Motorhoming with the boats

The old post office building and the Paeroa racecourse ticket office.

On the way back from Waihi, we stopped in at the Paeroa Maritime Museum.
With my past involvement with Classic Launches, I was keen to see what was there. The main building is the ex Paeroa Post Office and is chocker with relics from the area. Apparently Captain Cook sailed up the Waihou and checked it out for Spars.

Paeroa didn’t see roads until the mid 1940’s and the main transportation method was ships up the streams to where the Maritime Museum is today.

Visitors going up the river
Visitors going up the river

They also provide overnight Motorhome parking with power for $15 and there are toilets and plenty to see and do.
You can also go for a ride in one of their two vessels up the Waihou river.

Nicks and Scratches

The Goldfields Railway station at Waihi was the perfect place to base ourselves for the bike ride to Karangahake and back. See my earlier blog on Goldfields Railway.

Rafe, Helen and Robs AutoTrail, and Dianne and Gary's XLI safely tucked in at the Goldfields Railway Motorhome parking
Rafe, Helen and Robs AutoTrail, and Dianne and Gary’s XLI safely tucked in at the Goldfields Railway Motorhome parking

We arrived at Waihi about 11am and plugged ourselves in and had just levelled Rafe up with the ramps when our friends from Snells beach, Rob, Helen and Chloe arrived in their AutoTrail Tracker and parked beside us.
A few more Motorhomers arrived straight after that and we were a wee bit concerned that there wouldn’t be enough powered parks left for Gary and Dianne in their XLI who were still to arrive from Taupo. I went and paid for our sites and we were given some cones for their site. They arrived not long after anyway.
It was hot and humid so we thought we’d have to do sundowners while giving Gary and Diannes new XLI’s Air conditioning a good workout and it stood up to the test well along with lots of laughs!

The next day we were up ready for the 10am train to Waikino with our bikes.

The bikes on board
The bikes on board
Dianne, Helen, Rob, Chloe and Fiona on the train

Rob, Helen and Chloe set off for the 15k’s round trip walk and we were to meet up further down the trail.

Please do not read this sign!
Please do not read this sign!

We got our bikes off the train at Waikino as planned, and set of over a walkbridge to the Victoria Battery where there was pretty much a whole town setup, complete with power house and other buildings. It’s just a big empty space now. The power house is the site of the museum which is really interesting and well worth a look through.
As Fiona slowed down to stop in front of the first sign, she over balanced and ended up on the ground. Fortunately, it was just few scratches and bruises and she was back on her bike and away again.

After leaving Victoria Battery, there was a 3-4k flat run until we got through to the tunnel. This was quite a sensation. Gary and I rode through the tunnel but Fiona and Dianne pushed their bikes through on foot. It was amazing to ride through as although it is lit, it really is still quite dark. There is also quite a bit of water from the rain seeping though and quite muddy. Gary and I and the bikes were in a bit of a state when we came out the other end🤓. Rob, Helen and Chloe had done well on foot to get here in good time and were looking good. Gary and I were covered in mud.
After the girls caught up, we were keen to get some lunch so we biked back across the swing bridge to a great cafe called the Talisman where, as Gary read from the sign, they have “world famous BLT’s” which were amazing. They also have a big Motorhome compatible carpark if you want to go directly.

Fiona and Dianne coming out of the tunnel
Fiona and Dianne coming out of the tunnel

We set off after lunch back across the swing bridge to head back to Waikino. The first part of the track is really not rideable and in some parts is only a few feet wide and right next to the river.  A stunning walking track so close to the raging water that you could be anywhere in the world…
Where it joins up back to the tunnel entrance it becomes rideable again all the way back to Waikino.
We got back to Waikino and caught up with Rob, Helen and Chloe with 10 minutes to spare before the last train of the day was departing at 2:30.
Gary and Dianne decided to ride back to Waihi, another 8k’s or so so off they went. We briefly saw them from the train across the river on the trail as we caught up to them when we’re nearly back at Waihi. Unfortunately Dianne took a tight turn in the track and came off, an accident black spot that probably should be marked. Like Fiona, luckily, the damage was restricted to some grazes and bruises and she was able to continue riding back.

