Wheels of the Freewheelers

The view from the road
The view from the road

At the end of the week, it was time to think travel again and with a son with a birthday, Ardmore was the destination. After provisioning for the weekend at the easy to park in Countdown Takapuna, I headed to the Ardmore NZMCA park after getting some diesel at .91c a litre In Manurewa ! Fiona was driving out to join me after work.
I caught up with some if the regular liveaboards in the park which was great.

Our view of the Freewheelers.
Our view of the Freewheelers.

The Freewheelers were having their Christmas rally and were there in great numbers, all parked outside the NZMCA Ardmore park.

Click on the images to see them in Hi Res

Freewheelers are single people out enjoying their Motorhomes and they’re a lot of fun.
They had a Its in the bag night in the hall and it sounds like they had a great time.

The crew looking happy on Saturday morning
The crew looking happy on Saturday morning

With more than a hundred people turning up in 80 vans, it was a fantastic turnout.

Inside the NZMCA park looking out towards the Freewheelers in front. Fiona's car next to us.
Inside the NZMCA park looking out towards the Freewheelers in front. Fiona’s car next to us.

We went out to tea in Takanini with our friends Roger and Marion which was great. In the morning moved around to son Alex’s family in Ardmore in the morning.

Matching colours

i came across this today. It would interesting to tow. Room for the whole family ­čśÄ

Dethleffs Caravan and Esprit Motorhome
Dethleffs Caravan and Esprit Motorhome

It looks like a Dethleffs Esprit with a matching caravan modelled from another Esprit..

Has anyone see anything like this in Australasia yet ?

The Beach

Uretiti Beach
Uretiti Beach

Uretiti has to be in one of the best locations for a camping ground. Right behind the sand dunes and onto a beach that runs from Waipu Cove in the South to Ruakaka in the north. It’s about 10 kms long!

The park itself is huge and you basically park where you want to. As it is all grass, it’s sometimes a little tricky getting level but there is plenty of room with Long drop toilets and cold shower stations dotted throughout the park. There are walks around the dunes for those looking for some exercise.

Don’t forget to click on the images to see the Hi Res version

For the benefit of those offshore. Uretiti with the beach on the right and the main highway on the left. South of Whangarei
For the benefit of those offshore. Uretiti with the beach on the right and the main highway on the left. South of Whangarei

We parked on the beach side next to a track through the sand dunes to the beach.

We’d spent a great day brunching and riding around Whangarei Town centre which was fun so when we got to Uretiti, we were ready to blob out. On arrival, Fiona discovered that we had run out of tea­čśĽ so in the morning we were off for a shopping trip to Waipu, then back to Uretiti to enjoy the sun. We parked on a knoll parallel to the beach and had a bit of a view of the dunes.

The awning out with our new mat down
The awning out with our new mat down on the knoll.

It was time for a swim. Even though it was a hot day, I’d have to say it was “refreshing”! I wasn’t in for long but it’s always nice to be able to tick off that first swim.

Fiona on Uretiti beach
Fiona on Uretiti beach

After a couple of hours on the beach, it was time to watch more Motorhomes and caravanners roll in for parks. Even when Uretiti is busy there are always plenty of gaps. It is huge!

The clothesline in action
The clothesline in action

With the sun coming down, out came the awning and down went the new mat under the awning for the first time and it was great to put the bike clothesline into service too.

With the phone ringing with work coming in, we knew we had to head back to Milford the next morning.

Our first night at Uretiti showing how much room there is
Our first night at Uretiti showing how much room there is

Uretiti is a magic spot. It’s even better when you have a NZMCA/DOC pass and we’ll be back.

The tenants are in and we’re off.

After a few last minute things to do to get the house ready for the tenants saw a couple of quick trips between Milford and Devonport but the tenants are in and it all looks good.

I celebrated with my first night away by catching up with long term friends Alan and Grant for a few cold ones and stayed the night at a reserve in Torpedo Bay in Devonport.
There were a few jobs to be done this week so we were in Milford until Saturday morning and now the fridge is pretty much sorted, we’re off.

At the Caledonian Reserve
At the Caledonian Reserve

The forecast was evil. Thunder and lightning was due and it was blowing a cross wind for most of the way north. We stopped for brunch at the Cider Shed just north of Warkworth. We’ve been there a few times before and they’re always good for a nice feed. There is a nice big level carpark making it easy to park large Motorhomes.

After a good break, we headed further north to Wellsford and then finally Waipu. Checking out the new NZMCA bible, we found the Caledonian park behind the shops. What an amazing place to stay. With power too, all for $10 a night.

Fiona with the menu in McLeod tartan at the Pizza Barn
Fiona with the menu in McLeod tartan at the Pizza Barn

We walked down to the McLeod Pizza Barn so Fiona felt right at home(she’s a McLeod) after an hour or two there we walked back to Rafe at the Caledonian Park.

All the Motorhome parks at the Caledonian park .. All with power and water.
All the Motorhome parks at the Caledonian park .. All with power and water.
The Celtic Barn at the Caledonian Park
The Celtic Barn at the Caledonian Park

By midnight it was raining pretty steadily and about 3am it was all in thunder and lightning. With the huge roof vent above our bed, it was fun watching the fun and games above. By the sounds of it, nothing like what they had back in Auckland.

On Sunday, we thought we’d head up to Whangarei and have a nosey around. We parked in the Motorhome parking in the Town centre while we had brunch. Whangarei is very Motorhome friendly with plenty of parking for bigger vehicles and several dump stations. The town centre is a fantastic place where it seems half of Whangarei meets, lunches and enjoys the ambience.

