In the Sun!

The forecast was fantastic for the best part of the next week. My thinking was I had to be near a nice beach and it had to be northwards. With the holiday weekend approaching, I thought I might be lucky getting a park at Bland Bay but thought, I’ll give it a go. 

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Bland Bay
Bland Bay

After 50ks odd of winding road around the Whangaruru Bay, I arrived at the Bland Bay Camp. In the office was manager Wayne who couldn’t do enough for me and even though I’d just walked in off the street, made me very welcome and even found a waterfront site for the night. If I wanted to stay longer, I’d have to move one back which was fantastic.

Rafe with the best seat in the house
Rafe with the best seat in the house

I’d just plugged in Rafe, opened vents and settled things down and then went for a walk (5 steps to the beach) to get a piccy with my phone for Facebook. 

The Office and shop
The Office and shop

No sooner had I posted it when several old colleagues from my days at the Herald as a photographer, reminded me to be on my best behaviour as another ex photographer Ross lived here. Several suggested I look him up and found the address. An hour later, I’d found Ross in his kitchen preparing Veges for his freezer. In his early 70’s, he’s a picture of health, fit as a buck rat living off his huge vege garden and the fish he catches in the bay and loving it. He’s just the same and it was great to see him.

Derek and Judy's bus Eagle Rock further along the beachfront
Derek and Judy’s bus Eagle Rock further along the beachfront

I’d just got back to Rafe when a face popped in the door with a platter of Tuna with two sauces inviting me to try them out. This was Derek who I later had a drink with and his wife June by their bus further down the waterfront. A lovely couple who have been living aboard for 2 years or more. Derek was in the Army for 20 odd years and he knew a few people that people in my family knew so we had plenty to talk about. A great evening. 

First Thing.. well worth getting up for :-)
First Thing.. well worth getting up for 🙂

The next day I moved Rafe back a parking space and found myself next to Terry and Louise with their grandson Max in their Dethleffs Sunlight. I spent most the day nattering to them and lazing in the sun. I really wanted to go for a swim but with a cool onshore breeze and the water being so cold, couldn’t quite get there.. One day soon :-). 

Later in the afternoon there was a lot of excitement when Derek and his friends in a 26 foot odd runabout with half cabin had returned to the beach with what turned out to be a 149kg Marlin. Huge excitement and it was later put next to Derek’s bus and packed in ice for all to see. Amazing.

The kids from around the camp admiring the Marlin
The kids from around the camp admiring the Marlin

After another day with Fiona having finished work and she was going to drive up and join me. Shops or beach I asked her.. It didn’t matter she said so Wayne managed to squeeze us in for two more nights and she arrived later in the morning. 

Bland BayThis camp really is spectacular. Right on the beach sheltered by another peninsula, it is just a lovely.  Although several people asked me not to rave about this place as they wanted to keep it for themselves :-), it really is special. At $22 pp powered, in peak season with nice loos and showers ($1 shot), a dump station, UV treated bore water and a good internet signal, it doesn’t get much better.Bland Bay

One more day in paradise before we move on!

The Netspeed Speed test
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Ping: 56 ms,174.354724

Rafes Track to Bland Bay

Bland Bay
Bland Bay

Catching up

There was nothing in my diary for a few days and Anniversary Weekend was coming up. Fiona had to work for three days so I was off. I thought if I could, I’d try and catch up with old friends Gary and Chris who were with Mark and Tina  at Ruakaka.  After checking that they were there, I was off.

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Motorhomes and cars everywhere you look
Motorhomes and cars everywhere you look

After arriving early in the afternoon, Mark and Gary arranged for a parking spot on Marks front lawn.

Their House
Their House

Mark and Tina are getting stuck into a house that they had bought that needs plenty of TLC and had some experts in the previous day to remove all their weather boards which had some asbestos in them. Mark and Gary were wrapping building paper all around the weatherboard less house to keep the weather out. I was just in time to help where I could but they’d pretty much done the worst of it by then.

It was Mark and Tina’s wedding Anniversay so we headed into McLeods Pizza Barn in Waipu for tea. The pizzas were fantastic and the McLeod beer is good too. The girls were knackered afterwards so the 3 of us headed into Rafe for some after dinner drinkies. Very pleasant and nice to catch up them all again. 

Early the next day, the building inspector turned up and then a safety inspector. Both were happy with what was happening but I couldn’t get over the “dob in” factor of the neighbours. It’s great to be a concerned neighbour but I couldn’t help but feel that this was just trying to cause trouble.  A needless waste of many peoples time.

Tina and Chris keeping an eye on things
Tina and Chris keeping an eye on things

Great to see their new house and that they’re really tearing into it.  It’s just as well they’ve got a Motorhome they can stay in while they’re doing it up.

See  Mark and Tina’s  Motorhome here and Gary and Chris’s Motorhome here.

