Category Archives: Friends

Party in Waihi

I love those weekends when you have nothing else to do but drive a short distance, enjoy your Motorhome for a couple of nights with a party in between and then go home to recover 🙂

Well .. this was one of those and it was fun!

Click on the Images for Hi Res

It was our old friend Angela’s 50th birthday and it was at Rob and Angelas small horse farm at Waihi.

Waihi Station

I’ve always loved Waihi and one of those character towns and a good place to stay.. the Railway Station. Now $15 a night with power or $10 without, it is very handy to everything and and its fun watching the trains come and go.

Train arriving in from Waikino
A couple of extra passengers

We’ve been here a few times, once with friends Rob and Helen and Gary and Dianne when we walked/biked through the Karangahake Gorge and Waikino. Lots of fun.

We arrived late on Saturday, parked, watched some TV and then hit the hay.

The park behind the station

Angela and Robs place is on the other side of Waihi and kickoff was midday. We did have a sudden mad moment when we thought about walking it but with bottles of wine etc, a taxi sounded like a much better idea.

Angela and Rob at the party

We met some really nice people and it was nice to see Angela and Rob in their rural home.

The birthday girl blowing out the candles

Its funny when you go to these places and meet people and they went to the same school as you or lived around the corner and you feel you should have met them earlier but didn’t. Thats how it was with several people .. amazing!

About 5pm it felt like it was our time to go… We rang the cab but no sign of her so we started walking back. Several more calls to the cab on the way. No response so half an hour later, we were back at the Railway Station.

People getting off

A neat day out in a lovely town.

The Station with the parking behind

My previous blogs on Wahi have much more on the town and the trip through the Gorge.

There is good Netspeed Internet available here but I forgot to do a speedtest.

Rafe’s track to Waihi

Pauanui Never Fails!

  1. After several weeks of sanding, painting and repairing things and generally getting the house on the market, it was time for a well earned break.

Our friends Helen, Rob and Chloe were keen to head to one of our favourite spots at the Pauanui Club at Pauanui.

Mini Golf next to the parking at Pauanui.

To beat the holiday weekend traffic, Fiona and I decided that I would get Rafe stocked up.  I would then collect her from work at 6pm and we would head down to the motorway towards Ardmore and maybe spend the night there.  We would then go early the next day  to Coromandel to try to beat the worst of the traffic.

As we crossed the bridge, there was no traffic !  We got to Manukau, still no traffic until we hit Takanini where roadworks slowed it down to a crawl but after a 1k or so, we were away again !  We decided we’d keep going until we’d had enough and that ended up being Thames  🙂

I’ve never stayed at Rhodes park before but it is just on the left after Thames Airfield before you get into Thames. It is Free parking provided by the local council and  its a great place. A great big piece of flat gravel and you can park anywhere.

There were about 10 or so Caravans and Motorhomes and everyone had plenty of room.  There as a good Internet signal there too but I forgot to measure it!

We woke up in the morning around 7:30 to the phone ringing which Fiona answered and it was Rob saying that they were at Drury on the Southern Motorway stopped in traffic. We made a decision to get up and get going in case the traffic extended to the Coromandel road and got cracking.

Plenty of space

As it turned out, it only took us about 40 minutes to get to Pauanui and we were there shortly after 9am. Rob, Helen and Chloe arrived about an hour or so later.

One of the Hanger homes

The Club parking is superb and it is extremely good value. At $10 including power, toilets, a cold shower(if you have no option) and access to their bar and superb meals. It is also right next door to the Airfield with homes with built in hangers alongside the runway. There is always something to see and do. The town is an easy 5 minute walk away as well with some nice Cafe’s and a small supermarket. It is also right next door to a great Mini Golf park which was busy for most of the weekend.

There were 4 Motorhomes there when we arrived and there was plenty of room for more.

Rafe and the Tracker in the park

Some positive feedback for them. There is room for more Motorhomes there down one end but the 8 power sockets are on two poles where they could spread this over three poles and increase their turnover but its fantastic as it is!

Great Beach with Slipper Island behind

We went for a walk around to see our son Alex’s family about a 1k away who were staying in Sarah’s family bach. Grandsons Ayden and Liam were there too so we took them down to the beach about 100 metres away.

