Grant and Jo’s Airstream Bar

And it is shiny and at 10 metres, very big.

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Jo and Grant with the Bar

Grant and Jo went over to the US with the idea that they wanted to buy an Airstream Caravan.

They met a chap there who had two of them. So after agreeing to buy both of them, the guy says β€œHang on a minute, I’ve got this too around here”, and showed them the then rather dilapidated 1972 Airstream Bar. Grant tells me it was “not a lot” so he bought that too and shipped all three back!

The Lounge at one end
Inside
Grants lovely F100 Tug with their Dog Gilbert keeping an eye on things

Once they all landed back in NZ, the 2nd Caravan was sold so they could do up the Bar and a year later and lots of hard work, its looking pretty good. With a huge fridge, new lighting and a great sound system, its a fun way to spend a night.

Grant with the Bar

We spent a really good night here after the Zion Motorhomes function at Ellerslie and it was a real hoot.

Tables and Chairs.. Rafe in the distance

Zion Owners Group Rally

This year it became part of the Covi Rally and Show as it has grown so much with Zion’s new brands. The more the merrier and more to talk about πŸ™‚

I arrived at Ellerslie Racecourse around the middle of the day on the Friday and within minutes met Gary and his wife Alison who have a Dethleffs Esprit which is very similar to Rafe in layout, length and size and only a little younger.Β  As it turns out I used to work with Gary’s Dad who was an editor at the Auckland Star when I was an 11 year old on work experience when I was at School.Β  Small world and we had lots to talk about.

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Racing this time. Behind the jump. Gary’s Esprit on the left, Rafe on the right.

When we first arrived there was a bit of confusion as to where to park so after a big Frankia moved from the inside of the Steeplechase jump, I moved in to the hole and Gary parked beside me. We had just finished parking when we bumped into several other people we knew too.

Rafe parked in front of the Steeplechase jump

I was supposed to go to the show that afternoon but it all got a bit too social so I stayed put but it was a great afternoon. When the volunteer stand workers returned home, there was a gigantic happy hour squeezed in between Rafe and Gary’s Esprit.
Lots of fun and we met a lot of new people.

The Happy Happy Hour
Jonas and Irene talking to Gary with the hat in front of Rafe

The owners of Zion Jonas and Irene, joined in too and it was a fun night.

Irene and Jonas with the Happy team

The next morning was showtime. I caught the bus to the show and returned early in the afternoon.Β  I was really looking forward to the Zion meal which was being hosted that night by Jonas and Irene out at Melba Restaurant in Manukau. We were picked up in Buses and after a great night, dropped off back to our Motorhomes.

All different sorts

Gary, Alison and I joined their friends Grant and Jo in their Airstream Bar which was parked near us for a few drinks afterwards for what was a really funny night. πŸ˜‚

Good Parking

Lots of fun with some nice people. Thanks to Jonas, Irene for a great night at Melba.

Covi Rally 2020 at Ellerslie Racecourse

This never disappoints and although this year possibly wasn’t as big as previous years, there would have been at least 400 odd Motorhomes and Caravans.

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The volunteers did an excellent job parking everyone and there was a Bar open for a couple of the nights if you felt the need for some cold lubricant πŸ™‚

From the Stand

There was also a special area for the Dethleff, Frankia, Morelo and Neismann and Bichoff Motorhomes.. more on this later.

Rafe on the left in front of one of the Steeplechase jumps
All shapes and sizes

The buses called around regularly to ferry people to the show at the showgrounds, the weather was fine, it couldn’t have been better.

Smiles from the Volunteers

Thanks again to the Volunteers who make it all happen.

Looking toward the stand

The 2020 Covi Motorhome Show – lots of Images

The numbers were definitely down with the Coronavirus hanging over us all but despite that, several vendors I spoke to did well.

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The Reo

I guess with more room to move, many had time to have a good nosey and spend more time doing what they came for.

NZMCA Stand

I went early on the Saturday morning and my first stop was say hello to the happy crew at the NZMCA stand then from there onto the Zion Motorhomes stand where the new Morelo Palace was on display.

Where to start?

At 9 metres long and 7.5 tons, this is a serious Motorhome. Check out the piccies below.

The Morelo Palace

Click on the Gallery below for bigger images

Zion also have a new Dethleffs XLI Alpa which has a rear lounge with really clever drop down beds above the drivers area which doesn’t feel like a drop down system.

