Timber Town Romp โ€“ Getting Settled

Yes, it was at Tokoroa. Tokeroa is not somewhere I’ve spent any time at and after a walk around, its quite a neat wee town. Everything is handy and the locals all seemed super friendly.

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Rafe in his spot surrounded by vans

I was heading to the latest NZMCA Rally being the Timber Town Romp which was looking like being a real hoot.ย  Hosted by the good folk from the Waikato area of the NZMCA, it was held at the recently setup South Waikato Events centre which was a fantastic venue.

Everywhere you look

Having done parking at a Dethleffs event a few years before, I quickly volunteered to help with the parking and all was good.

After registering inside the centre, I met Des and Cathy who were manning the desk along with some others clocking everyone in. A big job.

All those white things

That night I bumped into lots of people I knew which was fantastic, including Rodger and Diane who were parked right next door. I knew Rodger from his time as Custodian at the Ardmore Park. A great guy who most will know from the park and has been involved in several of the Covi shows parking at Ellerslie.

Tokoroa’s main street is undergoing some major road works so the original plan of opening the gates at 11am was quickly found to be impractical as the Motorhomes and Caravans starting queing earlier than planned.ย  In the interests of safety and not cloggging up the main street, the decision was made to open early and get everyone safely parked.

I was in the main carpark making sure Motorhomes and Caravanners took a wide track so they could line up correctly for the entrance.

That carpark filled up around 11:30 so we started the other paddock. While another friend who I was pleased to see, Alan marked out several rows of new parking sites, I stood in the entrance way and directed them in. Others were parking them as they came onto the field. Everyone pitched in and we covered each other for cups of tea and lunch breaks etc..

The second park with the first in the distance behind…

It was a fun day and there were no disasters either which was a bonus ๐Ÿ™‚ So after starting about 9am, most of us had finished about 4pm, we think we parked about 400 odd Motorhomes and Caravans !ย  Fortunately it got warmer as the day went on starting out around 5 degrees !

Raffle winner

It was time for the first Happy Hour of the event and that was held in the Events Centre main hall which is HUGE! One of the biggest Happy Hours I’ve ever been to.

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At 7pm there was a show from a solo performer Ebonivory Neville Ormsby where many got up onto the dance floor. Very slick too from a one man show. And this was just Day One!

Dancing
Rafe’s Tracker map to the Event.

Steaming Gutters in Ohinemutu

We were in Rotorua with our Grandchildren Ayden and Liam and on our route was Ohinemutu.

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Walking through Ohinemutu

I think they were pretty taken by the steam coming out of the gutters and the lakefront.

Roadside steam

There was a huge crowd set up for a special event where the last remaing Maori Battalion member was being honoured on the Marae and was being presented with a medal by the Italians. A great occasion and there was a special Marque set upย  with chairs everywhere you looked.

St Faiths Church over a steamy Lakefront

There was a small party from the NZ Army there too representing the NZ Armed Forces.

The Special team from the Army for the celebration of the Maori

We had a brief look around St Faiths Church on the lakefront and thought we’d make head into town but its a lovely tranquil spot and the steam and heat from the bores and water makes it a special place.

Ayden, Liam and Fiona heading down to the Church

There is free parking for Motorhomes just along from there towards the city so its an easy walk and well worth doing.

For a look at our last trip here and some interiors of the church go here.

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There was a big fun fair entertainment thing happening in the domain so the boys had a ride on the small cars to finish off the morning before lunch.

St Faiths

The Place to Eat

A few years ago I stumbled across this amazing blocked off pedestrian section of Tutanakai St in Rotorua. It is totally set up for Wining, Dining, Craft beers and anything else food and beverage.
It is covered by a huge roof so is all weather as well.

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Looking towards the Lake

On my first visit, it had not long been opened and was closed but this time, it was all on although at lunchtime on a Saturday was not at its busiest. I’d love to see it in the evenings.

