All posts by Chris Miller - Buggeritweareoff.com

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

Milford Marina Footbridge

As it was
As it was
The Bridge as it will look
The Bridge as it will look

This is a wee bit off topic, more about boats than Motorhomes but I’m so disappointed in our brain dead elected council people to let this go ahead. Read on.

Years ago, there was a huge footbridge with steps that went from the northern end of Milford beach and climbed up into the cliff to join a track to go to Inga / Beach Rd. Over the years, the bridge fell into a state of disrepair and in the late 60’s -early 70’s was deemed unsafe and demolished with a promise from the council that it would be replaced at a future date.

Time marched on and the Milford Mariners Society and Milford Cruising club members developed the marina to where it is today with about 200 boats with jettys, power and water.

Along came a few people from Castor Bay who couldn’t be bothered walking around the marina to get to the beach and had the council drag out the “promise” to renew the bridge.

This “replacement” is a mechanical bridge which they intend to operate remotely which is very different from what was there and with all the best intentions, will break down. When it does, it will become a safety issue, not to mention the costs in running it.

The bridge
The bridge

Anyway, how it works – Boaties are supposed to radio in to Viaduct Harbour to have the bridge opened when they want to leave or enter the creek. There will be alarms to “warn” people off the bridge which will be heard all around the Milford basin.

Most mariners will tell you that Milford creek is a nightmare to enter in anything from an easterly quarter in more that 15 -20 odd knots with the swell. If the bridge fails to open, there would be mayhem with boats up each others chuff in the corner of the entrance with nowhere to go.

I’ve entered the channel several times in Rorqual when it has been quite rough after a holiday weekend or two and once you’re committed to enter, there is no turning back. It is simply too narrow with rocks on both sides with the swell coming from behind. This makes it incredibly hard to steer until you get well into the creek. It is a safety issue which I think the council has largely ignored.

Map from Google Earth showing the layout
Map from Google Earth showing the layout

I understand the cost before construction started was already at $1m with talkfests and surveys. I reckon it’ll be at least $2-3 m before its finished.. all for a few people to walk to the beach.

A digger in the water preparing the bridge
A digger in the water preparing the bridge

We hear them say.. “ it won’t fail”. Those in Viaduct harbour will tell you about their bridge that “wouldn’t fail” that has failed regularly since it was installed which is why we are hearing talk about it being replaced.

Bridge in relation to the boats
Bridge in relation to the boats

Anyway .. as you can see, it is being built.

Looking down from Beach road towards the Cruising club. The poles for the safety pontoon.
Looking down from Beach road towards the Cruising club. The poles for the safety pontoon.

As a safety measure, they are constructing a pontoon which will require ongoing dredging (cost) just outside the bridge. On a busy holiday weekend with returning boats, this will be totally inadequate as it will only be big enough to hold about 4 vessels.

News Flash : A wee birdie tells me that the folk who open the bridge at Viaduct Harbour won’t work the Milford bridge as they have enough trouble getting folk off the Viaduct bridge before opening, let alone try to do Milford remotely.. What now ?

The view from the new pad

Who would have thought that by the end of the day we would have thunder, rain and hail. I went upstairs today to be greeted with this amazing view.

From the Lounge window
From the Lounge window

These have been taken on a camera as opposed to a cell phone.

Click on the images to see the detail.

Rorqual in front of the Cruising club
Rorqual in front of the Cruising club

Andrew couldn’t have set this up any better. After handing our Whalechaser Rorqual to the next generation, Alex and Andrew, Andrew has managed to get a house where he can see the boat lying in his bed out of the window!

The Dethleff Owners meeting is on this weekend at Miranda which I’m looking froward too. Look out for plenty of images from that.

Wifi for Motorhomes

On friday afternoon, I left the NZMCA park at Ardmore and headed to my son and daughter in laws driveway in Ardmore where I was later joined by Fiona after she had finished work.

My son Alex is a Systems Engineer and has been working on a solution for Wifi in our motorhome for some time. He was given an directional Antenna which has a range of up to 5k and for being top in his course, he was given a tiny Router which will work on 12v and also has enough grunt to drive the Antenna. … and he was happy to donate it to my Wifi cause.. thanks Alex 🙂

The wee Router up behind the TV
The wee Router up behind the TV

I didn’t realise how much setup was involved but after a lot of configuration changes, he managed to get it working in the van with huge throughput from an Access point in his shed, some distance away.

The current directional Antenna
The current directional Antenna
The Antenna pointing at the shed. Its further away than it looks here.
The Antenna pointing at the shed. Its further away than it looks here.

While there is some fine tuning to be done, the concept works. I think his plan is to change the Antenna to one that’s easier to setup and get working when its permanently mounted on the roof. While we’re testing it, we had the router on our bed with a network cable out of our window with the antenna bolted to the bike rack.

