Checking out the Kiwis

Kiwi North which is about 5k’s out of Whangarei on the road from Dargaville is also the home of the Whangarei Museum and many of the local clubs with an amazing collection of things that clubs have.. Stationery Engines, Medical Museum, Radio operators, Cars and Tractors, Railway enthusiasts and the list goes on.

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One of the Kiwis  – pic supplied

The big attraction though is the Kiwi house where you can get up close with them. This is the first time Fiona and I had ever seen one this close and with one of the volunteers close by telling us all about them was amazing.

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They are actively involved with a Kiwi breeding program to try and stop the decline in their numbers and their modern Kiwi House makes it so easy to see them right up close. We were inches away from them!

A Nugget in the museum found in Hukerenui

The park is also currently refurbishing the Clark Homestead along with an amazing Octagonal shaped Chapel and other outbuildings.

See images inside the house from my last visit.

Clark Homestead being done up

There is the old Kauri Train station and the old Whangarei Woman’s Gaol there too.

Whangarei Woman’s Gaol

To make it easier for NZMCA’rs who would like to check it out, they also have parking for up to 4 vans with power, toilets and showers for just $15. There is also a discount for access to the Kiwis and the Museum for NZMCA’rs too!

The parking for Motorhomes

I’ve popped in here before but this was Fiona’s first time and its a great place with plenty to see and do.

Every Kiwi should do this and with international visitors being hard to come by due to Covid, make sure you pop in next time you’re up that way 🙂

Rafe’s Tracker map to Kiwi North – Armada GPS

A day out on the water

The Americas Cup was on and the stars all lined up for eldest son Drew  and Jenna to take us out on our old boat Rorqual. It was also Fiona’s birthday so it was a big day.

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The good ship Rorqual

Other son Alex and wife Sarah, along with the grandsons Liam and Ayden were meeting us there too.

Alex and Ayden on the foredeck as we go under the bridge leaving Milford Creek.

We all boarded at Milford Marina and set off under the bridge down to the course off North Head.

Nice big boats from far off places.

After finding a hole amongst the huge spectator fleet and getting the anchor to settle we waited for the race to start.

Lots of people on boats with their flags.

There were boats everywhere and most had plenty of people on board too.

The Grandstand as far as the eye can see.

After a couple of start delays they were off. Its great being part of it but I’ve always thought from many years of covering these events from my old newspaper days, unless you’re on a boat following them down the course, you don’t tend to see very much of them as they’re usually so far away. As I say though, great to be part of it and nice to be out there soaking it all in.

Liam(with sausage), dad Alex behind and big brother Ayden.

There was one big boat behind us that were sitting out on their outside deck with the G&T’s watching it on a huge TV as well as seeing it from the boat.. the best of both worlds.

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Drew had set up his Ipad so we could get a reception on the boat and keep up with the play so that was really good too.

Spectator fleet

Lots of people were cooling off in the water off the back of their boats too. A real carnival atmosphere.

Cooling off

We had to catch the tide back at Milford and a restaurant in Milford was waiting for the birthday girl so we left early to head back but a great afternoon out soaking it all in.

Britannia leading the race

A great day out with all the family.

A Gentleman’s car made by Gentlemen

This is the description of the Packard car by the creator of his Packard Museum, Graeme Craw.

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Graeme started the Museum in one of his farm sheds in Anawhata in the 1950’s. Over the years his collection expanded to Engines, Motorbikes, Earth moving machinery and other interesting stuff.

Lots of Packards

He eventually moved the collection to Maungatepere where it is now. Now run by Graeme’s sons family, it is a not to be missed stop off on the way from Dargaville to Whangarei.

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Its an amazing collection of cars, tractors, earth moving equipment, telephones, sewing machines and more. One of the stationery engines there even dates back to the 1860’s.

Phones
Army Indians

Not far from Kiwi North, it is about 5 k’s out from Whangarei and there is fantastic motorhome and caravan parking there too.

