Blobbing out in the Hot Pools

Our first visit to Athenree Holiday park was in the middle of winter in 2016 when we were presented with the 20000th peppermints! .. being the 20000th visitor to their Holiday Park.

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Rafe looking out over the Estuary

Arriving early in the afternoon after babysitting our Grandkids at Ardmore, we were looking forward to blobbing out for a couple of nights with the pools and generally doing very little.

Kids enjoying the pool

I met Peter at the office who couldn’t have been more welcoming and he very efficiently showed me where everything was and after parking Rafe and getting settled down, we very quickly went for our first swim.

And the hottest pool

Peter and Belinda who have owned this for the last 5 months have also joined up with the NZMCA’s Campsaver Winter program so that makes it really affordable as well. The app shows them having 77 powered sites along with several Motels and Cabins. A well setup park.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

We were last here with our friends Rob and Helen a few years ago, when they first picked up their brand new Autotrail after its arrival from Britain via Tauranga.  A great place to meet on their “maiden voyage” home 🙂

Athenree is a fantastic spot right on the estuary and with the hot pools on site, it makes it very easy to find excuses for doing absolutely nothing 🙂 .. that was us this weekend! .. And it’s not that far from Auckland in the scheme of things.

Neat Murals

One of the things I really liked was the murals around the pools which are absolutely amazing. There is also a fantastic painting which is a really accurate take of the pool area.

The pool with the Murals

I posted a pic of us parked on the grass on Facebook which was spotted by our friends Ian and Lee who have a Bach in Waihi Beach so we got a call to pop round to see them for a cup of tea which was nice. Great to see them as we haven’t seen them for a few months.

Sunset

A lovely Motorcamp run by some neat people and being a sucker for some nice hot pools, I’ll be back for lots more of this.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Athenree – Armada GPS

One of the smaller Classic Caravans!

At the Liteweight 75th anniversary, and right next door to us was Karine and Ross in their 1956 Starliner Starlette Caravan.

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Karine and Ross with their Starlette

Its tiny but over the last few years, from the wheels up, they have completely stripped and restored this little beauty.  Ross has gone out of his way to keep it light and tow friendly .. it is less than 475 kgs!

It is a real Tardis but it is surprising how much room is there when the space is used efficiently.

It is what you’re used to as we found with our first Caravan, Wee Rafe.. not much bigger at 650kgs!

It is completely self contained and is surprising how much room it has in it.

Amazing amount of room
Lovely curves on the beds

They tow it with a 1964 Volvo 544 which would be a really rare car.  I haven’t seen any of them anyway.

Ross has completely rebuilt this too including replacing the motor with a Ford Sierra motor and gearbox. It has Ford Mondeo wheels, Smits Gauges on the dash (Triumph Dolomite) Hyundai seats and discs all around. It was a real eyecatcher!

The Volvo

With its awning out they looked quite at home entertaining their friends during the day.

The Piano Man

While staying recently at a Motorhome parking spot in Muriwai we met John who has a massive shed on his 150 acre farm up on the hills. We were parked on his farm.

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John with a 1870 organ made in Chicago

While we were getting set up, he invited me in for a look in his shed. John emigrated from the UK with his wife Jane, many years ago with degrees in both engineering and agriculture. In his words then, “They wanted people like me”! and looking at the stuff in his shed, he’s a really clever guy.

John showing me a Pianola that he had revived.

John and Jane started an Orchard in Kumeu and grew the business to three orchards over several years. He was once of the first, if not the first to export Figs and Feijoas amongst other things too.

John playing an 1896 Clark organ made in Chicago.

Now in “retirement mode” he just sticks to his specialty of fixing Organs and Piano’s! I thought to myself, that’s a long way from being an orchardist but he is an engineer too!

Another Piano key masterpiece.

Amongst many organs in his shed is an old rotary hoe with tubeless tyres with a new petrol motor on which he has rebuilt for a friend.

Looking around the organs, John showed me the latest late 1800’s one he was working on which was a real mess when it arrived but he is slowly restoring it.

Johns bits draw with very fancy organ valve handles 🙂

He’s also a keen woodturner making serving platters and bowls from native timbers and he’s made some really interesting decorations/sculptures out of old Piano keys!

