Illume

One of the main reasons for my trip to Coromandel was to be part of this amazing event. The Thames Coromandel District Council had arranged along with locals, to run this annual event on two nights. It has become an annual event but this year by all accounts, is much bigger.

IllumeThe theme was “light” where people wore lights, the buildings were lit up, some of the trees, vehicles, the local kids and there was also live music in a marquee set up in the middle of the town. The whole community was involved.

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A great scene. retailers had market stalls setup outside their shops. There were people with lit hula hoops, juggling and later there was a parade of lights led by the local Fire Brigade. 

IllumeThe local preschool kids were all lit up along with bike riders and dancers.

IllumeThe event finale was a huge fireworks display which you could see and hear from everywhere. Spectacular and I’m pleased I didn’t miss it.

Well done Coromandel.

Character, Soul and Scones

After meeting my new friends from Christchurch, Rory and Henny and their friends Dave and Karen, I made a point of making sure that at some stage during the day, I should pop down to the NZMCA park and have a cup of tea with them and a catch up. 

The Coromandel Pub, you can also stay behind this for $10 including power
The Coromandel Pub, apparently you can also stay behind this for $20 including power

I set off reasonably early on my bike with my camera tucked down inside my coat and made my way down to the other end of Coromandel town.

Don’t forget to click on the images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

CoromandelThe shops and buildings are fascinating and you can feel a real vibe about the place. They were getting really for the Illume parade and event that night so it was even more buzzy than normal.

After getting some nice piccies and talking to a couple of the locals, I biked around to the wharf and then back to the NZMCA park where I caught up Rory and Henny and with typical South Island hospitality was just in time for some of Henny’s lovely homemade scones and a cup of coffee. We had a great hour or two talking about everything and they’re great fun and good company.

Coromandel
Its easy to tell where the Laundromat is !

I biked back, checked out the campground and blobbed out with the stereo before  hittting the sack early to get ready for another big day. 

Looking back towards Coromandel .. my bike on the right
Looking back towards Coromandel .. my bike on the right

A neat place to visit, some great places to stay and despite the weather, plenty to do and see.

Arts N Tartan

Some weeks ago, our friend Helen had organised our tickets for the Arts and Tartan show at Waipu and we were really looking forward to it. Waipu is a neat wee town and we’ve parked in the Caledonian park before and its a great spot and great value.

Motorhome friends, Helen, Rob and daughter Chloe had got away early and called us to say that they had just arrived in Waipu as I was just picking up Fiona from work in Takapuna at 6pm.

The parking was going to be a bit of a battle as the grounds where we would normally park under the trees was sodden and we were going to have to stay in the carpark with 1000’s of others.  I get very nervous when peeps park too close to Rafe as they do when parking is tight but its such a nice spot, it was worth a shot.

The pictures below were taken in earlier in the year in summer so you can see how nice it is.

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A great park and at $10 including power is just fantastic and they're great people too.
A great park and at $10 including power is just fantastic and they’re great people too. The carpark is behind the white railing in the distance.
At the Caledonian Reserve
At the Caledonian Reserve in the carpark… another wet day earlier in the year.

We were underway. Fiona had bought some salads to have for tea so we stopped at the BP station off the motorway by Silverdale to eat them. It was pouring down and was forecast to pour pretty much all the way.

We arrived in Waipu around 8:30pm and the carpark was chocker so we parked around by the RSA and watched some TV until the carpark emptied out at 10pm which was easy, even though it was still pouring with rain.

A Juggler twurling some flames. The parking can be seen behind him. You can see how wet it was.
A Juggler twurling some flames. The parking can be seen behind him. You can see how wet it was.

On the Saturday, the sun was shining so I parked Rafe a little more tidily and we replugged in to the power and went for a walk with Rob, Helen and Chloe to check out the Waipu shops.

What we didn’t know at that stage was there was a Rugby Club do as well so the carpark was more under pressure than ever.

As it got closer to the 2pm session which we were going to, more and more cars piled in. There were cars everywhere. All down both sides of the main street and some streets away.

