All posts by Chris Miller - Buggeritweareoff.com

Founder and Creator of Buggeritweareoff.com. Ex Newspaper Photographer and Commercial Photographer for more than 40 years.

Bliss in Paradise

Just in time for the Silly Season .. Here’s the first of some preloved posts of  nice places to go this summer! .. Enjoy

With no jobs in the book and with the sun shining, it was time to hit the road.  I had just paid for a years Auckland City Parks pass so I thought I’d try Tauwharanui at the end of the Takatu peninsula, north of Kawau Island. 

Check these in Hi Res by clicking on them!!

Stunning!
Stunning!

We stayed here more than a year or so go with friends, Gary, Chris and Rob, Helen and Chloe. We only had the one night here so exploring the area wasn’t really on the agenda that particular trip but it’s just a magic place.

At Dusk .. Little Barrier
At Dusk .. Little Barrier

When I first arrived, I think there was only 1 other person here and I bumped into him on the beach. He’d parked down in the tents only area but I assumed he knew 😀

TauwharanuiThe next day, I set out with the camera to have a nosy around. The beach is beautiful with Little Barrier just off it and Great Barrier further out. Compared to Auckland, you could almost reach out and touch them.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The water is stunning with a clean deep blue merging into Turquoise, just like the tropics with beautiful white sand. As you walk further, the beach merges with two more, all part of Anchor Bay.. Just beautiful. I spent a couple of hours just sitting on a rock under a tree just admiring the colours.. sensational.

Beach from Heaven
Beach from Heaven

After getting some nice piccies, I wandered back to the track to find that I’d forgotten which of the many tracks took me back to Rafe. I ended up walking about 3ks just to find my way back 😎 I can hear Fiona saying something like good exercise !

The long road back after the "wrong turn"
The long road back after the “wrong turn”

At nearly 600 hectares of Regional park, it’s a huge place and there are plenty of interesting walks to go on. There are  information boards to guide the way with brochures available. No Dogs as its a pest proof and kiwi zone.

Just behind the sand dunes
Just behind the sand dunes

A fabulous place and not too far from the big smoke at Auckland. 

TauwharanuiI  can see myself spending lots of time here. 😎

And a screen grab from Rafe’s new tracker system to show its location.

And how we got here, from Rafe's Tracker system
And how we got here, from Rafe’s Tracker system

The Netspeed speed test here..given how isolated it is, this a great result.

Test Date: 3/11/2016 11:49 AM
Download: 15.38 Mbps
Upload: 2.76 Mbps
Ping: 46 ms

You know you’re on the West Coast When..

You’ve got black sand between your toes and at the Kopua Raglan Motorcamp right on the beach, there is plenty of that.

Click on an image for hi Res

The Black Sand

We’ve stayed here a few times now and one of the things that I really noticed this time is the recently done up showers and toilets. The pressure in the showers is so good, you almost don’t need soap.. let the water do its thing.. amazing.

Chess anyone?

When you check in, you get a swipe card which you use for both the automatic gates and the facilities. A good system and it worked well. There is a $10 bond which you get back as you leave after returning the card.

Lots of stripes

The camp is on a peninsula of sand basically so it there were no worries with the awful forecast of heavy rain. We knew we’d be fine on the well drained sand. It is almost completely surrounded by water but there is a well lit footbridge connecting it to the town with an easy walk in to the cafes and shops.

The Bridge to Raglan

There are more than 200 powered sites with quite a few permanent caravans and they also have Cabins that can be rented too.

The Fish and Chip shop on the edge of the camp and apparently they’re pretty good.

I heard someone comment that they thought it was a bit expensive but at $86 for two nights for two nights with power and all the new facilities with the NZMCA discount, I thought that was very reasonable.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

We spent a couple of really nice nights there. Yes it rained and it blew but nothing like the forecast said. Over the two days there with friends, Dianne and Gary from Taupo and Jonas and Irene from Auckland, we had several walks into town for a look around the shops and an great meal at one of their restaurants.

The Beach

Very easy accomodation, friendly people, great facilities and a really interesting town.

Rafe, The Niesmann and Jonas’s Trend

Before you ask, No Dogs but there is some free Wifi!

The Netspeed Speedtest
Download: 31.34mbs
Upload: 26.30mbs
Ping: 56ms

Rafe’s Tracker to the Camp

A Special little town called Raglan

After a few weeks of being housebound and itching to get away, our friend Dianne in Taupo arranged a get together in Raglan.

