Cruzin in Thames

The  sign said “Park in an empty park, plug yourself in and make yourself comfortable and we’ll be round”. .. or words of that effect. We were just parking when a huge smile appeared around the corner of the next door Motorhome helping us to park.

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I’d heard all about Cruzin N Stop before and was keen to try it out. It is right in the middle of Thames and is perfectly located for checking out the shops and cafes so I was immediately scoring huge brownie points with Fiona 🙂

Rafe in the park

For $20 including power for NZMCA members with toilets and a shower. Its a neat wee place to stay right in the middle of things. Its not a place you would go for a holiday given that it comes with in town distractions but its safe, handy, good value and the people are really helpful.

We stayed the night here on route to Coromandel. The road up the coast was closed due to slips and washouts and after a stroll around the town and a good gander at some antique shops, we headed back to Rafe and settled down some good old fashioned Netflix movies while it rained. Fiona on one TV, me on the other 🙂

The next morning, we walked the other way and after a visit to the Dump Station, we were off over the hill.

The Brian Boru Hotel

A neat spot to stop for a night or two, very very handy to everything in Thames and great people. At $20 with power and other facilities in the middle of town, it’s pretty reasonable.

The Netspeed Speedtest for this site.
Download: 33.20 Mbps
Upload: 23.19 Mbps
Ping: 48 ms,175.542751
Rafe’s Tracker Map

Right on the Edge

We were right on the edge at Simpsons Beach by Whitianga.  A fabulous spot which we’ve been to a few times before.

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Ten steps to the water.

Its on a farm owned by the Simpson family which runs along the foreshore and behind which they’ve been letting people camp at for many years. They charge $10 per vehicle, Motorhome or Caravan per night and donate the money to a cause of their choice. A fantastic gesture and they’re super nice people.

The Beach

One of the quirky things about this area is the Netspeed Mobile Internet coverage. There is a 4G beam from Whitianga out over the water but Simpsons Beach is right on the edge of it but more in the beam for 3G. Because it is 1 click into the 4G, it can’t do anything useful and surfing the web or anything else is a waste of time.. nothing happens !  A lot more happens on 4 bars of 3G than 1 blip of 4G!

What I found you had to do is go into the Huawei App on your ipad or iphone and turn the “Auto” feature off to “3G” so that the router will settle for 3G and not be too ambitious 🙂

The Home screen on the app..Select the Settings Cog

The steps on a Ipad app.. Click on the settings cog on the right hand top of the screen. Then click on Network, then Network Carrier. You’ll see Preffered Network at the top.. click on that to get 3 G and select it and back out (without touching anything else 🙂 ) Its a good idea to reboot the router at this point and it will be away with plenty of throughput.

Click on the images below to follow the gallery in order.

This will affect any wireless carrier anywhere. Its all about your position relative to a transmitting tower.

There must be other spots around NZ where this happens too. Just remember to return the settings to “Auto” after you leave Simpsons Beach or another place like it.

Great spot

Despite this minor alteration to get Fiona her Netflix fix, Simpsons Beach is a fabulous spot and we love staying here. Once when it was chocker in the middle of summer, the local Mr Whippy van cruised through for ice creams 🙂

The Netspeed Speedtest from this site
Download: 9.11 Mbps
Upload: 4.01 Mbps
Ping: 69 ms
Connection Type: Wi-Fi,170.503600
Rafes Track to Coromandel from Simpsons Beach
From Simpsons Beach to Coromandel

The Punters Turned Up

While we stayed at Hahei, between us, we decided to check out Whitianga for brunch and a coffee. So 8 of us piled into two cars and off we went.

Traffic in Whitianga

The place was chocker. Cars and people everywhere you looked. There were even traffic jams !

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Dianne and Fiona enjoying the markets

There was a nice town market happening with lots of stalls set up in a square.

Its amazing walking around and seeing some of the expressions of stall holders and people looking. I went for a walk and checked out the Marina.