I have an account with Spark and have the free gig a day thing happening from the phone boxes but they’re always positioned where you can’t park an 8m motorhome anywhere near them, and the signal they send means you’ve virtually got to sit on top of them to be any use.

Ultimately, it’ll mean that our iphones, ipads, laptops etc will log in to the wee router permanently in the van and the router with the Antenna will drag in the signal from  wherever.

This system will hopefully mean that I can be a block or so away and still get a Spark signal or any other free wifi available 🙂

Our last night at the NZMCA park on Sunday night
Our last night at the NZMCA park on Sunday night

Exciting times.

Historic place 400m

At Kawakawa bay
At Kawakawa bay

While waking up this morning to another nice sunny day, I thought I should head out to Kawakawa Bay and have a cup of tea while the cockle gatherers were doing their thing. It’s also a bit more interesting that watching small planes come and go  for another day. 💤
There were plenty of gatherers there too, making the most of the weather and getting down to business.

Kawakawa Bay cockle gathers on the go.
Kawakawa Bay cockle gathers on the go.

While there, I met an interesting couple with their newly built Motorhome who were trying to retire after giving their lifelong printing business to their adult children. There was a problem with a machine so they’d been summoned from their break  down by Kaiaua, to sort it out! It was interesting swapping notes on how our respective but similar business’s had changed over the years with technology and changes in the economy.
After an hour or so there, I headed back to Ardmore. As I went through Clevedon, I kept seeing these signs saying “historic place 400m” so decided to check it out.

The warehouse at Clevedon wharf with a ship purpose built for the river.. In the late 1860's. Pic from the sign on the wharf.
The warehouse at Clevedon wharf with a ship purpose built for the river.. In the late 1860’s. Pic from the sign on the wharf.
Clevedon Wharf, the site of he old wharf.
Clevedon Wharf, the site of he old wharf.
Clevedon Bridge
Clevedon Bridge

It turns out that the Wairoa River in Clevedon was quite a bustling place. There were warehouses, a sawmill and several other businesses on both sides of the river. They even towed barges with planes on them during the war from Hobsonville via “Port Clevedon” to hangers in Ardmore. Really interesting.
I had a quick walk around Clevedon before heading back to Ardmore MCA park for the afternoon.

The Main Street of Clevedon
The Main Street of Clevedon
Fiona's favourite shop in Clevedon and Cafe
Fiona’s favourite shop in Clevedon and Cafe

When I returned, I found my next door neighbour in the middle of the grass, under his Toyota Landcruiser doing a lube and oil! A caravanner saving some money. Isn’t it funny what people choose to do on a hot day😎

Time to celebrate !

Nice wee spot in the sun.
Nice wee spot in the sun.

After hearing the great news yesterday that our property manager Downee received a contract from new tenants, I thought I’d celebrate by cruising down to NZMCA’s Ardmore Park at the Ardmore Airfield. We know where we’re going now after the false start from “the mad woman that was living in France”!

Busy busy
Busy busy

No sooner had I arrived, I met Roger who we met last year filling up his new AutoTrail Delaware with fresh water. It was nice to see him again and there is a plan to catch up for a cold one later.
Roger and Marion had the unique experience of having a 90 ish yr old woman beating their then brand new Motorhome with a broom in the middle of the night on the Devonport waterfront😱. There was amazingly no damage done. The police were called and apparently she has form for giving anyone a hard time that parks in front of their B&B! So when in Devonport with your Motorhome, watch out for a mad 90 something year old with a broomstick. 😳

It is a busy park but we suspect that because the nearby freedom camping area at Bruce Pullman park has a fireworks display on, that there more here.

The library and Check in Charlie hut.
The library and Check in Charlie hut.
Next door neighbours herbs n spices
Next door neighbours herbs n spices

Tomorrow I’ll get the bike out and have a ride around and see what I can find.
Alex and Sarah and the grandkids are next door to the airfield so might see them tomorrow too.

Classic Boat Day Out to Riverhead

Raindance all dolled up
Raindance all dolled up

What a great start to a great day. At 4:30am, we were up ready to watch the All Blacks perform their magic. What a great game.

Don’t forget you can click on these images to see them in their full glory

Alan, Grant and Fiona before boarding
Alan, Grant and Fiona before boarding

Grant and Alan preparing the ice

At 7:30 we drove around the corner to pick up friends Alan and Grant and headed up to Bayswater Marina where Alan keeps his 1920 Lanes classic boat Raindance.
Alan runs a blog called  Waitematawoodys.com check  it out.

Fiona keeping the dinghy away from the prop in the marina
Fiona keeping the dinghy away from the prop in the marina

Alan had already prepared Raindance for the trip so within 15 minutes or so, we were leaving the marina and heading for Lucas Creek. Once we passed under the Harbour Bridge, Grant was preparing the Heart starters for the day, Bloody Mary cocktails for us all. Within half of a Bloody Mary, Fiona was really enjoying herself!

