Pop up Caravan

And it was  2 C overnight !

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Anne and Dave

Dave and Anne were away for their first adventure in their new Jayco Eagle pop up Caravan and were my neighbours at Whangateau.

Jayco Eagle

Having a quick look through, its amazing how much room there is inside them and what you can fit in. They slept in one end and had their luggage at the other end with plenty of room for living space in between.

Dining area

I’ve always wondered how cold you would be in these in a really cold night but in the morning they both said they were as warm as toast so the inuslation in them must really work.

Galley

Apparently it tows beautifully and although it took him about an hour to put together for the first time today, it generally should only take 15-20 minutes once you’ve done it a few times and you get more familiar with it.

Master Bed area

From Kaiwaka, they were staying here in the lovely Whangateau Holiday Park for three or four days to try everything out with their friends.

Dave was telling me that they bought it from a retired School Principal three months ago, who is clever with his hands, and along with lots of other little modifications he added a stay and pulley system so that the Pop Up Top wouldn’t sway around in the wind.. a great add on.

The Stays to stop it wobbling in the wind

Having had a Motorhome before, they were happy to return to the more basic camping setup and were having fun.

Visitors Berth

Although they said it wasn’t an issue, I still wondered about the 2C overnight 🙂

Staying with the Kiwis

One of the features of my around the Dargaville loop was coming across Kiwi North.

Run by a charitable trust, it includes the Whangarei Museum, a Kiwi house and much more, all part of a 25 hectare Heritage park.

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NZMCA’rs can also stay the night there with power for just $15 per night. This also gives you a discount to see the Kiwis and the Museum.

The Static Engine Club

I pulled in and parked in one of the two Motorhome parks out in the main carpark while checking in and met by a very helpful lady on the front desk who showed me where everything was and then gave me a brochure specially printed for NZMCA’rs who want to stay there. It also had a map showing what was there along with things to see and do.

The Kauri Railway Station

After parking Rafe in one of the 4 concrete parking pads setup for Motorhomes and plugging in and opening vents, I set off with the camera to have a look around.

Great parking for 4 on a concrete pad with power and toilets too.

One of the features of the park apart from the Kiwi House and Museum is the Grand old Clarke Homestead built in 1886. The Clarke family also had a Butchery, a Laundry, Dairy and Milking Parlour and has been occupied by three generations of the family up to 1972.

Clarke Homestead with the Jane Mander Study

Also next to the Clarke Homestead is the Jane Mander Study which was a turret that was once on top of the family home in Whangarei. Access was by a rooftop walkway. Jane’s Dad owned the Northern Advocate in the early days and Jane went on to be the Editor.

I found this really interesting as in my Newspaper days as a photographer, with the Herald and the Star, I had to work with the Advocate  guys during Waitangi day protests along with other jobs. They were a great crew to be with and always very helpful.

The Jane Mander Study

The other amazing thing here was the Oruati Chapel built from a single Kauri log in 1859 and was in Doubtless Bay in the north. It is still used today for Weddings and Christenings.

The Oruati Chapel

There are many of Whangarei’s Clubs based here in their own buildings like the Steam society, the Ham Radios club and many others. Its a very interesting place to just have a look around.

Inside the Oruati Chapel. Made from one Kauri log in 1859!

The old Kauri Railway Station along with a separate reduced scale railway along with Riponui Pah school built in 1898. All really good stuff.

Looking out over the Clarke Homestead to Whangarei

Down one end of the park is a Alexander Clarkes grave. He’s the chap that originally came out from the Uk and built the Clarke Homestead.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

A wonderful place to park, plenty to see and do and they really want you to visit them. I couldn’t believe how organised they are for Motorhomers, even having a brochure for NZMCA’rs on what to do and see and complete with the Wings on the cover !

Cultural Parking!

Well worth seeing and doing and great parking.. Go there, they need your support 🙂

The Netspeed Speedtest for here (old Router)
Download: 8.43 Mbps
Upload: 7.47 Mbps
Ping: 55 ms

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Dee Stress the Mitzi Bus

6 years or so ago, Cantabrians Liz and Gordon upsized their Trailite to this beautiful 1999 Mitzibishi Fuso bus.  12 months or so ago, they rented their house  in Christchurch out and now it is their home away from home.

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Liz and Gordon with their dog

It was originally a bus for  the disabled in Japan with only 4 seats at the back so hadn’t had a huge mileage. With a 12 litre rear engine and running on a 15 ton ticket, it is defintely one of the nicer buses I’ve seen.

Oodles of living space

They left Christchurch late last year and after doing the South Island, are now getting around the North.

Galley

I caught up with them at the brand new NZMCA park in Dargaville in between showers for a cuppa and it was nice meeting them.

Click on the Gallery below for slideshow

A great couple out enjoying the country in their palace on wheels.

New Dargaville park with History

This was my first trip to the brand new Dargaville NZMCA park and its a cracker.

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Close to the water

It is right on the rivers edge with another smaller river on a side boundary and only a few minutes walk to the centre of town.

This was one of my first times of the new check in system and paying on the NZMCA App and it was easy. What a great system.

There are two old heritage buildings on the site with a couple of old jettys on the side of the river.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

After a wander around watching the river water flow from all the rain we’d had, it reminded me of when I was a nipper just mooching around the waters edge and sitting on old wharves on a quiet day.

2 minutes walk to the Rotunda and the town

I went for a walk into town over the bridge and what a neat atmosphere. The old band rotunda and some public loos are only a few minutes away and although the brown colour of the Wairoa River isn’t exactly beautiful, there is a real sense of history and a real charm about the place.