After a look around, we all headed back to the Hahei Motorcamp for the 4pm Happy Hour while looking out over the beach.

Happy at Hahei

We were joined again by our neighbours from Canada, Eric and Mary Anne who amazed us all with what they had packed in to their trip since arriving in Christchurch just three weeks earlier.

There is still some energy in that water

A neat night in paradise.

Happy at Hahei

We’d survived the weather as fortunately the storm veered away from Coromandel and left us with plenty of rain but no wind.

Debris after the storm

I woke up early on Good Friday and took Rafe around to the dump station and got prepared for the next few days at our prebooked beachfront site. Fiona was driving down to Ardmore to be picked up by Helen and Rob and they were due to arrive around the middle of the day. Rob was following in their new Autotrail Tracker with daughter Chloe.

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Our wee spot in paradise

When I arrived up at the beachfront site, there was another little Swift rental alongside. I jumped out to move a BBQ table out of the way and Eric from the Swift gave me a hand. Eric and his wife Mary Ann were from Victoria in Canada and were traveling around NZ.

About 11am, I received a call from Fiona to say that they had arrived and that the camp wouldn’t allow them to come in until 11:30. Seriously?  This does nothing to create a holiday atmosphere!

Our little setup with the tables. The Tracker and Rafe

Half an hour went by and Rob brought the Tracker in to park. As Rafes door is on the right and the Trackers door is on the left, I suggested I move to Rob’s park so the doors faced each other. This turned out to work really well as Gary, Dianne, Neil, Christine and even Eric and Mary Ann all came around to join us for drinks and nibbles for several nights. A lot of fun.

Happy Hour. LtoR: Dianne, Gary, Fiona, Christine, Neil, Helen, Chloe and Rob
Happy at Hahei

Back to friday. As the day went on, the park got more people in but by Sunday morning, it was really only about 1/3rd full.

Its a great park, a stunning location where our parks on the beachfront had tracks directly down to the sand. We were effectively parked on the back of the sand dunes.

Beachfront parking
The outlook 🙂

Toilets were handy, Gary and Diannes Beachfront cottage was right next to us, it couldn’t be better.

Beachfront cottages behind us.

My only comment would be that I found there was definitely room for improvement in the welcoming process at the office.  To be fair this may have been stress caused by the cancellations they would have had.

The stunning beach

All the same, I have to rate it as one of the better Motorcamps around in a great place and we had a lot of fun.

The Netspeed Speedtest for this site.
Download: 16.77 Mbps
Upload: 19.06 Mbps
Ping: 69 ms,175.809322

Rafe’s Tracker Map

To Hahei

Storm at Coromandel

The build up was huge and as a result, we left Coromandel early and headed to Whitianga and then onto Hahei, as we figured it was very likely that we could get blocked in at Coromandel with closed roads. The road to Thames was already closed due to slips and wasn’t due to open until after Easter. After stopping at Whitianga for groceries, I cruised onto Hahei Holiday Park.

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I parked two rows back from the beach for the first two nights until the storm went through but on the second day, I decided to park behind the office amongst some trees for wind protection drawing on old boating experience.

My hideaway with the trees

Friends Gary and Dianne were in a beachfront cottage and Fiona had gone back to Auckland on the ferry for a couple of days work but was due back soon. I was flying solo for a couple of days.

The Beachfront Cottages

Unfortunately the  camp was absolutely deserted as most Motorhomers had disappeared and run for cover due to the forecast which initially had Cormomandel getting hammered by the remnants of ex tropical  cyclone Cook.

The primo beach spots all empty

Gary and Diannes friends Neil and Christine arrived up from Otaki way on THE day and later, when the bell struck 4pm and the promised winds were only about 20 knots at peak and the rain was easing, we decided it was a fizzer and it was time for a light refreshment.

Just after 5 it stopped raining and it was time to go and check out the beach .  What a great sunset with all the clouds.

