Category Archives: Northland

Checking out the Kiwis

Kiwi North which is about 5k’s out of Whangarei on the road from Dargaville is also the home of the Whangarei Museum and many of the local clubs with an amazing collection of things that clubs have.. Stationery Engines, Medical Museum, Radio operators, Cars and Tractors, Railway enthusiasts and the list goes on.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

One of the Kiwis  – pic supplied

The big attraction though is the Kiwi house where you can get up close with them. This is the first time Fiona and I had ever seen one this close and with one of the volunteers close by telling us all about them was amazing.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

They are actively involved with a Kiwi breeding program to try and stop the decline in their numbers and their modern Kiwi House makes it so easy to see them right up close. We were inches away from them!

A Nugget in the museum found in Hukerenui

The park is also currently refurbishing the Clark Homestead along with an amazing Octagonal shaped Chapel and other outbuildings.

See images inside the house from my last visit.

Clark Homestead being done up

There is the old Kauri Train station and the old Whangarei Woman’s Gaol there too.

Whangarei Woman’s Gaol

To make it easier for NZMCA’rs who would like to check it out, they also have parking for up to 4 vans with power, toilets and showers for just $15. There is also a discount for access to the Kiwis and the Museum for NZMCA’rs too!

The parking for Motorhomes

I’ve popped in here before but this was Fiona’s first time and its a great place with plenty to see and do.

Every Kiwi should do this and with international visitors being hard to come by due to Covid, make sure you pop in next time you’re up that way 🙂

Rafe’s Tracker map to Kiwi North – Armada GPS

A Gentleman’s car made by Gentlemen

This is the description of the Packard car by the creator of his Packard Museum, Graeme Craw.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

Graeme started the Museum in one of his farm sheds in Anawhata in the 1950’s. Over the years his collection expanded to Engines, Motorbikes, Earth moving machinery and other interesting stuff.

Lots of Packards

He eventually moved the collection to Maungatepere where it is now. Now run by Graeme’s sons family, it is a not to be missed stop off on the way from Dargaville to Whangarei.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Its an amazing collection of cars, tractors, earth moving equipment, telephones, sewing machines and more. One of the stationery engines there even dates back to the 1860’s.

Phones
Army Indians

Not far from Kiwi North, it is about 5 k’s out from Whangarei and there is fantastic motorhome and caravan parking there too.

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Packard Museum – Armada GPS

Poutu Marine Hall Campground

This is a trip I’ve been looking forward to for several years but have been put off by the roughly 25k’s of unsealed road and I needn’t have worried as its better than most metal roads around NZ and it is being sealed as we speak.

Pouto Marine Hall Campground as its called is beautifully run by husband and wife volunteers John and Janine, who live opposite and is run for the community that own the campground.

Click on an Image to enlarge

The campground

Its is a fantastic site set up on a hill looking out across the Kaipara eastwards towards Tapora and has easy access to two great beaches.

The hall (villa) was the original Custom House built in the early 1800’s and used to clear the vessels cargo as it came into the wharf that was just down off the beach. The wharf is being rebuilt along with the sealing of the road.

Rafe by the Historic Hall

The Hall houses the Kitchen, Shower and Toilet facilities that are provided for the Campground.

Tent town

The campground is also a participant in the NZMCA Campsaver scheme as well.

The front of the old Custom House

We were lucky to get a park right up next to the Hall plugged in.. lucky as the campground was chocker mostly with families in tents and with only 8 powered sites, it didn’t take much to fill !

The view from the Campground across the Kaipara

On our second night here, we were sitting in Rafe having a glass of something when walking alongside Rafe was an old friend I hadn’t seen for years. I jumped outside and called his name, he was as shocked as I was that we were both is such a small place and that we both knew someone 🙂

The Lounge inside

It turns out that they lived in a Bach they have had there for over 20 years and built themselves (with hand tools!) and were right opposite the camp ground. Our sons used to be at school together and were great mates.

Janine and John couldn’t have been more helpful and with John running a quad bike trip out to the historic lighthouse 7 k’s away, this was one of the reasons we were here.

A neat campground with super nice people in a great spot.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Poutu – Armada GPS

Convoy in Russell

Leaving Rawene early, I headed out through quite thick fog towards Russell. “The Maui Convoy” was due back today from a quick 24 hr excursion through Manganui, staying overnight at the Hihi Holiday Park which they all raved about so I must do a trip up there sometime soon.

The guys on the ferry did a great job on trying to get Rafe over to Russell without scraping the back but getting off was a big long scraping metal sound…. horrible but there was no damage.. just a cleaning of some dirt off the chassis.

My sideways park up the top

Once I was happy there was no harm done, I set off to Russell and checked in at the Top 10 who are doing quite a good off season rate if you give them a few days notice.

Great view.. taken the next morning.

The parks are a bit smaller but they found one that suited Rafe’s nearly 8 metres and the view was spectacular. All the parks have a grey water waste gully trap and everything is absolutely in tip top order.

I plugged in, opened some hatches for some fresh air and set off into the town which is just a few minutes walk. Its a special place here with the History and the old buildings.

Looking across towards Paihia

I wasn’t long down there when one in the convoy Grant rang to announce his arrival and was on his way down to set up a tennis game. All those in the convoy are members of the Ngataringa Tennis Club in Devonport.

Grant .. all concentration

So we sat in the plastic chairs (the Grandstand) on the court for a Wimbledon experience 🙂

The fans In the Grandstand

I didn’t catch who the winners were but we were then off to the Duke of Marlborough to watch the rugby being played at Eden Park. Great game..

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

One of the drivers Malcolm who was travelling with his wife Bonny is a real gem on the piano. They live in Whitianga. Malcolm found a grand piano in the bar and off he went. Everybody was hugely impressed and with a few glasses of wine behind us, it was a whole lot of fun !

