All posts by Chris Miller - Buggeritweareoff.com

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

Idyllic Sandspit

This is one of those places that you’ll keep coming back to. It is just magic and there’s a ferry to Kawau too.

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Just Bliss

I arrived early in the afternoon and got myself setup in a corner spot but then realised that under some huge trees, there would be no TV signal.

First thing on the waterfront
Looking over towards the ferry wharf

It’s a fairly casual arrangement, “Park wherever you like except the waterfront spots which are booked for a whole bunch of Ozzies in their Britz vans”. I was only 10 steps away anyway so that was fine:-)

The Ozzies on the water

It was warm, there were people out kayaking in the camps free Kayaks and people out swimming.

The Ozzies catching up
Kayaking fun

I went for a walk across to the Sandpit Yacht club later for tea and sat out on the deck with a nice glass of chardonnay. Very civilised I thought but such a nice spot and the food was fantastic too.

At the Yacht club

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Later it was time to head back for a shower in the fantastic newish ablutions block.

Some of the history

There used to be a whole bunch of pretend historic shops around the office area which all seem to have gone which is a shame.. one of the features of this camp but still a great spot to stay all the same.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Sandspit – Armada GPS

Shelly Beach

This has been on my list of places to see for quite a few years, and I finally get to go there. The weather forecast was evil but as it turned out it didn’t really eventuate to the level promised 🙂

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The cafe

I arrived just in time for lunch at the Cafe to check in for a park for the night.

The ablutions and cafe behind

I was served by a very friendly chap who gave me the run down on where everything was and then made my lunch and a coffee so I was off to a great start. The parking was $12 per peron which included power, showers and toilets. There is also a dump station there too!

The parking area

The parking is basically one behind the other on what looked like it was once a wide driveway, so you need some wheel ramps to combat a slight camber.

Parking

The facilities are fantastic and look reasonably newish but well maintained.

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I met my very friendly neighbours on both sides and after that went for a walk down to the wharf where several people were enjoying their fishing. I’m not sure what the birds were but there were lots of them.

Lovely spot.

Later, I was showing my neighbour from Orewa one of the year books I used to produce for the Classic Yacht Association, and he recognised himself in one of the photos!

Its been in the wars 🙂

A lovely spot to stay in a nice part of the world.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Shelley Beach – Armada – GPS

The Famous Puhoi Pub

One of the iconic Hotels around and just out of Auckland is this wonderful old historic pub. It also has a huge carpark where you can stay overnight in your Motorhome or Caravan.

The Parking area

While I was in this neck of the woods, I thought I’d pop in and check it out.

How the first settlers arrived.

Puhoi started out having three Hotels after emigrants from Europe all wanted to be in on the business. Eventually one bought the others out and the current Puhoi Hotel which was built in 1879 became the communities premier place to socialise.

It has been owned by the same family since 1962.

At the bar

I love old buildings and this one has the charm and grace to go with it. The bar is decked out with every Knick knack you can imagine. It just reeks of character.

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You can stay the night in the hotel too if you have friends without their own accommodation. The parking for Motorhomes is just across the road.

I went for a brief walk around the village, and it is like time stood still. The old buildings look like they would have been 100 odd years ago.

A neat little village and nice to place to stop.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Puhoi – Armada – GPS

New Parking at Red Beach

It has been a wee while since we’ve been here at what used to be called Pinewoods. We used to come here quite often as it was close and a nice break away without driving too far. With the cost of diesel being what it is, I thought it was time for a visit!

The weather wasn’t perfect as a whole week of unsettled weather was due a few days away, but it was stinking hot.

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The new parking area looking out towards the beach.

I checked in at the office and found that the old parking area with the very clean and tidy but basically in a bachy style building was not the first-choice area. They’ve now got a new very swish new parking area in an area that used to be a paddock you walked through to get to the beach.

It is set out with a big wide concrete driveway in a half circle arrangement with concrete parking bays running off that. A neat setup as it doesn’t matter where you’re parked, there is an easy angle to back in.

This also comes with a swish new facilities block, a kitchen, along with several showers and toilets.

The entrance

The kids a play area has been souped up too with the addition of a flying fox and other gear too.

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I always remembered this place for its big concrete table tennis table. Easily one of the best around.

The amazing table tennis table.

Once I had Rafe settled, I walked over the park for a look around. The bachs all dotted over the hill and as I understand it are still all managed by a collective board. At the top there is also the famous Jacobs Ladder which is a set of steps going down the cliff although there is a sign saying you shouldn’t go down due to the erosion on the cliff.

The original camping area.

