Narrow Neck Sunshine

Our first night out of the house was spent at a friends Garage Forecourt in Devonport. Mark very kindly said we could stay the weekend but the first two nights away from the house were fantastic and with the remnants of a cylcone bearing down on us, it was nice to half tucked under his forecourt verandah.

We met our regular Friday night friends Alan, Grant and Robyn, just around the corner at a Bar and enjoyed some good nerve settling banter with them before joining them for a great Italian meal up by the Victoria Theatre in Devonport. Fantastic night.

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Waking up early on Saturday, Rafe’s grey tank said it was full (which it wasn’t) so a quick trip was made to the dump station at Albany and we did a complete dump and top up of fresh water so we were right for a few days. Fiona followed me in the car up to the lockup with some last minute leftovers from the Packers like vacuum cleaners and cleaning stuff to squeeze in the door ๐Ÿ™‚ .. It is packed to the rafters literally !!

Good easy parking

With the weather improving, we headed to Woddall Park in Narrow Neck, a well known freedom camping spot. Its interesting as one of the recent less than intelligent moments from our Council was a decision to ban Motorhomes staying at this park without any discussion. The locals however were outraged and promptly got them to reinstate the parking as the presence of Motorhomers meant the hoon element had completely dissapeared.
Fan bloody tastic ! .. A classic case of Council plonkers making arbitrary decisions and not listening.

My intermediate and High School years were spent not living very far from this beach so I know it pretty well.

Fiona lived on the beachfront reserve for a few years as it was Army housing as her dad was CO of Fort Cautley, so she was really familiar with it too.

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A lovely spot. The day we were there, there was a big day for small yacht racing out on the beach.

Its neat to watch the Dads all pitching in helping their kids rig their yachts and set them off racing.

Dad’s waitiung

Lovely to see them having a cuppa at the club house and waiting on the beach and helping them in too afterwards.

Narrow Neck with Browns Island behind

The pictures tell the story really but a fabulous spot for a night and great walks from here to Cheltenham and most of the way to Takapuna too.

Rangitoto Island

There is also a bus stop to the ferry or to Takapuna right next to the park.

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Rafe’s Tracker Map

We’re Out!

What an arduous process.. The house sold finally in October with a settlement of Friday 22nd Feb.

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The packers in.

It was listed twice. The first time with Drew, my son after it had been rented out for two years while we did the European and South Island trips, and we listed it virtually as soon as we’d moved back in. It was a bit scruffy having been rented out and we fixed the big things but in the end it wasn’t enough and the feedback was awful.

So we took some advice from some stagers and designers and painted all the main rooms Real Estate White. We painted doors that had been stripped that hadn’t been painted and Double Hung windows that needed a makeover.

The end result was a massive lift in the look and we relisted with Barfoots in Devonport as the Lake Road traffic and Devonport was too far from Drews other open homes in the bays.

Finally a result!!

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On the Tuesday after the packers came, we moved Rafe into the driveway ready for us to sleep in.

Prior to that, we had already packed everything into boxes, loads to the local op shop and the tip and the contents of the Pantry and Fridge was loaded into Rafe along with our clothes and the toiletries from the bathroom. Rafe’s cuboards were almost bursting ๐Ÿ™‚

Rafe in the driveway

The packers came and by the end of the day, all our furniture was safely locked away in a storage facility in Glenfield.

The big day came around on the Friday. Fiona went out to a girls lunch with friends to get away and I sat and waited for the Setllement calls to happen.

Around lunchtime, one of the purchasers furniture trucks arrived and he sat outside waiting. At 2pm another truck arrived and they all camped on the grass verge outside. About 2:30, the purchaser arrived to see what was happening.

It seemed the buyers bank had been a bit slow getting the funds through to our Solicitor and they had only just got the money at 2pm but just before 3pm, I received that call that I was waiting for and finally drove Rafe out of the driveway for the last time.

Lots of money in the bank, all the debt gone and no house!

LOTS of freedom! No more lawns to mow for a while and no more rates to pay. Yippee.. .. now to find another much smaller house for two people and a Motorhome!

Friendly Towns parking at Taradale.

As it was clear early on that the space at the Taradale Club wasn’t going to meet the huge demand for the Phil Collins concert, the local organisers of the NZMCA arranged to lease a paddock opposite the Tarade Club for NZMCA parking.

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Lots of NZMCAr’s

One of the organisers Tony was telling me that at their peak, they had nearly 300 Motohomes and Caravans there and in true NZMCA Rally style, they had everyone parking beautifully.

Organiser Tony

Having the Club over the road with its bar and the air conditioning for the 30 plus degree heat, and the generous meal deals didn’t go unnoticed by the folks over the road either.

Tony also was telling me that their next gig was the Art Deco parking and I’m sure they’ll also be involved in the AGM at Gisborne next month too. .. Busy times !