Click on an image for Hi Res

Jonas trying out a surfboard on a Mural

Raglan was deemed to be reasonably easy for everyone and a pleasant place to be. There were going to be three Motorhomes, Us in Rafe, Gary and Dianne in their Niesmann and Bichoff and Jonas and Irene with a Dethleffs Trend McRent Motorhome from their fleet.

One of the amazing shops

The weather forecast was a shocker with high winds and heavy rain forecast but when has that ever stopped us before 🙂 The Classic Yacht Association had already cancelled their annual Christmas hooley just based on the forecast a few days before !

At the campground

After staying a night with Alex and Sarah and the grandies, we set off early to the dump station at Papakura and then Raglan stopping briefly at the Countdown supermarket in Huntly for a few forgotten items.

We arrived at Raglan Kopua Holiday Park around lunch time and after parking Rafe, plugging in and opening some vents, we had a quick lunch and then set off to Raglan township across the bridge for a look around.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

At this stage we pretty much had a blue sky but the wind was blowing and it was threatening.

Raglan really is a seriously nice town full of very friendly people. The choice for cafe’s is fantastic and there seems to be a real Hippy/Surfy culture which you can see everywhere.

After an hour or so, we headed back over the foot bridge connecting the Motorcamp to the town and arrived back just in time to see Gary and Dianne arrive from Taupo.

The famous Hotel

The next morning we were joined by Jonas and Irene and had a another trip into the village for another look around and after an afternoon of chatting, cups of coffee, a few glasses of wine and lots of laughs, we headed back in for a meal in one of the towns fine restaurants.

Last time we were here a few years ago, we walked right around the foreshore to the wharf where there is an amazing fish and chip shop and some more great shopping.

One of the unusual shops

A fantastic town with an amazing atmosphere and I’m looking forward to going back sometime soon.

The Netspeed Speedtest
Download: 31.34mbs
Upload: 26.30mbs
Ping: 56ms

Rafe’s Tracker map to Raglan

Simpsons Beach

A few k’s north of Whitianga is the famous Simpsons Beach.

Click on the Images for Hi Res

It is one of my all time favorite spots to stay being right on the beach and with pretty much all weather parking on grass and its huge.

It has been a while since we’ve been here so I never miss an opportunity. It is $10 per van per night.

A stunning part of the world

There is a cassette only dump station which is connected to a Septic tank which I’ve never used but plenty do and there is potable water too. I waited until I went back through Whitianga and used that Dump Station.

How good is this!

I rocked up to the “Office” door and Margaret popped her head around the door with the usual smiley face she has. A really nice lady and its amazing that she pretty much runs this now on her own now.

well drained sandy grass

All the proceeds from Camping are sent to the Charity of the moment. Last time we were here it was St Johns in Whitianga.

I met Dave and Helen who were in their Caravan from Whangamata who were with their friends who were next to us. Dave is a Self Containment officer so it was really interesting talking to him about Motorhome and Caravan things.

There was also a really nice guy from Nelson staying there called Bim who is travelling around the North Island with his friend in his Motorhome with a boat. With the wind blowing Dogs off Chains that day, neither Dave or Bim were keen to battle the elements out in the bay in their boats.

Whitianga around the headland in the distance

I went for a couple of walks along the beach and got some updated images.. Its a sensational place to stay and its a place you never get sick of.

See Rafe’s tracker map below for the location.

The Netspeed Speedtest
Download: 32.60 mbs
Upload: 14.33 mbs
Ping: 41ms

Rafe’s Tracker map

Whitianga NZMCA Park

This is a relatively new park and as I was in the area, I thought it would be rude not to pop in and have a nosey.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

Tons of room

Its right on the main turnoff for Whitianga and just along from Countdown and opposite the Waterways so its in a great spot.

Enjoying the Sun

I was heading further North so didn’t stay the night but there was plenty of room with about 10 Motorhomes and Caravans there. It comes complete with Potable water at the entranceway and I’m sure I saw a rubbish bin there too.

And just next door
Whitianga Waterways

A nice spot… another great park.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Back to Nature at RiverGlen

With a river flowing around it and easy to walk through bush, this really is a lovely spot to stay.

Click on an image for Hi Res

The River

I dropped in out of the blue and with my NZMCA card was charged $10 with power which I thought was amazing. This included some Wifi, access to Toilets, Showers and a well set up Kitchen.

