The weather forecast for the whole weekend was a shocker but we knew we’d be safely tucked up once we got to Paeroa.
We left early on Friday night after Fiona finished work and headed down to Ardmore to stay in my son Alex’s driveway so we could see Ayden playing rugby in the morning. He had a really good day and after scoring a few tries, he got Player of the Day so that was special and good to see.
After a cup of coffee, we left Ardmore and headed for Paeroa where we were meeting up with other Motorhomers who are part of a really active Facebook group called Motorhome Friends NZ. North Island Admins, Steve and Karen did a great job organising the get together at Paeroa RV Centre.
After settling down Rafe in a little corner of the park, we headed into the 3pm meeting in the Hall. There was a pot belly stove stacked up nicely belting out the heat so it was nice and cosy despite the showers outside. We were really lucky to be able to get a powered site as there was a dire shortage of them so thanks Paeroa RV for helping us out there.
Remember to click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow
Our little corner
Some of the permanent dwellers at Paeroa
Motorhome Friends with their vans
In the hall on Saturday
Karen welcoming everyone on Saturday.
Gaylene and Les from Huntly
Andrew and Debbie from Tauranga
Karen and Paul from West Auckland
Mat and Kylie from Taranaki
Alan and Lyn have been fulltiming in their bus for 4 years.
Vicky and Shonne from Omaha
Carol and Roger from Waiuku at Miranda Holiday park
It was really nice to catch up with people and put faces to names. I’m a relative newcomer to the group but Fiona and I felt right at home with them all.
There was a Kareoke night which we didn’t get to but I gather it was a huge success and everyone had lots of fun. We had two lots of Motorhomers around for drinks in Rafe. Nick and Karen who have just bought a Autotrail Comanche which they are living in full time. The Comanche is a biggie with dual axles at the back and is 8.4 metres long. A nice van.
We also had Gaylene and Les from Huntly with us and it was nice catching up with them too.
In the morning, there was a 10am coffee meeting to farewell each other. The rain was pretty steady by then and not a good time to be trying to photograph people with their vans but I managed to get a few.
Given the weather was like it was with squalls of heavy rain, we decided to head to Miranda Holiday park and hunker down in the hot pools and not long after we arrived met some others from Paeroa there too. Isn’t it funny how great minds think alike !
We were on our way home from Taupo after catching up with friends and we’d had a warning that the whole of the country was in for the bash from the weather.
Thunderstorms and strong winds meant hunkering down on some gravel with some power. Years ago when we had wee Rafe, the caravan, we stopped at a café in Pirongia which had some Motorhome parking on gravel out the back.
This sounded like a good destination and we would easily be there before the weather nailed us around 6pm.
Click on the images for Hi-res or a slideshow
We arrived with plenty of time, plugged in and decided to go for a walk into town for a look around before the rain hit. We’d just arrived in a café in town when the heavens opened up. Fortunately it was just a shower so we still had time to check the Alexandra Constabulary Redoubt which was a fort on a small hill overlooking the town. It has dug trenches around almost like a moat and is well worth a look. It also happens to be right over the road from the Persimmon Café RV park where we were staying the night.
On our way to town
The redoubt with the town behind. You can see the RV park with the grey building.
The redoubt, Pirongia behind
Mt Pirongia behind
A nicely set up RV park but it is really a carpark with powerpoints and a toilet block. The cost for us was $25 for the night. $10 for us and $15 for the power. If we wanted to use the onsite dump station, that would be another $15 and the showers another $5 each.
It was explained that the dump station had to be emptied on a regular basis and trucked into Te Awamutu hence the charge.
My thinking was that although it wasn’t waterfront or top ten standard, it was perfect for sheltering for the night or passing through. It is also very central with the town only a few minutes walk away.
We decided to use the free dump station at Drury as we were heading that way but there is also a free one at Te Awamutu and we used our own shower.
It was nice being on the gravel and plugged in as the weather really laid it on. Lightening and thunder and lots of rain. It was an interesting night with some good puffs of wind and plenty of action from the sky but we felt nicely tucked in and sheltered.
Pirongia is a nice wee town and there is heaps of history there. Its well worth checking out the redoubt. The town is spoilt for choice for motorhome parking with the Clydesdale Café and if you’re an NZMCA member, at the Golf Course just on the outskirts of town.
I’ve wanted to check in on Mangakino for a while but being on a slightly off the beaten track road, it wasn’t until we needed to get through to Te Awamutu on the way to Pirongia, that we found a reason to go this way.
Its a neat little town. The buildings are all amazing little workers cottages, built for the dam workers by the Ministry of works. Nowadays, its a big bach area with many of the cottages taking on a new look as people customise them for their own needs.