After the ride/walk and before the rain! Gary, Fiona(back on) Rob, Helen and Chloe
After the ride/walk and before the rain!
Gary, Fiona(back on) Rob, Helen and Chloe

We sat under Gary and Diannes awning with some heavy showers, with a few cold ones after that comparing notes and the girls compared their battle scars. Neither looked too good but there were no broken bones and I think after a couple of ciders, all was ok.

Gary cut the back of his leg on his pedal and I got a scratch on my leg but can’t remember how, so it was bandages at dawn for us all.😀

The view before the tunnel. You could be anywhere in the world.
The view before the tunnel. You could be anywhere in the world.

We all agreed it was a fantastic day enjoying some fantastic NZ scenery which you can only get to by getting out on foot or bike. If you’re in the area, a must do!

Ye Olde Hotel and Campgrounde

We came through here years ago and simply stopped for a drink but my old boating mate Alan, used to come here years ago for election night parties with his buddies.

Fiona enjoying the pool
Fiona enjoying the pool

It was on the market not so long ago and I believe it now has new owners and they’re really getting stuck in

The path to the pools, camping area to the right
The path to the pools, camping area to the right

The camping ground at the Okoroire Hotel has all been cleaned up and while it is not particularly flat, (bring your ramps) for its money it is good value. $10 a night each gives you power, loos and you’re right next to the track down to the newly restored hot pools by the Waihou river. There are three pools on the riverbank above the river.  The pools are $5 each to use. An amazing setting.

The hotel itself is just up the road a bit and was first built in the 1880’s and was setup as a stopping point for the stagecoaches from Auckland, heading south. You can also stay at the hotel and there is also a 9 hole golf course. What more could you want?

OkoroireWe arrived here directly from crowds of people at the balloon event so it was nice just to blob out with some peace and quiet but Fiona’s keen to stay another night so it must be good.

Jukebox and Classic Cars

As you arrive into Hamilton off the expressway from the north, you will see at one of the roundabouts, a car on top of a pole.

The entrance to the Cafe and Museum
The entrance to the Cafe and Museum

This is the Jukebox Cafe and Classic Car Museum. NZMCA members can stay the night here for free and there is tons of room at the back of a huge carpark.

Inside the Museum
Inside the Museum

The Jukebox cafe is all decked out with an American 60’s Rock n roll type decor along with the staff wearing the retro clobber. While we didn’t eat here it all looks pretty good.

Click on the images for Hi res / Slideshow

The Classic Car Museum is a must do and is someone’s private collection. It includes a caravan, a Cord, and an amazing looking Auburn which I’d never heard of.

Dodge trucks
Dodge trucks

There’s a Messerschmitt along with trucks and many others. You’ll easily get lost in here for an hour or two.

The parking outside the museum
The parking outside the museum
Us and Dianne and Gary's XLI
Us and Dianne and Gary’s XLI

We went through here with Gary and Dianne before they headed back to Taupo and were sitting in the carpark getting ready for a cuppa while waiting for Fiona. She was really taken with the Messerschmitt.

Balloons over Waikato

We arrived in Hamilton about 10:30 and followed the GPS instructions to the Hamilton West school where the Waikato NZMCA rally was setup.

Gael and her team had done a fantastic job of parking more than 50 Motorhomes and caravans onto the school field in the traditional lines with the 3 metre gaps.

Catching up with Helen and Rob
Catching up with Helen and Rob

We met our friends Rob and Helen with daughter Chloe within minutes of arriving. They had come down the night before and had already been up at the crack of dawn to check out the Balloons just over the road at the lake. It was time for a cup of tea.
There was a Dethleffs Sunlight van right behind us in the line which was at Vantage RV when we had our water pump replaced a few days ago so it was nice to see Alan too.

At Dawn, off to the Lake.
At Dawn, off to the Lake.

Friends from Taupo, Gary and Dianne arrived not long after and parked beside us in their new Dethleffs XLI. It was nice to see them again too. Within minutes of their arrival, we introduced them to Rob, Helen and Chloe but then made the worrying discovery that the Dometic fridge in the XLI wasn’t running on gas properly so their food was at risk. Potential Motorhomers nightmare!

