Category Archives: Northland

Paradise at Ruakaka

From the moment I stepped out of Rafe at Ruakaka Holiday Park, everything about this place is HUGE. There are more than 260 powered sites and the camp is spread out over 13 hectares. The camp is divided into several regions each having their own ablution blocks.

The land that it sits on and its layout and the views are absolutely sensational.Β  Everywhere I looked I could see nice images.

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My view

It also is a participant in the NZMCA’s Camp saver program and owner Anne-Marie says it is working well for them. They also do off peak weekly stays too.

On the waterfront

I was interested to see their information sheet included how to park within your site to ensure that everyone has 3 metres separation. I think this is good news as many Holiday ParksΒ  parking is far to close for fire safety.

Great parking

I was a bit lucky to get one of the waterfront sites facing out to Marsden Point and Bream Head even though it was pretty exposed to the easterly nasties that came through, it was really nice to wake up to a great view when the weather played the game.

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The weather wasn’t that flash with an amazing thunder and lightning storm coming through with showers before and after but there was enough fine weather to get some nice images.

Old friends Mark, Tina, Gary and Chris all live around the corner in Ruakaka beach so it a good opportunity to pop in and see them too.

And just around the corner

This campground though has it all.. the views and the sites are spectacular with great facilities.

Ruakaka Beach is just down the road and there is a Bird Sanctuary to walk through too.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Ruakaka

Pakiri Beach

The last time I went to Pakiri, I was in my teens and it was at the time that we had carless days and huge petrol costs. Two of us went up to Pakiri in a ’62 pillarless Chev Impala and camped with the car and a small tent. Remember those days πŸ™‚

Apart from the horrendous cost in getting there and back with a two stage auto and V8, I still remember it as being a fun weekend away.

Click on an Image to enlarge it.This was to be different and after all those years, the thing that struck me the most was how different it was from my memories from long ago. The office now includes a store for basic provisions and was closer to the beach than I remembered but it is still a magic spot to go to for a break.

Next to the river

When I arrived, I’d just come down a wet and windy Leigh road down the hill and Rafe was absolutely covered in mud.

Manager Rachel couldn’t have been nicer in showing me where to park and although I was given an option of having a view of the river behind some pines, I chose to park a little further away in preference of getting a good TV signal and some winter sun.

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Being a participant in the NZMCA’s Camp saver program, Rachel said it was working well for them. With power and access to their great facilities, it makes it really worth doing even if it is the middle of winter. Its a really nice place to be and away from all the hustle and bustle and only an hour or so from Auckland πŸ™‚

Outdoor eating

I’d only been there a few minutes when two people from Wellington rocked in with their rented Maui Campervan. They had taken advantage of the Maui discount after lockdown and were out around the North Island. That’s them in the piccy below.

Late in the day

I went for a wander down to the beach to see what was where.. There was a film crew down there doing a fashion shoot for some ads, a great spot for that.

Close to the beach

The park is right on the river and estuary and an easy walk to the beach. The park is probably three quarters occupied by annual semi permanent caravans and cabins but there is plenty of easy parking for motorhomes and casual overnight stays.

I thought he was waving at me but I’m sure I was too far away.

A lovely spot, nice facilities and a helpful crew, well worth the trip and it brought back some great memories.Β  I’ll be going back again but this time on the sealed road from Wellsford:-)

Rafe’s tracker map out of Pakiri

Robs Fan

A repost from days gone by .. enjoy

Having spent the last few days with our friends Rob and Helen and their 11yr old daughter Chloe, Rob was keen to show us a modification he has made to his fridge to make it more efficient. Now Rob is a clever guy and is very familiar with things electrical so to see it working as well as it does is fantastic.

Rob with his fan
Rob with his fan

Robs fridge is an under the bench style Dometic 3 way fridge. They imported their AutoTrail themselves from the Uk a few years ago and of course it came with a “Northern Hemisphere” fridge. The difference between those and the “tropical” fridge is that the NZ fridges apparently are setup to be able to deal with hotter climates.
The work around for Uk fridges in NZ is to fit a 12v fan in the cavity behind the fridge with a thermostat to expel the air from behind the fridge, outside.