We were all starting to get a bit hungry and there was no food left at the Duke so we adjourned to the Sportfishing club next door where they whipped up some fantastic meals for us.

The Duke !

This was the last day of the Convoy. All the vans had to be handed in at 2;30pm in Mangere the next day!

Grant off for a shower

A bit of pool playing and then we walked back to the Holiday Park.

A great day and a lovely town. Coming here for just one day as we did is not a very clever idea, I’ll have to come back for more 🙂

Rafe’s tracker map to Russell

Those lovely old Buildings

There is something about Dargaville

Click on an Image to Enlarge

The famous bridge behind the band rotunda

It has a special feel to it. Maybe the old houses and the history but it definitely has a vibe all of its own.

Plenty of room

Having a great NZMCA park here so close to town is great too and it is full of character just like the town with the old buildings.

The main street of Dargaville

I was last here just after it was first opened and I think I commented then what a special place it was.

Now there is fresh water and I noticed from around by the band rotunda that there is a seat out on the point off the end of the park.

The special NZMCA seat on the point

A great effort from those involved in putting this park together as it is definitely one that stands out!

This has grown !

Historic Rawene

This is an amazing little town with some of it built out over the water.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

The supermarket !

This is where the car ferry leaves for Kohukohu on the northern shores of the Hokianga Harbour.

While the convoy was doing the tourist thing at Opononi, I headed off and got checked in at the Rawene Holiday park which is right up on the top of the hill. Its about a 20 minute walk down to the town and bit longer to get back 🙂

Parked with a great view

I got Rafe settled and headed off down to the township to have a look around. I found a café and sat down in the sun with a coffee while I waited for the “Convoy”. About 20 minutes or so later, they rolled in one by one.

Most of the crew.. L to R Grant, Paul, Pete(standing), Malcolm (crouched in front), Craig, Cathy and Bonnie.
and theyre off.

Its a fascinating town with the supermarket and several shops all built on piles over the water.

On the corner

As the mid day ferry arrived, they all boarded and were off.  After getting a few piccies around the town, I headed off back to the camp and had a quiet time listening to some music.

Amazing place and loaded with history.

Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow

About 7pm, 3 Motorhomes turned up from the ferry and maneuvered their way around me to park in. It all seemed quite close but when I saw it in the morning, I could get out easily. It would have been awkward with any more. I think this is definitely a 7 metre limit camp unless there is no one else there.

The view
Some of the unusual cabins

A really nice helpful crew with some amazing quite unusual looking cabins and great view down the Hokianga from the parking area. The loos, showers and toilets are really good and close to the parking.

Rafe’s tracker map to Rawene

Sandhills at Opononi

The Maui convoy arrived in Dargaville at about 4pm at the Dargaville Countdown supermarket. There were provisions to be bought and then we were headed together to Opononi.

We all convened in a street opposite the supermarket and then set off towards Opononi. They were going to stop in and check out Kai Iwi lakes and then head on up through the Waipoua Forest.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

From the top of the Hill looking out to the entrance to Hokianga Harbour

Its a twisty windy 80 odd k’s but quite a neat drive and after stopping up at the top of the hill of Omapere to get some piccies. I rocked on to the Opononi Beach Holiday Park.

Looking down to Omapere

The park is made up of terraced parking areas with some cabins as well all looking over the lovely sandhills at the entrance of the Hokianga harbour. Great views.

Out to the heads

I checked in casually mentioning that there were 5 Maui campervans about half an hour behind me !

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

As they’ve had so much rain, we were to park on the road along the top terrace instead of in the park “otherwise we’d be there there for weeks”! So I was pleased about that.

Looking up at the road.

This campground had some awful reviews on the app but to get here and dealing with the owners who were fantastic, you would think you were at another Motorcamp.. so don’t believe the reviews.

Some cabins too

The troops turned up in the Maui vans just as it was getting dark and we were all parked one behind the other on the road with extension cords out for the power.

The crew arrives. Check out the view
The convoy arrives!

Rafe was host to a bit of Happy Hour before we all walked about 100 metres around the corner to the Opononi hotel for tea and a cold one as you do.

Great Harbour

A lovely spot and I imagine it would be great in Summer.

Breakfast time between the vans

In the morning we all got under way and headed to Rawene just a few k’s along the road so they could get the ferry further north.

Rafe’s tracker map to Opononi

That West Coast feeling at Bayleys

What a great spot. The Bachs are slowly turning into great houses, the colours are just magic.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

Good Colours

The Bayley’s Beach Holiday Park is the perfect spot there to stop the night with Sharkies Fish & Chip shop (and bar) just up the road. It is also taking part in the Camp Saver program.

A little mud but pretty good really given the huge amount of rain.

Unfortunately with all the rain, it was a bit wet but there was no danger of getting stuck.

The loos with the best view

An easy 15 minute walk out of a back gate takes you down to the amazing beach which goes for miles in each direction. After parking Rafe, I went for a walk down to the beach and then onto Sharkies for tea.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

I was following some friends of mine who had all hired a Maui Motorhome for the 3 day special and were doing a frantic 800 k odd trip around Northland. I was going to catch up with them the next day in Dargaville and then follow them through Opononi and onto Russell.  They were heading further North and catching up later.. a fun trip but lots of driving.

The Campground
Good for the kids

It was actually quite windy down at the beach but the campground was well sheltered.

In the morning I headed back into Dargaville to wait for the Maui Convoy 🙂

Rafe’s Tracker map to Bayleys Beach

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.  Everywhere I looked I could see nice images.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

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 Parks  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.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

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 🙂

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.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

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 🙂

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.  I’ll be going back again but this time on the sealed road from Wellsford:-)

Rafe’s tracker map out of Pakiri