All posts by Chris Miller -

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

Middle Earth (Matamata)

Middle earth
The Information Centre or I site

After Te Aroha, we headed to Matamata to see the Firth Tower Museum complex and Madam was keen for some retail therapy.

Usually, I’m passing through Matamata and only really stop at the KFC shop on the way to Rotorua or a cup of tea on the way back so it was nice to actually stop and check it out properly.
Its an amazing little town. We arrived early around 10am and went for a walk through the town, stopping for a cuppa in an Italian coffee shop as you do in Matamata!
Getting to the end of the main strip, there was this amazing I site, all done up as one of the Lord of the Ring buildings, complete with a thatched roof. Now that we’ve been in and got all the brochures, we both decided that we would save the tour to the Film set for another time.
Click on the images to enlarge

Madam in front of the Isite
Madam in front of the Isite

After getting some food for tea from various shops, we decided to head for the Firth Tower Museum, where we would probably stay the night.. More on that tomorrow.

The Ardmore haircut & Te Aroha

Saturday was a big day… starting with launching my old ex Whalechaser now being looked after by my sons after they’ve literally repainted the whole thing.
Click on the photos to enlarge

Rorqual being launched
Rorqual being launched

After parking her in the berth, we were off in Rafe to the Grandkids in Ardmore to babysit. I’m always very careful going up their 1/2 k odd long driveway as the trees and shrubs at the gateway lining it grow like weeds and reach out to try and scratch Rafe. Alex and Sarah had given them a good haircut so all good.

Our spot in the corner
Our spot in the corner
The Tree Haircut
The Tree Haircut

After a good night parked in the corner,  we woke up to the family tradition on Fathers Day of chocolate fish.. yum first thing in the morning 🙂
After a cup of coffee and breakfast,  we both felt that a hot swim might be the order of the day and neither of us being ready to go home,  so we thought a decent drive, Te Aroha hot pools, 120 odd K away.

Rather than go the way we always go, via Maugataroto, we thought we’d try down State Highway 1 on the motorway and turn off at Ohinewai through to Tahuna. What a great run too apart from taking a wrong turn and adding 15 minutes or so to the trip.. no harm done.
Checking in to the Te Aroha Holiday Park, just on the South Side of the Town itself was easy. $34 for the two of us with the NZMCA discount.. what a classic place. All the cabins are ex workingmens huts. In really good nick too.

Click on the photos to Enlarge

Reading through Rankers and Wikicamps, some of the comments are awful and the place didn’t deserve the bad rap that it had. One of the comments was that the hot pools didn’t have any water in them, .. my first question when I checked in .. after that it was all good.
There was a really nice pool complex too. The pools weren’t ready until after 6 and it was dark by then so no photos.
Huge parking spaces and nicely separated off by hedges and plants. Well placed and easy to get to Dump Station too. A nice place to stay.

Amazing Pop Out Caravan

This gives pop outs a whole new meaning 🙂

Check out this new French caravan and it goes sideways..  and its only 1000kgs to tow!

All popped out
All popped out


Funky Interior
Funky Interior

Fun & Games at Bland Bay

It was this time a year ago that we went to our first ever NZMCA rally in Northland. A really nice bunch of people and there were in excess of 90 Motorhomes in attendance, quite a few of them from Auckland.

A magic spot just south of the Bay of Islands right on the water.  It was only our 5th or 6th trip away in a relatively new machine so we were still very much finding our way so when the North Easterly gusts of 30-40 knots odd rolled in around 11pm and the van started rocking, it was a bit interesting 🙂

We arrived around 2pm on the Saturday afternoon. Many of them had arrived the previous day so all the primo waterfront spots were all taken.. that was before we found out about the wind, then we were quite relieved to be a row back!

The Games started soon after we arrived.. lots of fun and good to see everyone having a good laugh.

We met Rob & Helen  who have become good friends since and we spent the the next night with them in the Russell RSA carpark. The following night we spent at Uretiti Doc park another magic place in the world.

Uretiti Doc park with the Awning out
Uretiti Doc park with the Awning out

If I remember correctly, that was the first time we used the awning and the BBQ gas jack.. funny what you remember.. a great weekend away.

Big Mommas Great Adventure

Somewhere in Portugal .. pic by Eric

I’ve been following Eric and Shazza’s adventures via their blog for more than a year now and they’ve been an inspiration for this blog and for fulltiming here in NZ.  Eric writes most of the blog and takes the pictures and is a real character.

They’ve got an 9m odd Autotrail Commanche  which is very comfortable and have had some interesting moments with small streets… well worth a read.

Eric and Shazza's Autotrail, somewhere in Portugal
Eric and Shazza’s Autotrail, somewhere in Portugal – Pic by Eric

Easy Clothesline

Ready for the towels
Ready for the towels
Ready for the road
Ready for the road

Today I installed a clever Fiamma clothesline that integrates with the bike rack we had installed a week or so ago. The nice part about it is it stays on the back, whether you’ve got bikes or not. It simply unfolds.

Perfect for the towels after a shower or the tea towels and flips out in seconds.

Wow .. How is that Black!

Tough painting on your knees amongst the plants. The base of the steps look great.

The black really looks good … More rent ?  🙂

We’re online !

We had the property manager today to list the house for renting. I’ve been busy painting trellis by brush ! .. The spray gun started to paint things I didn’t want painting so it ended up in the big green bin……

Why are we doing all this ? … To hit the road fulltime.. so  Bugger it, We are off

We’ve done the sums and by renting the house out, along with some other income, we can live very happily on the road….

Sir Rafe on the park we made by chopping down an oak tree and installing a gate.
Rafe on the park we made by chopping down an oak tree and installing a gate.