Category Archives: Waikato

The Control Gates at Aratiatia

On the way to the National Equestrian centre where we were to stay for the night, there is a bridge and dam that is crossed which crosses the Aratiatia Control Gates.

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Waiting for the start with the gates behind

Every now and then, they open the gates to let the water head down the Waikato river. It is spectacular and there are always good crowds there to see it happen.

Before

The rush of water is amazing and the area below the bridge transforms from empty to full with millions of litres of water in minutes.

Nearly full

There is good parking there for Motorhomes and Caravans and while we were there, there was a visit from the Huka Falls Jetboat.

The Huka Falls jet above the gates

We quietly queued up and waited for the sirens and then the rush of water.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow of the stages

An amazing spectacle and you can check with the Taupo visitors centre for opening times.

After the action, we moved on up to the Equestrian Centre for the night.. another favorite place.

Toilets, Showers and rubbish right opposite

The prices have changed and are now $5 per person plus $5 for power. This includes access to a toilet and shower. A good place to stop for a night.

The big Wet

We started planning Queens Birthday quite a few weeks ago so we could book into the anticipated busy Miranda Holiday Park and get parks,  for both Rafe and our friends in their Tracker.

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Fun in the pool

Rob, Helen and Chloe were joining us for the weekend and we were really looking forward to catching up with them again.

Lonely yellow chair

The weekend forecast was not great but we figured that our old favorite spot would be pretty safe.

At last the sun came out briefly

We arrived around midday on Saturday to find that Rob, Helen and Chloe had already arrived and after getting Rafe level and some vents open and the power on, Fiona and I were off to the hot pool.

Chloe’s tent in between us

The rain hadn’t started yet but was forecast to arrive anytime. Later in the day, it was all on and overnight into Sunday, it just didn’t stop. It didn’t prevent us though from ducking in and out for a swim on both days.

Later on Saturday, Rob and Helen popped over for a cold one and some cheese and biccies. I was amazed that despite the forecast, Chloe was still keen to stay the night on an air bed in a small tent between the two vans!

Click on the Gallery below to see a slideshow

Sunday… It was all on, some Thunder, and LOTS of rain. The drainage ditch behind us was chocker and threatening to come into the park from the road. There was water everywhere.

swimming in the rain

Later in the day, the rain eased up and Rob and I went for a walk to have a look around. Many of the parks with Caravans and smaller vans were half under water. Most of the tent sites near us were submerged but despite all this, everyone seemed happy. The pool was busy everytime I went anywhere near it too!

The drain behind us was about to verflow

If you’re going to get stuck in a downpour, I couldn’t think of a better place to be really:-)

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Parked next to the 1st Hole

One of the great surprises from a wee jaunt around the Waikato has been the discovery of the Ngaruawahia Golf Club.

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A late player at dusk

I phoned Lyn from 50 odd k’s away to make sure that they had space and were open and was bowled over by Lynn’s happy voice on the other end of the phone. It couldn’t have been easier.

30 minutes or so later, I was being shown  a level patch of solid grass nicely protected by a few trees with 3 powered boxes (4 sockets on each) and a picnic table nicely positioned away from the general parking area. It was heavenly!..

At $15 a night per van with power, with the bar handy in the newish clubhouse with toilets and showers available during the day, its fantastic parking.

Nice new building

After settling Rafe down and plugging in, one of my first stops was upstairs to the bar where Lynn was helping out.

Lynn at the bar

I met a couple of really friendly locals there who had just finished 18 holes and were enjoying a couple of beers. They lived and worked in Hamilton which seems to be where a lot of the membership and bars patrons came from but what a nice crowd.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

Lynn showed me where the walking / bike trail is to the Ngaruawahia township along the river which I later walked some of the way along. There is a huge brand new housing subdivision right next door with some amazing houses. I stopped halfway as it started raining and headed back to Rafe but what a lovely spot.

The historic old pub on the corner

A nice place to park with some friendly faces in a nice town.

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Rafe’s Tracker Map

A Blast Northwards

After a couple of nice days at Richmond, we decided we would cross the strait early and head back to Auckland. We headed to our favourite Blenheim Motorcamp, Spring Creek  for a night before catching the ferry on a perfect day to cross to Wellington.

Lots of Motorhomes on the deck

It was nice to see the owners Christine and Andy and the campground was looking good. I gave Rafe a good wash to tidy up a bit while Fiona got some washing done as well.

Primo spot next to the creek.

The next morning, we were off early and with perfect weather, the crossing was fantastic. We arrived in the middle of the day so we thought Plimmerton NZMCA park would be good for the night and then we would head to Taupo to stay with friends Gary and Dianne. They had arranged for some other friends Ian and Lynda with their Dethleffs XLI to join us for four nights as well. We were really looking forward to seeing them all again.

A panorama of the Plimmerton when we arrived.

After an early departure from Plimmerton, we left and made good time getting to Waiouru at lunchtime after stopping at the Woolshed café in Sanson for a cuppa and some fuel.  $1.19 a litre at the Sanson Caltex Truck stop for diesel.. amazing.
We had paid up to $1.45 a litre in the South Island.