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What a great concept and being 5 minutes walk from the Lakefront and domain, it is right in the Tourist centre of Rotorua.

Looking down the main street.

If you’re heading to Rotorua, a great place to check out.

Grandchildren and Rotorua

Every now and then its time to grab the Grandkids and take them away in Rafe for a weekend and give Mum and Dad a night or two off.

Rotorua is the popular spot as they love the hot pools and the things to see and do there so we were off.

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Ayden and Liam on the swings during a Cup of Tea break at Gordonton

We stopped off at Gordonton to give the Boys a break and they very quickly found a play area and set off to give it a workout while Fiona and I watched with a cup of coffee.

Cruising on we eventually arrived in Tirau and the boys spotted a Subway so that was lunch sorted ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Rotorua was always a favourite place to go when I was in short pants. We used to stay in Motels opposite Kurau park where there used to be a miniature steam train that you could ride on. Sadly that’s gone now but its still a magic place.

We arrived in Rotorua around the middle of the day and decided to check in at Cozy Cottage Holiday Park which is right on the lakefront and has its own hot pools. We’ve stayed here a couple of times before when we first got Rafe, 5 or so years ago so we knew it was easy.

Rotorua Lakefront

After settling down, plugging in and opening some vents, we set off for a look around to see what was where. Ayden and Liam are 10 and 6 and the first thing they found was the playground and they were pretty happy with that and soon made some new friends.

Fiona and Liam in one of the pools

Not long after that, we were all in the pool.

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The next day, we decided that we would walk into Rotorua and have a look at Ohinemutu, the waterfront and find some lunch.

The boys were hanging out for McDonalds so after a walk there and a look around, we caught the bus back to the park.

The boys digging with Mokoia Island behind

One of the features of this Motorhome park is its proximity to the lakefront and they have a track that takes you directly to the beach where you can dig holes with a shovel and make your own hot pools. The boys were keen to give this a go soย after another hot pools swim, we headed down to the lakefront to find some hot water ๐Ÿ™‚

Ayden had first pop with the shovel and he got straight into digging some holes. Within 5 minutes or so he had created a new pool with the only problem being that it was just too hot to put your feet in. Just two feet down right by the water and steam was coming out !

The boys on the Lakefront digging for water!

Cozy Cottage was $22 for each adult and $10 for each Grandie per night. With the hot pools and the facilities and being an easy walk to Rotorua, I thought this was pretty reasonable.

Aydens pool.

There are Cabins and Motel Units there too for friends without Motorhomes or Caravans.

Rafe in his spot

A fun weekend.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

 

Bent Keys

We were just about to pick up our Grandchildren and take them down to Rotorua for the last weekend of the school holidays when a fault came up on the dash that I hadn’t seen before.

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It was an image of a door and a padlock in orange and prevented the motor from starting. It would turn over with the key but never fire.

The key code fault

Out came the Fiat handbook which said the fault was related to the key and the code that needs to come from it and go to the engine management system. If it persists to check with the dealer.

I tried taking the key out and putting it in the opposite way and the engine started straight away.  I thought this was a bit scary so thought that given we were about to take the Grandies out of town, we should get it checked out, so off we went to the Andrew Sims Fiat service centre in East Tamaki.

The key in its incorrect position
The key in its correct position

After talking to their service manager Nick, he immediately said yep, its the way you’ve got the key in the ignition and you’ve solved the problem . It was all solved in seconds and I could relax  ๐Ÿ™‚

How the dash should look !

Because the keys flip out with the push of a button like a flick knife, the weight of my keys on the key ring and the fact that the lock on the key is getting a bit long in the tooth and isn’t what it once was, it is folding and preventing the code in the key handle from getting down the key to the engine management system. .. the answer… Take it out and put it in the other way so the key can’t fold and all will be well.

They don’t work when they’re folded.

So after 5 years of owning Rafe and running all over the country and never seeing this before, a new little thing to know about an ageing key.

