Category Archives: Close to home

David and Liz’s Cosy Rapido

Fiona and I first met David and Liz at an annual Dethleffs do at Miranda years ago when they had their new A Class Esprit.  They had it for several years until they fell in love with their 2010 Rapido A class Motorhome on Trade me.

It is 7.4 metres long, has a huge payload and is rear wheel drive with a Mercedes 185HP motor which “goes like stink”.

David and Liz both come from a long NZ Army background like us and David knows Fiona’s Dad, Uncle and they have many common friends.. love it when that happens!

We met up with them again at the Covi Rally at Ellerslie Racecourse.

Nicely finished. I love the woodgrain on the dash.

Since they picked it up 8 months ago, they’ve done 20000k’s in it so they really enjoying it.

Galley area
Galley

David’s favorite spot was Mt Cook on a beautiful clear day when they went on the Alpine Track.

Most French beds are tucked up against the wall and hemmed in top and bottom, making it hard work to make the bed.. this is the real thing!  Access to 3 sides !

Corner Bed

What I liked about this Motorhome over their last Motorhome was its nice cosy feel, it looks and feels solid but is still under 4 tons GVM.

A good solid look to it too.

Really nice people enjoying their really nice Motorhome.

New Batteries – UPDATE

One of the first things I do after publishing a post is to link it through to several Facebook pages relating to Motorhoming.

I’d only just posted my post on my new Batteries from AA Solar when several people commented on how they were not optimally wired. They weren’t incorrect but I would get more life out of them if they were changed and several made suggestions on how it could be improved.

To be fair, Thorsten the Technician, only rewired what he inherited from the previous setup and increased the wiring size while he did it.

I actually thought it looked much better than how it was but when I posted into the NZMCA facebook forum, the advice came back on improvements that could be made and it was worth giving it another look.

How it was

I called AA Solar and after seeing my photos, they agreed and were more than happy to reset the wiring. What a difference!  Its got a much more obvious flow to it and even tidier than before.. It should perform better too.

Its a Beautiful thing
Thorsten finishing off the changes.

Thanks to all those who pitched in with the advice and thanks to Thorsten and AA Solar for a job well done.

New Batteries ..maybe before time.

Isn’t it funny how as you go through the various upgrades on your Motorhome or Caravan and someone tells you, “buy this, its the best there is” and you say to yourself later “more homework was required!”

In early 2018, I did just that and bought some new batteries which were then the best thing since sliced bread as they had a new fangled silicon plate system.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

Not long after I had them installed, I took Rafe back to get the new batteries load tested as I thought they were dropping their voltage too quickly but they passed with flying colours.

Over the last few years I’ve persisted with them and we’ve found ourselves being plugged in to power more often than we’d probably like to prevent  voltage range anxiety.

A nameless friend and battery advisor has  explained to me that the batteries I had, due to how they’re made were  not  known performers as house batteries for Motorhomes.

So here we are only 3 and a bit years later replacing them with Champion Deep Cycle AGM’s from AA Solar in Silverdale.  With the NZMCA discount, these batteries are known performers as house batteries and are quite a bit less expensive than the 3 yr old ones I’ve replaced.

The empty space under the seat for the new batteries after the old batteries were removed.

Thorsten was the technician on the job and got into taking Rafe’s seat out to get at the batteries underneath.

Thorsten re doing the cables for the terminals.

Out they came and with a quick test, although they had lost a significant amount of power, they were probably ok as low load crank batteries for a year or two. I made the decision to dump them as I could see them sitting in the back of our carport in three years time 🙂

Just about done.

In went the new batteries.. the new Champions were a bit longer but just fitted in under the seat. Thorsten took one look at the wiring for the second battery and declared it to be vastly undersized.. so he replaced this with colour coded heatshrink and new terminal bolts.. very tidy.

I was really pleased with how it went with the wiring and the batteries and am now looking forward to now being able to be off grid a bit more than we have with known performing, Deep Cycle batteries.

All done !

With the new wiring and all cleaned up it really is a big improvement just looking at it and it almost seems a shame to cover it all up with the seat 🙂 Thanks Thorsten for a really tidy job.

Wzzzzz and up it goes

I’d just switched the engine off and was plugging in the power point when Lance and Sophie pulled up alongside in the next door Camp spot. They were huge plots so we had plenty of room.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

It turns out that they has recently just bought it online from Palmerston North and was only 5 weeks old ! This one is a Flagstaff Mac made by the great American RV company Forest River.

Lance and Sophie with their trailer

This is their second one of this type although the first one was no where near as flash as this new one. They leveled it on the ground, plugged in the power cord to the post and flicked a switch and up it went! Quite impressive if you haven’t seen one before. Apparently their last one was a wind up one.

With a slide out dining area and the end bedroom areas that po out, its amazing how much room there is. It has a built in BIG gas heater for those cold nights too. Despite the fact that it is mostly canvas and several layers of blinds etc, it really holds the heat in.

Roomy!
Galley area

Lance was saying they got theirs second hand but they are available here new for around $32k fully kitted out which is an option for families who have a limited budget and don’t want a big Caravan.

Extra bed space
Dining area slideout

This was one of the first trips away they have had in it apart from bring it up from Palmerston North and they seemed very happy with it.

Looking across the slide out

A great couple enjoying their time on the road.

Above the waves at Muriwai

Only 40 odd k’s from the centre of Auckland is the fantastic west coast surf beach called Muriwai and directly behind the dunes is a raised campground.

