Category Archives: Waikato

Mighty River Campground – Karapiro

On the edge of the Waikato river at Karapiro is an amazing complex set up for our competitive rowers.  All the top rowing regattas are held here and most of our top Olympic and Commonwealth Games Rowers and Canoeists all train at this fantastic facility.

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Nice parking on the lower camping area
Down by the river

Attached to this is the Campground run by Liz and her assistants and it is HUGE. There are two campgrounds and they’re dead flat. The top one is set back a bit from the river but has a view through the trees and the bottom campground, right on the river.

The Dethleffs Rally on the top campground

We had arranged to host the 2022 Dethleffs Rally here tip toeing a bit around the Covid outbreak which was at its peak. We lost a few due to Covid and about 8 or so more wanting to keep their heads down.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow/to enlarge

We spent some time at the Café here which is great too.. nice food and great coffee and an easy walk from the Motorhomes in either campground. Its a great spot for just watching the rowing too with a cuppa in hand.

It is 7 k’s odd from Cambridge and there is a bike trail all the way in so bring your bike. There is a no dogs policy but cats are ok.

All in all, a lovely spot.

Rafe’s Tracker Map – Armada GPS

The Runaway Keys

During the Dethleffs Rally at Karapiro, there was a group of cyclists who biked into Cambridge on the bike trail.

On the way there the keys to John and Kirstie’s Motorhome somehow managed to break free and were later found by a friendly Cambridge local.

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John on the phone

It was quickly established by the local who the group on bikes were and he set about getting the keys back to John and Kirsty by handing them to a couple of Police officers in a patrol car in Cambridge.

In the meantime back at Karapiro, John and Kirsty were locked out of their Motorhome with the spare set inside.

John Peats pic of Kirsty doing an impression of Spiderman!

A plan was hatched to get Kirsty (the smaller of the two) up onto the roof and to climb in through the hatch above their bedroom. John Peat was hand to get a magnificent picture of Kirsty’s legs in the air  half way into the hatch 🙂

The Keys arrive. Kirsty and John with the Police.

About an hour went by and a very kind couple of Police officers in the Police patrol car found time in their program and came to drop off the runaway keys. It was good to see the faces change from concern to smiles for everyone and it was by then time for a cold one.. very timely 🙂

The 2022 Dethleffs Karapiro Rally

The venue was the Mighty River Domain at Karapiro which was fantastic.  Given that the  last Dethleffs do a few years ago was here and was a big success and after talking to the camp manager Liz who couldn’t do enough to help me, it was a done deal!

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Just before kick off, we had nearly 50 people coming (limit of 100 red light) but by the weekend, we’d lost quite a few so that was a bit disappointing.  A couple caught Covid and others were hunkering down.  We’ll try for one next year. So we had about 25 people which worked well.

On the Friday everyone started arriving from the middle of the day onwards.

My GPS sent us to cross the Dam but when I got there, there were limits on both weight and length due to the curve in the dam. We were at the front of the one way queue but managed to back out of the way when the light went green. There was one hardy Dethleffs soul who went across anyway.. he was later presented the bravery award !

Later in the day, Jonas and Irene arrived.. (Mr and Mrs Dethleff of NZ) and Jonas started to cut up a whole lot of meat he’d got from the Pokeno Butchery for everyone.. one of the best around. Just about everyone provided a salad .. a great communal effort and the variety was amazing.

Irene and Jonas with the meat.

I was a bit reluctant to take on this fantastic quality meat and burn it or undercook it so Jonas took on the cooking role which he did to perfection helped by John O on his BBQ.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow/Enlarge images

After tea, the campfire seating plan was retained for a social session and later outside various Motorhomes.

The next day, those who brought their bikes hit the bike trail into Cambridge to a café which was about 7 k’s away.

Fiona and I were joined by a few at the park Café overlooking the lake for a couple of hours until the cyclists returned.

The afternoon was spent with everyone sussing out each others Motorhomes and a good catchup.

For many this was their first Rally or Motorhome get together and the feedback was fantastic.. “when is the next one?” was a common question!

Later we reassembled the circle of chairs and all enjoyed a meal and a few drinks together and more fun times outside some ones Motorhome.