Dethleffs Alpa Kitchen

Just in the next hall was ACM Motorhomes who have a repair facility and manufacture their own Motorhomes too, but have made some really nice bespoke designs for those with special interests or needs.

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One of the Motorhomes they had on display was one that I saw being put together for a handicapped customer and its beautiful. Complete with a wheelchair lift at the back which comes up to a rear bathroom. Very nice and nice to see what I saw in bits all finished and looking so good.

ACM Motohome for wheelchairs

Moving on from here I was amazed to see some of the refinements made to the smaller Caravans.

Chameleon

In order .. the Chameleon Crusader, a little bigger was the Manta Ray by New Age, then there was the Rockwood with slide outs and a bunk room which was interesting.

The Manta Ray Kitchen area

The 5m long Bailey Discovery is interesting too.. Perfect for two people and can be towed with a small vehicle.

Bailey living area. Nice big vent.

Jayco have got an interesting small Caravan which is called the Crosstrak Hybrid. Again well suited for two and an easy tow for a smaller SUV, it is just under 5 metres.

The Jayco Crosstrak

An interesting show which I finished by checking out the Lilliputs and watching an auction of a Benimar. I suspect someone got a bit of a bargain at 136k πŸ™‚

Click on the Gallery for bigger images and a slideshow

I stayed at Ellerslie Racecourse as part of the Rally there which was free this year and was well served by some free buses to the Showgrounds. A great show!

Lilliput magic

A night out at Rakino on the Whaler

The forecast was fantastic, no sign of any rain or wind so we were heading off from Milford to go to Rakino Island about 9k’s away. For those overseas readers, it is one of the furthest Islands out from Auckland behind Rangitoto and Motutapu Islands.

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Rorqual at the Marina berth shortly before we set off.

Rorqual was all ready to go and we were off. A quick call to the Bridge operators by son Andrew to open the bridge and we were on our way.


Andrew driving Rorqual out of Milford Marina.
Turn the volume up to hear that 400hp Turbo charged Detroit!

We had just got out a bit beyond Castor Bay when friend Greg Fenwick rang Andrew from his house up on the cliff watching us go by. He could hear distinctive roar from the Detroit as we went past from several k’s away πŸ™‚ he sent us the video below! Thanks Greg

After that, we stopped off Rangitoto when we saw a whole heap of fish on the depth sounder complete with measurements and a smile on their faces πŸ™‚ Given the lack of success there in catching anything, I’m sure they were poking their tongues out at us πŸ™‚ I did get one really good bite but he got away!

We stopped again to try later off Rakino but same luck so we went on into Woody Bay into 3metres of water and had lunch and a glass of wine. Absolutely perfect day.

All settled in Woody Bay

Andrew saw some mates in at the beach in a fizz boat so he swam in to say hello.

Looking into the beach

Half an hour later after he’d just returned, my other son Alex came into the bay with a friend of his Sam on their identical Jet Skis. They had come around from Half Moon Bay which is by Pakuranga, probably about 10k’s or so.

The Jetskis
Alex refueling his Jetski

They were out for a fish but hadn’t had much luck, just like us… until we sat in 2-3 metres of water in the bay. We were just sitting there, having a drink and the rod just kept bringing them in. Andrew was filleting them and put them on a plate with soy sauce and wasabi. Fantastic. About 3 reasonable sized fish popped onto the plate during the afternoon πŸ™‚ Yum!

L to R, Alex, Sam and Andrew. Sashimi in the middle

Later in the day, the time came for the boys to go with their Jetskis and try for a fish round the Rangitoto Channel.

The Boys setting off
On their way out
Tea is on

Andrew put the BBQ on and we settled down to listen to some good music. The Stereo is a monster with 3 amplifiers with a Subwoofer powered by a Solar backed 450 odd AH bank of House batteries so no danger of running out of anything!

Looking back to Auckland. North Shore in the distance

While we listening to the music, the bait runner ran again and this time, in came breakfast! Yippee!

End of a great day

After a nice bread crumbed pan fried Snapper and a cup of coffee, we tidied up the boat and got ready to head back to Milford Marina. A nice weekend and nice to see Alex and Sam come in too.

More information here on Rorqual.

Jo’s Healthcare Motorhome

While I was having a look around the Piha Motorcamp, I walked past Jo outside her Civilian Bus giving another camper a Massage. Kids from other caravans were there taking photos with their cellphones. It was all very casual with lots of laughter !