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The view

Being so close to Auckland it is super handy if you’re not looking at doing any serious miles and it feels like you’re miles away.

I checked in during the week as they have a minimum of $46.00 during the weekend. It was just $23 for 1 during the week. I wondered about the wisdom of doing this as a lot of people in Motorhomes do travel on their own and now there are no international tourists, it is excluding a large section of those travelling.

Cheryll and Denise were very welcoming and gave me a brief guided tour and allocated me a park up on one of the top terraces with a view over the sea.

Before I’d even plugged in I had met my immediate neighbours also both from Auckland !

New Showers

The campground is leased from the council and about 4 years ago, the council demolished the old tin shed toilets and showers etc and built brand new concrete and really upmarket new buildings.

BBQ area

I tried out the shower and all it has is a push button which once pressed, the shower delivers the perfect pressure and temperature and automatically turns off afterwards. You can turn it off earlier I’m told by simply pressing the button again… very smart… and super clean.

Its a simple hop skip and a jump over a small park and over the sand dunes to the beach.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

While I was there, there were dozens of young people catching waves and enjoying the surf.

Great surf
The Gannet Colony

Muriwai goes for miles so if its a walk you’re after, there is plenty of scope for that too!  I was impressed with the camp, its facilities and the friendly hosts.

Looking North
End of the Day

A nice spot and if you like the beach, the perfect place for a long weekend.

Rafe’s Tracker map – Armada GPS

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

Everyone has a Jetty

Another one from 2018..

Over our boating years, both Alan and I have had some amazing moments in both Bon Accord harbour at Kawau and around Kawau so being  driven around on the ferry so we could have a good look with a commentary was a real treat.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

Lidgards and Kawau Yacht club

Alan does one of the biggest, if not the biggest Wooden Boating Blogs around called Waitematawoodys.com and was on the Classic Yacht Association committee with me for several years.  We have been known to sneak away in Rafe for the odd boys trip which are always fun!

We left Rafe about 9:30 from the Sandspit Holiday Park and wandered along the road to the wharf to get our tickets and check in.  So after having a cuppa at the café on the wharf we set off about 10:30 for Kawau.

Mansion House

Being an Island and only accessible by boat, Kawau Island has only a handful of roads and a handful of vehicles.

His and Hers

Almost all the houses only have water only access and the way they’ve been built either on top of a hill with their own chairlifts (think electric Wheely Bin on a rail 🙂 ) with a jetty at the bottom or on the water. Some of them are amazing but I suspect most would be either baches, occupied by retired folk or who don’t have to commute.

Kawau Yacht Club

We were on the Royal Mail boat which started at Vivian Bay in the north and worked its way around to Bon Accord Harbour and Mansion House Bay and then down to South Cove where there was mail to be dropped off. On the way back to Mansion House Bay for lunch, we passed the Old Copper Mine.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Kawau was huge source of copper in the mid 1800’s with a community of around 300 related to the Mine and its output at its peak. By the 1800’s it all fizzled out and most of the miners moved on to the Gold Fields.

The remains of the Copper Mine

After a walk around the Mansion House and the coffee shop, we eventually made our way back to the ferry. It was nice barrelling along at 15 knots in the sun with a glass of Pinot Gris in hand.

Alan getting off the Ferry
Friendly Peacocks on the lawn

We walked back to Rafe in the Sandspit Holiday Park and prepared ourselves for a meal at Sandspit Yacht Club.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Right On The Water

Here’s another one from 2018… enjoy

They’ve had a lot of rain up here so the Sandspit Holiday Park crew suggested that we stick to one back from the water just to make sure we don’t sink!

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Nice parking

My old boating friend Alan and I were in need of some time out of the house so we decided a few days before to check out the Sandspit Holiday Park and do a trip to Kawau on the ferry. Sounded like a plan thought I so off we went early on the Friday afternoon. It is only 42k’s from Auckland and with little traffic, we were there at 3.30pm.

Its a lovely little park with a lot of permanent Baches and Caravans but what a neat spot.

With an NZMCA discount, it was $23 each a night. With their very new Showers and Kitchens, its a delight to stay at. There are a whole bunch of older interesting buildings there too and Horace the Morris is a feature as well.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

We stayed two nights with a ferry trip to Kawau in between. Lucky with the weather, after getting back from Kawau, we walked along to the newly setup restaurant on the top floor of the Sandspit Yacht Club and caught up with Motorhome friends Rob and Helen who live not far away from there.

The ferry a few minutes walk away.

The last time we were here, unbeknown to me, they had some issues with the drainage system for the bathrooms which used to be a real problem apparently in the height of summer.

The new Drainage system

This has all been upgraded and put up the hill out of the way and hasn’t been an issue since.  Nice friendly hosts who were happy to help with anything. ..

A shot from the ferry. You can see Rafe in the middle.

A great spot and handy to the Kawau ferry and the new Marina at Sandspit.

The Netspeed Speedtest for here.
Download: 7.34 Mbps
Upload: 2.10 Mbps
Ping: 23 ms
I think the tower was playing up a bit as we had some difficulty with the connection over the two nights.

Rafes Tracker Map

 

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.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

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.

The Netspeed Speedtest for this site
Download: 12.89 Mbps
Upload: 16.67 Mbps
Ping: 74 ms
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&q=-36.315094,174.765907

Rafes Track to Whangateau Holiday park

Rafes Tracker Map
Rafes Tracker Map