I felt for the campground people as the place was deserted and from Hahei’s perspective, there really wasn’t a storm at all. Yes there was plenty of rain but the cost to all those on the peninsula at a peak time, it really was a beat up. I suppose from the forecasters perspective, it had to be that way rather than have people unprepared and it could have been a lot worse. It seems a real pity that it affects so many people’s livelyhoods.

Out in the sunshine

The next day, everyone that was there all seemed to be enjoying the sunshine on the beach. It really is one of the best beaches around.

Rafes tracker image to Hahei

To Hahei

The Wedding at the Fort

What a fun weekend. Our old friends Mark and Tina’s eldest daughter Alisha was getting married to Tom and they had chosen The Officers Mess at Fort Takapuna as the wedding venue.  A fantastic spot and where Fiona’s family had spent some years in the officers housing by Narrow Neck beach.

The roof of the old fort with the Officers Mess behind and the carpark.

Just as it says, The officers Mess has been converted into a Wedding Venue and Café and was the old Officers Mess for the Army and later used by the Navy as well.  Its a lovely old building which looks out over the harbour towards Rangitoto Island.

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Fiona’s dad Norm was CO of Fort Cautley which was then the HQ for the Army’s 3rd Battalion. There were officers and senior NCO houses from the current buildings all the way down to Narrow Neck Beach.

Narrow Neck beach. This grass is where all the officers housing was.

Fort Takapuna has a huge history. It was originally built to fend off the Russians in the 1860’s and later updated for the two world wars in case the Japanese or Germans got down here. It is now looked after by DOC and more information on it can be seen here.
Its well worth a look around and the carpark is huge, perfect for Motorhomes and Caravans.

The Old Fort

When Friday came around, Fiona and I decided we would make a weekend of it and stay in Devonport on Friday night. We earlier met our old friends Dani and Grant at the Esplanade Hotel for a few cold ones and afterwards tea at the wharf.

The next day was wedding day and I packed up Rafe and headed off to the venue where we had permission to stay overnight in the carpark as guests.

In the carpark

I spent the day having a really good look around the fort while Fiona was getting her hair done.  There was a soccer game on at the playing field there which was fun to watch. I have no idea who was playing but it was fun to watch and I really enjoyed shooting a few piccies of it. I haven’t photographed any soccer since my days on the Herald and the Auckland Star so it was fun. Soccer is one of the hardest games to photograph as so I was pleased that I got a couple or reasonable piccies from it being as rusty as I am.

One of the better soccer piccies 🙂

The forecast rain held off so the ceremony was held outside looking out on the harbor. It was a bit of a catchup with old friends for us as Gary, Chris, Mark and Tina are all old Boatie mates along with Geoff and Bev who were also there.  We were all put on Table 4! Our friends Gary and Chris were joint MC’s and they did a great job. It was nice to catch up with the extended families and old friends too, many of them had come over from Aussie for the occasion.

The Wedding Service with a view

The wedding went well, the food was great and it was a fun night. We finished the night in Rafe with “Table 4” friends for a nightcap and cups of tea.

Rafe’s Track map

The way home from Fort Takapuna

The Razza Waihi Beach

What a great place.  Perched on a hill looking over Waihi Beach looking out to Mayor Island and views right down to Bowentown.

Mayor Island
Mayor Island

We were helping friends Rob and Helen celebrate picking up their new Autotrail Tracker. The campground volunteered that the RSA courtesy van was coming and we could get a ride to the famous Gunners Restaurant.

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Rob, Helen and Fiona arriving in the van.
Rob, Helen and Fiona arriving in the van.

It was a Saturday night so their overnight parking was pretty busy but not full and looked fantastic. The NZMCA card admitted us to the bar and to the restaurant. We opted for the carvery at $18 a head and it was absolutely amazing. There was also a salad bar which was great too.

