Category Archives: Northland

Robs Fan

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.  Here’s the technical link

Whangarei Falls

On the way back from Matapouri, we almost stumbled on these falls in a well setup park on the Ngunguru road.
Very nice new toilets too if you’re looking for good loos.

Whangarei falls from the top
Whangarei falls from the top

We spent an hour or so wandering around what’s called the inner loop walk which takes you down an easy track to a huge cavern like area with the huge waterfalls falling into a big lake about 100 odd feet below.
There is a picnic table there and a nice area to take it all in.
Well worth a look and good exercise too 😎

Sun sand and lots of people

After a good night at Whangauru bay, we went to Tutukaka for morning tea and a look around the marina. The last time we were here was 12 or so years ago when we purchased Rorqual.

Fiona on Rorquals old pier
  Fiona on Rorquals old pier
Tutukaka monument
Tutukaka monument
Looking back from the Marina
Looking back from the Marina

It was nice to see the activity around the piers, people getting ready to go away on their boats and doing last minute jobs on them. Fiona sneaked off to the shops for a look around and then we were off to Matapouri bay.

It was chocker with people and a struggle finding a little room for an 8m Motorhome.

Mayhem at Matapouri
Mayhem at Matapouri

One of the things to used to annoy Fiona during my newspaper career as a photographer over 30 something years, was my dislike for crowds and having to get in them. I worked often in crowds, either at events, concerts or just big council events. It always meant difficulty parking and sometimes carrying or running some distance with heavy camera gear.
So by the time I got home, concerts or gatherings of any sort were always off the radar… So imagine me in a huge Motorhome and all these people with narrow streets and people wanting to get home, all hot and at the end of the day.

We decided to move on to Woolleys bay, the next bay north hoping there would be less aggravation parking and some space. And it was lovely. We’d just arrived in the carpark behind the sand dunes and drove right into a flat spot next to another Motorhome who had been there the previous night. A really nice chap with his wife and two girls who was a supplier to Dethleffs and knew Jonas the importer.
Fiona and I sat in our new Christmas chairs and enjoyed lunch in the sun before changing and spending a few hours on the beach. Not a cloud in the sky and a bit of surf, just nice.
Later in the day, we thought we’d better check in with Rob and Helen who had got a premo spot in Matapouri bay and were encouraging us to come back.
It was mayhem but with both Rob and Helen acting as ace parking wardens, somehow we managed to get a spot right next to them. I have to say though, a bit stressful and although it’s a great beach, I really think that the beachfront carpark isn’t setup or well suited for large Motorhomes as everywhere you park is potentially exposed to a bad or careless car parker. Most of the cars had gone by 7pm and it started to settle down and by then, really nice.

Us once the cars had gone. Rob and Helens AutoTrail on the left
Us once the cars had gone. Rob and Helens AutoTrail on the left

All those people and the extra risk to Rafe, give me a quiet little Bay any day😎

Testosterone overload on SH1

Well, what a day. We had a great night with Fiona’s brother John and better half, Marnie where I whistled out the plug in Bbq and John made a great salad, we ate and drank until late. It was lots of fun. Our visit to J & M’s was well overdue and I’m sure we well and truly made up for it 😀

Rafe at John and Marnie
Rafe at John and Marnie
The long haired driveway
The long haired driveway

John cooked up an amazing breakfast of bacon and eggs that morning which prepared us well for the day. The drive needed a good haircut but we managed to get down with Fiona walking ahead and pulling the long branches out of the way and we were off via Pack n Save in Silverdale to meet Rob and Helen at Whangaumu  near Tutukaka.

As we headed up the hill to windy ridge on the first passing lanes, towards the end of the passing lanes we were overtaken in a hurry by two cars, a Toyota smallish car and a new X6 Bmw who pushed into the passing lane in front of me, earning himself a good loud toot of my horn for being a dickhead.

As we went on at the next passing lanes around the corner, the Beemer pulled out to overtake and immediately the Toyota pulled out in front to stall the bmw from going forward. There was obviously some history with these two. I kept back leaving a gap in the left for the bmw to move back into. On it went with the Toyota stopping the flow forward of the right lane really upsetting the beemer driver. The passing lanes eventually run out at the top of windy ridge and the Toyota moves left with the beemer trying to push in with no passing lane left. I’m still holding a big gap for the beemer to drop back into. Eventually the Beemer gives up, drops back into the gap in front and then crosses over to a wide left margin and came up the inside of the Toyota and tries to push in front from the left, deliberately ramming him and as he tries to get in front the beemer goes sideways with the Toyota driving into the drivers door of the beemer pushing it sideways. Wow.. All in glorious technicolor on our widescreen windscreen. We couldn’t believe what was happening!
The Toyota moves off to the side of the road and out of the Beemer pops out a hopping mad irate trendy chap shouting sweet nothings to a mid thirtyish bloke.
Both at fault but the beemer driver needs to keep his testosterone in his undies, that’s for sure. I pull over a little further up the road and run down with a card, Telling the beemer driver who is still ranting and raving what a dickhead he is, that I saw it all and gave the Toyota driver a card and told him to give me a call. Wow.. We both decided we needed to get to somewhere and have a cup of tea to settle things down.
We stopped at Waipu for lunch and a cuppa and a break and give the heart a chance to slow down!