Nice easy parking with power at Pauanui

One of our favourite places to stay is the Pauanui Club. For $8 a night including power and water and membership of the club for 24 hours, this is extremely good value. We had not long stopped and plugged in and paid for our stay when one of the Directors of the club, Robin, who is responsible for the development of the property popped over for a chat. A really nice guy. He was telling me that the plan over the next year is to add a laundry facility and Hot showers for Motorhomers. There are toilets here already but they’re also adding to those too. It’ll be sensational!

The bikes are ready to go
The bikes are ready to go
The Pauanui Club with the new Showers, Laundry and Toilets area to be in the building on the right

There are 6 powered very flat sites and all surrounded with trees for the wind.   We arrived here from Taupo for two nights to see the grandkids who were staying here. They were only an easy bike ride about 10 minutes away so it works well.
PauanuiJust next door is a full Golf course, a mini golf course which is fun and the legendary airfield with the hangered house alongside for the aviation enthusiasts.

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On our first day, my son Alex, Sarah and the boys came around on their bikes and we sat out in the sun by the mini golf course.
We took the boys through the mini golf the next day. Liam (3) insisted that the golf club had to be back to front and played it like hockey. Ayden (7) was saying that two or three hits were only one ! :-). They were having fun so to us it didn’t matter.
There is a dump station is just down the road and while there, we stopped for a few minutes to watch the locals out with their jet skis and beach toys.
PauanuiThe Pauanui club also has a full kitchen and bar so on our last night before heading back to Auckland, we were going to have a meal there but for some unknown reason it wasn’t possible so we walked to the nearby town centre and had a great meal there.
We’ve stayed here before. The previous blog can be seen here.

Peak time at Ngongotaha

This really is an amazing park. The last time I was here, the trees had just come down and there was some concern as to how it would be without them. Nothing to worry about here, its fabulous and now with the extra space, it has just got a whole lot better.

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The front part looking good but as it had been so wet, no one was game to park on it.
The front part looking good but as it had been so wet, no one was game to park on it.

We were in transit between Taupo and Auckland getting Fiona back to the grandkids in their home in Ardmore for the birthday Grannies cake cutting 🙂

RotoruaWe stopped off down by the lake when we first arrived and went for a look around and a cup of tea after driving with a crosswind after a great night in Taupo.  After looking through the app for somewhere to stay, Ngongotaha NZMCA park was the standout place.


The first thing I noticed when we came in is that the driveway seems to have been smoothed out and there is a big new area at the front on the right for more parking. The night before a big storm had gone right through the country and everywhere was pretty wet so there was no one in this new area but it looked like a great addition.

As we got to the top, we easily found a park and I went for a walk around the back. It was covered in caravan and a couple of Motorhomes.  I’ve never seen anyone parked right out the back so it was great to see.

Nice to see so many caravans
Nice to see so many caravans

I had only been there half an hour when a couple of people who I knew popped out for a chat. A lovely park and great to see the improvements and it being so busy..

The Grape Escape and the birthday

We were off to Taupo to celebrate Fiona’s 60 something birthday with our friends Dianne and Gary. It was all a bit short notice but when Fiona finished work at 6, we were off heading down towards Hamilton and then Taupo.
I’d had a look through the NZMCA App and bible for possible places to stay and I found a place we hadn’t stopped at called the Grape Escape in Cambridge, just off the new motorway.

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A toilet right behind
A toilet right behind

It looks like it is part of a lifestyle farm own by Andrew and Karlene and they provide power, toilet and laundry facilities at a great rate.
Its $5 per person plus $5 for power and $2 if you want to do your washing. All very reasonable. They also have a couple of permanents down the back which is great.

The locals
Some of the neighbours

We rang to introduce ourselves and after stopping for tea at Hampton Downs, eventually arriving at Cambridge a little after 9pm, just as it got dark. Andrew was out there, helping us to park and handed me a power cord, all very easy and very nice people too.  A really handy spot to know about. The track from Rafes tracking unit is below.

Rafe's Track
Rafe’s Track

The next day, we headed off to Taupo and headed for Gary and Dianne’s place. We were parked in their driveway next to their garage and I’m pleased we were as it blew. This was the night Auckland got blown inside out with huge power outages.
It was nice to see them again and after a “Happy Hour” Glass of something, we headed into Taupo for me to buy some decent clobber to wear, and then to celebrate Fiona’s birthday at a Restaurant. I bought a shirt which I will call “my special occasion shirt”. Others call it many other things 🙂 but I like it.

Fiona (Birthday Girl), Me, Dianne and Gary
Fiona (Birthday Girl), Me, Dianne and Gary .. taken with phone

It was a great night and nice to see them again. After a slightly wobbly night with the wind, we set off northwards the next morning. As I said, if it wasn’t for being parked in Gary’s courtyard with the garage for protection, it would have been a really interesting night 🙂

The Kauri Museum

What an amazing place. A must do if you’re in the Kaiwaka – Dargaville area and well worth seeing.

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Kauri dam
Kauri dam

Those with self contained vans can stay the night there too and there is also the Matakohe Holiday park a short walk away.