After a few drinks, we headed back in the courtesy van to the campground. A great night

The Razza parking area
The Razza parking area

The next day, Fiona and I decided we would have to give the parking at the RSA a go so after having had a good look around the area, we arrived around 3pm and clocked ourselves in for the overnight stay and for a drink at the bar. A perfectly fine day, views for Africa it was an nice place to be. We’d both vowed that we wouldn’t do the carvery again but I ended up eating that anyway 🙂 ..and every bit as nice as the first night.
While there is no cost for overnight parking, it is expected that you at least buy a drink or even a meal. You won’t regret it either 🙂

Not far to walk home:-)
Not far to walk home:-)

In the morning, we were woken up with a knock on the door. It was an RSA person asking us to move to the carpark so the diggers could tear up the grass to turn it into a gravel park as it turns into a mud bog in winter. No worries.. the lady at the bar had told us this was coming but no one knew it was the next day.

The Grass getting dug up
The Grass getting dug up

It was an easy move but I felt a bit for the Caravanners but it was received with good humour .

A wonderful place to stay, eat and drink and for friendliness they are unbeatable.

The Netspeed Speedtest for this park

Download: 42.58 Mbps
Upload: 10.70 Mbps
Ping: 63 ms,175.935864

Rafes Tracker Map

Our track from Athenree down to Bowentown and to the RSA


The Busiest Bay around

While we were looking around Bowentown, we stumbled on Anzac Bay. What a great spot and I can now understand why it has had so many issues with Freedom Camping.  It seems now to be well managed but so busy, you’d need to get there really early to have any chance of getting an overnight spot.

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No room at the Inn
No room at the Inn
Great view
Great view

The water literally sparkles and its a really protected safe beach for the kids too. Waterskiing and jet skiers were having fun there too.

We were just stopping to have lunch but within minutes of arriving, I was chatting quite happily to my next door neighbor from Auckland and his friends in a matching Auto Sleeper. They had met as a result of buying the same vehicle 4 or so years ago and were travelling together. Nice people.

Busy busy
Busy busy

After a few sammies and a cuppa, we went for a wander down to the beach and to check out some of the Motorhomes in the overnight area. Some were pretty close together but they all seemed happy with the setup. It was chocker and it was a Sunday too.

Check out that water
Check out that water

A lovely bay and if I get there early enough one day, I might try a night there.

A little Bedtime reading :-)

Saturday was a big day. Rob and Helen were off to collect their new Autotrail Tracker RB and they were beside themselves with excitement.

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Rob and Helen looking very happy !
Rob and Helen looking very happy !

Their first Tracker RB had taken them and their daughter Chloe. all around NZ over the last 4 years or so.

The new Tracker looking very smart
The new Tracker looking very smart

The new Tracker is a different colour, has Automatic Transmission and has 180 horses. It has more room in the front lounge area, a separate Shower and Toilet area and lots of other little tweaks.

The new beast with Rafe behind
The new beast with Rafe behind

Having Rafe parked right behind, I was amazed with the changes in some of the vents, and other fittings which you see on Dethleffs and other makes.  Even the tyres are different from the older models.. now Michelins.

Rob unpacking the sealed manual packs.
Rob unpacking the sealed manual packs.

We drove down to meet them at Athenree Holiday Park as a meeting point and to help celebrate their first night away in it.

The Bedroom. The bed runs the opposite way to the older one.
The Bedroom. The bed runs the opposite way to the older one.

We hadn’t long checked in when the first glasses of bubbly were consumed. A nice afternoon in the sun with a swim in the hotpools later as well.

Its a lovely Motorhome and they’re over the moon with it.

Its a good thing that Rob is pretty handy and technically minded and likes reading the odd manual.
Its a good thing that Rob is pretty handy and technically minded and likes reading the odd manual.

As the title says.. lots of bedtime reading manuals for Rob!

The Netspeed Speedtest for Athenree Holiday Park
Download: 42.01 Mbps
Upload: 26.18 Mbps
Ping: 54 ms,175.966467

Rafe’s Track to Athenree

Rafe’s Track to Athenree.. The Green Dot