Category Archives: Close to home

Cricket on the mudflats

Yay .. its the end of lockdown.. we’re away again.. almost !   Here’s a couple more posts from early 2017 until we get away again.

Fiona had left Bland Bay and was heading back to town to do other things .. and work so she suggested that I spend another night out on the way back. We stopped in Waipu and had lunch and then Fiona went on to Auckland.

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The cricket pitch with the campground behind
The cricket pitch with the campground behind

I rang the good folk at one of my favorite spots when the weathers good, Whangateau by Matakana. A great campground run by Auckland City.

In the Grandstand
In the Grandstand

Today was a bit different as when I arrived, the tide was out and there was a friendly game of cricket with two families involved. One was from Whangaparoa and the other from the UK visiting. They were having a ball. I had to get some piccies.

It is a fascinating place to watch as the tide comes in really quickly covering hundreds of metres of exposed mud in just under an hour… Amazing to watch.

The water is coming in
The water is coming in

A nice campground if you’re looking for somewhere not to far from Auckland. See my earlier Whangateau post here.

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Beautiful Awhitu

Yay .. its the end of lockdown.. we’re away again.. almost !   Here’s a couple more posts from early 2017 until we get away again.

After a good solid weekend of babysitting, we thought we’d escape for our last night before Fiona had to return to work.

The Brook Homestead Wharf
The Peninsula Campground at Awhitu

I wasn’t really in the mood for huge driving for one night so we figured that up the Awhitu peninsula might be quite nice. I called Auckland City and it seems that even in the height of the Summer silly season, you can still use your camping pass at Awhitu and other parks like it. 

Don’t forget to click on the Images for Hi res or a Slideshow

Peninsula Campground. Plenty of room.
Peninsula Campground. Plenty of room.

After booking in on the phone, we were off heading for Awhitu. We arrived around 1pm and settled Rafe down in the Peninsula Campground.

When you book with the Council, the choices are Self contained or not.  When you get to Awhitu, it is Brook Campground or the Peninsula campground. I was a bit confused as to where we were supposed to park as there is no mention of SCC and no signposts 🙂
It wasn’t until we had the downloaded map off the council website that we saw two Motorhome emblems on both the Peninsula and the Brook campgrounds with tags saying SCC camping that we were happy with where we had parked. 

The  Brook Campground which is behind the Brook Homestead and the Peninsula camp is beside the Homestead and closer to the water. Both have nice toilets and great rubbish collection points and both are an easy walk to the beach. 

The Cottage
The Cottage

After settling down and having a look around both Brook Homestead and the Cottage, which they used before the Homestead was built, we sat down for lunch and just blobbed in the sun.  A perfect spot for watching the planes coming in to Auckland Airport and they were far enough away not to be a nuisance with sound. A lovely spot.

In the morning, we went for a walk down to the beach and had a look around. The Ranger popped in and checked the park so it was then I knew for sure we were ok where we parked although we were on our own. There was no one else there which surprised me.

The Beach with the tide out. Pip gathers out on the mudflats
The Beach with the tide out. Pipi gathers out on the mudflats

The park is huge and there are lots of great walks which we’ll check out next time we’re here but it’s a great spot and not too far away from the big smoke.

AwhituWe only had a night to check this place out before having to head back but we have visited here before but not stayed. See the earlier post.  It is a magic spot with a nice beach and plenty of places to explore. We’ll be back for sure.

AwhituThere is good 4g internet here which surprised me, being where it is although it’s not fast but good enough for Netflix.

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Drama on Milford Beach

This was first posted in Feb 2016 .. a special repost for lockdown!

I used to think that going to the local boat ramp for a couple of hours  on a Saturday afternoon was great entertainment.

Fiona and I walked down to Milford beach to watch some of the returning long weekend launches come back into Milford Marina in a 20 knot easterly coming up your backside. This is a real challenge as the entrance is quite narrow and with the surf, you can easily broach and head onto the rocks on either side of the entrance. Its not for the faint hearted.