The usherettes ready to go
The usherettes ready to go

Off we went to the show at the Celtic Barn which was right next door and it was a fantastic show. Great lighting, amazing sound and an all round slick performance by all.

I wasn’t allowed to take pictures but the local Photographer charged with getting piccies, Peter Grant, has very kindly sent me some images to share some of what it was all about.  Thanks again Peter.

To see a slideshow of Peter’s images, click on an image below.

Done mostly by locals and local talent, it was stunning and I recommend anyone who is thinking about seeing it to do so next year. Its really worth seeing and is a lot of fun.

After the show we had tea with Rob, Helen and Chloe in the Tracker which was fun and later in the evening, the Rugby club returned. Well .. it was looking like it was going to be a wild night in the carpark so at about 10:30, we made a decision to leave and head for a park just around the corner by the river which was fine.

Returning the next day and seeing the beer bottles strewn around, it looks as though we did the right thing.  It was a mess. By all accounts they had some fun.

Its a great park but when its wet, you can’t get across to park under the trees due to mud.  The carpark with two events like that is really just too dodgy for expensive motorhomes with their sides exposed. Maybe we were a bit optimistic parking there given the pressure on the carpark.

Despite all this, a lot of fun.

By Peter Grant
And the last word to those magnificent men in their flying machines. Pic by Peter Grant

We came and we saw the  Wearable Arts and they were absolutely fantastic.  Don’t miss it,  but from our experience, if its wet, park your motorhomes around the corner 🙂

Weekend Off

Fiona and her sister Sara had organised a girls trip to Wellington and I wasn’t invited 🙂 

Danby Field
Danby Field

So I thought about a trip up around Coromandel for a few days on my tod. My first night was at Danby Field in Thames where there were plenty of holes free. 

I met my neighbours and their friends with their new Trailite and Burstner Ixeo which was interesting. The new Burstner Ixeo is like one of the new Dethleffs where they’ve completely done away with a permanent bed and rely solely on a drop down bed from the ceiling. Instead of having a bed at the back, the whole back area is devoted to a shower, toilet area and storage.  I’m not sure that it’s my cup of tea but it’s an interesting way of reducing the overall length of the Motorhome and still have plenty of space for a big social area at the front.

Morning in Thames
Morning in Thames

The next morning with it being windy, I had an early start and set off towards Coromandel town up the coast road. After having a couple of close shaves with reckless logging truck drivers coming the other way, I got to Coromandel quite early and headed straight to the NZMCA park in the town. 

Looking towards Corormandel from the top of the hill
Looking towards Corormandel from the top of the hill

With all the rain we’ve had and with it being quite low lying land, it was a mud bog but after only a few minutes parked there, I met quite a few people who were all parked together on a tar sealed area on the side. 

One caravanning couple, Rory and Henny, from Christchurch were traveling with their friends from Whakatane and the more I got talking to him, the more members of my family he knew, some probably better that me!  Small world stuff. It turns out that Rory grew up in Diamond Harbour where my grandfather had the general store, was postmaster and the local real estate agent as well. He remembers buying ice creams off my grandfather when he was a kid and described him to a tee. .. Wow.. He also knew some of my Christchurch rellies on my Mums side too.

I also met a couple in a CI Motorhome that we’d previously met in the NZMCA Ngontotaha park and some others who had recently received their brand new Dethleffs Trend. It was nice to talk to them too.

Seeing the amount of mud there and with another good thunderstorm and rain due that afternoon, I thought it would be prudent to check in at a local Campground and spoil myself in preparation for the Illume festival that night.

One of my favourite Motorcamps

One of my first ever camps that we tried with both Wee Rafe, the little caravan we had and with “Big Rafe” was Miranda Holiday Park on the Firth of Thames waterfront.
It’s not too far if you forget something crucial and it’s not too far if you have a catastrophe and it’s got an amazing Hot Pool. Those who have been reading my ramblings with know how I like the odd Hot Pool!

mirandaWith nothing in the book and our second annual services complete, I was out of town. My first thought .. Miranda and I thought it was probably time I did a story on it too.

