The Old Senior NCO’s Mess

One of the trips I’ve always wanted to do while in Wellington was to drive from Lyall Bay all the way around the outside past Seatoun and Worser Bay. The buildings into the cliffs and the rustic charms of the way the houses are all set into the cliffs is amazing. It’s like a different world.

The view
The view

When you come out the other end towards Miramar, there is the old Air Force Base and workshops. These days they’re mostly occupied by Artists and a few tradespeople. The old Senior NCO’s mess is now used by a cafe called The Chocolate Fish BBQ cafe.

At the front door
At the front door
Plenty of good easy parking
Plenty of good easy parking

The building has a Historic classification which prevents them from poking holes in it for vents etc so they’ve carefully added a clip on lean to for the kitchen which seems to work quite well for them. The rest of the building is just as it was as a mess building with a few mods for convenience.

My Pork Sandwich
My Pork Sandwich

One of the staff was quite a talented artist and has painted all the seats and backs of the chairs with different images which really brightens the place.

The food is sensational and very reasonably priced and is very sandwich based but they’re a good hearty size! .. Outside, the views of the city are fantastic, there are plenty of things for kids or grandchildren to play with and best of all, really easy Motorhome friendly parking.

The view
The view

The place oozes history and we found ourselves easily enjoying a couple of hours taking it all in.

Hunker down at Holdens

The weather was about to go downhill dramatically and as there was a deal going on the Campermate app at Holdens Bay Holiday park for $14 a night, it seemed sensible to take up the offer.

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Lots of room in winter
Lots of room in winter

A couple of nights plugged in with the heater on to clear some posts, sounded like a good idea. There were hot pools there too.

Rafe all settled in before the afternoon rush.

Its a big park with lots of rental apartments and plenty of powered parks and being a cold winters day and about to get colder, it had more motorhomes there than I expected.
Holdens  Bay is on the eastern side of Lake Rotorua just south of the airport. Its a little out of the way but apart from the odd plane, its a nice quiet spot with great facilities. You can also walk to the lake which is only 5 minutes away and there is a technology museum almost next door. With the deal and forecasted bad weather, a great spot to hunker down.

NZ is such a small place. I’d no sooner settled Rafe down when I heard a frantic tooting and looked around. There was some people that I’d met the night before in Taupo and put them onto Campermate.
A young Dutch graphic designer with his theatre nurse wife, Stephen and Angelique with their 3 year old son. A really nice couple who were into their third and last week of a NZ campervan tour. They had got  the same deal I had and were staying one night before pushing on towards Auckland. I also bumped into them a few days later at Miranda Holiday park, one of my recommendations for their last night. We’ll hopefully catch up with them in Rotterdam when we get there sometime next year.

HoldensFor those offshore, Campermate is a free cell phone app which shows where Campgrounds, dumpstations, free parking, petrol stations etc are on a map and use your location but also has deals. Well worth getting if you’re touring NZ.

Holdens bay towards Rotorua
Holdens bay towards Rotorua

Its such a neat place Rotorua with so much to do and has a calming atmosphere to it and of course all the Thermal stuff happening.

The Netspeed Speed test for this site:
Test Date: 5/09/2016 2:18 PM
Download: 29.28 Mbps
Upload: 1.87 Mbps
Ping: 46 ms,176.307822

The Trees have gone

It always amused me by the foresight of the Rotorua team with their signs pointing out where not to park in the NZMCA Ngongotaha park, if you wanted a TV signal.

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Ngongotaha looking fantastic
Ngongotaha looking fantastic
The park from the driveway
The park from the driveway

This was due to the huge trees all down one side of the park. There was one tree really that was the culprit for the TV reception problems but I understand they were all a bit rotten so had to go for safety reasons after a limb fell.

Look at that view
Look at that view

Although I thought the trees looked great and I was a wee bit concerned when I heard they had gone, it does look fantastic.

I also understand that the area down the front is about to get a makeover and be made ready for more parking.

Lots of rot in the stump
Lots of rot in the stump

Great work guys.. it’s one of the better parks around.

And the Netspeed tests here were amazing:
Test Date: 6/09/2016 3:15 PM
Download: 49.51 Mbps
Upload: 30.07 Mbps
Ping: 33 ms,176.210040


It’s always a great experience checking out St Faiths Church and Ohinemutu on the lakefront, when I’m in Rotorua.

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The chap in the window
The walk on water window

I can remember coming here when I was in short pants and it still looks as good now if not better.

Inside St Faiths
Inside St Faiths

It’s always quite serene and has an air about it which is nice. I think the thermal steam from the cracks in the road and everywhere probably helps this too.