A really interesting and clever guy and you can stay on his farm for just $10.

Parking at Dusk
Muriwai much later in the day.

Cleaning those MPK vents

As time marches on, things in a motorhome and caravan need to be cleaned and one of the trickier things to clean is the little MPK roof vents normally found in most showers and bathrooms in your motorhome.

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Yuk… grubby vent

While you’re taking these out to clean, its a good idea while they are out to replace and broken catches that have lost their tabs like two of mine had.

I had the good fortune to have a friend Bruce who had replaced his so he knew exactly where to get some replacements. Moutere Caravans have packets of 4 for $30 plus a courier so well worth getting before you start.

The torx screws on the arms

I also went to Bunnings to invest in a Torx screwdriver kit which is like an Alun key set which was very useful to get in the tight spots on the vent.

Getting underway….. After starting on the inside by undoing the 4 Torx screws holding the arms to the motorhome and then gently lifting the vent off the roof, I moved the whole assembly to the kitchen table.

Dirty vent on its back ready for dismantling.

Out came a bucket of Sunlight dishwashing liquid in a bucket and a soft cloth.

With the vent on its back facing up on the table, I could easily get the Torx screwdriver down through the handle at each end to remove the screws holding the handle onto the perspex. It also holds the plastic inner to the perspex outer cover so expect it to all come apart at that point.

The Torx screwdriver to get at the handle screws

It makes it really easy though at this point to gently prise out the catches for replacement and give the whole thing a good clean. I got some replacement springs too so replaced those as well.

I replaced all the catches as the ones that weren’t broken were so brittle with the sun that the tabs broke anyway as soon as I tried to remove them.

Tab missing and catch!
One with a tab still!

Be careful with the perspex outer cover as it can scratch really easily.

The new catch ready to go
Sliding in a new catch

As you re assemble it, be careful not to over tighten the screws as you will strip them in the plastic.

All clean ready to reassemble.

The whole process took me about 2 hours from start to finish and it makes a really big difference and the look when its all back together… there’s also something nice about doing it yourself too!

All done and clean.

After 7 years of neglect on our roof, my whole vent was a different colour and as a result, lets in a lot more light.

Nice and clean and back together.
Its a beautiful thing !

Peter and Margie’s Award Caravan

Before I’d even turned off the motor, Peter emerged from his caravan as my neighbour to show me where I should park to avoid the soft spots. We were due to get some fairly heavy rain overnight in Coromandel so it was very helpful advice.

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After realigning Rafe to take advantage of some fairly serious layers of gravel under the grass, I switched off and went over to say hello.

Peter and Margie

After chatting to them for a while, Peter’s wife Margie said that their son was in the very first rotation when the NZ Army went into Afghanistan years ago. My son Alex was there about the same time and was in infantry but they didn’t know each other.

The Award Caravan

Back to the caravan ! ..Their Caravan was freshly imported from the UK about a year ago.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

Peter and Margie live in Tuakau and had their daughter and her family here too.

Fully self contained with everything you need, there is plenty of room for all. With a centre island bed and completely self contained it is a very comfortable caravan.

Lounge area

I ended up spending two nights here with them and with another Tuakau friend in a pop up trailer caravan. Lots of fun with some nice people.

The Caravan

Muriwai Sunset

It was the first long weekend after lockdowns and already the traffic was awful but we wanted a night out of the house… where to go without driving endlessly through traffic.

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Muriwai much later in the day.

Muriwai looked great and we picked a spot I’ve been looking forward to going to for months. John and Jane’s Charges Apply (CAP) parking spot high up in the hills overlooking Muriwai Beach.

We made the mistake of letting the GPS lead the way which was down an unsealed back road up to the road despite the GPS having “no unsealed roads please” loaded. We should have headed straight to Muriwai Beach and then headed up the hill.. still a little bit of unsealed road but only a 1k or so.

Our spot with Muriwai Beach behind

John met us at the electric gates and directed us up to a parking spot where we could get power too for an extra few dollars. Absolutely magic spot looking straight out towards Australia and north over the magnificent Muriwai Beach.

John’s cows with the best view in town.