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mirandaThere is one thing that many Holiday Parks get wrong is the placement of trees. Whoever designed Miranda obviously thought about it as there are only two parks where you can’t get TV due to a tree being in the way. Fantastic.

One night it was pretty winy and this chap slept right through it.
One night it was pretty winy and this chap slept right through it.

Nice big holes to park in and mostly Gravel for Motorhomes and some grass ones.

Fiona enjoying the pool
Fiona enjoying the pool

Plenty of trees for shelter, a mini golf course, a bmx track for the nippers, a volleyball court, a tennis court, a massage person and of course the hot pool.

The showers are superb and are timed but very generously means you always get one., and there are plenty of them.
There are a mixture of rentable chalets and Apartments which look good too.

The Pets area outside
The Pets area outside

There is also a pet section which is outside the main camp but within easy walking from the pools and showers etc.
Behind is the famous Miranda Hot pools and a fantastic Fish and Chip shop so you don’t have to drive to Kaiaua. An all round easy camp staffed by nice people.

The Netspeed Speedtest stats for this site.
Download: 43.41 Mbps
Upload: 25.00 Mbps
Ping: 47 ms
Server: Auckland
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&q=-37.207196,175.333008

A Monster Caravan But Beautiful Too

I woke up this morning and looked out of the window to see this. It’s huge but looks the business as well.

The view out of the window
The view out of the window

I first saw one in the flesh at the Covi show and photographed it as well. It turns out that Kel and Jenny had just taken delivery of their new baby and lent it to Jonas and the Dethleffs team for the Covi show. I had a think about this and thought, that would be hard to do. With something like this and having only recently got it, you’d just want to disappear in it 🙂

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Kel and Jenny with their Caravan
Kel and Jenny with their Caravan

Kel and Jenny have sold their house in Auckland and are full timing in their 9.42 metre (incl drawbar) Dethleffs Exclusive caravan. Their first big trip was around the South Island early this year and it went well.

mirandaKel tells me he nearly cried when he marked one corner of it as he came off the ferry as the 4m back overhang swung out. I know how he felt as I nailed a corner on the back of Rafe not long after we got it and felt sick.. My new baby was injured ! Their parts are all here and she’s about to go to caravan hospital to made all better again so all’s well.

The Living area
The Living area
Bedroom
Bedroom

The Exclusive is 8.05 metres long(body) and its tare weight is 2040kg with a max of 2800kg.

One side of the Galley
One side of the Galley

I had a quick look through and can see lots of similarities with Rafe. The high standard of workmanship, the comfy feel, it’s all there. A very nice caravan and when I first met them both, they had smiles a mile wide so they’re obviously enjoying their freedom and their new home on the road.

Waterfront Parking

Sandspit Holiday Park is one of those places I’ve wanted to try out for months so I was chuffed when I found a good reason to stay here and with reasonable weather too.

It is an easy walk to the wharf for ferrys to Kawau so its well placed if you want to do a day or two at the Island. Its also an easy walk to the Sandspit Yacht club and the brand new marina that has just opened there.

Check out the images in Hi Res by clicking on them or for a slideshow.

Our spot near the water
Our spot near the water

We dropped in out of the blue after a few days of heavy rain so we were walked down to check the grass waterfront parks to see if they were up to handling Rafe’s weight. With plenty of gravel and sand about, I decided it felt pretty solid and we’d give it a go.

Neat Cottages that you can stay in all along the waterfront.
Neat Cottages that you can stay in all along the waterfront.

As it was off peak in winter, the cost for two of us was $32 with power for the night which I thought was great value.

After settling down Rafe, plugging in and opening hatches, I went for a walk with the camera.

They have some amazing quirky cottages and the buildings are great. There is even Horace the Morris parked in the grass.

Horace
Horace

The ablution block is almost brand new and the shower and toilets are amazing.

Bring the boat in
Bring the boat in

We went for a walk before the sun went down to the ferry jetty where boaties were coming in and a few were fishing.