The Heart Starters
The Heart Starters
Fiona with her Bloody Mary after going under the Harbour Bridge
Fiona with her Bloody Mary after going under the Harbour Bridge
On the way to Riverhead - Auckland harbour Bridge
On the way to Riverhead – Auckland harbour Bridge

The weather was perfect and the sea was calm and an hour or so later, we were at the meeting point of Lucas Creek. There we were met by several other Classic boats and we lead the way up the river to the Riverhead Hotel, where they were expecting us for brunch.

We were met at the Riverhead Hotel by several other Classic boaties who had arrived by car.

Getting ready to go
Getting ready to go

As always, the Hotel had turned on a good spread and it was nice to spend an hour or two meeting up with old friends with their Classic Boats. Although, it wasn’t a big turnout it was nice to see them there.

Auckland City when we were nearly back. The cloud has gone
Auckland City when we were nearly back. The cloud has gone
Where we went.. From Bayswater to Riverhead and back.
Where we went.. From Bayswater to Riverhead and back.

The last few times that we had taken Rorqual up to Riverhead, we have had up to 28 classic boats but the RWC and the Auckland Marathon probably put a few off.

Fiona enjoying a cider
Fiona enjoying a cider. Alan driving

As the tide turned, we left the Hotel to make sure we could get out of the river before it ran out of water and returned back to Bayswater. A great day with some great people with their nice boats.

We have to fit into one room!

The packers came, picked up all the furniture and all our stuff in boxes and delivered it to our room in Milford. It was quite straight forward when you watch the pros doing it!

Our room in Milford. There is a full ensuite with shower and a full fridge on the left and another area closer like an open walk in wardrobe with heaps of cupboards.
Our room in Milford. There is a full ensuite with shower and a full fridge on the left and another area closer like an open walk in wardrobe with heaps of cupboards.

We wondered how it was all going to fit in and with a few changes with our furniture, it all has.
The new room has a fantastic view of Milford Marina. In just an hour if watching from the veranda, there were about 6 boat movements of people I knew or knew of from my previous life as a wooden boatee!

The view over Milford Marina
The view over Milford Marina
A view from the deck over the Marina
A view from the deck over the Marina
Fiona blobbing out on the couch in the new "flat"
Fiona blobbing out on the couch in the new “flat”
Outside our room which looks over to Rangitoto and over the Marina
Outside our room which looks over to Rangitoto and over the Marina

A cleaner came in today and cleaned the house ready for a tenant and a bin arrived fir the last if the rubbish. There are about 4 boxes of pantry and a few clothes and we’re out.
We’re joining Our friend Alan on his launch Raindance on Sunday for a trip up the river with the Classic Boat Association so I’ll get some piccies of that on Monday.

Andrew coming back into Milford Marina after a day out
Andrew coming back into Milford Marina after a day out

World Cup final on Sunday..go the All Blacks!

Packing Up.

The contents of the kitchen all boxed up
The contents of the kitchen all boxed up

It’s our last night in our house tonight. Tomorrow we have the moving truck coming to move a small amount of stuff into a room in Milford where we will stay in between trips in Rafe. I’ll be more or less full time. We are both quite looking forward to not having to think about looking after a house and having a good look around the country in between the jobs.
Our property manager had a hiccup with one tenant who agreed to rent the house three weeks ago from Europe after sending a friend through the house on her behalf. She signed a contract for 12 months after her friend said it was just right for her and when she arrived last week, began inventing excuses as to why it wasn’t for her. She is paying rent until someone else is found. Two people who have been through just on Friday are both keen so we don’t see any problems. Honestly, what planet was this silly woman on!

What was my office. Buy 5pm the room was empty
What was my office. By 5pm the room was emptying
Empty spaces. The carpets have been cleaned and most of the furniture has already gone
Empty spaces. The carpets have been cleaned and most of the furniture has already gone
The rubbish pile and part of our storage area.
The rubbish pile and part of our storage area.

It has been really liberating over the last few months, selling off stuff we don’t use any more, giving stuff away and dumping a lot of things that either doesn’t matter or we don’t use. Just in my wardrobe, getting rid of stuff I haven’t worn , it’s fantastic.

Alex came over today with the grandsons and Andrew popped in too to help with the last packing and shifting stuff into a storage are we have.

Rafe waiting patiently to takes us away.
Rafe waiting patiently to takes us away.

A busy day! A pizza for tea as everything has been packed and a glass of wine while we prepare ourselves for another busy day with a pre dawn rugby semi final to enjoy and the packers coming.

It was the ducks fault really !

