Whangarei Falls

On the way back from Matapouri, we almost stumbled on these falls in a well setup park on the Ngunguru road.
Very nice new toilets too if you’re looking for good loos.

Whangarei falls from the top
Whangarei falls from the top

We spent an hour or so wandering around what’s called the inner loop walk which takes you down an easy track to a huge cavern like area with the huge waterfalls falling into a big lake about 100 odd feet below.
There is a picnic table there and a nice area to take it all in.
Well worth a look and good exercise too 😎

Sun sand and lots of people

After a good night at Whangauru bay, we went to Tutukaka for morning tea and a look around the marina. The last time we were here was 12 or so years ago when we purchased Rorqual.

Fiona on Rorquals old pier
  Fiona on Rorquals old pier
Tutukaka monument
Tutukaka monument
Looking back from the Marina
Looking back from the Marina

It was nice to see the activity around the piers, people getting ready to go away on their boats and doing last minute jobs on them. Fiona sneaked off to the shops for a look around and then we were off to Matapouri bay.

It was chocker with people and a struggle finding a little room for an 8m Motorhome.

Mayhem at Matapouri
Mayhem at Matapouri

One of the things to used to annoy Fiona during my newspaper career as a photographer over 30 something years, was my dislike for crowds and having to get in them. I worked often in crowds, either at events, concerts or just big council events. It always meant difficulty parking and sometimes carrying or running some distance with heavy camera gear.
So by the time I got home, concerts or gatherings of any sort were always off the radar… So imagine me in a huge Motorhome and all these people with narrow streets and people wanting to get home, all hot and at the end of the day.

We decided to move on to Woolleys bay, the next bay north hoping there would be less aggravation parking and some space. And it was lovely. We’d just arrived in the carpark behind the sand dunes and drove right into a flat spot next to another Motorhome who had been there the previous night. A really nice chap with his wife and two girls who was a supplier to Dethleffs and knew Jonas the importer.
Fiona and I sat in our new Christmas chairs and enjoyed lunch in the sun before changing and spending a few hours on the beach. Not a cloud in the sky and a bit of surf, just nice.
Later in the day, we thought we’d better check in with Rob and Helen who had got a premo spot in Matapouri bay and were encouraging us to come back.
It was mayhem but with both Rob and Helen acting as ace parking wardens, somehow we managed to get a spot right next to them. I have to say though, a bit stressful and although it’s a great beach, I really think that the beachfront carpark isn’t setup or well suited for large Motorhomes as everywhere you park is potentially exposed to a bad or careless car parker. Most of the cars had gone by 7pm and it started to settle down and by then, really nice.

Us once the cars had gone. Rob and Helens AutoTrail on the left
Us once the cars had gone. Rob and Helens AutoTrail on the left

All those people and the extra risk to Rafe, give me a quiet little Bay any day😎

Testosterone overload on SH1

Well, what a day. We had a great night with Fiona’s brother John and better half, Marnie where I whistled out the plug in Bbq and John made a great salad, we ate and drank until late. It was lots of fun. Our visit to J & M’s was well overdue and I’m sure we well and truly made up for it 😀

Rafe at John and Marnie
Rafe at John and Marnie
The long haired driveway
The long haired driveway

John cooked up an amazing breakfast of bacon and eggs that morning which prepared us well for the day. The drive needed a good haircut but we managed to get down with Fiona walking ahead and pulling the long branches out of the way and we were off via Pack n Save in Silverdale to meet Rob and Helen at Whangaumu  near Tutukaka.

As we headed up the hill to windy ridge on the first passing lanes, towards the end of the passing lanes we were overtaken in a hurry by two cars, a Toyota smallish car and a new X6 Bmw who pushed into the passing lane in front of me, earning himself a good loud toot of my horn for being a dickhead.