A really interesting place.  We’re planning to go back with the Grandies as they could easily stay in one of the many cottages there.

The Netspeed Speedtest:
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Upload: 4.47 Mbps
Ping: 59 ms
Server: Auckland
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A Latte in a Small Town

On our way North, we stopped in at Warkworth.  It’s been a while since I’ve been to Warkworth as its one of those towns that you tend to drive through rather than stop at and it never disappoints. 

Remember to click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

The River
The River

We parked down by the river where there is one big Motohome park which Rafe fits in like a glove. It must be 7.6m long 🙂 

Our carpark by the river
Our carpark by the river

We went for a walk along the river side and then around to a French cafe in the town. I couldn’t believe how many Cafes and Real Estate agents there are in Warkworth. The Cafes are pretty much all next door to each other too. 

After a nice lunch, we went for a walk around the shops and then we headed back down to the river to Rafe. 

WarkworthIt’s all looking very nice. The council have done a great job with local business’s contributing to the costs. It seem to be enjoyed by many while we were there and is a really nice place for lunch or just a stopping off point.

Motorhome Parking
Motorhome Parking

There is also motorhome parking at the end of the main shopping road within walking distance to the river.

A Beautiful Day

With a great forecast for the weekend after weeks of wind and rain, friends Rob and Helen were keen to get away. “Were we doing anything this weekend?” Was the question. We’re joining you guys at Sullivan’s Bay which is where they were keen to go. 

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As far as the eye can see. Looking down to Sullivans Bay
As far as the eye can see. Looking down to Sullivans Bay

A lovely day but it was cold so after topping Rafe up with water, we were off.

Helen walking past Rafe
Helen walking past Rafe

We arrived at Sullivan’s Bay about midday and Helen arrived back from Snells beach not long after.

The last time we were here the weather was awful. Because it has been wet, the self contained area was closed and we were parked just outside on the grass.

SullivansAlthough we were only 50 feet or so outside the SCC area, the Internet reception was almost non existent but from inside the SCC area, we got a better signal without aerials!  Interesting!

The plan was to go to the opening of the new Sandspit Marina in Helens car. Click here to see that story.

We arrived back to Sullivans about 5:30 and with a snacky tea of meatballs in Rob and Helens Tracker and after a  few glasses of nice wine, we were ready to hit the hay. A very pleasant day.

Rafe and the Tracker
Rafe and the Tracker..

The next morning Rob and Helen left early. I went down to watch a couple go for a swim. It was 4C and at dawn was -2C! They weren’t in long and I think even the seagulls were shocked. 

It was -2 C that morning. Even the Seagulls look worried!
It was -2 C that morning. Even the Seagulls look worried!

A nice spot in paradise.  Yes, I know, I’ve raved about this place before but it is really nice!

Lots of Lemons

Heading back to Auckland after a great weekend in the Helensville area, we stopped at a place called Provenance which we’d been to before a long time ago when it was Beesonline.

The Parking
The Parking

A huge carpark which makes it easy to get a Motorhome into and a very park like environment with a bridge to get to the Café.

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parakai

When we went there, there had been thunderstorms the night before and the weather had been misbehaving badly so the pictures don’t show it  at its best.

Nice outdoor area
Nice outdoor area

I imagine their outdoor areas would be nice in the sunshine. It was also really interesting to see they had a huge garden where they grow a lot of there own veges and herbs.

Someone knows how to grow Lemons!
Someone knows how to grow Lemons!

They also have about 10 or so absolutely laden Lemon trees. Someone here knows what they’re doing.

There was a big fire raging when we got there and it was all very warm and toasty inside despite the weather and we sat down and ordered some lunch.

Corrugated Cow on the roof
Corrugated Cow on the roof

As I was still nursing my implanted tooth, I went for a mushroom penne  type of meal and Fiona had the same. It was just amazing.

When it was Beesonline, it was very popular and its good to see the same high standards still apply. They still have some hives out the back too.

Bees out the back
Bees out the back

If you’re heading out west to Muriwai or beyond, it is just on the left before you get to  Waimauku on the main road.