BalloonsThe last time they were away, the 240v element had failed so they had taken the XLI in to have it repaired. The 240v and 12v worked but the gas that was then working fine, now didn’t work! Don’t you hate it when that happens !  Calls to the original repairer did not help and after shifting the food into our fridge in Rafe  to keep it cold while we spent a couple of hours sorting it at least protected their food. After an hour or two, while Gary was on the phone to another technician, he noticed a lose unplugged wire from the gas solenoid that looked like it was important. We took the cover off Rafes fridge to see where it went. After popping off another plastic cover and plugging in this wire, the fridge was away again. Crises averted! Well spotted Gary!

By then it was afternoon tea time and so it would have been rude not have a small celebration for the fridge working again and the fact that the weekend wasn’t going to be disaster after all!

At around 6 pm and after a fridge debrief, a few glasses of wine, cups of coffee and tea and cheese and bikkies, we left to head to the Balloon festival.

The Hamilton council had done a wonderful job with the bus system and had laid on free buses for all to get to this fantastic event. We were told that we had to use the green route buses which made it really easy. The bus picked us up from just outside the school and delivered us to the Waikato University campus, some 20 minutes or so later to see thousands of people eagerly waiting for the balloons. It was a great atmosphere and people everywhere having a good time. There was quite a well setup sideshow area too. Huge queues for the food stalls but that didn’t seem to worry anyone.

BalloonsAt about 7:30, the balloons started to get inflated but then the rain came down. This put a bit if a halt to the other balloons inflating but as they say, the show must go on and the music continued. A huge fireworks show followed. Despite the brief rain, everyone seemed to have a good time and it was a great show.

We arrived back at the school campground by 10pm after getting onto the second bus out. Again, an amazingly efficient bus system and to clear that volume of people so quickly with no dramas was extremely well done.

Inflating the Balloons
Inflating the Balloons
At the lake in the morning
At the lake in the morning

In the morning, we walked over to the beautiful Hamilton Lake park to watch the balloonists inflate their balloons. Again, the weather wasn’t playing the game and there was too much wind for the balloons to fly but it was a great spectacle all the same. Balloons

Over the lake
Over the lake

A great day and well done Hamilton council and buses for doing such a great job and hosting a great event, despite the weather.

Wandering Linen

Both the Dethleffs and the Burstner and I think most other European Fiat based Motorhomes with the centre island bed come with a shorter Queen sized bed, with a insert that you can add if you’re a tall person. The duvets on them, largely bunch up and the weight of them tends to drag down to the floor overnight leaving you with no linen. While this is great in summer, it’s not so flash when it’s freezing cold in winter.

The Tailboard on the bed.
The Tailboard on the bed.

One of my changes in Rafe was to get Vantage RV in Silverdale, our local Dethleffs experts, to make up a tailboard and screw it onto the base. I’ve since modified this to work with the mattress insert as my feet kept touching the board in the night.
It works really well and the duvets now behave themselves and apart from wandering sideways when someone gets cold! The linen is still on the bed in the morning.
TailboardAn easy solution and well worth doing.

Mike’s Fridge upgrade – The Detail

Mike and Wendy are the proud owners of a French Rapido A class Motorhome which they bought nearly a year ago.

He discovered after he received it that his fridge wasn’t doing what he wanted it to and being the clever person that he is, and a Plumber and Gasfitter with more than 40 years experience,  he decided to do something about it.

Some of you will remember his earlier post but this greatly expands on what he did earlier.

In Mike’s words and pictures .. Go Mike:



French Import: Rapido
Model: 890F
Year of manufacture: 2014
Length: 7.39m
Width: 2.35m
Height: 2.82m
Fridge make: Dometic
Fridge model: RMD 8505
Fridge climate classification: SN
Type of Gas: LPG

rap2My name is Michael Brick. We were luckily enough to purchase a Rapido A class motorhome which we really love.

Over the past year there have been a few upgrades mainly to accommodate our needs. Firstly I installed a new LPG regulator which was part of certification requirements and a pipe system upgrade to accommodate the two gas bayonets at the rear of the motorhome, then the outside shower and finally the OTT FRIDGE UPGRADE.

The original fridge installation carried out by Rapido was to good manufactures specifications, however the fridge’s cooling ability was not meeting my specifications.