Pauanui is a great surf beach with the famous Slipper island just off shore.

Liam and Ayden digging in the sand. Chloe, Rob, Helen and Fiona further up the beach.

That night, Alex and Sarah and the boys came around and we all went to the Pauanui club for a few glasses of fizz and they had tea.

Ayden and Liam digging holes on the beach

The next day, they all walked around to the Pauanui Waterways and had a look at this amazing development. Rob, Helen and Chloe  climbed up to the top of Mt Pauanui which is a feat too!

Pauanui Waterways

All in all, over three days, it was nice to be in one spot for a period and just be able to blob and check out what was just around the corner.

Here is a previous post on this site too.

The Netspeed Speedtest for this site
Download: 26.55 Mbps
Upload: 31.46 Mbps
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&q=-37.020966,175.860385

Rafe’s Tracker Map

A Blast Northwards

After a couple of nice days at Richmond, we decided we would cross the strait early and head back to Auckland. We headed to our favourite Blenheim Motorcamp, Spring Creek  for a night before catching the ferry on a perfect day to cross to Wellington.

Lots of Motorhomes on the deck

It was nice to see the owners Christine and Andy and the campground was looking good. I gave Rafe a good wash to tidy up a bit while Fiona got some washing done as well.

Primo spot next to the creek.

The next morning, we were off early and with perfect weather, the crossing was fantastic. We arrived in the middle of the day so we thought Plimmerton NZMCA park would be good for the night and then we would head to Taupo to stay with friends Gary and Dianne. They had arranged for some other friends Ian and Lynda with their Dethleffs XLI to join us for four nights as well. We were really looking forward to seeing them all again.

A panorama of the Plimmerton when we arrived.

After an early departure from Plimmerton, we left and made good time getting to Waiouru at lunchtime after stopping at the Woolshed café in Sanson for a cuppa and some fuel.  $1.19 a litre at the Sanson Caltex Truck stop for diesel.. amazing.
We had paid up to $1.45 a litre in the South Island.

Mt Ruapehu at Waiouru

We cruised in to Taupo about 3.30pm and as it was nearly 30C – hot!, we were with Gary and Dianne in their pool to cool off.  It was nice to see them both again.

Rafe parked at Gary and Diannes

Ian and Lynda were arriving the following day.

Ian and Lynda’s Dethleff XLI

The next day, Gary took one look at Rafe and while I washed Rafe, he made it clear that he thought, Rafe needed a bit more TLC.

Ian and Gary with all the polishing toys!

Within a few minutes, he was out with his cut and polish kit and got straight into all of Rafe’s blue bits. The bonnet and the doors and the the decals down the side.

Look at that reflection in the bonnet!

A light cut, a polish and buffing and it looked like a different vehicle.

Ian and Gary with Rafe.. look at the Tyres!

When Ian arrived the next day, they were both at it but what a huge difference! Even the wheels got some silicone treatment!

We went down to Repco to get some Turtle Wax so I could wax it when I got back to Auckland (Which I’ve now done).

Thanks guys, you made such a difference and Rafe now looks a picture!

Shiny 🙂

After 4 great days with the crew in Taupo, we headed back to Alex and Sara’s in Ardmore in Auckland (Son and Daughter in law) and the Grandkids Ayden and Liam. It was nice to see them again and with that, the South Island trip came to a close.

Christmas was on the doorstep and we were looking forward to catching up with friends and family. Many we hadn’t seen since we left for Europe over 6 months ago.

Rafe’s track to Auckland

Settling down at Lowburn

It has been a busy week with huge temperatures for Cromwell with us sitting amongst the trees at Lowburn.

Click on an Images of Hi Res

Our spot at Lowburn

Sunday finally arrived and this was the day Helen and her good friend Glenys were arriving in Queenstown, picking up a rental car and heading to Helen and Robs new house in Lowburn Valley.

The tenant had moved out and Helen was setting it up ready for Christmas.

Rafe in front of the house plugged in. The visitors area on the very left.

They have had a Barn built next to the house for their new Autotrail Tracker and bits and bobs, and on the side of that is a Motorhome Plug for their friends in their Motorhomes.. yippee, thats us !

