Category Archives: Close to home

We’re on the Market !

Well its been nice to be back in our house and to have Rafe safely parked in his little spot alongside.

It has been a fun 8 months or so cruising around Europe and the South Island and we both feel better for it.

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Back in the late 70’s, we had another smaller house in Devonport which we were in for 28 years or so. The boys grew up here and as we needed more space, we simply kept adding on until there was no more site coverage. At the time I had a huge Photographic Studio up in Albany and had decided to move home amd work from home as my work had changed to more location work. What studio work I had could be done in a big garage. So around 2006 we bought Roslyn Tce..  8 years or so later,  I no longer have any real studio work and the boys have left home, its time to downsize.

Oldest son Drew is a real estate person and he’s handling the sale.

The Motorhome parking is on the far right with a 16 amp plug on the side of the house too.

Having been used to living in a Motorhome for over 6 months, we are rattling in this huge house with no need for a Studio. Its on the Market!

While we were on the road, one question I was asked pretty reguarly was how were we getting on with renting it. How do we know its not getting smashed up and the rent going astray etc.

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Enter Dianne our property manager who has been really good checking out the tenants thoroughly, credit checks etc,  Regular inspections were done to see it was being looked after. When we got back, the house was in good shape. The tenants had had it commercially cleaned.

Back to the House sale..Its been a busy time! I’ve been busy painting fences and fixing things I should have done years ago.. and the place is looking good. If you’re looking for a place in Devonport with motorhome parking (up to 9 metres) and with power, here it is!

Fiona mentioned the other day why we didn’t fix all these little things years ago! I wonder 🙂

Early Magic in Auckland

It was really nice to be back in Auckland after a nice trip around the South Island and to see our families and friends again. We’ve been away now for over 6 months so we had lots of catching up to do.

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Rafe parked for Christmas in Ardmore on Sara and Alex’s (son)driveway.

Fiona was asked to step in at her old job in Takapuna for a few days so we thought we’d treat ourselves with a park on the waterfront at Takapuna Motorcamp. Friends Gary and Dianne with their new Niesmann and Bischoff and Ian and Lynda with their Dethleffs XLI joined us too.

Fantastic spot

On one of the mornings after Fiona left to walk to work, I set off to walk around the coast to Milford. It is an easy 30 minutes or so mostly along paths but with a little rock hopping right at the beginning.

Takapuna beach, campground on the right

Some of the houses are amazing. It is a great walk and it seems like the world is out there enjoying it. Its just nice sucking in the early morning fresh air and stopping now and then just to take it all in.

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I eventually ended up in Milford and went to check out our old family boat Rorqual which was happily sitting in the sun in the marina.

Milford Marina, Rorqual the Whalechaser in the foreground

I have done a blog on the both the campground and this walk before but both the campground and the walk, really are a treasure so really this is all about the photos.


Rafe’s track from Milford

Ready Steady Go

One of the discoveries we made in Europe was the huge impact on life in a Motorhome when you have drop down steadies. Our Uk rental, Ralph had quite squishy air suspension and had a couple of steadies on it but being a rental, the steadies had been damaged. The thread had been stripped on one side but we were able to get enough out of it to make a difference.

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Welding on the feet

From this, I made a decision that we would get some added to Rafe when we got home to NZ.

The other discovery was finding better door catches for holding the doors open against the wind. The ones that come of the Dethleffs and a lot of other brands are small plastic things which are as effective as an ash tray on a motorbike 🙂

Waiting for Bolts

While we were looking through the huge Motorhome accessory store, Berger in Berlin, I found bigger catches for roughly 2 Euros a pair and got 3 pair for the habitation door and the garage doors at the back of Rafe.

Dropdowns clipped up

The day came when we could get the Drop Downs installed and while we were there, get the catches changed.

Vantage RV had some Alko Drop downs which had brackets made for another Dethleffs customer who had changed their mind and so were left with them in their store cupboard.