At this stage I would like to point out I am not a fridge technician, however I have 45 years experience as a Certifying Plumber and Gasfitter.


Unfortunately the data plate revealed an: “SN climate classification” SN = Subnormal, suitable for use in ambient temperatures of +10°C to +32°C suited for European countries.

Ouch!!! I was told, better to have had the ST climate classification.
ST = Subtropical, suitable for use in ambient temperatures of +16°C to +38°C suitable for NZ climatic conditions.

To find a solution I wrote to Dometic NZ with the following questions and was pretty chuffed to get a very comprehensive reply.

Q. What are the differences between the “SN” and the “ST” climate classification fridges.

A. “T” rated fridges have something called VIP vacuum insulation panels, high value insulation, better insulation in the door et.

If you purchased a “T rated” fridge and put it in the existing cavity it would not go any better. The main issue is the venting. If you take the top vent out and can see the condenser fins it will not work. The bottom of the top vent should be above the top of the fins and a deflector plate from the top/back of the fridge to the inside/top of the vent. While this may seem a subtle difference it makes all the difference.



Proper baffling of the upper portion of the cabinet is a must to prevent eddies of air from hindering the hot air from escaping.

A lack of airflow across the condenser fins may require additional fans to help circulate and exhaust the hot air from the cooling compartment.

1www1). FAN BRACKET:

Through the LS300 vent aperture I lowered a 25x25mm aluminum angled bracket to 40mm below the condenser fins, then fixed to the side walls. The fan was then lowered and fitted to the alloy bracket (long screw driver needed).

2www2). THE BAFFLE: This pre made baffle was lowered through the LS300 vent aperture. The long flat portion slides between the alloy bracket and the outside wall of the motorhome. The top of the baffle is set 6mm below the bottom of the condenser fins.

3www3). THE FLUE: Spills temperatures of over 200 degrees into the cooling tower next to the cooling fins of the condenser. To stop this heat spilling around the fins I created a division in the baffle then fitted a curved shield around the chimney/flue pipe to guide hot gases up towards the vent aperture.

4wwwThis photo shows the position of the baffle. The top edge is  placed 10mm below the cooling fins. The cold air travelling up the tower is diverted onto the cooling fins.

5wwwThis photo shows how the bottom of the baffle interlocks with the fan bracket. The baffle can be raised or lowered to, to set the correct distance from the condenser fins.

4). BOTTOM FAN:  this is placed at the bottom of the cooling tower. Controlled by a 70 degree temperature thermostat (normally open) and a switch wired into the fans power supply so that I have control over when the fan is on.
Duratech 120mm: YX-2584
Air flow: 64.3 (CFM)
Current: 0.22A
Fan Speed: 1500 rpm
Noise: 25dBA
Burner Pressure: 2.75kPa

6www5). TOP FAN: This is placed under the cooling fins of the condenser. Controlled by a 50degree temperature thermostat (normally open) and a switch wired into the fans power supply so that I have control over when the fan is on.
Duratech 120mm: YX-2584
Air flow: 64.3 (CFM)
Current: 0.22A
Fan Speed: 1500 rpm
Noise: 25dBA

7www6). FRIDGE FAN: This is a  double fan assembly fixed to the cooling fins by an alligator clip.

These fans are controlled by a 100 degree temperature thermostat (normally shut) and a switch wired into the fans power supply so that I have control over when the fan is on. Wires for the fans run through the hole provided for the thermistor cable. To gain access to this hole, the cooling fins have to be removed.
Air flow: 14.7 (CFM)
Current: 0.18

7). FRIDGE FAN: This is a single fan fixed to the bottom of the 2nd shelf right hand side of the fridge. Testing in many spots found this to be the best position.
Controlled by a 100 degree temperature thermostat (normally shut) and a switch wired into the fans power supply so that I have control over when the fan is on.
Duratech 90mm: YX-2572
Air flow: 31.32 (CFM)
Current: 0.13A
Fan Speed: 1500 rpm
Noise level: 20dBA


9www9). FAN SWITCHES: there is full control of all fans.

10www10). THERMOMETERS: Two type K thermometers are visible for convenient monitoring of temperatures.