Milford

Coastguard Arriving
Coastguard Arriving

As we crossed the bridge and walked down to the sand, I mentioned to Fiona that the mast we could see and the way it was bobbing around looked as though it was on the beach. As we got closer, there it was. I immediately rang Coastguard but they already knew about it and help was coming.
MilfordMilfordIt seems the poor chap misjudged the tide completely and was forced to turn around in the channel (almost impossible) and lost control and ended up on the beach. There were lost of volleyball players who volunteered to help in the water.  Coastguard arrived and towed them off with a jet powered rubber boat. A very lucky fellow and what a long day he had!

After that, we sat back and watched the boats come in on the easterly..   Everyone I saw did the return to Milford pretty well but what an afternoon of drama and action.

Left right, left right, attention !

This was first posted in Feb 2016 .. a special repost for lockdown!

What a great weekend! The weather was great and we had things to do.

After Fiona had finished work, we headed out to one of our favorite spots, the NZMCA park at Ardmore, a hop skip and a jump from Alex, Sarah and the Grandkids.

As always, remember to click on the images to see Hi Res.

Rob & Helens Autotrail and Rafe
Rob & Helens Autotrail and Rafe

Our friends, Rob & Helen and their daughter Chloe were heading off for a week or so to Napier and Gisborne so it was great we could pop in to Ardmore to see them off. When we arrived at about 7:30pm, they were off on a walk so they were a bit surprised to see us there when they returned as we hadn’t confirmed that we would be there.

Alex, Sarah and the boys came over after their tea and we all caught up in Rafe. Lots of fun.

The Ardmore NZMCA park is in an airfield precinct so a little noise comes with the territory, usually small planes and sometimes Helicopters.

Ardmore Park with Rob & Helens Autotrail and Rafe next door. The Cadet hall behind.
Ardmore Park with Rob & Helens Autotrail and Rafe next door. The Cadet hall behind.

That morning, things were different. At 8am, we heard the repetitive bark of a Sergeant Major type next door in the cadet parade ground teaching St John Juniors how to march. It was quite interesting to watch too as some didn’t know the left from the right so there were some interesting moves happening.
They were all togged up in their black uniforms and looked good, some even wearing their medals. There was one trainer who forgot his black clobber and was doing it all in his Red shorts.

St Johns Juniors marching
St Johns Juniors marching

As Fiona said, good on him for volunteering his time on a Saturday morning but it did sort of spoil the overall look.

About 9:30, we said goodbye to Rob, Helen and Chloe and they headed off to Taupo for their trip to Hawkes Bay and beyond. We left as well and went around to Alex, Sarahs and the Grandkids for the morning and around lunchtime, headed towards one of our other favorite places, Rays Rest at Miranda.  We were  catching up our friends Gary and Chris who were helping other friends Mark and Tina with their first trip out in their new, second hand Motorhome.
Rays Rest is a great spot and the weather was behaving as well.

Rays Rest
Rays Rest

After arriving early in the afternoon, we caught up for cups of tea and later a couple of drinks and then  headed off in Gary’s van down to get the fish and chips for tea from the famous Kaiaua fish and chips shop.  Gary wasn’t drinking so that worked well.  It was nice to see how much progress Mark had made on his motorhome as when he got it, it leaked and had quite a lot of dampness in its linings. .. now all gone.  More on this in another post soon.

We had a great night together and called it quits and hit the hay.

At Rays Rest
At Rays Rest

The next morning was nice in diffused sunshine with little wind. We sat on the foreshore watching people fish and just soaked up the atmosphere.

At Rays Rest, Gary, Fiona, Tina, Chris and Mark
At Rays Rest, Gary, Fiona, Tina, Chris and Mark

Gary, Chris, Tina and Mark were going to carry on to Thames and Coromandel so after lunch, we left them and headed home. A nice weekend.

 

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 spot  by the Waikato River 

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 🙂  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.  Over the last month or so, we’ve been progressively been making space for ours.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

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 🙂  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 🙂

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 🙂

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!  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 of  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 🙂

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  🙂

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.

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