Rafe in front of the new Barn

While we were waiting for Helen and Glenys to arrive, our friends in Cromwell, Ross and Karen who moved here 15 or so years ago, rang us earlier and said they’d pick us up from Lowburn Harbour to join them down at the Historic Precinct for a cup of coffee.  It was nice to see Ross and Karen at their home  and  after a short while, we walked down the road to the Precinct. It was nice to see all their friends, some we had met before and hadn’t seen for a while.

The Historic Precinct

After a couple of hours, Ross dropped us off back to Lowburn Harbour and while we were there, Helen and Glenys pulled up too ! A chance for Helen and Glenys to meet with Ross which was great.

The shops down at the Historic Precinct

We packed Rafe for a move and headed around to Helen and Robs new house in the valley only a few K’s away and settled Rafe down again. The guest area by the Barn area is still to be concreted so I set Rafe up with blocks to level up with.

Glenys and Fiona after a huge walk over on of the local hills
Helen glued to the phone organising furniture and things.

Over the next few days, we did a few trips around to check out Cromwell and Bannockburn including a trip with Fiona’s niece Jessa, who came over from Queenstown for the afternoon and we went wine tasting at Mt Difficulty. I knew the Mt Difficulty Chardonnay was amazing so just went for a glass rather than the tasting and I wasn’t disappointed!

One of the props at Mt Difficulty

After that we headed back to Lowburn for a late lunch.

Our special lunch after the wine tasting back at home with Jessa

Helen and Glenys only had four days here so on their last day after they had left and we’d said goodbye, Fiona and I decided to bike into Cromwell’s historic precinct from the Lowburn valley, about 18 k’s round trip. A bad call as the heat that day broke all the records and was 33C at 4pm. We were back by then but it was stinking hot!

Fiona on the bike ride on the way back to Lowburn alongside Lake Dunstan

We had a fun week with Helen, Glenys, Jessa and Ross and Karen and their friends. More to come.

The boat club down by the NZMCA park

It is Ross’s birthday at the end of the week and all our old boating friends that we used to spend Christmas with out in the Hauraki Gulf, over many years, are flying down to join in so it should be fun.

Little Downham

One of the main reasons we came up to Ely is that my English family were all originally from Little Downham which is about 10k’s out of Ely.

The main street of little Downham

Little Downham is a small farming village basically all centred around one main street.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

The church at the end of the road

At one end is the church which is like what you see on the TV shows and at the other end of the street is a pub called The Plough. Word has it that every generation in my family has had a drink in this Pub. It was shut when we were there so my turn will have to wait for another time.

The Church

One of my cousins Jan and her husband Bryan who are motorhomers too, organised the family to meet at another local pub called the Anchor. For Fiona and I, it was the first time that we’ve met most of them but I had known about many of them.

Outside the Anchor looking down the main street of Little Downham

Jan is a niece of my grandfather Bert and there were 11 brothers and sisters in the Miller family ! .. lots of cousins.

The whole family around the table

My grandfather Bert was a real hard case and was in the battle of the Somme during the first world war. He was a Tankie in one of the old diamond shape tanks in this battle and was one of the few to survive. He was listed as missing in action as they couldn’t find him!

Word has it that when he arrived back in Little Downham the town was deserted. He saw someone he knew and asked where everyone was. “Oh they’re all down at the church at your funeral Bert!”
So off he went down the road. His mother was so pleased to see him that she scraped the dirt of his great coat and put in a tin. This has been handed down through the family and is now in the safe hands of my son Alex with all the other family military memorabilia. The dirt is said to be from the Somme but is could easily be from a puddle anywhere 🙂 Good story anyway!!

Back to the reunion.. we had a great lunch .. it was neat meeting all those from my Grandfathers family. They’re a fun lot and we’re looking forward to doing another trip here to see them again.

Linda, Jan’s younger sister who lives in Ely very kindly gave us a ride back to the Lamb Hotel in Ely where were staying.

I just love these English towns with the history and the amazing buildings.

The Wedding at the Fort

What a fun weekend. Our old friends Mark and Tina’s eldest daughter Alisha was getting married to Tom and they had chosen The Officers Mess at Fort Takapuna as the wedding venue.  A fantastic spot and where Fiona’s family had spent some years in the officers housing by Narrow Neck beach.