The top thermometer: Its wire probe is placed under the 100 degree thermostat. When temperatures of 100 degrees are reached, the fridge fans have turned off. In essence the fans just tricks the fridge into cooling for longer periods.

If the fans were installed with no means of control the cooling cycle remains on too long, which under certain circumstances may cause overheating of the ammonia.

The bottom thermometer: This records temperatures of the rich ammonia solution eg the cooling process. It’s wire probe is attached to the liquid heat exchanger which is below the absorber tank.

The digital Manometer:
This shows the fridges correct burner pressure of 2.75kPa.
Note: If you increase this pressure you can expect your flame to produce more heat and higher temperatures throughout your cooling system.

11www11). TESTING: While comparing the fridges performance on LPG I noticed the ammonia temperatures were a lot higher than when testing on 230 volts. With concerns there maybe a overheating issue I wrote to Dometic NZ. Again, I was very pleased with there informative response.

A. Dometic AU.

While running on an element such as 12 volt DC or 240 volt AC the heat input is over a very precise area around about 85 mm in height this is shorter than the actual element as the filament in the body of the element is short than the over all of the element.

The electric elements are held against the pump tube using steel tubes welded to the side of the pump which directly conducts the heat energy into the side of the pump tube.

The gas flue is welded to the pump tube in the same area as the electric elements for about 90 mm so you end up with the 2 electric sleeves and the gas flue tube all welded to the pump for the same distance and in the same vertical location.

The difference is the electric elements only produce heat energy over a short distance you could say the full length of the welded sleeve about 90 mm, yet the gas flame running up the gas flue heats the full length of the gas flue. The part of the gas flue welded to the pump does all the work adding heat energy into the pump in the right place to separate ammonia from water.

The fact the gas flue runs up the pump tube means there is added heat energy leaking into the overall vertical height of the pump tube which does not happen when running on electricity.

The gas flue is located so it does not touch the pump tube above the weld but it is still very close and encased in insulation which holds in the extra energy.

The result is while running on gas you have a number of things happening which do not happen while running on electricity.

The steel pump tube on gas is hotter all the way to the top and conducts more heat all the way across the condenser.

There are also chemical reactions taking place inside the tube which raise the condenser surface temperatures due to the prolonged heat input over the full length of the pump.

With the added heat to the pump above the weld the pump tends to add more steam to the mix leaving the pump area so the ratio of ammonia vapour and water changes when compared to electric operation.

With more steam (Water) in the mix the condenser must work harder shedding more heat as it turns the steam into water which runs back to the pump.

Stating the above is true however added heat to the condenser without increasing the airflow to remove that heat will raise the surface temperature. This all designed into the unit and is expected.

Just because the temperature goes up in some areas when running on gas doesn’t mean the overall result is not the same as when on electric.

Higher surface temperatures through the condenser while running on gas is not unusual.


11). Wireless fridge/freezer thermometer:

The top thermometer is 1 degree out. The correct reading is fridge -1, freezer -19.

The Markets

After the Covi Show, I picked up Fiona  and we decided to head up north. Waipu sounded good and we with the weather looking good for the weekend, we knew we could probably stay at the Caledonian Park.

The trip was easy and we scooted up the motorway and up  to Waipu arriving early in the afternoon. We were greeted with a No Camping sign which looked a bit flash but looked as though it might have been forgotten about and left out by accident.

It is such a nice place to stay that I thought it was worth a phone call  to see what was up. The really nice chap on the other end said that it was because they had two weddings over the next two Saturdays and they didn’t want big motorhomes being in their faces just outside the window  BUT ! .. if we were to park down the other end and and park end on, we were welcome to stay the night.. yippee !

Parked end on at the end of the field. Alan and Bev on the right. The wedding in the hall in the distance
Parked end on at the end of the field. Alan and Bev on the right. The wedding in the hall in the distance

$10 a night with power, just behind the main street in Waipu, fabulous spot and walking distance to everywhere.

Just after we got settled, a knock on the door from another motohomer asking about the sign. I gave him the number, explained about the weddings and he parked more into the trees than I was. Fiona wanted her TV signal so that prevented me from getting right underneath  🙂

Alan and Bev were English and had been here for most of summer and are retired camp ground owners and have been coming here to see their family. Nice couple and they’re currently trying to sell their motorhome to go back to the UK.