As we went on at the next passing lanes around the corner, the Beemer pulled out to overtake and immediately the Toyota pulled out in front to stall the bmw from going forward. There was obviously some history with these two. I kept back leaving a gap in the left for the bmw to move back into. On it went with the Toyota stopping the flow forward of the right lane really upsetting the beemer driver. The passing lanes eventually run out at the top of windy ridge and the Toyota moves left with the beemer trying to push in with no passing lane left. I’m still holding a big gap for the beemer to drop back into. Eventually the Beemer gives up, drops back into the gap in front and then crosses over to a wide left margin and came up the inside of the Toyota and tries to push in front from the left, deliberately ramming him and as he tries to get in front the beemer goes sideways with the Toyota driving into the drivers door of the beemer pushing it sideways. Wow.. All in glorious technicolor on our widescreen windscreen. We couldn’t believe what was happening!
The Toyota moves off to the side of the road and out of the Beemer pops out a hopping mad irate trendy chap shouting sweet nothings to a mid thirtyish bloke.
Both at fault but the beemer driver needs to keep his testosterone in his undies, that’s for sure. I pull over a little further up the road and run down with a card, Telling the beemer driver who is still ranting and raving what a dickhead he is, that I saw it all and gave the Toyota driver a card and told him to give me a call. Wow.. We both decided we needed to get to somewhere and have a cup of tea to settle things down.
We stopped at Waipu for lunch and a cuppa and a break and give the heart a chance to slow down!

After a quick visit to the Whangarei dump station to get water and dump, we pressed on to Whangaumu bay near Tutukaka where we met Rob and Helen and their daughter Chloe.
A stifling hot day with heaps of people on the beach. A fantastic spot right on the edge if the beach. Well done Rob and Helen for finding it! We met our neighbours Liz and Dennis in their Toyota Bus. Nice people too.

Rafe at Dusk
Rafe at Dusk

The images tell the story. I thought later I wish I’d taken the camera down to the fighting drivers to get a real news piccy but as Fiona says, I might have attracted more attention than I could deal with 😳

Xmas day

On Christmas eve, we stayed in my sons family’s driveway and early Christmas day was spent opening pressies with Alex, Sarah, the two grandsons, Ayden and Liam and with Sarah’s parents and brother Andrew. The hard part was keeping Liam on task opening all his presents as he wanted to stop and play along the way. All part of being a 3 yr old.

Waiting for the ferry at Half Moon Bay. Liam with Fiona and Ayden with his dad Alex.
Waiting for the ferry at Half Moon Bay. Liam with Fiona and Ayden with his dad Alex.
Ferry Unloading
Ferry Unloading

After Fiona had made croissants with Cheese and Bacon .. yum! we left to catch the ferry from Half Moon Bay to Waiheke, where were to have a great lunch with the wider family at Fiona’s sister Sara and Robs place in Onetangi.

Rob has some new toys in his toy box at the barn so after lunch we went up to the barn and he wheeled out the entertainment.

The Razor: a 4 wheel drive farm bike with roll cages but souped up mechanically. The Shredder: A track driven by a petrol motor steered by a wake board like setup.. see the piccies. Remember too to click on them for hi res.

Lots of fun mixed with some nice wine and great food with great company.

We all made it too the 7pm ferry at Kennedy point in time to get back to Half Moon Bay and to Ardmore.

It was a big day and I was literally falling into bed when I got back to Rafe.

A boxing day pic of Liam and Ayden
A boxing day pic of Liam and Ayden

We’re looking forward to heading up North for the next week .. watch for some Northland posts!  I hope everyone had a great Christmas.. have a good new year and if you’re on the road, be safe.

No Rafe for the weekend so feet have to do.

Rafe had developed a nasty little irritating rattle in what seemed to be the left front suspension.  We thought given the warranty runs out in 6 months or so, we need to get straight onto to these things and get it sorted. I dropped it off last Wednesday morning and took a technician around the block so I could point out the noise. It only appeared on coarse seal but was a quiet as a mouse on smooth seal.

The awning out with our new mat down
The awning out with our new mat down

Initially it seemed that although they could hear the noise, they couldn’t find a reason for a rattle. The suspension checked out ok and after a few hours of searching, there was nothing else.
A bit of light reading by yours truly on the Fiat forum in the UK showed that they have  this issue in Britain too. The Euro’s have smooth seal but they use coarse seal in Britain like NZ.  On Monday, they wired it all up with microphones and went for a drive to locate the rattle. To add the sound equipment, they had to take off the tray which is a big piece of black rubber/plastic mat that covers the whole underside of the engine and gearbox area to protect it from dust. The Brits found that they were the cause of the rattle. With all the sound equipment, they couldn’t hear any noise at all so it seems the tray might be the cause here too. We picked Rafe up on Monday and the’ve left the tray off to try it over the new Year period and so far I haven’t heard a thing 🙂   I’ll head back to the engineers in January and have it put back on with some foam to stop it rattling if that’s what it turns out to be.