The roof of the old fort with the Officers Mess behind and the carpark.

Just as it says, The officers Mess has been converted into a Wedding Venue and Café and was the old Officers Mess for the Army and later used by the Navy as well.  Its a lovely old building which looks out over the harbour towards Rangitoto Island.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

Fiona’s dad Norm was CO of Fort Cautley which was then the HQ for the Army’s 3rd Battalion. There were officers and senior NCO houses from the current buildings all the way down to Narrow Neck Beach.

Narrow Neck beach. This grass is where all the officers housing was.

Fort Takapuna has a huge history. It was originally built to fend off the Russians in the 1860’s and later updated for the two world wars in case the Japanese or Germans got down here. It is now looked after by DOC and more information on it can be seen here.
Its well worth a look around and the carpark is huge, perfect for Motorhomes and Caravans.

The Old Fort

When Friday came around, Fiona and I decided we would make a weekend of it and stay in Devonport on Friday night. We earlier met our old friends Dani and Grant at the Esplanade Hotel for a few cold ones and afterwards tea at the wharf.

The next day was wedding day and I packed up Rafe and headed off to the venue where we had permission to stay overnight in the carpark as guests.

In the carpark

I spent the day having a really good look around the fort while Fiona was getting her hair done.  There was a soccer game on at the playing field there which was fun to watch. I have no idea who was playing but it was fun to watch and I really enjoyed shooting a few piccies of it. I haven’t photographed any soccer since my days on the Herald and the Auckland Star so it was fun. Soccer is one of the hardest games to photograph as so I was pleased that I got a couple or reasonable piccies from it being as rusty as I am.

One of the better soccer piccies 🙂

The forecast rain held off so the ceremony was held outside looking out on the harbor. It was a bit of a catchup with old friends for us as Gary, Chris, Mark and Tina are all old Boatie mates along with Geoff and Bev who were also there.  We were all put on Table 4! Our friends Gary and Chris were joint MC’s and they did a great job. It was nice to catch up with the extended families and old friends too, many of them had come over from Aussie for the occasion.

The Wedding Service with a view

The wedding went well, the food was great and it was a fun night. We finished the night in Rafe with “Table 4” friends for a nightcap and cups of tea.

Rafe’s Track map

The way home from Fort Takapuna

A little Bedtime reading :-)

Saturday was a big day. Rob and Helen were off to collect their new Autotrail Tracker RB and they were beside themselves with excitement.

Click on the images for Hi Res

Rob and Helen looking very happy !
Rob and Helen looking very happy !

Their first Tracker RB had taken them and their daughter Chloe. all around NZ over the last 4 years or so.

The new Tracker looking very smart
The new Tracker looking very smart

The new Tracker is a different colour, has Automatic Transmission and has 180 horses. It has more room in the front lounge area, a separate Shower and Toilet area and lots of other little tweaks.

The new beast with Rafe behind
The new beast with Rafe behind

Having Rafe parked right behind, I was amazed with the changes in some of the vents, and other fittings which you see on Dethleffs and other makes.  Even the tyres are different from the older models.. now Michelins.

Rob unpacking the sealed manual packs.
Rob unpacking the sealed manual packs.

We drove down to meet them at Athenree Holiday Park as a meeting point and to help celebrate their first night away in it.

The Bedroom. The bed runs the opposite way to the older one.
The Bedroom. The bed runs the opposite way to the older one.

We hadn’t long checked in when the first glasses of bubbly were consumed. A nice afternoon in the sun with a swim in the hotpools later as well.

Its a lovely Motorhome and they’re over the moon with it.

Its a good thing that Rob is pretty handy and technically minded and likes reading the odd manual.
Its a good thing that Rob is pretty handy and technically minded and likes reading the odd manual.

As the title says.. lots of bedtime reading manuals for Rob!

The Netspeed Speedtest for Athenree Holiday Park
Download: 42.01 Mbps
Upload: 26.18 Mbps
Ping: 54 ms
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&q=-37.448570,175.966467

Rafe’s Track to Athenree

Rafe’s Track to Athenree.. The Green Dot