All weather and safe

We’re very lucky to have this network of NZMCA parks and once the word gets out, this new one is sure to be popular.

The Netspeed Speedtest here (Old Router)
Download: 7.64 Mbps
Upload: 21.01 Mbps
Ping: 44 ms

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Views of the Kaipara

Matakohe is a neat little spot with oodles of history. The Kauri Museum is a great way to soak up more than 200 years of what went on in the Northland Gum industry and in the local area. You can actually stay here with your self contained Motorhome but it is on pretty sloping ground.

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Just along the road is the Matakohe Holiday Park which has had a bit of makeover since we were last there a year or so ago. There seems to be a bit more gravel, and some new playground bits and pieces. The view on a nice day is just sensational and is a great way to wake up.
When I arrived, the forecast was evil. There were gusts of 40-50 knots expected with thunderstorms and even some hail predicted so I checked in at Matakohe to hunker down.

The view

At $20 a night less the NZMCA discount, I virtually had the place to myself on a midweek, winter night.

Even space for a dog

And true to form, only the thunder didn’t arrive but it rained and rained. Although there’s a good view over the harbour, it is still very sheltered and I was pleased to be on a solid gravel ground.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The dump station is easy, the fresh water is easy and although I didn’t use the shower, from our last visit, it all works and looks the business.

I was pleased to be able to get some nice images with some blue sky.

Kitchen, Laundry, Toilets and showers

Nice hosts in a great location on the Kauri Coast road through to Dargaville and beyond, and the view of the northern Kaipara is lovely.

The Netspeed Speedtest here (Old Router)
Download: 17.79 Mbps
Upload: 3.80 Mbps
Ping: 52 ms

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Nothing more Frustrating

Than house batteries that won’t play the game !

After 4 years of service, one of Rafe’s house batteries finally popped its clogs and a visit to the battery hospital was in order.

These images are all done from a cell phone.

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The original batteries

Batterytown came highly recommended by my son Andrew after he’d just upgraded our old boat Rorqual’s, new house batteries. He’d gone from 220 Amp hours to 450 odd something Amp Hours.. huge! .. plus he’d moved from lead acid to AGM’s too.

I’d been reading in some of the overseas forums that some of the British Fiat Motorhome owners had a few issues with the batteries that came fitted with some of the Fiat based motorhomes of the same age as Rafe. And sure enough, I had the same brand as well. Although to be fair, I always thought 4 years was about as much as you could expect from a bunch of house batteries.

They’re not easy to get at in the Globe 4 as they’re under the drivers seat but its only a 10 minute job getting the seat out. If you’re doing it yourself as I did, be careful when you pull the seat out that you carefully disconnect the air bag and seatbelt sensor cables when you lift the seat off the pillar! Its all in one big Yellow plug tucked down the side of the seat.

On a Dethleffs too.. Make sure that you disconnect the Solar Array by pulling the fuse out BEFORE you disconnect the old batteries or you’ll fry the control panel (Expensive!)

Only one of my batteries had died but you can’t put a new battery alongside an old one as the old one will kill off the new one in double quick time.

Top down of the new Batteries Handbrake lever on the right

The brand that came recommended in the UK was the German brand Varta and they were getting a much better run out of them than anything else. This also was the brand that Batterytown recommended as well so I was pleased about that.

Apparently they have some new technology silicone on the plates which stops the sulphation on them which stops them performing. This apparently gives them a lot longer service life and effectively increases their badged Amp Hour capacity to some degree as well.

It could be marketing stuff but it all sounds good and if its working for the Brits, it must be ok.

Greg load testing them.. passed with flying colours

So after fitting them I was off to get them tested,  just to give me peace of mind. I have in the past fitted brand new house batteries on Rorqual and found a couple over the years with dead cells straight out of the plastic wrapping !

After the load test.. from 10v up to 12.6 in a blink!

So all good.. we’re off now for another 5 or more years hopefully with some new Varta batteries.

The new Batteries all ready to go

They’re also a nice white colour too.

On the Estuary.. Stunning

One of my all time favorite places in the world is Mangawhai. We’ve even (I have anyway 🙂 ) thought about buying here for later years 🙂 I’m not winning that one though… so far.

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Heading up this way midweek with some fairly dubious and cold weather forecasts, it was the first on my list of places to check out.

Great Spot

Noela was very helpful in the Mangawhai Holiday Park office and showed me where everything was. There are two parts to the camp with the office in the midde. I was given a spot on the northern end right on the waters edge which was just magic.

Nice and Quiet

With just a small hop over the rail and a trot down the beach, you can actually go for miles. There are a couple of good walkways too around to the surf beach (10 mins) and a walk up into the hills which takes you further along by the Mangawhai Heads surf beach.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

The cost for a powered site for 1 was $20 with really nice toilets and showers. Water was right on the park.

Looking back to Mangawhai

There’s something about Mangawhai which I really like. Maybe its just the laid back atmosphere. The Museum is amazing too and is just up the road.

Looking back

I spent the night there before catching up with some old friends Les and Liz who have a sizeable lifestyle block up here with an amazing old villa. They escaped the rat race of Auckland some 13 years ago and just love it here.

Tides Out

A really nice spot and I bet it is busy in Summer.

The Netspeed Speed test here ..with the old router.
Download: 7.25 Mbps
Upload: 0.68 Mbps
Ping: 75 ms

Rafe’s Tracker map

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