Category Archives: Close to home

800 000 Hits!

The last 100000 has been a bit of a slog but we finally got there.. Its actually more than 820 000!

Glorious spotย  by the Waikato Riverย 

I remember the moment when we hit 600 000. I was on my own in Coromandel at a neat campground by the river so had plenty of time to think about it. Fiona was at work.

Fiona using the Power pole clothesline ๐Ÿ™‚ย  In the Ida Valley

Thanks for being great supporters of these pages and now heading for the Million mark.!

Rafe’s new Landscaped Park

One of the challenges we all have as Motorhome owners is where to park our Motorhomes.ย  Over the last month or so, we’ve been progressively been making space for ours.

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Boxing on. you can see the original bit
Boxing
The ready mix going in. Ryan floating off the slab

In the last two weeks, one of the bigger changes we’ve made to our new place in Devonport is hard landscaping of our front yard. It includes a flash new raised Garden which Fiona has always wanted. A parking area for our visitors as parking is a premium around here and a few green things around Rafe’s park and making it easier to get Rafe in and out of the park.

Rafe’s first day
Some of that fence has gone

A very good friend of my son Andrew, Ryan and his wife Jordan have done an amazing job. Ryan’s speciality is concrete but he has done a lot in the landscaping area too so we’re really chuffed with what we’ve got on a small difficult site. Ray helped too with redoing the fence and the raised gardens. A great job folks.

The Digger off to pull out the clothesline

We’ve only been here a couple of months. In that time, the concrete parking pad has been extended for Rafe, Hot water cylinder replaced and moved outside, a heat pump installed, the Laundry shifted around to be more functional, and now this amazing Garden.

While the Garden was being done, the fence had to be rebuilt as all the railings were knackered. The posts and palings were reused into an arty random fence.. We like it, the neighbours like it but quite a few don’t ๐Ÿ™‚ย  we can always trim it later !

We also left a few bits at the front off to make it easier to get Rafe in and out ๐Ÿ™‚

Ryan supervising the first scraping off the grass

 

Click on the Gallery below to see the progress!

A big thanks to Ryan, Jordan and Ray for their fantastic efforts.

Easy parking

Thats it for now for a while on the house so we’re back in Rafe on the road for summer.

Our Motorhomes new park

Over the last month or so, our Motorhome Rafe has been stored up in Albany getting covered in Motorway dust and crap from a concrete distributor close by so it was somewhat of a relief to be able to park it back at our house again and give the van a good wash!

Our house is one of three units on a cross leased section which run down the hill overlooking each other and then over the golf course. When I say overlooking.. just our roof but we’re at the top closest to the road.

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It had a parking ramp here already but it was in the shape of a triangle and we all know that Motorhomes and cars for that matter tend to rectangular ๐Ÿ™‚

Our neighbour Doug is a semi retired builder who is a magic guy and was happy for us to do whatever we needed to make Rafe fit in the hole.

Boxing

Enter Ryan and Ray, a couple of concrete experts who are good friends of my son Andrew to take on the project of adding to the existing pad to make it useable and also add another around the corner for an outside water cylinder and Heat Pump.

The project went without a hitch, even getting the concrete truck in to do the pour and the result is perfect.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

Since then, the Water Heater and Heat pump have been installed and we’ve managed to get Rafe in here but not without some drama!

The first time in. I got a good friend of mine Alan to be my eyes and ears at the back to help me in. The first obstacle was a hump at the end of the drive which I thought would grab the overhang but surprisingly for me, there was never an issue.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

The tight bends around the front fence were a bit of a problem and I managed to get the front wheels stuck in a small patch of grass behind our letterboxes!ย  After jacking it up and slipping some things in to jump out, it finally did but not without creating some stress and some mess of the grass.

Rafe stuck in the grass. Alans cell phone pic
Some of that fence has gone

Anyway, we’re in and it works a treat but I have decided since to convert a fence panel into a gate and add some gravel to make it a lot easier to get in and out.