Fiona was keen for another bike ride so after 2 great nights at Clifton Reserve, we headed into Clive. After the bridge, the bike lane started so we pulled into a driveway and got Fiona’s bike, helmet and basket off the rack and she was off… To Napier.

Fiona riding back to the van from Napier shops
Fiona riding back to the van from Napier shops

I got back in the truck and parked about 3 k’s out from Napier hill at a waterfront park. The bike lane went right last the park so there was a good chance I’d spot Fiona.

Napier beach looking towards Cape Kidnappers
Napier beach looking towards Cape Kidnappers

After about 15 minutes! I caught up with her on my bike and we both headed into town for a cuppa at the Masonic Hotel where we had stayed when we came to Napier two years earlier to buy wee Rafe, the caravan. See Wee Rafe.

Masonic Hotel
Masonic Hotel

After a quick look around the Masonic and the waterfront, we headed back to Rafe along the waterfront. I’d received word that I might have a job in Whitianga the next day. I would know later that day by text. We thought we’d better make our way to Taupo just in case so after a quick trip to the local dump station, we were off.
A couple of hours later after an easy drive along the Napier Taupo road, we arrived in Taupo. Some very good Motorhome friends of ours that live in Taupo had suggested we should consider parking in Ferry road along the waterfront. The wind was still going gangbusters so I was a little hesitant but so that Fiona could walk up to the shops and have a nosey, we stopped.
It was very busy  with more and with more Motorhomes rocking in by the minute.
I got talking with some lovely people from Palmerston North in their newish FB Tracker AutoTrail. After some discussion of where we’d been and what we’d done, I told them the story about how we’d been through upper Moutere valley by Motueka and completely missed all the cheese factories, all the craft shops and all the art shops and how dark Fiona was afterwards. Of course it was the gps’s fault! Just as I was telling the story, there were two ducks on the Taupo waterfront literally ripping each other apart. A girl duck was ripping into a poor bloke duck. She had her beak around his neck at one stage. We were all stunned by the savagery. I said that I thought it was because he hadn’t stopped at enough craft shops. We all cracked up…

The text arrived. The job was on. We needed to meet at Kopu to be picked up to go to Whitianga at 9 am the next morning so we were off to close the gap. We headed for Matamata and I was allowed to get Kentucky Fried Chicken for dinner as a treat .. Yippee.

Firth Tower
Firth Tower

We stopped at the Firth Tower. A fantastic spot just out if Matamata. $10 including power.
See our earlier blog on Firth Tower

A great park and it’s free!

After a great couple of nights in Martinborough we went into battle with the wind and the rain to get to Hawkes Bay.
The rain was horizontal and when the trees on the west turned into wire fence’s with us driving along at 90 odd k, the puffs were awful. There were a couple of times we were down to 60k just to rest the nerves. By Dannevirke, it had settled down a bit and the rest got easier as time went on.

Hiding in the bushes at Clifton
Hiding in the bushes at Clifton
Us hiding from the wind at Clifton
Us hiding from the wind at Clifton. The wind was coming from behind the big trees.

Late in the afternoon, we arrived in Hastings. The sun was shining and we were heading for Clifton Beach, a wonderful free parking area laid on by the Hastings Council. It comes complete with a modern toilet facility and rubbish collection right on the beach.

The Toilets at Clifton
The Toilets at Clifton

The wind was still blowing but it had dropped off considerably. We parked amongst some shrubs for protection from the wind and settled down for the night. It was just getting dark when 4 big truck and trailers rumbled in and headed down towards the eastern open area (without our beloved shrubs for wind protection). What neat looking wagons.

One of the vans at Clifton
One of the vans at Clifton
Interesting can at Clifton
Interesting bus at Clifton
Another interesting can at Clifton
Another interesting truck and trailer  at Clifton
Lifestyle at Clifton!
Lifestyle at Clifton!

We woke up at 4:45 to watch the Scottish rugby game against the Aussies! You had to feel for the poor Scots. Where were Craig Jouberts glasses when he needed them?

The next morning, we got the bikes ready and headed for Elephant Hill vineyard right over the road for a nice lunch and of course some wine tasting. It was well setup with a processing plant next to their retail outlet and restaurant and completely surrounded by vines with infinity pools, it was a nice setup.

Fiona enjoying a cider at Elephant Hill
Fiona enjoying a cider at Elephant Hill

We had a great lunch, beautiful food and the wine was stunning, I was pleased we’d done the right thing arriving by bike. We decided after that we needed some exercise so off we went in the other direction behind Haumoana.
The wind was getting up again so after half an hour or so of exploring in the bikes, we thought we’d retreat back to Rafe at Clifton Reserve. By then, more interesting vans. And where is it. We were the blue blob at the bottom.

Clifton Reserve
Clifton Reserve
Us on the foreshore for a cup of tea before we left
Us on the foreshore for a cup of tea before we left. Napier city in the distance.

What a great place to park!