One the following morning, we all caught up at the Café and a group pic to celebrate the occasion.

The Team pic

A good result. Although I’ve been involved in helping previous Dethleffs and NZMCA rallies with parking (one with over 400 motorhomes!) this was something quite different.. especially with the germ floating around.

Rafe’s Tracker Map – Armada GPS

Peace and Quiet at Waharau

I’ve always wanted to find out about a POP that was reputed to be really popular on the Waharau coast and thought maybe now is the time.

Just north of Kaiaua and the famous Rays Rest, it is the perfect place to spend a few days if you wanted some of the nice things like power and a toilet.

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Lots of parking spots

I rang Andrew, the owner of the Pop and asked if they were open .It was all good so off I went.  I spent two days there and it was just bliss.

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Andrew’s parents purchased the 200 acres of scrub in the 60’s and then had to turn it into a farm.

Rod, the campground manager’s office is in the truck

There is a small Kauri forest on the back of the farm which you can walk up to. The bigger Kauris have all been milled decades ago but its a nice reminder of what was once there.

The camp is a classic with a small stream running most of the way around one side. There are 4 powered, graveled sites, all on different levels plus some unpowered on grass sites.

The levels of parking

The loo is a classic recycled corrugated iron shed but it all works. One of the most popular items here is an old copper for heating the water for showers. With plenty of firewood on hand, you light the fire, heat the water, put in a 20 litre container (provided) and there is a winch for winding it up a tree. That’s the shower mixer with some cold water to get the right temperature. You can also use the hot water in a private shower over a bath setup if you’d prefer. A great setup! and apparently it is really popular.

Almost directly across the road is a beach on the edge of the Firth of Thames looking straight out to the Coromandel Peninsular.. just bliss.

The Seal on the rock

After parking Rafe and checking out the Camp area and being followed everywhere by a very friendly chook, I went for a walk down to the beach.

Dusk at the beach

While I was just watching the antics of the Shags sitting on the rocks, there was some movement in the water nearby. It was a Seal who climbed up on the rock ruining the Shag’s day 🙂 He was now King of the Castle.. Andrew told me later that he’s been coming to the beach for years every year since he was a pup.

There aren’t too many places left in this world where you can get a powered site for 2 for $12 and with a big welcoming smile. A lovely spot, great hosts and a fantastic place to go if you just want to do very little.

Rafe’s tracker map to Kauri View Farm – Armada GPS

 

Birthdays and Babysitting

While we were at little Waihi, I received a text from old friends Gary and Dianne to say they were having a Birthday BBQ (Gary’s) at his place on the 4th so we slightly revised our plans to include a trip to Taupo which we were both really looking forward to.

Our spot with the trees.

Our Grandkids Ayden and Liam also needed baby sitting for a couple of nights while we were there so we arranged that their dad Alex, could bring them to Taupo, the day after the BBQ and we would move Rafe from the NZMCA park to De Brett’s. The boys were going to sleep outside Rafe in a tent while Alex slept in the drop down bed in Rafe.. It all worked perfectly!

Assembling the tent. Alex, Ayden, Liam on ground and Granny Fiona.
Tent assembly

After the tent had been setup, and the boys had been to the De Brett’s waterslides and pools, they came around and visited Gary and Dianne on the Taupo waterfront.

It was good for everyone to see each other and as it was a stinking hot day, the boys enjoyed a swim in their pool. Thanks Dianne and Gary for having us all… it’s always nice to see you guys.

Later in the day we all headed out for a takeaway and headed for the park.

Cabins at De Bretts

De Brett’s is a fantastic campground.. always easy and there is a café on site and of course the hot pools which are discounted if you stay there.

Ayden sitting on the edge of the playground

The next morning we tidied up and headed up towards Coromandel where Alex was picking the boys up a couple of days later.

Rafe’s tracker map to De Brett’s – Armada GPS

Taking the Boys to Miranda

Our son Alex had a trip arranged to meet some people in the South Island for a few days so Fiona and I were on deck to look after the Grandies, Ayden and Liam.

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Parking in the street.. with auto wooden levelling blocks:-)

We parked Rafe over the road in a car park space in Papakura and I’d taken a couple of blocks of wood to level up Rafe with the camber which worked perfectly.