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Packard Museum – Armada GPS

Poutu Marine Hall Campground

This is a trip I’ve been looking forward to for several years but have been put off by the roughly 25k’s of unsealed road and I needn’t have worried as its better than most metal roads around NZ and it is being sealed as we speak.

Pouto Marine Hall Campground as its called is beautifully run by husband and wife volunteers John and Janine, who live opposite and is run for the community that own the campground.

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The campground

Its is a fantastic site set up on a hill looking out across the Kaipara eastwards towards Tapora and has easy access to two great beaches.

The hall (villa) was the original Custom House built in the early 1800’s and used to clear the vessels cargo as it came into the wharf that was just down off the beach. The wharf is being rebuilt along with the sealing of the road.

Rafe by the Historic Hall

The Hall houses the Kitchen, Shower and Toilet facilities that are provided for the Campground.

Tent town

The campground is also a participant in the NZMCA Campsaver scheme as well.

The front of the old Custom House

We were lucky to get a park right up next to the Hall plugged in.. lucky as the campground was chocker mostly with families in tents and with only 8 powered sites, it didn’t take much to fill !

The view from the Campground across the Kaipara

On our second night here, we were sitting in Rafe having a glass of something when walking alongside Rafe was an old friend I hadn’t seen for years. I jumped outside and called his name, he was as shocked as I was that we were both is such a small place and that we both knew someone 🙂

The Lounge inside

It turns out that they lived in a Bach they have had there for over 20 years and built themselves (with hand tools!) and were right opposite the camp ground. Our sons used to be at school together and were great mates.

Janine and John couldn’t have been more helpful and with John running a quad bike trip out to the historic lighthouse 7 k’s away, this was one of the reasons we were here.

A neat campground with super nice people in a great spot.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Poutu – Armada GPS

Quad bikes to Poutu Lighthouse

Over the years there was a service run locally in Poutu by a chap called Jock who by all accounts was a real character and one of those really nice people who couldn’t do enough for you. Jocks operation used to run visitors along the 7 km beach to see the historic Lighthouse.

The lighthouse up the top

Sadly Jock passed away and the service stopped so the Poutu Marine Campground managers, John and Janine carried it on and it is not to be missed.

John popped over to Rafe the day before and had worked out the tides so we could get there and back with no issues along the beach the next day… wow we were fizzing..

Odd looking Dunes on the way

I was to drive one quad bike with Fiona on the back and John would lead on the other. I was given a brief driving lesson on the front lawn and we were off to the boat ramp down the road and off down the beach.

Parts of a shipwreck appearing.

The sun was shining but there was a good 20 knot westerly which we were driving into but it added to the fun. We stopped along the way to see a wreck which had just appeared out of sand dune.

Apparently every day is different when the wind is blowing where the beach completely changes and sand dunes appear and disappear. Its amazing.. This has the effect where all the historic wrecks along this coast do the same and when they’re uncovered, they’ll disappear just as quickly !

We moved on to see some really unusual sand dunes that had popped up and a ti tree grove that had been completely covered by sand. A bit further we veered off through the dunes to see a freedom camping spot with about 4 carloads of people enjoying a private little spot in the dunes. After a friendly wave, we carried on.

John about to head up to the Lighthouse

Up came some BIG sand dunes and it was time for another driving lesson to get familiar with the loose sand. These were massive and its huge amounts of fun.. Fiona stayed on the back so I think I passed the test 🙂

On a bit further and it was time to climb up the 80 odd metres to the famous Lighthouse. John was saying that DOC have just replaced the door broken by vandals and given it some paint but it needs much more. The lighthouse was built in the 1840’s as by then there had been nearly 100 shipwrecks with boats trying to cross the bar and sinking in the channel.

Fiona nd John with Lighthouse behind

At the top there is more evidence of attempts to plant some trees covered by sand. The sand up around the back of the lighthouse is all quite new.

The Quad with sand covered trees.