We were both pretty knackered so just lazed around with some good Jazz on the stereo and I went for a wander around the paddocks to get some piccies.

Parking at Dusk

A lovely spot so close to town and fantastic hosts.

The Gannet Colony

On the way out the next morning, we stopped off for a quick look at the farmhouse Gannet Colony up on the rock on the southern end of the beach.

Rafe’s Tracker map ..The long route we took to John and Janes. – Armada GPS

Vintage Ford Mainline with Bucket of Vino

One of the amazing finds at the Whangamata Beach Hop this year was literally parked right next to us. It was the vintage combination of a 1957 Ford Mainline Ute towing a Canadian Adventurer 5th Wheeler and it was a perfect match in scale and style.

The Ford Mainline

Coming from a Retro Caravan background, Ray and Cathie were keen to make it easier to get the self containment issue solved a so decided to start with the Ford Mainline and match it with a 5th wheeler..

Ray and Cathie with their “Bucket of Vino and their Ford Mainline

After selling their Caravan, they bought the Ford Mainline and at their home in Tauranga, fixed up some rust and upgraded the motor to a 347 Stroker Ford motor and a few other changes and with a really nice paint job, it looks spectacular.

The 5th Wheeler
With its new back

Then came the 5th wheeler which they found in Whangarei and over a 4 year period they’ve nearly completed the project. Ray described it to me as a “leaky building” and they recently just put a whole new back on it. I couldn’t get over how well matched they were in scale and style when they first arrived.

The Galley living space
Dining, look at that ceiling.
The Bedroom

It looks fabulous and its name Bucket of Vino suggests they’re going to celebrate their efforts with the project’s completion. 🙂

Looking back to the door.

Big Motors, Big Sounds, Retro Caravans, Motorhomes at the Beach Hop!

One of those BIG events of the year which I reckon we should all do at least once. The 2020 Beach Hop was postponed from earlier in the year but it was just as popular as it always is.  Its a fun event and the fine people at Whangamata did well accommodating everyone as the place was literally jumping with people 🙂

One of our neighbours towed his Rolls Royce behind his Motorhome
Complete with a machine gun!

There were 1700 registered (for the show) vehicles plus they think about that again of unregistered owners of vehicles who turned up just to enjoy the fun.

Rafe in line

I parked on the Whangamata School footy field along with nearly 300 other Motorhomers and a whole lot of Retro Caravans. At $75 for three nights each van, it makes a great donation to the school of about $14k which replaces a lot of cake stalls 🙂

The Retro Caravans – Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

I managed to get to see some old friends who I haven’t seen for a long time. They’re both ex newspaper Photographers who have retired here now and love it.

Another neighbour with his Ford
Heading out

I met John who used to work at the Christchurch Press and Star, and his wife Cheryl at their favorite coffee shop in the centre of town. Very hard to hear anything with the big V8’s running past but it was really nice to see them. I also caught up with Paul who I used to work at the Herald with. We met at the Whangamata Club which is a neat place and just down the road from the school.. Paul is a Caravanner now so great to see him too.

Just Cruising – Click on the Gallery below to enlarge

Without a doubt the Grand Parade was one of the big events of the weekend and it went forever width the sheer numbers of cars. Quite a few woman made the most of the occasion and were dressed up in their bebop skirts and looked amazing.

Grand Parade and later – Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

Amongst the cars popped out a Morris 1000 with a half done paint job which got a few smiles. Most of us some where in our histories have had one of those or knew someone with one.

The Morris 1000

After enjoying a good lunch in a town café with an elevated deck for a view of the street, I wandered back and listened to one of the many bands playing.

There was one called Boom Boom Deluxe appropriately singing Rockabilly music and doing it really well. The female lead singer / double bass player, Hettie La Bomb, could really belt out the sound and looked the part too.

Hettie La Bomb on her Bass
Hettie La Bomb

One of the things I enjoyed this time was watching people reactions to the cars and the event.

Specialist French vintage Models, Dollykitten and Marion

A lot of fun and after several years of trying to get here but other things getting it the way, I’m pleased I came. Neat place, I met some nice people and lots of action.

The big picture – Rafe’s Tracker map to Whangamata – Armada GPS
Rafe’s Tracker map to the school – Armada GPS