After a few hours of taking it all in, we set off to try a new park we heard about on the NZMCA Northland Facebook page called Pohe Bridge. A big carpark next to a new bridge. There is a cycle way / walkway which goes all around the harbour from the bridge and back again. Off came the bikes and we were heading back into the town centre again. Across a foot bridge, through the town centre and back along the northern side and back to Rafe.
We opted not to stay there, only because the sun was shining and we fancied getting some mileage out of our Doc pass which we’ve hardly used, and thought Uretiti beach seemed like a nicer spot with the beach.

Our first night at Uretiti
Our first night at Uretiti
Fiona on the Uretiti bridge
Fiona on the Uretiti beach

A walk and sit on the beach for a while and we settled down for the night.

The Anxious Fridge

Every now and then a good product can fail which can be simply bad luck. We get it repaired and life goes on. When things like a fridge fails to work or fails to be useable, there are consequences like food going off or a cancelled trip. When there is a failure due to a silly design fault which lead to these consequences, there is plenty of room for an end user to be a bit miffed.

Rafe at Uretiti Doc park this weekend
Rafe at Uretiti Doc park this weekend

About a year ago, I was chatting to a neighbour at Uretiti DOC campground in Waipu. He had a New Euro Motorhome with the same fridge as ours and was showing me how his door lock mechanism had failed so he couldn’t open his fridge door. He ended up taking out the decorative panelling off the front so he could get to a shaft to open his door with a pair of pliers! The shaft had failed when two bits of coat hanger like wire, end on end had slipped past each other rendering the door mechanism useless. There was no proper joining shroud to keep the two bits of wire lined up. He’d gone to some trouble to show me how to get at this shaft and seemed fairly convinced, I was going to be next. This thankfully, hasn’t happened yet but I was very appreciative for the efforts he went to so I knew how to deal with it. My memory from this was how Micky Mouse, the whole setup was for a supposedly quality fridge that was more expensive than my fridge at home.

Friday night was looking good to get away up north for a few days. We’d both just finished work and decided to stop at the Silverdale Roadside Cafe and BP station for some diesel and food.
We’d just got going when the fridge starting beeping with a light flashing as well. It beeped for 30 seconds every 2.5 minutes. It was driving us nuts and we knew we’d never be able to sleep with it like this. At the truck stop, we turned off the fridge while we had tea and got some fuel as it seemed to keeping stuff cold, just making a racket!
After tea, reading through the “book” gave error messages for things like no gas, no power and talked about other buttons beeping with the alarm but nothing for this error. It did talk about having a “door open” alarm and the “light on in the fridge” alarm. That’s what it had to be as the fridge was still working perfectly.
In the meantime, we had a fridge full of food and didn’t know how to fix it.

Our fridge. If you have a fridge like this and it beeps at you, you'll know how to deal with it!
Our fridge. If you have a fridge like this and it beeps at you, you’ll know how to deal with it!

We decided we’d go home, rescue the food and try again Saturday morning if we could find a fix.
Isn’t Google great for this… “Why is my fridge beeping” gave me a list of answers from several caravan sites and they all mentioned two fridges, ours being one of them. The fridge, can’t remember the model number now but it’s definitely the same as our one and they’re in all the newer bigger motorhomes and caravans.

Well, the nitty gritty of it is, they have a bad built in design fault or as some call this “an undocumented feature”! The led light is part of a printed circuit board inside the door catch assembly with an edge connector poking out the back into the fridge space.
Who is the fruit loop who thought putting an unprotected printed circuit board in a fridge was a good idea? Why not give it sealed plastic cover and some heat shrink and make it reliable?

The door catch with the cover on
The door catch with the cover on
Door catch with cover off with the cover on the shelf.
Door catch with cover off with the cover on the shelf.

I could see by putting my finger in the door switch that the interior led light went off but still had a faint glow so the door switch must be short circuiting by moisture. This was mentioned on various sites as well.

The fridge catch with the cover off. Note the unprotected wires at the back
The fridge catch with the cover off. Note the unprotected wires at the back

The recommended fixes from the Internet: pull the door catch cover off, wipe the plug surfaces dry and reconnect, reset fridge.. This didn’t work. Next step, disassemble again and disable the light by pulling the plug off. Yippee, success, but no light but at least the bloody fridge was quiet, works efficiently and we could sleep without the damn thing beeping all night!

So we shifted all the frozen and perishable foods, cheese and wine etc back into Rafe and we finally got away at 10am. It seems I’ll have to get a new door micro switch.

The coffee cup holder

This was Pete’s first rally with his new Dethleffs Black Magic so it was great to see the Kiwi ingenuity being applied to his van.

There is a notable absence of anywhere in the Ducato cab for holding coffee. Pete decided this had to change and came up with a nice  tray with  locking blocks underneath the hold it between the two front seats on the seat arms.

Pete with his coffee cup holder
Pete with his coffee cup holder

Clever use of dead space and with the use of matching vinyl from the floor and a nice wooden surround, it really looks the part.

The Wooden Table

This is Richards second year at a Dethleffs owners rally so it was nice to catch up again.  Being the clever chap that he is, he  significantly upgraded his dining area with a  new table. Looking at the photo again, it looks like it might be Kauri. Very Nicely done!

Richard with his new table
Richard with his new table

A thing of beauty.