The thermostat
The thermostat

The 12v fans use next to no power and are really reliable.
Rob says it has made a massive difference to its performance and both he and Helen are really pleased with the way it performs.
There is a link to an Aussie web site which details the technical which Rob found that makes it relatively easy. Β Here’s the technical link

Retro colour

A repost from days gone by .. enjoy

While we were getting ready for New Years Eve, I couldn’t help but notice and amazing retro looking Mercedes based motorhome on the other side of the park.
It was built in Germany as a Micro Supreme branded Motorhome.

Brian, Kim and their daughter Maddie and the Mercedes.
Brian, Kim and their daughter Maddie and the Mercedes.

Owned by Brian and Kim from Auckland, they bought this two years or so ago and it became Brian’s project do up. The Mercedes D307’s are really popular in Europe as delivery, courier vans and small trucks and enjoy a great reputation as reliable runners and Brian was saying, he has no problem getting parts for it. All he has done mechanically was put in a bigger radiator which is apparently a must do for motorhoming. It also has a real “unimog” look to the front of it which I think reveals its Mercedes truck DNA.

The retro paint job
The retro paint job

Mercedes

The Tv station iutside
The Tv station iutside

Inside, well all I can say is what a great job they’ve done. New toilet and shower area and a new galley area. The minute you walk in, you get this amazing feeling of big volume. Brian has done amazing things with a TV/ sound station including a server for movies, a wifi router and a pop out Tv station in the awning area.

Inside
Inside
The Galley
The Galley

A great achievement by them both, a nice van and although at 1988 it is not really that old, the improvements that they made are amazing and it was nice to see them enjoying Sullivan’s Bay in the sun with friends and family.

Night of the Lights

Leigh Central hosted part of the Lights at Leigh which was part of the Matakana Light Festival. What was really convenient is that Leigh Central is also our favorite place for Motorhome Parking in this area.

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Getting busy at Leigh Central

We were sitting at Leigh Eats enjoying a nice cup of coffee when we met Michelle and Rose. Rose used to live in Devonport in a past life and Michelle was organising the Leigh Light Festival.

The weather was awful with the rain pelting down but looking at the rain radar it was due to ease off about 3pm, an hour before the start.

Less than an hour later, the Sun came out and we were on πŸ™‚

The Kids are off for the Scavenger Hunt.

The Leigh part of it started at Leigh School where there was a scavenger hunt for the kids. First stop after that was the Fire Brigade a block away for heated Marshmallows on sticks.. Yum !

Removing the Spark plugs

After this they made their way around to the Leigh Garage where they had to remove a spark plug each and an oil filter! Then onto the Tattoo Parlour to get a stick on Tattoo.

By this time, it was dark and the lights were on. Prizes were to given for the best lighting effort on a House or Letterbox.

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Mums and Dads were at the indoor Markets hosted by Leigh Central and then for some like us, it was off to the Leigh Hotel where Hostess Sarah had gone all out and lit up her dress and and her hair which looked fantastic.

Leigh Bar’s Sarah with her lit Hairdo

A great day finished off with a glass of something back in Rafe with the heater on!

Back at the Motorhomes

 

Rafe’s Tracker map to Leigh

Leigh Central Motorhome Park

We popped in here a year or so ago when Ian and his wife Heather had not long been at the helm of this neat little place.

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Looking across to the the parking

It also has quite a large Motel and Wedding reception area as part of it and since we were here last, they’ve added some some nice wee chalets which they call the Boathouses.

The Boathouses

The trees have grown, the loo and shower complex which they were installing last time are up and running and it is all looking really good.

Great view out across Omaha Bay

Being part of the NZMCA Camp saver program for off season parking is a bonus too.

Plenty of room

As we arrived, Ian and Heather were out wielding their tools adding baseboards to their accomodation at one end of the complex and although they were ovbiously busy, they couldn’t have more accomodating helping us to get setup.

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It’s nice to hear that they’ve been so busy as it really is a top place and very handy to a good Cafe and the pub is just around the corner.

The Reception area

The view out to Tawharanui Peninsular is spectacular.

View out to Tawaharanui

We really enjoyed coming back here and will be back more often. A lovely spot.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

The Big Ride to the Horeke Pub

After a great night of catching up with Helen, Chloe and Jessica along with Dianne and Gary, it was time to get some sleep for the big 30k ride the next day.

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Getting the bikes ready

The next morning, Helen and the the girls set off to check out the Bay of Islands and we got organised and set off towards Horeke.

The top part of the Trail

We simply crossed the road and headed off down the trail. The first part of the trail is downhill..some of it so steep that you are advised to walk it! The first third is pretty much downhill but then it flattens out and its up and down the rest of the way through to Horeke but the trail is pretty easy and nicely set out.