A full steam sawmill setup
A full steam sawmill setup

The museum is a fantastic collection of all things kauri and has a full Sawmill Hall full of all the things that were used to prepare and process kauri.  There is even a model of bean Rock lighthouse made of Kauri Gum.

Local Photographer and famous for his collections of historic images, Tudor Collins donated his huge negative library to the museum when he found it was being set up. There are some fabulous images on display.

Kauri dressers
Kauri dressers and Tudor Collins images

Allow at least a morning to do it properly but you could easily spend a day there.

Classic Boats on Lake Rotoiti – Lots of images

Every year at Waitangi weekend for the last 4 years , Alan and I have hit the road in Rafe and headed down to Lake Rotoiti and joined the Lake Rotoiti Classic Boat Association, who have a parade with their lovely boats and a picnic day out on the beach. Its a great occasion where the public can watch from the shore or any other vantage point they can find and enjoy the spectacle.

Click on any image for Hi Res or a slideshow

Rafe with Tim and Pams Chev and boat on behind.
Rafe with Tim and Pams Chev and boat on behind.

We left Auckland in the middle of the day on the Friday to try and avoid some traffic.  We were half successful and we arrived around 4pm and set Rafe up at the Lake Rotoiti Holiday Park. We were given a park right next to our friends from Taupo Shawn and Cathy. Just around the corner were Tim and Pam with their Chev and Miss Belair which they parked right next to us.

Shawn and Cathy's car on the left with Tim and Pams boat in the middle with Rafe
Shawn and Cathy’s car on the left with Tim and Pams boat in the middle with Rafe

After registration, a few drinks and a meal at the Pikiao Rugby League club we returned back to Rafe for a few drinks with our friends and neighbours, Tim, Pam, Shawn and Cathy.

Fraser showing Alan around the boat.
Fraser showing Alan around the boat.

The next morning, we were up early as it was parade day. The previous Commodore of the Classic boats, Fraser had offered us the use of his Tender as a platform for taking some images from the water. Alan was driving so I could concentrate on getting the images and we could use them both here and on his blog, 

Alan on the helm with Frasers house behind
Alan on the helm with Frasers house and boat behind

Fraser came and picked us up from the campground and after a look around his amazing waterfront house on the lake, we went and got settled with the boat.

Enjoy the images.. Click on an image below for a slideshow.

It was a great day with lots of the Classic crews ready to show off their lovely boats and most were dressed in period costumes for the occasion. The winner of the costume award went to the crew of Alberta.

Winners of the costume awards
Winners of the costume award

After the parade, everyone headed over to Wairau Bay for a picnic and catchup. It was great to catchup with old friends and meet some new people and see their boats.

One of the things about the lakes is there are no tides so they run their boats up in the sand and step off their bows with ladders onto the beach. Some choose to anchor and get picked up by the barge.

A tough day at the office 🙂

A great day on the water finished off with a beer at a bar which was accessible by boat and then back to the camp.

There are lots and lots of pictures duplicated on taken by me with Alan on the helm.

Rafes Track back from Lake Rotoiti.


Tracking the Tracker

And now it is for sale!

High Tea at the Chateau

We arrived at the Whakapapa Holiday park with 10 minutes to spare to make our pre booked High Tea at the Chateau. I quickly plugged in Rafe and we locked the door and we headed off down the road.

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Rafe tucked up
Rafe tucked up

It’s was an interesting experience as I’m not very practised at these High Tea things. There are three tiers of goodies to eat. Dianne and I shared one platter (if that’s what they’re called) and Gary and Fiona shared the other.

Gary, Fiona and Dianne at High tea.
Gary, Fiona and Dianne at High tea.

Apparently you start from the bottom with the cucumber Sammies and work your way up to the sweet things on the top level. All very interesting.

Fiona all set to go
Fiona all set to go

The Chateau is an amazing old building. Although it has been well looked after, it reeks of another time. It’s a shame that all the joinery has been changed to aluminium but I suppose that’s so they can double glaze and so on but it has been done nicely.

The Windows and Mt Ruapehu
The Windows and Mt Ruapehu

The campground is quite interesting in that it hovers over a river from further up off Mt Ruapehu.

The river behind the parks. The parks are on the left in the trees.
The river behind the parks. The parks are on the left in the trees.

The Motorhome parks are all in between carefully cut out parks in between trees with rock and wood boundaries and all nicely flattened.

Dianne and Fiona heading back. Rosie can be seen through the trees.
Dianne and Fiona heading back. Rosie can be seen through the trees.

There is an amenities block just down from the parks.
Nobody was terribly interested in having dinner after all the goodies from the High Tea so we had a few drinks in Rafe until around 9.30 and then all retired for the night. There was no Internet but we were given free access to the camp wifi. An interesting park.

And Rafe’s Track to get there..

Rafe's Track to Whakapapa Holiday Park
Rafe’s Track to Whakapapa Holiday Park