The key in its straight form

Even one of the senior Andrew Sims guys there at the time wasn’t aware of it either, so we all learnt something new that day. If you didn’t know this, you could easily get stuck somewhere and not know that the solution was so simple ๐Ÿ™‚

A happy Rafe with his key in the right way around!

Our Motorhomes new park

Over the last month or so, our Motorhome Rafe has been stored up in Albany getting covered in Motorway dust and crap from a concrete distributor close by so it was somewhat of a relief to be able to park it back at our house again and give the van a good wash!

Our house is one of three units on a cross leased section which run down the hill overlooking each other and then over the golf course. When I say overlooking.. just our roof but we’re at the top closest to the road.

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It had a parking ramp here already but it was in the shape of a triangle and we all know that Motorhomes and cars for that matter tend to rectangular ๐Ÿ™‚

Our neighbour Doug is a semi retired builder who is a magic guy and was happy for us to do whatever we needed to make Rafe fit in the hole.

Boxing

Enter Ryan and Ray, a couple of concrete experts who are good friends of my son Andrew to take on the project of adding to the existing pad to make it useable and also add another around the corner for an outside water cylinder and Heat Pump.

The project went without a hitch, even getting the concrete truck in to do the pour and the result is perfect.

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Since then, the Water Heater and Heat pump have been installed and we’ve managed to get Rafe in here but not without some drama!

The first time in. I got a good friend of mine Alan to be my eyes and ears at the back to help me in. The first obstacle was a hump at the end of the drive which I thought would grab the overhang but surprisingly for me, there was never an issue.

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The tight bends around the front fence were a bit of a problem and I managed to get the front wheels stuck in a small patch of grass behind our letterboxes!ย  After jacking it up and slipping some things in to jump out, it finally did but not without creating some stress and some mess of the grass.

Rafe stuck in the grass. Alans cell phone pic
Some of that fence has gone

Anyway, we’re in and it works a treat but I have decided since to convert a fence panel into a gate and add some gravel to make it a lot easier to get in and out.

Tighter than it looks

We also have a 16 amp socket going in to keep the batteries topped up.

Hot water and Heat pump in

Thanks to Ray, Ryan for the great concreting, Pete the sparky for his wiring and Alan, a big thanks for helping me get in for the first time.

The Motorhome Surgery

Just recently, I had the pleasure of having a guided tour through ACM’s Auckland Motorhome repair and manufacturing factory. Amazing stuff.

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A decapitated Luton restored

ACM was started 7 years ago by ex boat builder Chris Cunard (think Super Yachts) as a repair facility and later added his own range of manufactured Motorhomes. After chatting to Chris for a while, you very quickly get the sense that build quality is the name of the game and you can see this everywhere you look.

Chris Cunard

One of ACM’s Leading hands Daryl, showed me around a couple of the new Motorhome’s they are currently making for customers. Apart from having their own standard models, they make bespoke vans for those with special interests or hobbies. They also do repairs for other dealers brands too.

One of those I saw was one made for someone who was confined to a wheelchair. All the benchtops were lower. There was a special hydraulic lift at the back for entry and the bathroom and bedroom was all specially fitted out so they could enjoy Motorhoming. Fantastic!

Room for the slideout with the wheelchair Galley

A lot ofย  slideouts in the industry are driven electrically. These ones have huge hydraulic arms to drive it instead which should make it a lot more reliable. The hydraulic drop down legs for levelling were huge too.

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One of their clients who liked his music so much, they designed and built his Motorhome so that he could take a built in piano with him and it looks like part of the Motorhome.

Good on them for taking their hobby with them!

Click on the Gallery below to see one of the finished Motorhomes

Stairway to Heaven

Athough I was lucky enough a few years ago to have a look through the Niesmann and Bichoff factory in Germany, it was really nice to see a local builder building Motorhomes basically by hand, doing a really nice job of them and providing employment and skills training for young Kiwis.