a semi retired builder who is a magic guy and was happy for us to do whatever we needed to make Rafe fit in the hole.

Boxing

Enter Ryan and Ray, a couple of concrete experts who are good friends of my son Andrew to take on the project of adding to the existing pad to make it useable and also add another around the corner for an outside water cylinder and Heat Pump.

The project went without a hitch, even getting the concrete truck in to do the pour and the result is perfect.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

Since then, the Water Heater and Heat pump have been installed and we’ve managed to get Rafe in here but not without some drama!

The first time in. I got a good friend of mine Alan to be my eyes and ears at the back to help me in. The first obstacle was a hump at the end of the drive which I thought would grab the overhang but surprisingly for me, there was never an issue.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

The tight bends around the front fence were a bit of a problem and I managed to get the front wheels stuck in a small patch of grass behind our letterboxes!ย  After jacking it up and slipping some things in to jump out, it finally did but not without creating some stress and some mess of the grass.

Rafe stuck in the grass. Alans cell phone pic
Some of that fence has gone

Anyway, we’re in and it works a treat but I have decided since to convert a fence panel into a gate and add some gravel to make it a lot easier to get in and out.

Tighter than it looks

We also have a 16 amp socket going in to keep the batteries topped up.

Hot water and Heat pump in

Thanks to Ray, Ryan for the great concreting, Pete the sparky for his wiring and Alan, a big thanks for helping me get in for the first time.

The Motorhome Surgery

Just recently, I had the pleasure of having a guided tour through ACM’s Auckland Motorhome repair and manufacturing factory. Amazing stuff.

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A decapitated Luton restored

ACM was started 7 years ago by ex boat builder Chris Cunard (think Super Yachts) as a repair facility and later added his own range of manufactured Motorhomes. After chatting to Chris for a while, you very quickly get the sense that build quality is the name of the game and you can see this everywhere you look.

Chris Cunard

One of ACM’s Leading hands Daryl, showed me around a couple of the new Motorhome’s they are currently making for customers. Apart from having their own standard models, they make bespoke vans for those with special interests or hobbies. They also do repairs for other dealers brands too.

One of those I saw was one made for someone who was confined to a wheelchair. All the benchtops were lower. There was a special hydraulic lift at the back for entry and the bathroom and bedroom was all specially fitted out so they could enjoy Motorhoming. Fantastic!

Room for the slideout with the wheelchair Galley

A lot ofย  slideouts in the industry are driven electrically. These ones have huge hydraulic arms to drive it instead which should make it a lot more reliable. The hydraulic drop down legs for levelling were huge too.

Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow

One of their clients who liked his music so much, they designed and built his Motorhome so that he could take a built in piano with him and it looks like part of the Motorhome.

Good on them for taking their hobby with them!

Click on the Gallery below to see one of the finished Motorhomes

Stairway to Heaven

Athough I was lucky enough a few years ago to have a look through the Niesmann and Bichoff factory in Germany, it was really nice to see a local builder building Motorhomes basically by hand, doing a really nice job of them and providing employment and skills training for young Kiwis.

The Gas Gadget

And this is a beauty! People who know me will tell you how I love a good gadget that can do something useful.. This is one of those.

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The Kit with the two sensors, the rubber base rings and the gauge.

I bumped into Duncan from Apollo as I left the NZMCA Motorhome show and he was telling me about this new Gas remote fuel gauge. It is called a Mopeka.

The sensors all connected to the phone app

It works by having two sealed sensors which are each magnetically attached to the bottom of your Gas bottles that send a signal to a remote LED gauge telling you how much Gas you have left in your bottles.

My new Gas bottles ready for the sensors
A sensor on the bottom of a bottle
The Gauge for inside somewhere

It also has a phone app and it will work with that too but you have to make sure that you tell it your bottle size and that you’re in NZ. It defaults to a weird bottle size in the US ๐Ÿ™‚

All ready to be put in the Gas locker. Note the rubber ring on the base.

I thought I’d give one a run and see how they went. The whole process from start to finish took me about ten minutes and once I’d set it up for two 9kg bottles in NZ, it looked like the perfect solution to prevent middle of the night alarms from the fridge, when a bottle has run out, usually in the rain  ๐Ÿ™‚

Ready to go

Rafe is in storage at the moment until his new concrete pad has settled so isn’t parked at the optimum angle. I think once it is level, this device will have half a chance but given that the bottles are both swappa bottles that only ever have about 70% gas in them anyway, I’d say its pretty accurate.

Not really a good test for it!

A really clever device retailing about $300 from Apollo Entertainment.

With the phone app

1600 Motorhomes and counting !

This has to be the biggest Motorhome and Caravan rally ever held in NZ.ย  Apparently nearly 1700 vehicles parked over the course of the 4 days.

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Huge

As I came down the hill, all you could see in all directions was lots of white roofs of Motorhomes and Caravans along with a few other colours but mostly white of course!

The early morning walk past Rafe

The volunteer parkers did a fantastic job. I arrived at the bottom of the hill and then realised I didn’t have any cash but with a rustle through Rafe, I eventually found some Washing machine money and had just enough!

Friends, Bruce and Judy’s Globe4 in the crowd.

Early the next morning I went for a walk around the edges and it was just amazing to see so many here. Despite the early hour, there were plenty of people out walking their dogs and enjoying the sunshine.

People leaving early

Breakfast Time

From the top of the hill in the fog
On the road

A great job done by the organisers and fantastic job by the volunteers. Thanks Guys.

Lovely early morning walk

Rafe’s Tracker Map

The 2019 NZMCA Motorhome Show

This is a must do event in my calendar now. Not just as a social occasion to catch up with everyone in the rally and on the stands, its also great too to see some new things available to make our lives easier on the road.

