We popped in at Waipu on the way home from further north to find that the Caledonian park has now got a Gravel driveway from St Mary St which is fantastic news.
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Often we’ve been there to stay and its either been wet or about to rain and although the parking under the trees is pretty well drained and solid, the road across the end of the footy field to get to the parking, is often a bog and impassable.
Staying out in the carpark when there is a rugby event on is not really my cup of tea and although we’ve done this when it has been wet, its not really a relaxing area to be in with cars coming and going.
So good news. A great park for NZMCA’rs at $10 a night with power and toilets and so close to Waipu, its a wonderful place to stay.
Driving along the waterfront in Paihia while I was trying to decide where to stay, I passed Terry and Ruth’s Dethleffs White Magic A Class Motorhome parked on the side of the road. I’ve been meaning to try to catch up with Terry as I’ve been following their progress around the bay with their friends on Facebook. I turned Rafe around and parked a few spaces behind and as it was lunchtime, wandered along the waterfront to look for something to eat.
There was neat place about 50 yards along which was doing $10 roast lamb meals which I thought sounded good and ordered a glass of Chardy to go with it. While I was sitting there, I thought I’d facebook message Terry and see if he was around. I’ve never met Terry or Ruth before so had no idea what they looked like. I simply said I was parked behind them, be nice to catch up and where I was having lunch.
Within two minutes, I had a response back and my neighbours at the next table were looking around for me. How’s that for small world stuff and technology.. I shifted to their table and we swapped various stories for the next hour or so. .. Fun times in the fast lane 🙂 It was nice to catch up and I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.
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After a memorable lunch with Terry and Ruth, I decided on staying at a little tucked away waterfront site called Beachside Holiday Park owned by Dusty and Aroha Miller.
In their office they have a picture on the wall taken in the early 70’s of the park and it looks completely different. Dusty and Aroha have been here for 15 years, progressively working to a plan they had done for the transformation of this fantastic site. They say there is still things to do but the place looks fantastic.
The Dump station is what you wish for everywhere where you don’t even need to get your grey water hose dirty. Simply back up over the grate and let her rip !
Great Dump Station
The 70’s pic
Terraced bush camping
Nicely laid out parks
Right on the Water
The laundry looks like a Space Station with industrial machines right along one wall. Toilets and showers are all in new condition and kept very clean. Walking around there are non powered sites for tents on little grassed terraces carved out for camping, most with great views of the water.
There is a boat ramp there and a rack of kayaks which are available for guests.
For the first night I was parked by the water but Rafe was poking out a bit on the roadway so I moved to a bigger site one row back for the second night. I was also parked under a tree so I had TV reception the next night too! The charge is $20pp which is pretty much normal at this time of the year around Paihia but right on the water parking with all the facilities, its fantastic.
Nice people and nice to see someone investing in the future and doing a great job of it.
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I bumped into Russell and Pearl at the Kaikohe Equestrian Centre. They were behind me as we drove in so it was nice to have someone else around in that huge carpark.
It wasn’t long before it we introduced ourselves and had a quiet cold one while we watched the local Pony Club pack things up.
They’re Ex Publicans from Alexandra in Otago and are following a book called the Great Kiwi Pub Crawl which they were given for Christmas. So far it has been 3 months and they’re really enjoying themselves. They’re both veteran Motor homers and Caravanners with their current LT35 VW being their 5th recreational vehicle of any sort.
They bought the VW 3 years ago as an ex renter. Russell was telling me that its done over 300,000 k’s and apparently their engineer was telling him, they don’t touch them until at least 800,000k’s.
Plenty of k’s left there then.
They are coming up to their 25th year membership of the NZMCA!!. their number is 6000 something .. I think the current new members are around 75000.
With their 25 years in the NZMCA, they get another badge to add to the 7 they’ve already got. Well done!
I was on my way to the Horeke Tavern but after hitting some gravel road and with 18k’s to go and the weather looking iffy, I thought I’d be a wuss and head back to the Equestrian Centre in Kaikohe for a park for the night.
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I’d just arrived when a smart looking VW Sprinter based van followed me in. This turned out to be some veteran motor homers in their 3rd month away from their home in Alexandra in Otago. They came over and joined me for a happy hour cold one.