Plenty of space

After settling down with Rafe, opening some vents and plugging in, I set off to have a look around.

Nice Bush

I was blown away by the beauty of the bush and the river. There are quite few permanent Caravans attached to buildings set up as Baches but not many of them were occupied.

Perfect spot

Although I could get some wifi via my Netspeed connection, it was a bit ropey and the cell phone service was erratic too. Even text messages were tough going but it is all about enjoying talking to each other and enjoying the scenery.

Great river

Only 3k’s from the Coroglen pub on a nicely formed gravel road, it is easy to get to.

Click on the Gallery to see a Slideshow

I spent a very pleasant couple of hours chatting to a couple of 20 something year old Danish Soldiers who had recently been in Afghanistan which was really interesting as my youngest son was there in NZ’s first rotation when he was 17 about 2001.  They’re both travelling around NZ together in a small van.

A really nice spot, nice hosts and really good value.

Rafe’s Tracker map

The Lost Spring in Whitianga

This is as good as it gets without going to a tropical island and includes all the nice things that go with it.

Fiona and I first came here about 8 years or so ago when there was an accommodation deal with an apartment block next door where we could walk through a hole in the fence. It was just magic and we have often talked about when we could go again.

The swing bridge

There is something seriously nice about sitting in the pool having cocktails and beautiful sea food chowder while you’re enjoying the heat from the thermal waters.

In December this year, they’re celebrating their 10th Anniversary so we might have to pop back in then too 🙂

Click on any Image for Hi Res

Just over 10 years or so ago, longtime Whitianga entrepreneur Alan found out he had some thermal water under his property but it was just a case of finding it.  After sinking 4 bores down at huge expense, he struck gold and the Lost Spring was found. Over the course of a few years, he then set out to create what we see now as the Lost Spring Hot Pools and Restaurant.

A Cave that you can swim into

The detail in the Caves and Volcanos with waterfalls and the Gardens are amazing and its something else to swim in and out of them.

You’ve probably gathered by now that I’m a real sucker for some nice Hot Pools but these really do take the cake!

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Alan now runs it with his daughter Allana and it just gets better and better with the addition of a Day Spa and some elevated Massage Therapy  rooms overlooking the pools.

Allana and Alan

They also have some overnight parking for customers Motorhomes so if you spend the day there, you can blob out straight into your Motorhome afterwards.

One of the neat things here is the old Whitianga Schoolhouse was moved and restored and is now the Restaurant, Reception  and changing room area.

Enjoying the Heat

The whole experience is a real treat and trust me, you will feel very spoiled!

One of the New Elevated Massage therapy rooms.

If you’re in the area, this is an experience you won’t forget and remember you can park your Motorhome there if you’ve had a swim.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Painted Handles

On our way back from the South Island last year, we stopped over in Taupo  for a few days to catch up with friends Gary and Dianne. Staying with them as well were other friends Ian and Lynda in their Dethleffs XLI.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

Rafe in Taupo next to Ian and Linda’s XLI

One of the common issues that we had with Ian and Lynda and our Dethleffs Motorhomes was the state of the plastic outside door handles for the Garage, the Gas Locker and vents for the heater and oven.

Rafe on the ferry showing all the faded hatch handles.

They were originally white but had faded with the UV light and gone a dirty yellow/creamy colour which didn’t look too flash. I’m sure this applies to many other Motorhomes and Caravans with NZ’s harsh UV light too so this might be something many of you can do to your own Motorhomes to solve this problem…. read on!!

Ian found a way to take off and strip down the door catches and with special plastic paint with primer, painted them white which looked amazing. Ian even made a spray booth out of a cardboard box so the overspray didn’t end up all over Gary’s Garage 🙂

Rafe’s handles were looking really scruffy so after talking to both Ian and Gary, I took the handles and the vent covers off. After stripping down the handles and masking the key locks, I cleaned all the bits with Sugar Soap and the sprayed them with Plastic Primer.

Click on the Gallery below to see the process in a Slideshow

The Primer only takes 30 minutes before you can top coat it so it was time to make a cardboard box spraybooth 🙂

The Oven vent and the Truma heater vent covers on

Rafe’s habitation door handles and front Fiat door handles are all black so Satin Black was the colour.

Two hours and several coats later, I reassembled the locks and stuck everything back on Rafe and it looks fantastic.

Looking the part

All thanks to Ian for his great idea and some tips from Gary too!

