Category Archives: Auckland West Coast

The Piano Man

While staying recently at a Motorhome parking spot in Muriwai we met John who has a massive shed on his 150 acre farm up on the hills. We were parked on his farm.

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John with a 1870 organ made in Chicago

While we were getting set up, he invited me in for a look in his shed. John emigrated from the UK with his wife Jane, many years ago with degrees in both engineering and agriculture. In his words then, “They wanted people like me”! and looking at the stuff in his shed, he’s a really clever guy.

John showing me a Pianola that he had revived.

John and Jane started an Orchard in Kumeu and grew the business to three orchards over several years. He was once of the first, if not the first to export Figs and Feijoas amongst other things too.

John playing an 1896 Clark organ made in Chicago.

Now in “retirement mode” he just sticks to his specialty of fixing Organs and Piano’s! I thought to myself, that’s a long way from being an orchardist but he is an engineer too!

Another Piano key masterpiece.

Amongst many organs in his shed is an old rotary hoe with tubeless tyres with a new petrol motor on which he has rebuilt for a friend.

Looking around the organs, John showed me the latest late 1800’s one he was working on which was a real mess when it arrived but he is slowly restoring it.

Johns bits draw with very fancy organ valve handles 🙂

He’s also a keen woodturner making serving platters and bowls from native timbers and he’s made some really interesting decorations/sculptures out of old Piano keys!

A really interesting and clever guy and you can stay on his farm for just $10.

Parking at Dusk
Muriwai much later in the day.

Muriwai Sunset

It was the first long weekend after lockdowns and already the traffic was awful but we wanted a night out of the house… where to go without driving endlessly through traffic.

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Muriwai much later in the day.

Muriwai looked great and we picked a spot I’ve been looking forward to going to for months. John and Jane’s Charges Apply (CAP) parking spot high up in the hills overlooking Muriwai Beach.

We made the mistake of letting the GPS lead the way which was down an unsealed back road up to the road despite the GPS having “no unsealed roads please” loaded. We should have headed straight to Muriwai Beach and then headed up the hill.. still a little bit of unsealed road but only a 1k or so.

Our spot with Muriwai Beach behind

John met us at the electric gates and directed us up to a parking spot where we could get power too for an extra few dollars. Absolutely magic spot looking straight out towards Australia and north over the magnificent Muriwai Beach.

John’s cows with the best view in town.

We were both pretty knackered so just lazed around with some good Jazz on the stereo and I went for a wander around the paddocks to get some piccies.

Parking at Dusk

A lovely spot so close to town and fantastic hosts.

The Gannet Colony

On the way out the next morning, we stopped off for a quick look at the farmhouse Gannet Colony up on the rock on the southern end of the beach.

Rafe’s Tracker map ..The long route we took to John and Janes. – Armada GPS

Jo’s Healthcare Motorhome

While I was having a look around the Piha Motorcamp, I walked past Jo outside her Civilian Bus giving another camper a Massage. Kids from other caravans were there taking photos with their cellphones. It was all very casual with lots of laughter !

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One of my neighbours Jo doing massages !

Having a chat later with Jo, its quite a normal part of her day along with making up her Rongoa Maori Healthcare medicines.

Jo with some of her Medicines

Two years ago Jo took delivery of her 6m, 1992 Nissan Civilian and adapted it so she could make her Natural Herbal medicines. She has been living in it and commutes into town two days a week to teach others about Maori Healthcare.

Jo with the Civilian
The living area

The day I took the photos, she was showing me the biggest Mushroom I’ve ever seen.

The Mushroom

She also has a great collection of walking sticks which she has gathered up with hre long walks looking for the native plant ingredients for her Medicines.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

A really nice lady and she is really enjoying her lifestyle with the bus.

Lounging at the Lion – Piha

One of the trips I’ve been wanting to do for ages but I haven’t been able to get Fiona interested in is a trip to Piha. One of Aucklands better west coast beaches, it is dominated by Lion Rock in the middle and is one of the few North Island beaches to have two surf clubs.

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Lion Rock looking fantastic

Over the years the road has improved massively but it is still very windy(curvy) in places and there is no direct route. There are several ways of getting there but the best one I think is via Henderson Valley. Check the map below.

Its a slow 30k odd from the centre of Auckland but well worth it when you get here and its a nice drive.

Lion Rock

The Holiday park is a leased site off the council as part of the Domain but privately run and is on black sand. Its a big park with plenty of room and is only 5 minutes walk to the beach via a bridge over the lagoon.

All that space

At the time of this post, it was $22 per adult with power with new showers and loos close by. There is a cafe right over the road and a General Store next door for anything you may have forgotten.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The beach is spectacular. I popped down here at dusk  to find a dozen or so amateur photographers wandering around in a group waiting to get the sunset.

The Amateur photographers doing their dusk pix.

Its funny as I remember when I was working at The Auckland Star, we used to get called on to judge various photographic awards for these Camera Clubs. The people were always very friendly and it was interesting to see what they were up to.  Generally it was a PR thing from the Star’s point of view and we tried to help with ideas where we could. I remember judging at the North Shore Society awards a couple of times but can’t remember any of the others.

Finished for the day

I met one of the members and gave him a few ideas while we were wandering around Lion Rock on the black sand. It was great to see them out there having some fun.

Sunset

After that, I wandered back to Rafe through the black sand and had a drink with my neighbours. A great night.

One of my neighbours Jo doing massages !

Lovely spot, close to Auckland and reasonably priced with a great Beach.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Piha