Mt Ruapehu at Waiouru

We cruised in to Taupo about 3.30pm and as it was nearly 30C – hot!, we were with Gary and Dianne in their pool to cool off.  It was nice to see them both again.

Rafe parked at Gary and Diannes

Ian and Lynda were arriving the following day.

Ian and Lynda’s Dethleff XLI

The next day, Gary took one look at Rafe and while I washed Rafe, he made it clear that he thought, Rafe needed a bit more TLC.

Ian and Gary with all the polishing toys!

Within a few minutes, he was out with his cut and polish kit and got straight into all of Rafe’s blue bits. The bonnet and the doors and the the decals down the side.

Look at that reflection in the bonnet!

A light cut, a polish and buffing and it looked like a different vehicle.

Ian and Gary with Rafe.. look at the Tyres!

When Ian arrived the next day, they were both at it but what a huge difference! Even the wheels got some silicone treatment!

We went down to Repco to get some Turtle Wax so I could wax it when I got back to Auckland (Which I’ve now done).

Thanks guys, you made such a difference and Rafe now looks a picture!

Shiny 🙂

After 4 great days with the crew in Taupo, we headed back to Alex and Sara’s in Ardmore in Auckland (Son and Daughter in law) and the Grandkids Ayden and Liam. It was nice to see them again and with that, the South Island trip came to a close.

Christmas was on the doorstep and we were looking forward to catching up with friends and family. Many we hadn’t seen since we left for Europe over 6 months ago.

Rafe’s track to Auckland

West Coast Beauty

We spent a nice couple of nights with the two Grandsons and their parents at Ardmore and then we headed off to Port Waikato for our last night away for the weekend.

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The Jandal Wall

The last time I came to Port Waikato in the middle of last year, the camp was run by a very helpful French chap who couldn’t do enough for you.

Last year in October, the camp was bought out by a Hapu of Tainui and the welcome we got from manager Mathew was unbelievable.

He’s a lovely guy and again was just so helpful. With the new management comes some enthusiasm to do a few deals to rev things up in winter. The deal we had was pay for one adult and get another one free for a powered site which was amazing. Where else do you get this with all the other facilities too 🙂

The Powered sites

After finding a nice spot for Rafe and settling down, Fiona and I decided to walk the 1k or so down to Sunset beach. A nice easy flat walk and the beach is amazing. There is something that is quite magical about our West Coast beaches.

We spent an hour so  taking it all in and then headed back to Rafe.

Sunset beach

As it was a holiday park and despite the cold weather, the park was reasonably busy with plenty of caravans and lots of Bach owners in their permanent chalets in the park.

Great decorating skills

Some have gone to some trouble to set them apart from the others.

Along the beach

The rain came down overnight which we expected and we enjoyed a leisurely run home with very little traffic.

On the Estuary

Its a great spot, the camp is well setup and with Mathew on the handlebars now, you’ll really enjoy your stay. Check it out.

Rafes Tracking map

The Corner Shops

We’ve watched this place over the last year or so but it just gets better and better. The food is consistently good and its a neat place to stop.

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Nice Parking area

There is one Motorhome park on the gravel but there is also plenty of solid lawn parking for Caravans and Motorhomes while you visit.

The “Style Shop” 🙂

It is right on the turnoff to Thames on Highway 27 as you’re heading towards Thames. Turn left at the Thames turnoff coming from the motorway and its on your right.

There is plenty of parking. There is a kids play area for the nippers, great food and reasonably priced. Style shop is there too in a seperate building, for the Mums to load up while Dad soaks up the sun outside 🙂 … a dress shop 🙂

We stopped here on the way to catch up with friends at Coromandel for a scone and a cuppa. Although we were early, around 10:30ish, it was just getting busy so its good to see they’re doing so well.

 

The Laundry Chute

Its amazing who you meet and what clever things they do to their motorhomes to make them work better for their lifestyle. During the recent Dethleffs Owners group meeting at the Classic Car Museum in Hamilton, I was fortunate enough to meet Walter and Nolina from Taupo and to see some of the clever things they have done to their Dethleffs Esprit.

Don’t forget you can click on the images for hi res !

Walter lying across the bed showing the top of the laundry chute.
Walter lying across the bed showing the top of the laundry chute.

Walter saw the need to have somewhere to put their laundry. In almost all the centre island bed Dethleffs models, there is a shelf which extends about 800mm along each side of the bed from the back wall.

In mine I have a speaker and some usb jacks for phones and ipads etc.   Walter very cleverly decided to use his on one side to install an opening round marine hatch which opens to a chute which Nolina made, that drops down into the garage underneath. The bottom of the chute detachs as a bag to cart away the washing.  Fabulous idea and a great way of getting the washing out of the way.

The chute in the garage with the detachable bag.
The chute in the garage with the detachable bag.

That’s an idea I’m going to use 🙂

They have also made use of waste space under a seat and in a cupboard for a glasses case and a drinks cabinet under the seat.

Nolina with the drinks cabinet.
Nolina with the drinks cabinet.

Great stuff! A great use of what could otherwise be wasted space.