This is an amazing place to stay. A huge carpark with power boxes dotted around so you can take your pick. In the middle at one end is a toilet block with showers and a dump station and potable water too. All this for $10 a night. They have made good use of an old red telephone box by making that the place where you pay and register for the night.
The day we were there, the local pony club were practising. Its a great scene.
They are very careful about making sure the gate is locked behind you and for the night with the padlock. While we were there, 4 or 5 police cars raced by in different directions so they must have their reasons 🙂 .. Despite that, we all felt reasonably safe.
HQ with the red telephone box
The toilet, shower block and dump station
The old Ngawha Springs pools are just down the road. I’m not sure if they’re still open though.
A fabulous place to stay in the North and at a great price!
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Leaving Kerikeri and heading west, I stumbled over the Mission House at Waimate. An amazing old house built by Maoris under the direction of Rev Samuel Marsden in 1832, the idea was to teach local Maori some of the European tricks of building and farming.
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As I came into the carpark, there was one spot next to the Church entrance where I could back Rafe in and leave the front wheels on the gravel.
The church is fascinating with some of the oldest graves you’re likely to see anywhere. There is one spectacular gravestone what must have been a local chief or Kamatua that looks well looked after. It must be of some significance but there was no one around to ask about it.
After this, I went into the house. I’m a real sucker for things old and well looked after so this was really interesting. There was even an old woodturning Lathe there too.
The Church next door
Those stairs !
One of the bedrooms
A spooky Motorhome picky!
Its amazing how well it was built given the construction methods of the day. The stairs were crazy. You’d never get away with those today 🙂
Well worth a visit and only $10 a head to have a good wander around.
When Phil Walker returned from one of his last ocean going yacht delivery trips and settled with his wife Sylvia in Kerikeri on their lifestyle block, little did he know that he was about to get started rather than slow down for their retirement.
On a sunny afternoon he set out the picnic table for the arrival of some of his overseas yacht friends and over a few glasses of wine, they decided that the land should be turned into a an RV park with room for chalets, and they had decided on a new name for it too.
That was 12 years ago and what a great setup it is now.
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I dropped in on a really grotty day where the forecast was evil and decided it was time to plug myself in, wash my linen, vacuum Rafe and generally tidy myself up.
This was on the wall in the office which sums up the layout quite well.
As you come in
The communal Kitchen area
One of the Tourist flats
Nicely laid out parks
Rafe getting very wet!
Flash looking toilet blocks
As I arrived I met Phil who cruised down on his metallic pink scooter. He gave me all the background and its a fascinating story. Now in his mid 70’s, he runs the park and Sylvia is still working part time locally. What about the retirement I asked ? There’s a shrug of the shoulders and a smile.
You don’t see too many new RV parks with the perfectly flat and manicured parking spots, its great. The standard parking charge for a powered site is $18.00. There is a complete laundry available and a fully equipped kitchen.
You’ll find it just before the turnoff to Kerikeri. It is well worth checking out for a night or two.
You have to hand it to the Whangarei Council. They really have pulled out all the stops at the Bascule Bridge Parking area.
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There are white vertical strips on the fence to mark the parks with a number in the middle of each park. The parks are wide enough to get a decent sized 8 plus metres vehicle in and still be able to create a 3 metre or close gap between each Motorhome.
I haven’t see this recently so was pleasantly surprised to see how well it was setup. I immediately went to a Hot Dog cart that was there and celebrated with a Hot Dog on a stick and some chips for lunch 🙂
The Hot Dog man was telling me how the Rally was setup over the road and they were starting from the bridge that night with a special stage on the other side of the bridge. The cars were due to line up on the bridge by 5pm and then set off at 7pm.
I thought I’d hang about and watch the action.
By 4:30pm, the car park was chocker but it was all very gentlemanly and apart from the rally cars noise until around 9pm, it was all good. I went for a walk down to the foreshore around 8pm and met a local couple with their young kids. They had just come down for a look.
A great place to park for free and there are some nicely painted up new toilets too. You can also walk or bike into town along the pathways along the waterfront.
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