Tighter than it looks

We also have a 16 amp socket going in to keep the batteries topped up.

Hot water and Heat pump in

Thanks to Ray, Ryan for the great concreting, Pete the sparky for his wiring and Alan, a big thanks for helping me get in for the first time.

The Motorhome Surgery

Just recently, I had the pleasure of having a guided tour through ACM’s Auckland Motorhome repair and manufacturing factory. Amazing stuff.

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A decapitated Luton restored

ACM was started 7 years ago by ex boat builder Chris Cunard (think Super Yachts) as a repair facility and later added his own range of manufactured Motorhomes. After chatting to Chris for a while, you very quickly get the sense that build quality is the name of the game and you can see this everywhere you look.

Chris Cunard

One of ACM’s Leading hands Daryl, showed me around a couple of the new Motorhome’s they are currently making for customers. Apart from having their own standard models, they make bespoke vans for those with special interests or hobbies. They also do repairs for other dealers brands too.

One of those I saw was one made for someone who was confined to a wheelchair. All the benchtops were lower. There was a special hydraulic lift at the back for entry and the bathroom and bedroom was all specially fitted out so they could enjoy Motorhoming. Fantastic!

Room for the slideout with the wheelchair Galley

A lot ofย  slideouts in the industry are driven electrically. These ones have huge hydraulic arms to drive it instead which should make it a lot more reliable. The hydraulic drop down legs for levelling were huge too.

Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow

One of their clients who liked his music so much, they designed and built his Motorhome so that he could take a built in piano with him and it looks like part of the Motorhome.

Good on them for taking their hobby with them!

Click on the Gallery below to see one of the finished Motorhomes

Stairway to Heaven

Athough I was lucky enough a few years ago to have a look through the Niesmann and Bichoff factory in Germany, it was really nice to see a local builder building Motorhomes basically by hand, doing a really nice job of them and providing employment and skills training for young Kiwis.

The Gas Gadget

And this is a beauty! People who know me will tell you how I love a good gadget that can do something useful.. This is one of those.

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The Kit with the two sensors, the rubber base rings and the gauge.

I bumped into Duncan from Apollo as I left the NZMCA Motorhome show and he was telling me about this new Gas remote fuel gauge. It is called a Mopeka.

The sensors all connected to the phone app

It works by having two sealed sensors which are each magnetically attached to the bottom of your Gas bottles that send a signal to a remote LED gauge telling you how much Gas you have left in your bottles.

My new Gas bottles ready for the sensors
A sensor on the bottom of a bottle
The Gauge for inside somewhere

It also has a phone app and it will work with that too but you have to make sure that you tell it your bottle size and that you’re in NZ. It defaults to a weird bottle size in the US ๐Ÿ™‚

All ready to be put in the Gas locker. Note the rubber ring on the base.

I thought I’d give one a run and see how they went. The whole process from start to finish took me about ten minutes and once I’d set it up for two 9kg bottles in NZ, it looked like the perfect solution to prevent middle of the night alarms from the fridge, when a bottle has run out, usually in the rain  ๐Ÿ™‚

Ready to go

Rafe is in storage at the moment until his new concrete pad has settled so isn’t parked at the optimum angle. I think once it is level, this device will have half a chance but given that the bottles are both swappa bottles that only ever have about 70% gas in them anyway, I’d say its pretty accurate.

Not really a good test for it!

A really clever device retailing about $300 from Apollo Entertainment.

With the phone app

On the banks of the mighty Waikato

Just past Tuakau is a lovely new Campground on the banks of the river.

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Glorious spot

It is run by the good folk at the Tuakau Hotel on land that used to be where the sand was loaded up and shipped off and its in a beautiful spot.

All weather parking

The campground has been constructed from scratch with about 8 dead flat gravelled sites with power and a barbeque table overlooking the river. It couldn’t be in a better spot and well thought out.