Click on an Image to see it in Hi Res

Coming down the hill – Wow

I arrived long after everyone else on Saturday around lunchtime as we had things on in Auckland that I had to do. Fiona wasn’t coming on this trip either as it we really only had time for an overnighter.

Huge

This was one of the biggest Rallies that the NZMCA has had with huge numbers of Motorhomes. Just amazing and the parking volunteers did a wonderful job of making sure everyone was in a safe spot.

I managed to park right behind some old friends of ours in another Dethleff, Noline and Walter.

Walter and Noline’s Esprit in the middle with Rafe behind

Walter is a very handy guy and has done some really interesting things on his Esprit. He has installed a Laundry Chute from his bedroom which drops down into his garage making it really easy for them to gather up their washing at the end of a trip away. .. see here for the blog. ย It was really nice to see them as I haven’t seen them for quite a while.

#1 at the Entrance

After opening vents and getting Rafe sorted, I went straight into the show.

Just inside the entrance was Gail looking after the #1 Motorhome which I photographed extensively a few months ago,, see here.ย  Alan and Gail have a Dethleffs too and we’ve been at quite a few do’s together over the years and Alan was involved with the restoration of the first Motorhome.

One of the first stands was the Zion stand with a nice shiny new Mercedes based Globeline Motorhome. It is 7 metres long and apparently handles better than most cars. Its also one of the few Dethleffs Motorhomes available with a Mercedes drive train. All the stereo controls were on the steering wheel.

Click on the Gallery below to see the Globeline

Walking on through, I found it interesting that there was a general trend towards smaller Motorhomes but lots of huge Caravans.

I had a sneaky look at the Rockwoods which are massive and have enough room in them to almost play football in them but very nicely set out, and they didn’t seem to have theย  over the top heavy American furniture look which was nice to see.

Inside the Rockwood

Moving on to the NZMCA stand. I had to get a piccy of the team there complete with the two Bruce’s along with Gillian, Judy and Ryan. Nice to see Ross and Carol Hamilton too along with Brian Stanley.

The Team.. Chairman Bruce, Gillian, CEO Bruce, Judy and Comms specialist Ryan.

 

Not far from here wasย  the ACM stand. These Motorhomes are just the bees knees..

Click on the Gallery below to see the ACM Motorhomes

They’re stunning and they come from a factory that make a lot of bespoke Motorhomes tailored for the new owners needs but they also have a range of their own designs. One of their previously made Motorhomes has even been built with a piano in it for an owner who just loves his music. Fantastic.

Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow

Nice to see Duncan and Chris from Apollo freshly back from the Dusseldorf show with some interesting new things too. New automated Hydraulic Rams for levelling your Motorhome along with their range of Kiwisat Satellite dishes.

An adventure anyone

Outside ther was a huge area set up for food and somewhere to sit.. Much bigger that previous years given the numbers this year. A great show.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

On the banks of the mighty Waikato

Just past Tuakau is a lovely new Campground on the banks of the river.

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Glorious spot

It is run by the good folk at the Tuakau Hotel on land that used to be where the sand was loaded up and shipped off and its in a beautiful spot.

All weather parking

The campground has been constructed from scratch with about 8 dead flat gravelled sites with power and a barbeque table overlooking the river. It couldn’t be in a better spot and well thought out.

Perfect seating

We popped in to the Tuakau Hotel which is just a few k’s away and spoke to Tash at the Hotels Accomodation office where we were given the full rundown on what was where and in case we forgot, there was also a sheet of everything we needed to know along with a key for the water and the codes for the automated gate and shower block. The cost is $20 per site for two with power which I reckon is extremely good value.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

After settling down and opening some vents, I went for a bit of a look around.

Looking down the river

There are three quite large self contained cabins too which can be rented which look out over the river too.

Looking across from the cabins

In the morning I went for a walk along the rivers edge to see the whitebaiters in full swing where I met Anthony who drives down here from Mt Wellington to do his whitebaiting. He was doing well and showed me piccies of his catch from the day before.

Whitebaiter Anthony from Mt Wellington

A lovely spot not far from the Tuakau Bridge on the way to Port Waikato.

The Netspeed Speedtest (Not great here)
Download : 2.68 mbps
Upload : 0.85 mbps
Ping : 48 ms

Rafes Tracker Map

Murphy’s Law Motorhome Parking

Coming back from Pukekohe, and with the weather being really rough, we thought we’d hunker down at the Murhpy’s Law Motorhome Park.

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The NZMCA App suggested it was $25 for the night which is incorrect. It’s $38 a night for two minus a 10% discount for NZMCA’rs making it $34 and you get a discount of everything you eat or drink.

Toilet / Shower block

I initially thought it was a bit expensive for parking in what is essentially a carpark but after enjoying a hot shower in their newish facilities and an hour in the bar, decided its a good spot to base yourself for a night Or two in a good location.

Looking in from the outside.. the wire fence.

The parking is inside a secure high wire fence which you access with keypad access and a fob so it is very secure and with power and water on every site, its a great setup.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Fiona and I wandered into the bar to have a drink and order tea and it was a great atmosphere with a big open fire and plenty of people enjoying themselves.

A great use of what is probably a wasted space behind a pub. Close to the Motorway and with a dump station just around the corner making it a good spot to stay for a night and enjoy the banter at the Bar and not have to drive after.

Very English

The last time I was at this Pub was when it was the Jolly Farmer in the 80’s and they had their famous Wet T Shirt competitions ๐Ÿ™‚ I was working as a photographer for the 8’O clock then which part of the Auckland Star and it was my job to cover the big Final at the time. A fun event ๐Ÿ™‚ How times have changed.

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