All posts by Chris Miller - Buggeritweareoff.com

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

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!

History in the Rimutakas

We headed over to Featherston today despite the 100k odd gale warnings and it was quite an interesting trip! Martinborough is down in a basin lower that Featherston so I suspect that protects it against the big blows but once up on the Featherston plain despite heading strait into the wind, it was evil. The Van was all over the place. Slowing down to 65k odd helped but that was all we could do when were exposed in the sides.
We looked for a park so the van wasn’t side on and found the Fell Locomotive Museum right over the road. You could barely stand up in the wind so we thought we’d run for cover into the Museum.

The Fell Shunter
The Fell Shunter

What an interesting place. The steep grades over the Rimutakas ranges were such that they had specially designed Shunters that used a third rail to climb and brake.

A display showing how the centre rail, the one on the left was for the loco to grip onto for traction and braking. The normal rail on the right.
A display showing how the centre rail, the one on the left was for the loco to grip onto for traction and braking. The normal rail on the right.

Apparently, they used to get through a set of 8 brake shoes per loco for each descent and 4 for each brake van each descent! They had a cog driven wheel in each side of the loco of the centre rail that was wound in by the engineer and driven by the steam engine. It was held in by gigantic springs for the extra traction uphill. Apparently it worked really well. Each loco could deal with 3 passenger wagons or 4 freight vans depending on the weight and it was quite common to see 4-5 Shunters per train with passenger carriages and freight in between.

The brake van. The guard used to wind the brakes in on springs so the pads would slow on the centre raised rail.
The brake van. The guard used to wind the brakes in on springs so the pads would slow on the centre raised rail.
Under the loco showing the brakes on the raised rail. There were two huge geared wheels which locked in behind the brakes for uphill traction.
Under the loco showing the brakes on the raised rail. There were two huge geared wheels which locked in behind the brakes for uphill traction.
The drivers cabin
The drivers cabin

We were warmly welcomed by some nice chaps who showed us and explained us how it all worked and then shown to a theatre where we saw an early 1900’s film of the whole system working. Great film. Funny to see all the old clobber that people wore back then and really interesting.
If you’re in Featherston, check it out. At $5 a head it’s well worth the visit.

Another pic of the skippers cabin showing the firebox and other controls.
Another pic of the skippers cabin showing the firebox and other controls.

We visited an unnamed disappointing coffee shop after that, that interestly had its front door facing out of the wind ! Awful coffee and very average cakes.. That’s the first we’ve struck that bad on the whole trip so can’t really complain.

My perfect house, plenty of room, vineyard all around. Just need taps on the end of those vines fir an easy refill of the glass  😎
Back in Martinborough – My perfect house, plenty of room, vineyard all around. Just need taps on the end of those vines for an easy refill of the glass 😎

Given the wind was so bad, we headed back to Martinborough for our last night. Rugby tomorrow morning. All Blacks v France. Just as well I brought the sky card with us. We’ll head to Napier after that.

Vineyards and Bikes

We left Rarangi about 10 on Wednesday and cruised up to Picton to catch the 2pm ferry to Wellington. The weather again was kind for a good crossing and by 5:45, we were cruising up Wellingtons main motorway heading for Fiona’s cousins in Raumati to join them for tea. After a great fun night with them, the next morning we left to head to the wine area around Greytown and Martinborough .

Remember clicking on the images will display them at hi resolution.

From the Rimutakas Summit looking towards Featherston
From the Rimutakas Summit looking towards Featherston

We spent the afternoon checking out the Greytown shops which must be one of the oldest done up towns around.

Fiona crossing towards the old Greytown Hotel
Fiona crossing towards the old Greytown Hotel
Rafe behaving in Greytown
Rafe behaving in Greytown
The original Masonic Lodge in Greytown, now a design furniture store
The original Masonic Lodge in Greytown, now a design furniture store

They’ve spent a lot if time and effort on doing old things up rather than knock them over and it looks great.
Later in the day we cruised over to Martinborough and checked into the Motorcamp.

Top 10 Martinborough
Top 10 Martinborough

The next day after breakfast and getting the bikes off the rack, we were off to check out the vineyards and Olive Oil. Martinborough is perfect for bikes as it is dead flat. Our only impediment was a stiff westerly wind but nothing our 10 speeders couldn’t deal with.

Getting the bikes ready
Getting the bikes ready
Martinborough Hotel
Martinborough Hotel

We found a boutique vineyard not too far from town called Margrains. After a great lunch in the sun, we checked out the cellar and due to people being on holiday, the owner was working the cellar. He was very knowledgable and a real character and was passionate about his business.

One of my first selfies ever at Margrains
One of my first selfies ever at Margrains
Fiona outside Margraines of Martinborough
Fiona outside Margraines of Martinborough

The Pinot Rose, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris were all amazing wines all with less sugar. The Pinot Gris was much drier as a result and was a superb and very drinkable wine:-) I ended up buying a mixed dozen of different wines which we’ll collect tomorrow with the van. A lot of fun and he wasn’t going to let me go until I’d tasted all 9 of his great wines. I was well and truly ready for a bike ride !
We headed from there about 4ks towards an Olive place so Fiona could grab and taste some Olive oil. So after 20 minutes or so of riding out if town, we came across our Olive place with a closed sign.. Bugger!

Fiona outside the closed Olive place
Fiona outside the closed Olive place

We rode back into town for a cup of tea, a visit to the 4 square shop and then made our way back to the van. A good day, nice weather and I’m looking forward to trying one if those wines over the next few days.