Perfect seating

We popped in to the Tuakau Hotel which is just a few k’s away and spoke to Tash at the Hotels Accomodation office where we were given the full rundown on what was where and in case we forgot, there was also a sheet of everything we needed to know along with a key for the water and the codes for the automated gate and shower block. The cost is $20 per site for two with power which I reckon is extremely good value.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

After settling down and opening some vents, I went for a bit of a look around.

Looking down the river

There are three quite large self contained cabins too which can be rented which look out over the river too.

Looking across from the cabins

In the morning I went for a walk along the rivers edge to see the whitebaiters in full swing where I met Anthony who drives down here from Mt Wellington to do his whitebaiting. He was doing well and showed me piccies of his catch from the day before.

Whitebaiter Anthony from Mt Wellington

A lovely spot not far from the Tuakau Bridge on the way to Port Waikato.

The Netspeed Speedtest (Not great here)
Download : 2.68 mbps
Upload : 0.85 mbps
Ping : 48 ms

Rafes Tracker Map

Murphy’s Law Motorhome Parking

Coming back from Pukekohe, and with the weather being really rough, we thought we’d hunker down at the Murhpy’s Law Motorhome Park.

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The NZMCA App suggested it was $25 for the night which is incorrect. It’s $38 a night for two minus a 10% discount for NZMCA’rs making it $34 and you get a discount of everything you eat or drink.

Toilet / Shower block

I initially thought it was a bit expensive for parking in what is essentially a carpark but after enjoying a hot shower in their newish facilities and an hour in the bar, decided its a good spot to base yourself for a night Or two in a good location.

Looking in from the outside.. the wire fence.

The parking is inside a secure high wire fence which you access with keypad access and a fob so it is very secure and with power and water on every site, its a great setup.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Fiona and I wandered into the bar to have a drink and order tea and it was a great atmosphere with a big open fire and plenty of people enjoying themselves.

A great use of what is probably a wasted space behind a pub. Close to the Motorway and with a dump station just around the corner making it a good spot to stay for a night and enjoy the banter at the Bar and not have to drive after.

Very English

The last time I was at this Pub was when it was the Jolly Farmer in the 80’s and they had their famous Wet T Shirt competitions ๐Ÿ™‚ I was working as a photographer for the 8’O clock then which part of the Auckland Star and it was my job to cover the big Final at the time. A fun event ๐Ÿ™‚ How times have changed.

Rafe’s Tracker Map to Murphy’s Law

We’ve found a house !

We sold our last house in October last year. Settled in February this year and since then, we’ve been in Rafe fulltime mostly staying at Takapuna Holiday Park for 3-4 days a week.

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Our last night at Takapuna

Fiona has been able to walk to work from there in Takapuna and I’ve been able to do the odd commercial photographic job from there. We escaped in the weekends to where ever with a month off in the South Island as well. Its been fun but I’m very happy to be in a house again.

The rain finally stopped! Our last day

We did put in offers for a couple but were turned down and in hindsight, it was a good thing as what we have now is pretty bloody good! It also has a park for Rafe once we extend a concrete pad in the next few weeks.

Our view

The Kitchen needs doing and Fiona is already sizing up a new Oven.
Here are some images done by the real estate agency.

Click on the Gallery below to see Images of the House

Best of all its only 90 Square metres (we came from 240 sq m) with enough room for our friends and small enough to vacuum with the new Dyson in a few minutes.

It has a view out towards the North over the Waitemata Golf course in Devonport and is 5 minutes bike ride from about 4 beaches.

Our view

The week before we settled, I went to Adelaide to see my family with my two sons Andrew and Alex, as we haven’t seen any of them over there for quite a while. We were only there for 4 days and my sister Jayne went all out and organised a meal with the family and took us to see McClaren Vale and Hahndorf in the Adelaide hills which was great.

It was all a bit of a surprise for a few with my brother Tim coming over from Melbourne and neice flying in from Sydney too. Lots of fun and nice to see everyone.

Click on the gallery below for a Slideshow

The next day after getting back, we settled on the house so it was all a bit hectic! It all went reasonably smoothly and we moved in a few days later.