A Reunion of sorts

Friends Gary and Dianne have just spent 3 months Motorhoming around France and a Mediterranean Cruise so it was good to be able to catch up with them and hear all their news. We last saw them  well over 6 months or so. We arranged to meet “half way” between Taupo and Auckland and that was Waihi Beach 🙂

Click on an image for Hi Res

Rafe at Waihi beach NZMCA after we arrived.

Several weekends ago, the grandsons Ayden and Liam came to stay the night with us. Liam left his comfy Bunbun (soft toy rabbit) behind so we needed to stop in at their place in Ardmore on the way and drop them off. We haven’t seen son and daughter in law Alex and Sarah much lately so it was nice to see them for the night.

We set off for Waihi Beach NZMCA park early the next morning and stopped at Ngatea for a Latte, as you do and while sitting in the sun, I received a call from Tracey to say she would highly likely have an offer for our house by the following morning… WOW .. after the best part of a year in trying to sell it.

So with that start to the day, we were off fizzing through the Karangahake Gorge and into Waihi Beach.

Must be Dethleffs corner!

I expected the NZMCA park to pretty full but there was only a hand full of caravans and Motorhomes scattered around the outside when we arrived. The weather was stunning so we sat outside and had cups of tea until Gary and Dianne arrived in the Neismann & Bischoff.

Cups of Coffee with the sun beating down

More phone calls arrived and with confirmation that an offer was coming and what it was, we knew we had something to celebrate 🙂 .. and celebrate we did. Fiona even had two bottles of cider !!
It was really nice to hear some of the highlights of Gary and Diannes trip and some of the places they stayed at in France and good to catch up too.

Dusk at the Waihi Beach NZMCA park

In the morning, we spent most of the morning with phone calls and sending and receiving documents and by late afternoon, it was in the bag! A great day..SOLD .. cash unconditional too!

Gary, Fiona and Dianne about to head back to our bikes from the shops.

The next day.. more fine weather and we set off on the bikes into Waihi Beach shops to get some groceries from the 4 square which is about 1 k away. An easy flat ride.

Another nice day in the sun. Later that day Robin and Linda who recently sold their house in Waihi and bought a Morelo that they’re now living in, popped in to say hi and later joined us for a drink. Really nice to see them too.

L to R, Gary, Fiona, Dianne, Linda and Robin with the N&B, Morelo and Rafe behind.

After they went, Gary and I walked down the road to the local Fish and Chip shop to hunt and forage for tea and the girls were very happy with the result.. complete with Oysters and Scallops 🙂

The NZMCA park is a great addition to the park network and is very hand to the beach, shops and there is a Cafe right next door too, and don’t forget the Fish and Chips!

A neat weekend and great to see everyone.

The Netspeed Speedtest
Download: 23.64mbs
Upload: 11.33mbs
Ping: 59ms

Rafe’s Tracker map

Dethleffs Owners Group Get together 2018

Every year this is an event I look forward to and we missed it last year as we were in the South Island.  This year it was held at Zion Motorhomes new premises at Pokeno rather than the usual Rally somewhere.

The rain on the way.

As the Rally this year was at The A&P Showgrounds at Pukekohe next to the Racetrack, Fiona and I decided we’d go straight to Pokeno and camp outside for the night. This worked really well as we found a driveway next to the Rental fleet yard and later we were joined by three or four others. Those at the showgrounds were bussed out to Pokeno and back.

Since we bought Rafe, Jonas and Irene have added several new brands of Motorhomes to their stable.  This year we were  also joined by Morelo, Frankia and Niessman and Bichoff owners too.

Other overnighters outside who later moved down near where we were in Rafe in the distance. It was windy and rainy too!

In previous years, they’ve been held at Camping grounds and one year was at the Car Museum in Hamilton where Gary and I did the parking!

The layout

The event was well organised  by the Zion crew with a couple of ladies singing and the food was fantastic.

Irene during the quiz and prizes

Over the course of the night, there were some spot prizes given out. Some were drawn out of the pot and others were for answers to some easy questions.. like who’s the youngest and who had the highest NZMCA number !

Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow

It was nice to see some of our old friends that we haven’t seen for a while and amazing to think that our Rafe is one of the oldest Dethleffs Motorhomes on NZ roads as Jonas only started bringing them in not long before we bought ours 🙂

A great night thanks to Jonas and team and I’m looking forward to next years.