The Bus cafe
Fiona surfing the web on the Lake front (Van wifi)
Rafe at Lake Muraetai Bus café behind
We popped in for a cup of tea and went to check out the free parking area by the lake. You can also get power for $5. The weather was building up for nationwide thunderstorms when we arrived so it was pretty cloudy but if you were going that way, it looks like a good place to stop. There is a Café run from an old bus with loos as well.
The town centre looks pretty trendy being all in one newish building further up the road so it’s all there. A nice spot to visit if you’re in the area.
After many years of travelling with 3 caravans, Taupo caravanners, Cyril and Gail ordered a 5th wheeler from Michigan in the US. It was a an Outback Trail all setup for NZ or Australia so no wiring issues. While they were doing that, they also imported their 6.4 litre V8 diesel Ford F350 4 by 4 and what a beast that is.
The whole rig looks amazing and Cyril says it drives really well.
With the slide outs there is plenty of room and it all looks very comfortable with all the mod cons.They’ve recently completed a 5 month trip around the South Island and although they’ve been around most of the North Island, there are still some new places to explore.
We caught up them at the recent Kuratau rally by Lake Taupo.
While we were at Kuratau, we went for a trot through the park at the back of where the rally was and followed the river down to the Taupo lakefront. There are well set tracks and it is an interesting walk through bush and parks.
Enjoy the images, remember to click on them for hi res
Gary, Fiona and Dianne walking through the park
Fiona, Dianne and Gary on our way back to the Kuratau Rally
Interesting clouds on the lakefront
A real contrast of landscape. Huge cliffs up from the water and really colourful trees and river reeds. There are some houses lucky enough to have a jetty at the bottom of the lawn against the river too.
At the lake front, there is an interesting walk down to a memorial on the lakefront. Some children were happily playing in the water, the sun was shining with no wind. Another nice part of the world.
We haven’t been to a rally for a while and with it being at Kuratau at the bottom of Lake Taupo, our friends from Taupo, Dianne and Gary were keen to go so we were off. We left early on Thursday night and headed for the NZMCA Ardmore park so we could avoid the traffic on Friday morning which worked well as we were in Cambridge having a cuppa at 10:30.
By lunchtime we were cruising up the hill to Gary and Diannes place about to join them for a quick lunch and then were going to head down to Kuratau in convoy. Gary lead the way as he knew the road and we headed from Taupo around the western side of the lake down to Kuratau.
Click on the images to see these in Hi res or for a slide show
An easy 1hrs drive and we were registering and settling Rafe and the XLI down and getting ready for Happy Hour.
The area was on a beautiful 6 acre property owned by Aucklanders Peter and Sandy, beside the river. They had a bach with a big open stone fireplace and their were two plateaus. We were parked on the bottom level next to the river. As the day went on, the area progressively filled up as more and more vans arrived. Happy hour is always fun and we met some new people and joined in for a couple of the raffles. I don’t remember seeing any of us (the 4 of us) win anything but its all a bit of fun and supporting the Taupo NZMCA.
Tea with the leaves
Chairman Geoff with his swiss cow bell
Gary, Dianne, Fiona talking to Cyril and Gail.
HQ for happy hour
Gary (right) coming out of Dethleffs corner
I met a chap who I knew but had never met from my old days as a newspaper photographer. He worked in Palmerston North on the paper there when I was in Auckland on both the Herald and the Auckland Star. It was really nice to finally meet him as we had lots of common friends. Small world stuff.
The weather behaved itself, Geoff and Joyce and the committee did a wonderful job of organising it all and it was nice to see everyone having fun.
Kuratau is not somewhere we had been before and its lovely. We’ll be back there for sure. Thanks again to the Taupo committee for a well organised rally and to Peter and Sandy for letting us park on your front lawn. 🙂 It was great to catch up with our friends Gary and Dianne again. A nice weekend having fun!
Rob and Helen were in England visiting one of their daughters. While they were there, they had a thought, where they could buy a new AutoTrail from the factory, cruise around the Uk for 6 months or so and then ship it back to NZ. It was all going well until they found that Kiwis, Aussies and Canadians can only drive up to 3500kg GVM unless they’re on British drivers licenses. Their Tracker has a GVM of more that 4200kgs. Finding it was all getting unnecessarily stressful, they decided on plan B and decided to ship it brand new, to NZ to use and enjoy on NZ roads. By shipping it brand new, they avoided all the fumigating and cleaning that is required for importing a used vehicle😊. 3 years and 20000 k’s later, they’ve travelled through most of NZ with their daughter Chloe. Their AutoTrail Tracker is a nice van which is well kitted out out with Truma heating, Dometic fridge and all the other nice things you’d expect in one of these vehicles. We’ve shared some great trips and great evenings with them including last New Year’s Eve at Sullivan’s Bay (in the rain 🌂🍷😃).
This is the tale of our mini adventure to the Outer Hebrides in our 6m coach built motorhome. I hope you find the story of the people we met and the places we've seen interesting and useful if you're planning your own trip.