Even though Rafe has steadies, its really nice to walk around and not have that little wobble under your feet.

Great Parking right in the town

A couple of years ago, I popped into the Pukekohe A & P to see how their Motorhome Parking was going as they had just started it and it looked great. Since then they have had some big groups of Motorhome parties through and most nights, there is somebody there.

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Looking back to the Motorhome Parking area across the Kart track

At only $20 a night including power with access to their brand new ablutions block with showers and toilets, it is ceratinly great value. The only downside over the last year or so has been the wet weather.

Rafe on the hard with the new ablutions block.

Fiona and I stopped in to stay a night and have a look around. After talking to Gina, who runs the office, she introduced me to Ian, the volunteer Camp organiser who was telling meย  that the wet weather issue is about to be solved with the addition of rolled out gravel to all of the sites in stages.

Volunteer Parking Organiser/Creator Ian, at the parking area

I could tell while talking to Ian that he was really excited by the way the Motorhome Parking has developed and where it was going. He has done a wonderful job and I’m looking forward to seeing it when we come back in a few months.

A break in the rain

As the rain was almost horizontal and the wind with it, we decided to stay on the gravel by the new loos.

This must be the judges box

The site is huge with more than 50 acres odd to walk around. Dogs are welcome on leads and it is only a stones throw from the centre of Pukekohe so good for shopping too.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The train station is only 500 metres away and although the trains didn’t worry us, Ian tells me that it has been a problem for some. I love the sound of those big Diesels pulling a couple of hundred metres of train!

Pukekohe station

The next morning, we dodged the showers and went for a walk through the own to check out the shops and have lunch. Just over the road and along from the camp is a huge Mall with a Warehouse and all the shops you’d ever want. Very handy.

Fiona with a Statue of Possum Bourne in the main street
One of the Malls just around the corner

I used to have to come out to the Pukekohe races when I was a wee fella in short pants (about 5-6 ) as my Dad was involved with Shell Racing, and I remember Pukekohe then as a small village with big racetrack. It has definitely changed from those days.

I’m looking forward to going back soon to check out the new all weather parking setup. Well done Ian and team for a great setup.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Pukekohe. You can see we missed the turnoff ๐Ÿ™‚

Motorhome reunion at the Hot Pools

Some months ago we arranged to get some old time Dethleffers together at the old haunt where we first met at Miranda Hot Pools.

New Playground

Bruce and Judy with Rafe’s twin brother (Motorhome, younger by a month) from Coromandel, and Gary and Dianne from Taupo with their Neismann and Bischoff Arto 88. Gary and Dianne started with a Dethleffs Esprit and then later and Dethleffs XLI.

We all met at the Miranda Holiday park as Jonas (the agent) held the first Annual get together there which Gary and Dianne helped to organise.ย  The next year was held there too.ย  Day 2

Its always good fun to come here especially in the middle of winter. Nothing beats a soak in a Hot pool!

People enjoying the pool

It was great to catch up with the crew and for me, its always great to see what Bruce has added to his Motorhome being identical to ours.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Grant and Sharron arrived the next day from Hamilton in their Holiday Rambler. We caught up with them with their friends and their Ramblers at Tokerau a year or so ago.

Grant and Sharron arrived too from Hamilton in their Rambler.

Miranda Holiday Park has changed hands and as its a while since I’ve been here there have been some notable changes.

Bruce and Judy having dogs, had a fenced off area at the back which meant their two dogs could wander around their Motohome park without disappearing off around the camp. A fantastic addition for the camp for Dog lovers.

Bruce and Judy’s van in the Dog area

There is also a Volley Ball / Badminton net and some more cabins added at the back which were all booked out when we were there. Nice!

The new Cabins

We had fun reminiscing with the first Dethleffs getother and the changes over the years.. that was nearly 5 years ago !
A fun weekend.

Rafe at Kaiaua

On the way home we stopped in at Kaiaua for our favourite Fish and Chips for lunch.

Rafe’s Tracker map