After a quick visit to the Whangarei dump station to get water and dump, we pressed on to Whangaumu bay near Tutukaka where we met Rob and Helen and their daughter Chloe.
A stifling hot day with heaps of people on the beach. A fantastic spot right on the edge if the beach. Well done Rob and Helen for finding it! We met our neighbours Liz and Dennis in their Toyota Bus. Nice people too.

Rafe at Dusk
Rafe at Dusk

The images tell the story. I thought later I wish I’d taken the camera down to the fighting drivers to get a real news piccy but as Fiona says, I might have attracted more attention than I could deal with 😳

The Beach

Uretiti Beach
Uretiti Beach

Uretiti has to be in one of the best locations for a camping ground. Right behind the sand dunes and onto a beach that runs from Waipu Cove in the South to Ruakaka in the north. It’s about 10 kms long!

The park itself is huge and you basically park where you want to. As it is all grass, it’s sometimes a little tricky getting level but there is plenty of room with Long drop toilets and cold shower stations dotted throughout the park. There are walks around the dunes for those looking for some exercise.

Don’t forget to click on the images to see the Hi Res version

For the benefit of those offshore. Uretiti with the beach on the right and the main highway on the left. South of Whangarei
For the benefit of those offshore. Uretiti with the beach on the right and the main highway on the left. South of Whangarei

We parked on the beach side next to a track through the sand dunes to the beach.

We’d spent a great day brunching and riding around Whangarei Town centre which was fun so when we got to Uretiti, we were ready to blob out. On arrival, Fiona discovered that we had run out of tea😕 so in the morning we were off for a shopping trip to Waipu, then back to Uretiti to enjoy the sun. We parked on a knoll parallel to the beach and had a bit of a view of the dunes.

The awning out with our new mat down
The awning out with our new mat down on the knoll.

It was time for a swim. Even though it was a hot day, I’d have to say it was “refreshing”! I wasn’t in for long but it’s always nice to be able to tick off that first swim.

Fiona on Uretiti beach
Fiona on Uretiti beach

After a couple of hours on the beach, it was time to watch more Motorhomes and caravanners roll in for parks. Even when Uretiti is busy there are always plenty of gaps. It is huge!

The clothesline in action
The clothesline in action

With the sun coming down, out came the awning and down went the new mat under the awning for the first time and it was great to put the bike clothesline into service too.

With the phone ringing with work coming in, we knew we had to head back to Milford the next morning.

Our first night at Uretiti showing how much room there is
Our first night at Uretiti showing how much room there is

Uretiti is a magic spot. It’s even better when you have a NZMCA/DOC pass and we’ll be back.

The tenants are in and we’re off.

After a few last minute things to do to get the house ready for the tenants saw a couple of quick trips between Milford and Devonport but the tenants are in and it all looks good.

I celebrated with my first night away by catching up with long term friends Alan and Grant for a few cold ones and stayed the night at a reserve in Torpedo Bay in Devonport.
There were a few jobs to be done this week so we were in Milford until Saturday morning and now the fridge is pretty much sorted, we’re off.

At the Caledonian Reserve
At the Caledonian Reserve

The forecast was evil. Thunder and lightning was due and it was blowing a cross wind for most of the way north. We stopped for brunch at the Cider Shed just north of Warkworth. We’ve been there a few times before and they’re always good for a nice feed. There is a nice big level carpark making it easy to park large Motorhomes.

After a good break, we headed further north to Wellsford and then finally Waipu. Checking out the new NZMCA bible, we found the Caledonian park behind the shops. What an amazing place to stay. With power too, all for $10 a night.

Fiona with the menu in McLeod tartan at the Pizza Barn
Fiona with the menu in McLeod tartan at the Pizza Barn

We walked down to the McLeod Pizza Barn so Fiona felt right at home(she’s a McLeod) after an hour or two there we walked back to Rafe at the Caledonian Park.

All the Motorhome parks at the Caledonian park .. All with power and water.
All the Motorhome parks at the Caledonian park .. All with power and water.
The Celtic Barn at the Caledonian Park
The Celtic Barn at the Caledonian Park

By midnight it was raining pretty steadily and about 3am it was all in thunder and lightning. With the huge roof vent above our bed, it was fun watching the fun and games above. By the sounds of it, nothing like what they had back in Auckland.

On Sunday, we thought we’d head up to Whangarei and have a nosey around. We parked in the Motorhome parking in the Town centre while we had brunch. Whangarei is very Motorhome friendly with plenty of parking for bigger vehicles and several dump stations. The town centre is a fantastic place where it seems half of Whangarei meets, lunches and enjoys the ambience.

After a few hours of taking it all in, we set off to try a new park we heard about on the NZMCA Northland Facebook page called Pohe Bridge. A big carpark next to a new bridge. There is a cycle way / walkway which goes all around the harbour from the bridge and back again. Off came the bikes and we were heading back into the town centre again. Across a foot bridge, through the town centre and back along the northern side and back to Rafe.
We opted not to stay there, only because the sun was shining and we fancied getting some mileage out of our Doc pass which we’ve hardly used, and thought Uretiti beach seemed like a nicer spot with the beach.

Our first night at Uretiti
Our first night at Uretiti
Fiona on the Uretiti bridge
Fiona on the Uretiti beach

A walk and sit on the beach for a while and we settled down for the night.