All posts by Chris Miller - Buggeritweareoff.com

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

Sandhills at Opononi

The Maui convoy arrived in Dargaville at about 4pm at the Dargaville Countdown supermarket. There were provisions to be bought and then we were headed together to Opononi.

We all convened in a street opposite the supermarket and then set off towards Opononi. They were going to stop in and check out Kai Iwi lakes and then head on up through the Waipoua Forest.

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From the top of the Hill looking out to the entrance to Hokianga Harbour

Its a twisty windy 80 odd k’s but quite a neat drive and after stopping up at the top of the hill of Omapere to get some piccies. I rocked on to the Opononi Beach Holiday Park.

Looking down to Omapere

The park is made up of terraced parking areas with some cabins as well all looking over the lovely sandhills at the entrance of the Hokianga harbour. Great views.

Out to the heads

I checked in casually mentioning that there were 5 Maui campervans about half an hour behind me !

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As they’ve had so much rain, we were to park on the road along the top terrace instead of in the park “otherwise we’d be there there for weeks”! So I was pleased about that.

Looking up at the road.

This campground had some awful reviews on the app but to get here and dealing with the owners who were fantastic, you would think you were at another Motorcamp.. so don’t believe the reviews.

Some cabins too

The troops turned up in the Maui vans just as it was getting dark and we were all parked one behind the other on the road with extension cords out for the power.

The crew arrives. Check out the view
The convoy arrives!

Rafe was host to a bit of Happy Hour before we all walked about 100 metres around the corner to the Opononi hotel for tea and a cold one as you do.

Great Harbour

A lovely spot and I imagine it would be great in Summer.

Breakfast time between the vans

In the morning we all got under way and headed to Rawene just a few k’s along the road so they could get the ferry further north.

Rafe’s tracker map to Opononi

That West Coast feeling at Bayleys

What a great spot. The Bachs are slowly turning into great houses, the colours are just magic.

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Good Colours

The Bayley’s Beach Holiday Park is the perfect spot there to stop the night with Sharkies Fish & Chip shop (and bar) just up the road. It is also taking part in the Camp Saver program.

A little mud but pretty good really given the huge amount of rain.

Unfortunately with all the rain, it was a bit wet but there was no danger of getting stuck.

The loos with the best view

An easy 15 minute walk out of a back gate takes you down to the amazing beach which goes for miles in each direction. After parking Rafe, I went for a walk down to the beach and then onto Sharkies for tea.

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I was following some friends of mine who had all hired a Maui Motorhome for the 3 day special and were doing a frantic 800 k odd trip around Northland. I was going to catch up with them the next day in Dargaville and then follow them through Opononi and onto Russell.  They were heading further North and catching up later.. a fun trip but lots of driving.

The Campground
Good for the kids

It was actually quite windy down at the beach but the campground was well sheltered.

In the morning I headed back into Dargaville to wait for the Maui Convoy 🙂

Rafe’s Tracker map to Bayleys Beach

First Outing in their new Van

Parked directly behind me at Hahei Beach were Patricia and Nacho from Wellington in their new van. They’re a really interesting couple with Nacho a programmer originally from Argentina and Patricia is a teacher from Spain.

Looking in from the back
The view!

They bought the van two months ago and after a few initial tweaks to suit, this is their first time away in it.

The Galley area

Already they have plans for some modifications so they have some seating to shelter from the weather.

The cooker

A nice couple just getting started on the road.

Paradise on the Beach

That’s Hahei! one of my favorite spots to stay but it has been a while since I’ve been here..

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The Beach

Arriving at Hahei and checking in with Cathy at the front desk was easy and she directed me to a great spot right behind the dunes by the beach. Cathy’s husband Grant is General Manager and it was really nice to chat to them both. With the Covid 19 lockdown, the NZMCA Camp Saver program has given them a welcome boost to their numbers.. You can only imagine the effect the lack of tourists would make to the bottom line for a big park like this so great that its working for them.

Grant and Cathy

The last time I was here was with friends from Taupo and Snells Beach but that was way back in 2017 according to Cathy’s records.. how time flies!

The weather was due to deteriorate but I had the day to check the place out and there is plenty of it.

Great Outlook

Just down the road is Cathedral Cove which you can walk to. Fiona and I did this a few years ago and its well worth doing.

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Since I was last here, there is a Spa pool available now right on the crest of the dunes next to the beach which looks out over the bay to the Islands beyond. What a nice idea and I bet its popular in the peak season. There is also a BBQ hut with shelter looking out over the bay too..