One ready to go

The ones they had were set up for an A class vehicle which is higher that Rafe so they had to be shortened and have the feet re welded on.

The old clips

They look fantastic, they work well and although Rafes suspension is a lot stiffer than Ralphs being a lot younger, they work brilliantly.

Clips all finished

The catches make a huge difference too and it was all done in a couple of hours. Brilliant!!

Waterfront Mansion

Without wanting to annoy our old neighbours, we spent a couple of nights down by the Marina in front of my son Andrew’s house while we sorted out some Winter clothing for the South Island. It was nice to catch up with some of our old friends around the marina and such a nice place to stay.

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Beside the Marina

There were still two nights to go before we were catching up with our Devonport friends before our South Island trip so we thought we’d treat ourselves to Takapuna Motor Camp and check it out since we’d voted for it to stay.

The Tide is in and what a view.

At $47 a night for two on a waterfront site, it seemed to be to be on the pricey side but once you see the site on a good day, it is just magnificent and on our second morning, I received a text from good friend Alan asking if he could “come for a coffee at our Waterfront Mansion”.

Close to the water parking.

The Camping ground is great. It is only small so I could imagine it would be easily and often booked out on school holidays and Christmas Holidays.

You can rent these.

Standard Sites are  $42 and they also have chalets and caravans you can stay in. Loos and showers are free and are fantastic. The shower I had was one of the best ever with real pressure.

Click on these images for a Slideshow.

We went for a walk one night into the Takapuna main street, Hurstmere Rd, for an ice cream, an easy 15 minute walk.

Rangitoto Island

I grew up about a block away and went to primary school about three blocks away so I’ve been keen to see what its like but living locally, I’ve never had a need to stay here but I can say its absolutely a primo spot. It is handy to everything and being right on the water with a view of Rangitoto like this, it doesn’t get much better.

Great Beach

There is also a really nice Café right next door and the coastal walk goes all the way around to Milford from right in front of the Campground.

Rafe’s track from the marina to Takapuna.

West Coast Beauty

We spent a nice couple of nights with the two Grandsons and their parents at Ardmore and then we headed off to Port Waikato for our last night away for the weekend.

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The Jandal Wall

The last time I came to Port Waikato in the middle of last year, the camp was run by a very helpful French chap who couldn’t do enough for you.

Last year in October, the camp was bought out by a Hapu of Tainui and the welcome we got from manager Mathew was unbelievable.

He’s a lovely guy and again was just so helpful. With the new management comes some enthusiasm to do a few deals to rev things up in winter. The deal we had was pay for one adult and get another one free for a powered site which was amazing. Where else do you get this with all the other facilities too 🙂

The Powered sites

After finding a nice spot for Rafe and settling down, Fiona and I decided to walk the 1k or so down to Sunset beach. A nice easy flat walk and the beach is amazing. There is something that is quite magical about our West Coast beaches.

We spent an hour so  taking it all in and then headed back to Rafe.

Sunset beach

As it was a holiday park and despite the cold weather, the park was reasonably busy with plenty of caravans and lots of Bach owners in their permanent chalets in the park.

Great decorating skills

Some have gone to some trouble to set them apart from the others.

Along the beach

The rain came down overnight which we expected and we enjoyed a leisurely run home with very little traffic.

On the Estuary

Its a great spot, the camp is well setup and with Mathew on the handlebars now, you’ll really enjoy your stay. Check it out.

Rafes Tracking map

Huge, Close to Auckland and very reasonable

This amazing campground started out as a picnic area in the early 1900’s. About 1949, all 34 acres of it was developed into a campground and run by the Rodney Council.  As time went on the council decided it wanted to divest of its interest in the Campground. The local bach owners got together and wisely formed a company with the bach owners as shareholders and the Pinewoods campground is run as part of this.

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Looking towards Orewa. Baches on top of the cliff. Orewa in the distance.

There is a green with a stage and a big screen for movies and entertainment for kids in the summer. Plenty of neat play equipment and lots of lawn to run around on.