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One of my neighbours Jo doing massages !

Having a chat later with Jo, its quite a normal part of her day along with making up her Rongoa Maori Healthcare medicines.

Jo with some of her Medicines

Two years ago Jo took delivery of her 6m, 1992 Nissan Civilian and adapted it so she could make her Natural Herbal medicines. She has been living in it and commutes into town two days a week to teach others about Maori Healthcare.

Jo with the Civilian
The living area

The day I took the photos, she was showing me the biggest Mushroom I’ve ever seen.

The Mushroom

She also has a great collection of walking sticks which she has gathered up with hre long walks looking for the native plant ingredients for her Medicines.

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A really nice lady and she is really enjoying her lifestyle with the bus.

Lounging at the Lion – Piha

One of the trips I’ve been wanting to do for ages but I haven’t been able to get Fiona interested in is a trip to Piha. One of Aucklands better west coast beaches, it is dominated by Lion Rock in the middle and is one of the few North Island beaches to have two surf clubs.

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Lion Rock looking fantastic

Over the years the road has improved massively but it is still very windy(curvy) in places and there is no direct route. There are several ways of getting there but the best one I think is via Henderson Valley. Check the map below.

Its a slow 30k odd from the centre of Auckland but well worth it when you get here and its a nice drive.

Lion Rock

The Holiday park is a leased site off the council as part of the Domain but privately run and is on black sand. Its a big park with plenty of room and is only 5 minutes walk to the beach via a bridge over the lagoon.

All that space

At the time of this post, it was $22 per adult with power with new showers and loos close by. There is a cafe right over the road and a General Store next door for anything you may have forgotten.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The beach is spectacular. I popped down here at dusk Β to find a dozen or so amateur photographers wandering around in a group waiting to get the sunset.

The Amateur photographers doing their dusk pix.

Its funny as I remember when I was working at The Auckland Star, we used to get called on to judge various photographic awards for these Camera Clubs. The people were always very friendly and it was interesting to see what they were up to.Β  Generally it was a PR thing from the Star’s point of view and we tried to help with ideas where we could. I remember judging at the North Shore Society awards a couple of times but can’t remember any of the others.

Finished for the day

I met one of the members and gave him a few ideas while we were wandering around Lion Rock on the black sand. It was great to see them out there having some fun.

Sunset

After that, I wandered back to Rafe through the black sand and had a drink with my neighbours. A great night.

One of my neighbours Jo doing massages !

Lovely spot, close to Auckland and reasonably priced with a great Beach.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Piha

Good value Motohome parking with Pools.

After a great lunch at a Cafe in Ngongotaha shopping centre (the one closest to the NZMCA park) we had to start thinking about where we were going to stay for the night. It was 36C and I was sweaty already. It was also time to wash the linen.

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Rafe between the Hedgerows

Rotorua Family Holiday Park came up on the NZMCA app as being reasonably priced and they also had a laundry and a pool!Β  Perfection at $34 a night with a powered site and they were just around the corner in Ngongotaha.

Kids Playground

Motorhomers Reece and Diane, have been working on this park for the last 13 years and it looks fantastic. I was really impressed with the Motorhome sites being big, between hedgerows and easy to get in and out off.

The Tourist Flats .. neat

After buying their new Motorhome about 18 months ago, their only regret was having been too busy to get away in it.. the downside of self employment but they’ve done an excellent job of doing up the park and I’m sure they’ll get time to get away eventually !

Art Deco Loos

The Tourist flats and Toilets are in an Art Deco style and have all been done up and they look great.

How are those Flats

They’ve just finished doing up the Kitchen, Laundry and BBQ area and it looks good.

The Barbeque area.. neat and tidy

Fiona stripped the bed and headed off to the Laundry while I walked around and got some piccies. After that, we both headed straight for the pool and were there most of the afternoon. It was heavenly. We did have momentary thoughts about biking in on the trail to Rotorua which is literally just outside the gate but it was just too hot!

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

We hadn’t long been in the pool when we met some German tourists who lived in southern Germany near Isny where the Dethleffs Motorhomes are made. Nice people and they were really interesting to talk to given Brexit and other things that are happening at the moment.

Nicely setup

It was nice to find a really nice clean campground, with great hosts at a really sensible price, in what is normally quite an expensive place to stay.

Rafe’s Tracker Map