The boys were at School during the days so when Saturday morning came, we all went around to watch Ayden play rugby for his team at Ardmore. They were playing the top team in the competition so I think they would have been pleasantly surprised if they would win. The boys played really well, Ayden scored one of the two tries and they had a great game. The end result was 19-12 and after hearing the opposing coach saying afterwards say that Ayden’s team had improved vastly since the last time they played together, and it was a great game for both teams was really nice to hear.

Ayden in his half back role
On the charge

After the game, we went back to the house and then set off for the treat trip to Miranda Holiday Park in Rafe. Fiona and I used to go there quite often but haven’t been for several years so there were quite a few changes.

Checking in was a breeze and we were given one of our favourite parking spots against what used to be the hedge beside the driveway except its all gone ! .. Shock horror but I have to say it does look good the way it has been done and it lets a lot of light and sun into the place.

It had been raining for most of the day off and on so there was quite a bit of water around.

We hadn’t been there long when the boys went off for a bit of an explore and very quickly found that the office had ice creams and lollies 🙂

The Miranda Office

It was time for a swim where we discovered the other new feature, which is the addition of a smaller toddlers pool next to the main pool.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The last time we were here was with our friends Bruce and Judy with Rafe’s twin and Dianne and Gary from Taupo. This was when we discovered the Dog friendly campsites out the back. They’re obviously a hit as there are quite a few more there now.. what a great idea. A bigger pitch with room around your motorhome for the dogs to roam while still being fenced in from the rest of the Campground.. fantastic.

The Dog Parks

Its always a great spot to stay and always clean and tidy.

Later we took the boys up to the Kaiaua Fish and Chip shop for tea followed by another swim in the pool. It was then time to watch the first All Blacks Aussie game in the TV room before we all crashed for the day.

It was wet

In the morning, we managed to sneak in a quick swim before we checked out and hit the road home. A great few days. The boys really enjoyed it and so did we!

Rafe’s Tracker map to Miranda – Armada GPS

A weekend of Surprises at Te Aroha

A couple of years ago I went to the Tokoroa Timber Town Romp  and it didn’t disappoint with Bagpipes, Scottish games and some bands in the hall for entertainment later. A great event over three days put on by the Waikato NZMCA Crew.: Des, Michael and Neil along with many others.

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The main parking area at Te Aroha

I missed last years event so I was determined to get to the Te Aroha weekend run by the same very clever people.

A Boat a home !

The venue was the Silver Ferns Event Centre at Te Aroha so the parking was on the football fields surrounding it. For the 60 or so Motorhomes and Caravans that made the event, there was plenty of room. Neil was out their as chief parker and it was great to see him again too.

In the Dethleffs corner

On the Friday when I arrived it was catching up with everybody with the main events happening the following day.

One of the highlights was the Kayaking where two groups of 7 were taken up river and set off to be picked up further downstream. Nice big wide Kayaks and everyone had a ball.

I’ve never really got to see the domain and the historic buildings where the Thermal Baths are so I walked into town to see them and have a general gander around the town. Its not big but full of very friendly people and with the influx of 60 odd Motorhomes, the NZMCA’rs were very dominant in their red shirts 🙂

Escaping the Heat

Some were off on the bike trails north and south and there was also an organised trip to a berry farm for fresh fruit ice creams.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

After a couple of hours of wandering around the town and watching the Kayakers return, I wandered back to Rafe.

Te Aroha
Baths Museum
Croquet

A nice event in a lovely town. Well done again to the crew for putting it on.

Rafe’s Traceker map – Armada GPS

One of the smaller Classic Caravans!

At the Liteweight 75th anniversary, and right next door to us was Karine and Ross in their 1956 Starliner Starlette Caravan.

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Karine and Ross with their Starlette

Its tiny but over the last few years, from the wheels up, they have completely stripped and restored this little beauty.  Ross has gone out of his way to keep it light and tow friendly .. it is less than 475 kgs!

It is a real Tardis but it is surprising how much room is there when the space is used efficiently.

It is what you’re used to as we found with our first Caravan, Wee Rafe.. not much bigger at 650kgs!