Some of the baches

Many of the current bach owners have been coming to Pinewoods all their lives with parents or even grandparents, and lots of children looks forward to the Christmas holidays when there is films, fishing contests, talent shows, beauty pageants, a sports day, and even tennis and golf tournaments (for the not so young).

It really is a well set out place and HUGE.

The new pads with new power boxes.

The Motorhome park I stayed on was one of ten new concrete pads with new power boxes and plenty of water taps and even grey water disposal every second or third site.

Baches forever.

Toilets and Showers were handy and and spotlessly clean.

With the NZMCA discount, I was charged $16 a night in the offseason which I thought was very reasonable.

From Jacobs Ladder looking towards Orewa

I went for a walk around when I first arrived as the weather was due to deteriorate. I ended up right at the top of the Camground where there is a very robust set of concrete steps down to a small private beach called Jacobs Ladder. Apparently it is very popular for fishing off the rocks.

From the bottom of Jacobs Ladder

Around further is access to the Red Beach Surf life saving area which the camp helped setup years ago. A neat sandy beach and safe for the littlies for swimming.  I’ll be back, a great spot with friendly staff too.

And down a short pathway, Red Beach looking stunning.

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Rafe’s track to this magic spot

Back to Rafe

We arrived in Auckland about an hour earlier than planned around 10:30pm and immediately grabbed a cab and headed for the Hotel Ibis at the airport. Our son Alex was going to pick us up in our car around 7:30 in the morning but with the body clocks being as they were, we were awake and ready to go by 5:30am wondering what to do with ourselves 🙂

It was great to see Alex, Sarah and the boys at their home in Ardmore after a long time away.  Unfortunately, we had to press on and pick up Rafe from Dianne and Gary’s shed in Taupo otherwise we had no where to sleep !

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We left Ardmore around 9:30 and headed south stopping at Cambridge for lunch and then getting to Taupo about 1pm. Rafe’s COF had expired and it was booked in for 2pm which it flew through.

I hate the waiting and standing around with WOF’s or COF’s as you never know what is going to spring out of the woodwork but today was a good day 🙂

Lovely spot

We headed up to the National Equestrian Centre which is off the road north to Rotorua, just after the turnoff from Taupo. Its a magic spot and is $10 including power, showers and toilets.

Caravan Alley

With the jet lag the way it was, neither of us felt too good about driving north until we’d had a go at our body clocks and getting some sleep so we elected to stay here, despite the weather for the next 3 days and it just came down cats and dogs.

Toilets, Showers and rubbish right opposite

Although my front wheels were close to the gravel. There was quite a bit of churned up mud just in front so I was keeping an eye on that. The land around Taupo is a little top soil over pumice so it is really well draining and although there was a huge puddle behind and partly under us, when the rain stopped and we had to get out, I simply backed back from the mud and drove sideways around it and there was no slipping at all ! The water that was behind us had drained away really quickly.

You can see some of the neighbouring thermal activity here.

Its a great spot to park and the caretaker is really helpful and a really nice bloke.

After leaving there, we thought a night at the NZMCA park at Ngongotaha might be the ticket and then after that Auckland.

At Alex and Sarah’s  in Auckland

On the fourth day, we headed back to Auckland and stayed with Alex, Sarah and the boys in Ardmore.

Liam and Granny Fiona on the sideline.

The next day grandson Ayden was playing rugby at his rugby club around the corner so we all went around and watched that.

Ayden off for the Tryline. On the left, Grandad Paul, Granny Fiona and Grand Gran Mary all providing plenty of encouragement !

A great family occasion. Sarah’s parents Paul and Mary were there too. Ayden scored about 5 tries which was great so a lot of family excitement.

Ayden off again with the ball

Its lovely to be back in Rafe and we don’t realise how spoilt we are until we drive something a bit older. Its nice to be back.

Rafe’s track to the equestrian centre from Taupo