Riding beside the stream

The middle part of the ride go’s through Snows Farm and past a Lily pond and the track is set in some really nice easy bush and along side a river. The scenery and countryside is amazing.

Dianne and Fiona

Eventually the track comes out to a road and then cross’s over to a huge wooden track built up over the Mangroves on the upper reaches of the Hokianga. From there it is only a few K’s to the pub.

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We were well and truly ready for a G&T and a sit down lunch and the lunch didn’t disappoint!Β  The Seafood Chowder was recommended to us by Noeline at the Rail Stay so 4 Seafood Chowders later, everyone was happy.

Peter the Publican came over to say Hi and it was interesting talking to him. He has owned the Horeke Tavern for more than 25 years so has seen some big changes.

Horeke Pub

Peter runs a shuttle for bikes and gave a us a ride back to the Rail Stay. Gary being a bit of sucker for some more punishment, decided to ride back on his electric bike and did it in really good time too, despite it being mostly uphill on the way back.

Back for a cold one with Rafe later.. Dianne, Jessica, Helen and Gary.

Old Rail Freight Wagons for a Snooze

Motorhome friends Helen and two of her daughters, Chloe and Jessica were heading up to Okaihau to stay at the Okaihau Rail Stay. We were also catching up with Gary and Dianne and cycling part of the Rail trail to Horeke which is about 30 k’s to the coast.

Nice layout

Arriving later in the afternoon, we checked in at the Office and met Noeline who set it up and she helped us with power and getting ourselves organised.

First Class

Noeline has been collecting and doing up old Railway Wagons for about 4 years and now has 4 of them set up for accomodation. There is also a Kitchen, Shower and Toilet all looking like a stattion and railway station side buildings. The whole place is immaculatly tidy and clean quite cleverly set out.

Neoline with Maeo the welcome committee πŸ™‚

The Motorhome parking is over a fence on a big paddock. Beyond that on another section is Noeline’s husbands trucking business.

The Rail Trail from Opua to Horeke is right opposite and so its just case of crossing the road to do the trail.

Us all settled in.

We were charged $30 a night for two including power.

Sorry no map as the GPS tracker has spat the dummy but Okaihau is about 15ks’ north of Kaikohe.

The Hundertwasser Town

Kawakawa is famous for its loos and the artwork of Frederich Hundertwasser. Some of the shops have now taken to this unique look as well and it looks great. We were on route to places North but stopped here for lunch.

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One of the shops

We parked down by the Railway Station at the other end of the town and as we walked through, we found that the Cafe’s were a bit light on the food.

The entrance to the Hundertwasser toilets

What we didn’t know was that there were a couple of cruise ships in at the bay of Islands just around the corner and they had bussed in passengers and literally cleaned out the Cafe’s of food!

The main street

We eventually found one at the other end that the busloads seem to miss so all was good.

Sharing the road

Kawakawa is one of the few places in NZ where the Train goes right through the centre of the main street in town but the locals take it all in their stride. It is a real sight.

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Although most of us know Frederich Hundertwasser as the designer of the Kawakawa loos, he has also designed Railway Stations, Grain Silo’s and other well known buildings all over the world.

Like a Tooth Missing

We were heading up North for the weekend to catch up with Helen, Chloe and Jessica and also meet Gary and Dianne from Taupo. The plan was to meet Gary and Dianne at the Caledonian Park at Waipu for a night and then go on up North after that.

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The Neissmann and Rafe

We pulled into the park early in the afternoon and it was good to see a few others in there enjoying the park. There were several Caravans and a couple of Buses there. What wasn’t so good to see was the missing buidings from the recent fire.

You can the back of Rafe in the park next door

As Gary said later, it was like a Tooth was missing. The fire happened in late September and burnt 3 shops to the ground including Fiona’s favorite cafe which is temporarily trading in a building over the road. Having something like this happen in a small town like Waipu would be devastating and I’m sure was a real shock to the town.

Neat Town
That Gap from across the road.

The town rallied around to help those businesses and many worked through their Christmas Holidays to help get some temprorary accomodation for the Cafe.

Cafe Deli’s temporary accommodation.
Cafe Deli at the back

The next morning we went for a look through the town and had a coffee at the Cafe Deli over the road in their temporary building.

Good to see some others here.

Its good to see they’re rebuilding but what a huge hole.