It is completely self contained and is surprising how much room it has in it.

Amazing amount of room
Lovely curves on the beds

They tow it with a 1964 Volvo 544 which would be a really rare car.  I haven’t seen any of them anyway.

Ross has completely rebuilt this too including replacing the motor with a Ford Sierra motor and gearbox. It has Ford Mondeo wheels, Smits Gauges on the dash (Triumph Dolomite) Hyundai seats and discs all around. It was a real eyecatcher!

The Volvo

With its awning out they looked quite at home entertaining their friends during the day.

First night away in their restored Liteweight Caravan

After 3 years or so of restoring their 1963 Liteweight Silver Mist, Ross and Kay finally got to get their first night away in it.  What a WOW moment and huge sense of satisfaction that must be, when you’re lying there on the first night taking it all in. 😊

I’m sure there were anxious moments but it all worked out well and they looked really comfortable in it.

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Kay and Ross with the Silver Mist

Over the course of a few years in between work commitments and building a house, they have finished what I thought was an absolute gem.

Plenty of room
Dinette / Bed

This is their first foray into older Caravans and  they have done a fabulous job of getting all the period door handles, power sockets and then decorated it with all the period fittings.

Looking really good guys,  a lovely Caravan, well done and nice to see you both again.

The 75th Anniversary of Liteweight Caravans at Cambridge

When I first found out about this, my first thought was to check in with friends Ross and Kay who I knew had just finished doing one of these beauties up to see if they were going to be there.

Ross and I both started as junior photographers at the NZ Herald in our early 20’s and its been a while since we last caught up.

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Love the yellow Jandals

I had a commercial job in town on the Friday morning, which didn’t finish until midday so we were late out of the starting blocks and didn’t get to Cambridge until about 4pm, but that didn’t matter as many others were still arriving.

Rafe at the Cambridge Top 10 with the Liteweight Caravans

After settling down Rafe and after having a nosey around the park at some of the old Caravans, we checked in with Ross and Kay to see their amazing Caravan ..more on this in another post coming soon!

Ross had found an Indian restaurant only a block away so that was tea sorted!  We had a great night catching up on all the news.

Don Jesson’s Caravans. Don’s family started Lightweight Caravans.

The next morning  after getting up late 🙂  we had a look around some of the beautiful Caravans that were arriving as the day went on and chatting to some of the people there.

A great turnout of Caravans and some Motorhomes.  It was a really well organised event with a slide show and BBQ too on the Saturday night so hats off to all those who organised the event. There were some great Caravans and not all of them Lightweights.

There was one there with a Penny Farthing strapped on towed by a nice old vintage Truck.

Complete with a Penny Farthing

The lengths some had gone to with their Caravans to be faithful to their origins was amazing.  There were also some really creative ways of restoring these Caravans with the absence of some hard to get parts. The good old Kiwi number 8 wire mentality shone brightly 🙂

Fiona was keen to do the shops in Cambridge and wanted a decent walk so she set off towards Cambridge’s main street which was about 3 k’s away.

Relaxing

The organisers of the event had arranged for a tour of the old liteweight factories  which are now a gift and furniture shop and a huge ITM store on the outskirts of Hamilton. I had no idea it was such a big operation but they apparently had two productions lines pumping out up to 10 Caravans a day. Really interesting.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

After this we had a quick look through Caravan and Motorhome World which was just across the road. The owner of this fine establishment is Dave McRobbie who started as an apprentice in the Liteweight factory and later went on to set up this business to service warranty claims and service any after market issues for the Liteweight product lines. That’s Dave’s red Caravan at the top of this post.

One of only 5 of these left, only 50 were made.

He had two Caravans of a model where only 50 were made and they know of only 5 left… A really unusual but lovely looking Caravan. .. see above and below.. same caravan being restored.

One of the 5 left, the other end.

Here we saw some amazing early models of the Liteweights which Dave and his team has restored.

Looking at Dave McRobbies old collection of Caravans

On the way back from Hamilton, we liaised with Fiona and met up for lunch in an old converted church in Cambridge for  lunch.

A really interesting day and lots of images and really nice to see our old friends again.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Cambridge – Armada GPS