Funny who you meet in strange places.  After I took the photo of the new area and posted it on my own Facebook page, a friend Adele was saying what a nice motorhome her friend Gordon had in the foreground, so I went over to meet him.  Having been the owner of several Dethleffs, I’m certain we’ve met before, but it was nice to meet him again.

The Beach

Back to the campground.  Across the new campground is a locked bridge behind the surf club to cross the creek to the beach The creek surrounds the campground on three sides.  It’s nice to be parked so close to the beach and not far from the big smoke for fuel!

A nice park with very friendly people.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Red Beach – Armada – GPS

Russell and Lorraine’s Frankia M-line

I caught up with Lorraine and Russell at a recent Frankia Owners group meeting at Coromandel.

Like me, Russell has had a long career in Newspapers working in his old hometown of New Plymouth.

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Lorraine and Russell

He was a Linotype operator making the slugs, think blocks of text that make up a newspaper page before computers. He worked with a lot of my old friends (photographers) who migrated to the Herald and the Star in later years.

Looking back

When I worked at the Herald in the 70’s, we had to walk through the linotype room to get to the photographic department and it always fascinated me to see these things working.  Big machines with great big lead bars being turned into blocks of text and then placed on the stone (the page). It was noisy too with the clatter of many of them. The Herald had roomfuls of them!

Nice and bright and plenty of space

Back to Motorhomes .. Starting out in 2002, this is their 6th Motorhome or Caravan. Their first Motorhome was a small Japanese imported Isuzu Motorhome. They’ve had several others including a 5th Wheeler, a Dodge Ram with a slide on. A Laika motorhome, then a Dethleffs Magic and now the Frankia which they got last year.

Galley

It is equipped with a 3 litre, 190 HP Turbocharged Mercedes V6 with auto transmission.

As you would expect with a Motorhome like these, they are well appointed inside with every mod con you can imagine.

Favourite spots are the West coast of the South Island and Matai Bay in Northland.

Having had a few Motorhomes over the years, they have had plenty to compare this to and only had lots of nice things to say about their Frankia.  A really nice Motorhome!

Frankia Owners Group meet at Coromandel

We set off early on the Friday morning thinking there might be a bit of early Labour weekend traffic, but it wasn’t to be, and we made it to Coromandel in pretty good time.

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Steve Gibson took this amazing shot with his drone. Coromandel shops are off to the left.

The Frankia Owners group organiser Brian Maginness, had invited me along to meet some of the group. Many of them were ex Dethleff owners so it was nice to see them again. They’re a good bunch and I’ve always admired the Frankia Motorhomes so we were really looking forward to it.

Brian had booked out the entire Park over property at Acres which is almost right in the middle of Coromandel town.  Run by Pauline and Ron as part of their property in a separate area complete with power and a bathroom, it is spectacular, and we’ll definitely be back to see them again.

Late on Friday afternoon, a few gathered outside Rafe and Happy Hour was on.

I met Russell and Lorraine who were originally from New Plymouth where I had just come from the photo Auction for Hospice.

It turns out that Russell spent a lot of his working life as a Linotype operator at the Daily News in New Plymouth so knew many of my press photographer friends who were involved in the Auction as they had also worked at the Daily News. Small world stuff.

It was really nice reminiscing about the old technology with the lead bars, slugs on the page (letters/paragraphs for the press) Great stuff.

Outside the gate

I also caught up with Peter and Heather who have adult children a similar age to our own and have lived close to us in Devonport for a long time. They’ve recently just got started with their near new Frankia Platin. Lovely to see them enjoying their new Motorhome.

My old friend from Devonport, Peter.

After the happy hour was finished, we all headed up to one of the restaurants in the main street of Coromandel about 5 minutes’ walk away. A great night and everyone had fun.

The next morning, it was each to their own. Some went bike riding, some walked up the back through the bush, we went for a walk through town and after lunch, walked back slowly to the camp to catch up with our neighbours in their Motorhomes.

Off for a Bike ride

Happy Hour rolled around and after this, I set up a team piccy and moved the group, so our Dethleffs was out of the background 🙂

The Team

That night’s tea was at my favourite restaurant in Coromandel, The Star and Garter. The meal I had was massive and Peter who was sitting next to me, watched me struggle through it. It was so nice.
I wasn’t going to waste any of it. 🙂 A nice meal as always and at a reasonable price. Another great night.

Star and Garter on the left looking up the main street.

We all ambled back to the park and crashed.

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The next day, many left. The rally was over but Fiona and I along with several others had enjoyed the park and the others company so much, we weren’t quite ready to go home 🙂

a Happy hour getting started.

A fantastic gathering… Well organised Brian and thank you to you all for making us both welcome.

Rafe’s Tracker map – Armada GPS

The Coastal Walkway

This amazing walkway starts at The New Plymouth port and runs right around to Bell Block.