The spa

Its a huge park with some really nice Tourist flats at one end overlooking the beach. And just acres of parking spots.

The Tourist Flats

With more than 200 powered sites, there is lots of space with room between parks and easy access to them as well.

Just a lovely atmosphere, a fantastic beach and its just over a couple of hours from Auckland.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Hahei

Birds, Trains and Motorhome parking

There is a bit of everything here and with Camp Saver Motorhome parking. Its called Mill Creek Animal and Bird Encounters and is about 3k’s off the main road just south of Whitianga.

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Nice parking

Unfortunately they had just had a big rain event and been flooded so the ride on train wasn’t running but all the animals and birds were there.

The Lorikeets

There is a walk in Aviary where you can go in amongst the Lorikeets which is neat and they’re super friendly as well.

Some Peacocks

There are over 400 birds here with Macaws and Cockatoos along with many farm animals all spread out. Everywhere you look there are peacocks roaming around and down by the Motorhome parking, there are Pigs, Goats, small horses, big horses Donkeys, you name it, its there. You can also get a coffee at the station cafe.

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As I arrived I was greeted by a large duck who chased me to the Farm Animal area 🙂

This Duck had plenty to say for itself

The nice flat parks are generous in size, about 8 metres square with small panels to separate each park. The showers and toilets look brand new as well so a great spot to stay.

Fun for the kids

Even though it was pretty cold and miserable, there were plenty of families there enjoying the park. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area and great for the kids.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Mill Creek

Paradise at Ruakaka

From the moment I stepped out of Rafe at Ruakaka Holiday Park, everything about this place is HUGE. There are more than 260 powered sites and the camp is spread out over 13 hectares. The camp is divided into several regions each having their own ablution blocks.

The land that it sits on and its layout and the views are absolutely sensational.  Everywhere I looked I could see nice images.

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My view

It also is a participant in the NZMCA’s Camp saver program and owner Anne-Marie says it is working well for them. They also do off peak weekly stays too.

On the waterfront

I was interested to see their information sheet included how to park within your site to ensure that everyone has 3 metres separation. I think this is good news as many Holiday Parks  parking is far to close for fire safety.

Great parking

I was a bit lucky to get one of the waterfront sites facing out to Marsden Point and Bream Head even though it was pretty exposed to the easterly nasties that came through, it was really nice to wake up to a great view when the weather played the game.

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The weather wasn’t that flash with an amazing thunder and lightning storm coming through with showers before and after but there was enough fine weather to get some nice images.

Old friends Mark, Tina, Gary and Chris all live around the corner in Ruakaka beach so it a good opportunity to pop in and see them too.

And just around the corner

This campground though has it all.. the views and the sites are spectacular with great facilities.

Ruakaka Beach is just down the road and there is a Bird Sanctuary to walk through too.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Ruakaka

Pakiri Beach

The last time I went to Pakiri, I was in my teens and it was at the time that we had carless days and huge petrol costs. Two of us went up to Pakiri in a ’62 pillarless Chev Impala and camped with the car and a small tent. Remember those days 🙂

Apart from the horrendous cost in getting there and back with a two stage auto and V8, I still remember it as being a fun weekend away.

Click on an Image to enlarge it.This was to be different and after all those years, the thing that struck me the most was how different it was from my memories from long ago. The office now includes a store for basic provisions and was closer to the beach than I remembered but it is still a magic spot to go to for a break.

Next to the river

When I arrived, I’d just come down a wet and windy Leigh road down the hill and Rafe was absolutely covered in mud.

Manager Rachel couldn’t have been nicer in showing me where to park and although I was given an option of having a view of the river behind some pines, I chose to park a little further away in preference of getting a good TV signal and some winter sun.

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Being a participant in the NZMCA’s Camp saver program, Rachel said it was working well for them. With power and access to their great facilities, it makes it really worth doing even if it is the middle of winter. Its a really nice place to be and away from all the hustle and bustle and only an hour or so from Auckland 🙂

Outdoor eating

I’d only been there a few minutes when two people from Wellington rocked in with their rented Maui Campervan. They had taken advantage of the Maui discount after lockdown and were out around the North Island. That’s them in the piccy below.

Late in the day

I went for a wander down to the beach to see what was where.. There was a film crew down there doing a fashion shoot for some ads, a great spot for that.

Close to the beach

The park is right on the river and estuary and an easy walk to the beach. The park is probably three quarters occupied by annual semi permanent caravans and cabins but there is plenty of easy parking for motorhomes and casual overnight stays.

I thought he was waving at me but I’m sure I was too far away.