As always, make sure you click on these images to see them in hi res.

Fiona with Takapuna Beach in the distance
Fiona with Takapuna Beach in the distance

What to do last weekend instead ?  We decided to walk around from Milford Bridge all the way down the beach and around the waterfront to Takapuna Beach. Its a great walk and only takes about 1/2 hour.

We stopped at Takapuna Beach for a while and watched the launching antics of the masses and the wayward backing attempts. Always a good hour or two’s entertainment although better at low tide 🙂

We walked up to Hurstmere Rd and had a nice lunch in a café there and then walked back towards Milford. There is a little track down to the beach right on the corner with Kitchener Rd so we headed back down along the beach and back home.

Fiona cooling off with Rangitoto behind
Fiona cooling off with Rangitoto behind

We’d only been home for a n hour or so when our good friends Tony and Julie popped in with a bottle of wine and some cider and then spent several hours sitting in the sun watching boats come and go in the marina.

A very pleasant day but I’m REALLY pleased to have Rafe back !

No Yotts on the campground please

Last week, several members of the Takapuna – Devonport board did an about turn on their previously promoted position of supporting the Takapuna campground against their tussle against government and council funded Yachting NZ for yet another yotting facility on public land.  The outcome was a compromise where the campground will lose about 10% of its land for a hard stand for the yotts. At least the campground gets to stay.

Takapuna Beach Campground
Takapuna Beach Campground

Takapuna Camp ground on Takapuna Beach is one of only two campgrounds on the North Shore. It is on leased land from the council. I think if my memory serves me right, it was given to the council by a local Takapuna family to be used as a campground several generations ago and many people from everywhere have enjoyed the grounds and its proximity to the beach for years.

People enjoying lunch with the campground behind
People enjoying lunch with the campground behind

Yachting NZ were trying to build their HQ at the Strand, just down the beach but were rejected by the council. Even their past Chairman,  a well known yachtie, is on record of saying, the people of the North Shore have said no to building on the campground and learn when to give up.

Auckland City, compared to some of the smaller cities around NZ, is not one of the better supporters of dump stations and Motorhoming.
Yes they have some great coastal parks which they inherited from Auckland Regional Council and various benefactors over the years and they make them available to campers and Motorhomers, but they generally charge a lot for very little so every full serviced campground we have, we need to keep.

Bridge Dude Bridge Dude, Rorqual calling

Late last week the council had their usual 5am blessing for anything new and officially opened their new bridge across Milford Creek and I have to say, it looks pretty good. I think its a huge waste of ratepayers money but over the weekend, it was used pretty much non stop.

The Bridge with the emergency piles in the foreground
The Bridge with the emergency piles in the foreground

Remember to click on these to make sure you get the best of these images in Hi Res.  

Bridge

The entrance to the bridge
The entrance to the bridge

Later that day, Andrew and I walked to the Milford Cruising club for a meal and a couple of drinks. I haven’t been there for a while so it was nice to see some of the old faces including Geoff Bagnall who rebuilt our old Whalechaser Rorqual.

Below is a recent drone movie of Andrew bring Rorqual back to Milford on dusk. This was just before the bridge was operational.

Andrew was telling me a funny story, how he went out in the boat with a mate that day to the Rangitoto lighthouse and back and on returning couldn’t remember the correct radio callsign to open the bridge.

As he tells the story, it went along the lines of : Bridge dude Bridge dude, this is Rorqual calling(and his callsign). Open the bridge please mate as I’m coming in hot! His reply: Rorqual Rorqual, this is ATOC. The bridge will be open within 5 minutes. Please proceed.
You’d think the council would come up with something simple like Milford Bridge or something similar .. no, they have to have something silly that no one can remember!

The bridge ready for business
The bridge ready for business

During the evening at the Cruising club, we bumped into our old friends Heather and her husband Walter who was the previous commodore who was very involved with the bridge in its early days.
“Now don’t you go using that bridge to go home” she said as we left to go home    .. oops.. sorry Heather but it was the shortest way back 🙂