We decided we’d walk down to the McLeod Pizza barn where the pizzas are fantastic. Thin bases with heaps on them and very good value.  I had been suffering from hayfever so was feeling pretty knackered so after that, we headed back to Rafe and crashed.

Under the trees in the sun
Under the trees in the sun the next day

The next morning, the sun was out and it was market day. Every Sunday, they have a market at the hall in the main street. Great vibes with local people doing their thing.

As the day went on, Bev and Alan left to go down the coast and several new people came in with their vans. It really is a great spot in fine weather. The grass is solid but I’m not sure I’d want to be there after or during a heavy all day rain. Their is some gravel parking with power around the other side for that but being under the trees in the sun was very pleasant.

Later in the day, our water pump started making some funny noises like louder and a bit whiney. I texted Jonas the importer and he suggested we get it looked at as we passed the repairers at Silverdale. On the way home the following day, we stopped of at Vantage RV to get it checked out. Johan turned the galley tap on and looked at me with a “yuk” type face. “We won’t waste any time with this” as he left and went and got another pump and installed it there and then. The submersible pump showed signs of being on its last legs, with water creeping up the wire into the pump motor and Johan reckoned it was not far off seizing. It must have been a duff one from the start. The whole process took less than an hour and we were off back to Milford.

Dusk on our last night
Dusk on our last night

Hats off to Jonas (Dethleffs NZ) and Johan and the team at Vantage RV for very prompt service.
The whines from the pump were bad, imagine the whine from Fiona if she had no water 🙂

The Covi Supershow – Lots of images

Ellerslie later in the day
Ellerslie Racecourse with the NZMCA parking

A great turn out from Motorhomers saw the car parks chocker on Thursday. Friday arrivals were redirected to Ellerslie racecourse to the centre of the track. There was a free shuttle going to and fro from the show to the carpark which worked really well. Ellerslie was free and we got a free bag of lollies for the inconvenience, what inconvenience? 

The show seemed a bit smaller this year, maybe I missed a bit but the big difference I noticed this year was the trend towards caravans.

Click on the images to see hi res and Slideshows

It was really nice to see the Lilliputs there with their classic cars.

Vintage Caravans and cars
Vintage Caravans and cars

The Dethleffs caravans were impressive. Lots of space and nicely decked out. The title pic is the interior.. nice ! The pictures really tell the story. 

Dethleffs Caravan
Dethleffs Caravan
Dethleffs caravan
Dethleffs caravan
Dethleffs Caravan
Dethleffs Caravan

I ended up back at Ellerslie mid afternoon and prepared myself for meeting people as you do!

Nicely tucked in for the night
Nicely tucked in for the night
Ellerslie later in the day
Ellerslie later in the day

It was nice to catch up with some Dethleffs owners later in the day amongst all the other people, Motorhomes and Caravans.

Karangahake History

On the way back from Waihi we stopped in for a look at the Karangahake gorge.

The two Batteries over the bridges. Karangahake at its best!
The two Batteries over the bridges. Power station in the middle. Karangahake at its best!

We are intending to do the bike trail but it’s all about gathering up more knowledge before we take this on. 

The remains of the first battery
The remains of the first battery
The first battery as it looked at the time
The first battery as it looked at the time

It’s a really interesting area with several short walks that are not part of the trail. We had a look at a couple of the old power stations and batteries while we were there which takes an hour according to the sign. The walking doesn’t take anything like that and it’s well worth a look. 

Click on the images to see them in hi res or slideshow

Karangahake was a small town which included all the things you’d expect to see in a town like Te Aroha or similar. 

We walked across the swing bridges and up the hill past the power station, the two batteries built down the hillsides. The ore was swung across the river from the tops of hills in a flying fox type of setup before processing with cyanide. It really was a huge setup. It’s not until you’re up there that you realise the scale of it all and looking at the remains, what it must have taken to build the buildings themselves and the infrastructure to go with it.

The base of the power station
The base of the power station

We walked all around and as the weather deteriorated, we worked our way closer to Rafe in the carpark. Another one of those feature areas that I’ve driven past lots of times and was really pleased we stopped for a look.