A lovely spot, nice facilities and a helpful crew, well worth the trip and it brought back some great memories.  I’ll be going back again but this time on the sealed road from Wellsford:-)

Rafe’s tracker map out of Pakiri

A Great Day Out

It was Classic Boat Riverhead Pub day and as it turned out a Reunion of sorts with lots of old friends I haven’t seen for a while. We were going up on Alan’s 28 ft Lanes Classic boat, Raindance.

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Alan’s boat Raindance ready to go

Alan and I are both ex Launch Captains of the  Classic Yacht Association  so we had both done this trip many times before as part of that role and it was always a fun day out.

Alan picked me up from home about 8:30 and we were down at Bayswater Marina ready to go just before 9. The forecast was for showers and very little wind so the 13 or so other boats coming would be able to deal with this easily.

Off up to the pub

As Alan had organised this, I’d had a bit of a heads up on who was coming so I was looking forward to see some of the original people involved with the rebirth of the Classic Launches in Auckland.

Trinidad leading the charge behind us

We left in the sunshine to head under the harbour bridge and headed up a little beyond the Greenhithe Bridge where we were to meet up with all the other boats and at 10:15, we headed up in single file to the Pub. The departure time was crucial to give us the maximum eating / drinking / social time before the river lost its water with the tide.

Jason catching up. He led the way from here.
Jason and his crew at Herald Island

Jason  in his newly restored boat called My Girl caught up with us off Beachaven and we followed him up to the meeting point just past Herald Island. The other boats all seemed to arrive together and soon we were off to the pub.

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I can remember a trip Alan and I did with the CYA where we had 30 plus boats and we had to leave room for the ferry.. there were boats everywhere.. This was going to be much easier with just 13 boats and there was no ferry to worry about.

From up by the pub.

Everybody anchored and tied up without any drama and it was up to the Marque to catchup with old friends. A few people I talked to asked me questions about Motorhomes ! .. seems we might have a few more ex boaties coming our way 🙂

Raindance in front with My girl behind

A great day but all good things have to come to an end and with the tide on its way out, it was time to dodge the showers back to Bayswater.

Alan driving on the way back.

It was an easy trip back with the chop building a little on the way and a few showers.

Back in the Marina

Check out Alans Blog at www.waitematawoodys.com

Opal Springs Hot Pools

As I’ve got older I’ve noticed how I can’t do the big marathon drives I used to do but I suppose some of this has to do with the fact that I’m now driving a 4 plus ton Motorhome, not a Mini or something.

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Some of their Caravans in the fog!

Coming back for our last night away from our post Covid few days away from Whakatane, I decided I’d had enough just as I descended down the Tauranga Kaimai road and that Coffee lounge in Matamata never looked better 🙂  We sat down to a lovely all day Eggs Benny and it was just lovely washed down with some great coffee.

Cabins at the back, motorhome parking and pools down below.. in the fog!

After that, it was off to a place I’ve been to once before just out of town called Opal Springs.

Amazing Fog

They have plenty of powered and non powered sites along with some cabins and they also do a discount for NZMCA’rs.

That pesky Fog

We stopped in and were met by Vanessa who remembered me from a couple of years ago and pointed us in the right direction. Its a great setup with the powered sites all up on a plateau overlooking the pools down below.

It wasn’t long after we arrived, we were off down to the pools where we met a couple from Orewa who were having a Covid breakaway too.

There are several pools with a really hot Private Pool and a Spa as well.  Nice spot, nice people, nice and quiet with great facilities and a really reasonable price.

Rafe’s Track to Opal Springs

Keeping watch on that Island

One of the nicer spots available not far from Opotiki is the Island View Motor Camp right on the beachfront between Ohope and Opotiki. The Island in front is of course White Island and it was steaming away when we were there.

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Nice little hedged parks looking out at the water.

After leaving Whakatane, we thought we’d try this Holiday Park which is also part of the Camp Saver program. Right on the waterfront too.

Great outlook

It was cold and in the middle of winter and I better it pumps during summer.  Its a lovely spot with several tracks through the dunes to the sand. Some enterprising person has even made a throne of sorts so you can sit and enjoy the view.

They currently have several hundred Kiwi fruit pickers there and with Covid still on, we were advised to stay away from the bathroom facilities. I usually prefer ours anyway. All the facilities are normally available and they also have a pool, Kayaks and other water toys available for those interested.

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Great spot and later we were joined by David and Michelle in their new Dethleffs Trend.

Rafe’s track to Island View Holiday Park

Great to see David and Michelle again and when we left there, they were staying on a few more days to have a good look around.