There were quite a few people there too having a good look around so that’s great for the donation boxes there. OhinemutuA lovely peaceful spot and there’s a couple of overnight spots for motorhomers just around the corner by the boatramp.

Our Netspeed speed upgrade in the sun!

We were on our way back to Auckland from Kerikeri when we found out our old friends Gary and Chris were at Uretiti Doc park for a few nights. We thought we’d surprise them.

See our earlier meeting here at Uretiti in the pouring rain

Click on the images to see Hi Res

Gary and Chris's van with Rafe behind
Gary and Chris’s van with Rafe behind

As we arrived right on the dot for “elbow exercise time” (with a glass in hand) at 5pm. We started on some wine while Fiona made us all a nice chicken tea.
We weren’t far into the conversation when Gary filled me in on the new Netspeed Router firmware upgrade and what a difference it had made for him.
With all of my speed tests around the country and comparing notes with Gary’s tests, it became very obvious that his speeds were generally 5 mbs a second or so faster than mine. I put that down to the fact that the sides of his van are fibreglass and the sides of mine are composite with an outside shell of aluminium. I’d assumed from that despite us having external aerials, that the router in automatic mode with aerials, was favouring the internal aerials which gave Gary a better signal. Well. .. No more🙂

The good folk at Netspeed have released a router firmware upgrade which gives you the option to tell the router to only use the external aerials. The firmware upgrade is free but you will have to install it yourself or get someone slightly techy to do it for you. Netspeed will also do it over the phone with you too. It only takes five minutes and is not complicated and well worth doing. The big thing with this upgrade is not to be rushed and let the upgrade finish before fiddling with anything.

Wait for that magic moment when you get the box pop up that says “Success!”

Back to our elbow exercise.. While chatting away, Gary brought out his laptop which had the upgrade file on it for my router and in a few minutes had it installed on my router.  In Uretiti, I immediately went from 2 bars of 4g to three and that added about 15 Mbps odd to my download speed as I was able to get my roof aerials really pumping rather than let the router do as it pleased with my useless internal aerials… Useless inside a metal cage anyway.

What a wonderful sight
What a wonderful sight

Thanks heaps Gary.. We had a great night. Nice to see you both again too.

The Netspeed speed test at Uretiti earlier
Download: 24.42 Mbps
Upload: 2.45 Mbps
Ping: 49 ms

After with the external aerials pumping!
Download: 46.62 Mbps
Upload: 3.39 Mbps
Ping: 35 ms
Connection Type: Wi-Fi

The upload speed is still awful but it is an iffy spot but it’s well worth doing the upgrade !!

How to do the upgrade.. Call Netspeed for the link for the download then download the right file for your router.

Log into your router as administrator.. For security reasons, I’m not going to tell you how to do this here but look at your router instructions.
Follow the instructions in the following screens.

The login screen on your router once you've logged in. Open browser.. Type in ..
The login screen on your router once you’ve logged in. Open browser.. Type in  to get here.
This is in Settings. Click on Local update to upload your file and WAIT until it finishes!
This is in Update. Click on Local update to upload your file and WAIT until it finishes!
Once it has finished, you can go to this screen in Settings and set your aerials up. I've got mine on External only
Once it has finished, you can go to this screen in Settings and set your aerials up. I’ve got mine on External only

Have fun and enjoy the extra speed. Call the fine team at Netspeed if you get stuck or need help.

By the pools parking

In Rotorua recently, I discovered by accident almost, the amazing new free overnight parking put in as part of the Motorhome Friendly towns scheme and by the Rotorua Council.

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Great Parking
Great Parking

What a great spot right in the middle of town really and in the Gardens area by the Polynesian Pools complex.

Although it’s essentially a modified carpark, it has been done really nicely with the sculpture garden next door and surrounded by pools.

The view from the park
The view from the park

Well done Rotorua Council and I bet it’ll be well used by Motorhomers.

Eat Street Rotorua

I parked Rafe in the free Motorhome parking by the boat ramp on the lake front and went for a 5 minute walk up towards the shops with the camera.

Click on the images to see Hi Res or a slideshow

Eat st entrance
Eat st entrance

Walking up the road towards Tutanekai Street, I couldn’t help but notice the new restaurant and eating out area there.
Eat StA whole block of covered walkway which is apparently partly retractable with Bars, Restaurants and Cafes all along the road on both sides.

It looks fantastic. Because it was only 10.30 odd in the morning nothing was open but I bet it’s a lively area in the evenings.
Eat StNext time, I’ll come later in the day. It looks like a lot of fun.

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

Diverting Journeys

A travelogue of museums, historic homes, and other curious destinations.


not all who wander are lost.......JRR Tolkien

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Gap year travels around the UK and Europe in a motorhome

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