After a trip further around to another vantage point for a piccy, we set off back to the Poutu Camp.

A person we saw clamber up the sand dune to take a pic.

The whole trip took about 3 hours and was just fantastic.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

A day or so later in the afternoon, John popped over and offered to show us up the inner harbour which has a completely different look to it. That was great too and its amazing how much of the beach and cliffs have eroded up there. There was a pipe of a bore right at the water line where a village once stood but had to be abandoned.

Fiona nd John on the inside of the Harbour looking back to Poutu

Another great trip and well worth doing.

As far as we could go.. close to Kelly’s Bay

The Lookout Bench at Dargaville

There is something really special about the Dargaville NZMCA park and apart from it being an easy walk into downtown Dargaville, it has these neat old historic buildings on it as well.

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The Dargaville Park

We popped in on our way to Poutu after being delayed by Auckland holiday traffic.

There were only about 5 other motorhomes or caravans there and few came and went for water so there was no danger of overcrowding 🙂

After arriving later in the day, we went for a walk into town for some fish and chips and a look around.

View to the town

The next day, we were up early to check out the bench seat out on the point of the park which overlooks the harbour. Its a lovely spot which you wouldn’t know was there and a very pleasant spot to spend half an hour so while drinking your coffee which is exactly what we did.

As we returned to Rafe, we had to walk past a couple of other motorhomes and one of them was Rob who I knew from our time years ago when we had our old boat Rorqual at Bayswater Marina. Rob used to run a charter boat company from there and Fiona has since met his wife Helen.

A lovely couple who came and joined us in Rafe with a coffee for an hour or so chatting about all sorts.. It has been a while since I’ve seen Rob so it was nice to see them both.

Looking back into the park

It has been a while since I was last at this park but it never disappoints and with it being so close to town as well is a real bonus.

Cracks in the Shower

Now that we’re back in a house and no longer living fulltime in our Motorhome, we’re in a position where we can get on with some of the bigger maintenance issues we should have done earlier.

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Shower base showing cracks. Pressure on drain outlets.

One of these was over the course of the last few years, we’ve  been getting some cracks in the plastic base of the shower. I’ve been covering them in epoxy progressively to make sure water was not getting through underneath.

Shower base with cracks

Apparently this is not uncommon in both Caravan and Motorhomes and is caused by stress in the plastic due to lack of support from underneath the tray.

Friends of ours have an almost identical Motorhome to ours  have had exactly the same issue so its a common problem.

Wall linings coming out.

Having just had our Truma heater dealt with by Peter and his team at RV repairs and with Peter’s background in boatbuilding, I thought he’d be the perfect man for the job.

Initially Peter was talking about adding some glass matting to the under side of the shower tray to add some strength to the tray but once he opened it all up, that idea went out the window in favour of rebuilding the base to make it better able to deal with the load.

Shower tray removed.. easy to see why it cracked.

Fortunately, there was no sign of any water or moisture at all underneath so I was really pleased about that… my epoxy repairs paid off.

The base was basically a pedestal made of ply supporting the inner two thirds of the tray and not very well.

Peter changed the top to make a thicker plastic top which went right to the edge of the hole, drilled new holes for the waste (in the right places!) and then glued it all together.

With the base out ready, sides cut down waiting for new plastic thicker top

It wasn’t a simple job as all the lining had to be removed to get the old shower tray out and to complicate matters, our bedroom TV was bolted through one of the shower linings up high so that had to come off too.

New base supported properly
All done and solid as a rock

And .. murphy’s law, after 4 days of sitting in Peters workshop, he couldn’t get it to start! The start battery had finally popped its clogs after 6 years of faithful service so Peter jump started Rafe for me to go and get a  battery … do not pass GO, don’t stop for the $200.. straight to the battery shop 🙂

The new Monstrous Battery

We went away last weekend in Rafe and the shower feels completely different.. much firmer and absolutely zero movement. Peter has done a fantastic job.. and thanks for the jumpstart 🙂