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Port Taranaki
East End Beach

The last time we were in New Plymouth with bikes, we stayed at the NZMCA Bell Block Park. From there, there is a track that runs just down from the main road to the coast and on into New Plymouth port. It’s a fantastic track being all concrete and easy.

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I joined it this time from the city and walked out to East End beach and along the track to Te Rewa Rewa bridge. Unfortunately, it is covered in plastic being blasted and painted. It is still a great walk out there and I was surprised by the amount of foot and bike traffic.

Back by the Holiday park
Busy on the track

It’s a great facility and its fantastic to see it getting so much use.

Covered in plastic
The Te Rewarewa ridge in 2019

Pukekura Park

One of the things I’ve wanted to visit but either ran out of time or was too far away, is the amazing Pukekura Park.

Click on any Image to EnlargeIt was started in the late 1800’s and started as 54 Acres. It is now 128 acres, significantly bigger and is just beautiful. They also have an amazing nighttime display with Lighting which I’ve yet to see.  One day soon.

The old band Rotunda
Through the Ferns

I got a cab up from Fitzroy Motor camp and went for a walk through. There’s a neat Waterfall just as you get in by the lake, a Kiosk which sells everything next to the lake and an old Band Rotunda.

The Waterfall

I walked down around the lake to cross the old wooden bridge and back the other side. With Ferns everywhere you look, it’s a fantastic place to see. It is just stunning!

The Fountain
The small electric Bus

There is a small electric bus which does the rounds for $5 if you don’t feel like walking.

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As I walked out, I discovered another lake with a fountain in the middle of it next to another playground and skatepark. New Plymouth has it all!

The Kiosk

What impressed me most was the planting and the scale of it. Well worth the visit.

Looking back from the bridge

Fitzroy Beach

It was great to back in New Plymouth. It was a catching up with friends’ trip, and to attend a Photo auction for Hospice Taranaki which was being held in town so I was keen to not be too far away from the action.

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Fitzroy Beach was the perfect place to stay being right next to the beach and an easy 20 minute walk into town along the waterfront.

Good flat parking
Kitchens and Showers

With a bit of wind around, it is protected by hedges everywhere you look. With nice big flat sites, two dump stations, nice clean Toilets and amazing showers, it was just perfect.

New Plymouth Port
Walking the dog.

There is a big jumping pillow and a great playground too for the kids.

The City to Bell Block walkway winds its way along the waterfront right across the front of the campground so there is plenty to see and do. There is a great Kiosk not far away on the sand dune that does coffees, Ice creams and everything else.

People riding on the walkway by the camp

On our last trip here quite a few years ago with bikes, we explored the walkway from Bell block all the way into town. See that here.

View from the top dump station 🙂

Great Hosts and nice campground handy to town.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Fitzroy Holiday Park – Armada GPS

Ninia Park – Musical Heaven

It is in Bell Block and just 10 minutes from downtown New Plymouth so its handy too.

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Handy to the Happy Hour Pavilion

Just as the first Covid lockdown came on last year, Kevin and Lynda’s Tamarillo crop and others like it, were devastated by a bug that badly damaged their crop.  A real tragedy.  They had several neighbours who also got struck by the same bad luck.

Not to be outdone and being clever Motor homers themselves, they turned their small farm into a lovely big Motorhome and Caravan Park over property and it is a huge success!

Kevin and Lynda
Getting Busy

Keeping the big shelter belts that surrounded their Tamarillos, they’ve added a nice new Happy Hour facility with an outside deck.

Holes in the Shelter Belt

While I was there, there were a few windy days but being surrounded by the shelter belts, you wouldn’t have known!!

I was originally only going to stay a night but there is such a great atmosphere and a sense of community that I ended up being there for 5 days!  There are 8 powered sites and some hard stand parking, but it is so sheltered.

Happy Chat

Kevin and Lynda are both very good musicians and several of the people who stay there regularly are too.

Suzy T
Kevin and Lynda
Close to the Music

On the day I arrived, they had a small concert for an hour or two with their semi-trailer in the next paddock, fantastic. Kevin has setup it up with a neat sound system and what looks like a bit of a “Green room” at the end of the stage. Suzy T as she’s known, was on the keyboards and vocals. She’s a great singer and was staying in her Caravan just across from me.

Between where I was parked next to the Happy Hour Pavilion and the Stage, there was a huge row of shelterbelt trees but in one corner, there was a neatly cut out doorway through the trees… very clever.

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Kevin also helped me sort out a small problem I had with a missing screw in my under-engine cover which was hanging down. All done in a few minutes!

On Guard

A fantastic group of people encouraged by great hosts. Thanks again for having me.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Ninia Park over – Armada GPS