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Its great when great minds come together for a great mutual outcome. A very plesant couple of days with friendly easy parking.

The Phil Collins Concert

We’ve been to quite a few Mission Concerts now and they never seem to fail to entertain.

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Earlier in the day

This year, we had Phil Collins along with a couple of local bands which warmed up the crowd.

The day started with breakfast at the Taradale Club which was supposed to include a shuttle ride around to the venue too but when the time cam for the shuttle, the driver went AWOL ๐Ÿ™‚ so we walked and it wasn’t far and it was fun.

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Breakfast was great and at $10 each was very good value. By the time we had finished breakfast, it was pretty much lunchtime so at 2pm, after a bit of a snack, we headed off around the corner to the Mission Estate.

Fiona, Dianne and Gary all rugged up.

The weather was supposed to shower in the morning and improve as the day went on but the weather was late.. so the showering happened during the early bands. By the time Phil came on, everyone was damp, it was cold but it had pretty much stopped drizzling so as the night went on, we dried out and it was quite pleasant.

Phil had had some back surgery and had a duff leg so was aided by a walking stick and sat on a stool at the front of the stage but as a drummer, he is very used to singing sitting down and it sounded as good as it ever does.

His 17 year old son Nicholas is now the drummer and is very very good. One of the early songs they played had a huge quite complicated drum solo in it and he did a great job. He’s also a good piano player as well and you could tell that Dad was very proud of him.

Phil with Nicholas playing the Piano (Cell phone pic)

All in all a great concert which I’m pleased we went to despite the timeing with packing our house with moving just a week or so away. A good trip..

We headed back to Auckland after a nice night at the NZMCA park at Taupo.

On Stage .. cell pic

Taradale Club parking for Phil

Late last year, I received an email from our Taupo Motorhome friends Gary and Dianne asking if we wanted to go to the Phil Collins concert.. yes please says I so Gary bought them online. I’m not sure exactly where he was at the time but I suspect it was somewhere in the UK.

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On the way.. Taupo

All I had to do was arrange for some parking at Napier for our two Motorhomes. Just as that was happening, I received a very timely email from mary at the Taradale club saying they had limited Motorhome parking for $25 a night.. thats us I thought so I immediately booked us for two nights for both of us.

Happy parking

Fast forward 6 months or so and despite moving out of our house in less than two weeks, we’re on our way for a few days to Napier.

Arriving at Taradale, I met Mary who was happy to change Gary and Dianne’s park so they were next to us and not long after we arrived, in rocked Gary and Dianne in the Niesmann.

34 Degrees C! .. not much talking happening here ๐Ÿ™‚

The Taradale club was doing a BBQ tea for $20 a head and a $10 cooked breakfast so we clocked oursleves in for those too!

Every nook and Cranny was used.

The parking was great and with the temperatures hovering around the early 30’s it was stinking hot. The club’s bar with its air conditioning was a great spot to hang out and the drinks were reasonably priced too.

It was one of these !

There were probably about 30 odd Motorhomes there with most taking up the option for the meal and the breakfast.

Everyone was happy to chat to each other in the parking area and it was a very friendly spot.

Over the road, The NZMCA had leased a paddock fromn a local farmer and there was parking there too and that would have helped that Clubs turnover too!

Acroos the road at the NZMCA parking

Mary did a gfreat job making sure everyone was where they wanted to be and organising the meals. A neat spot to stay and very close to the concert venue as well.

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Rafe’s Tracking map north showing where the club is.

The Big Ride to the Horeke Pub

After a great night of catching up with Helen, Chloe and Jessica along with Dianne and Gary, it was time to get some sleep for the big 30k ride the next day.

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Getting the bikes ready

The next morning, Helen and the the girls set off to check out the Bay of Islands and we got organised and set off towards Horeke.

The top part of the Trail

We simply crossed the road and headed off down the trail. The first part of the trail is downhill..some of it so steep that you are advised to walk it! The first third is pretty much downhill but then it flattens out and its up and down the rest of the way through to Horeke but the trail is pretty easy and nicely set out.

Riding beside the stream

The middle part of the ride go’s through Snows Farm and past a Lily pond and the track is set in some really nice easy bush and along side a river. The scenery and countryside is amazing.

Dianne and Fiona

Eventually the track comes out to a road and then cross’s over to a huge wooden track built up over the Mangroves on the upper reaches of the Hokianga. From there it is only a few K’s to the pub.

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We were well and truly ready for a G&T and a sit down lunch and the lunch didn’t disappoint!ย  The Seafood Chowder was recommended to us by Noeline at the Rail Stay so 4 Seafood Chowders later, everyone was happy.

Peter the Publican came over to say Hi and it was interesting talking to him. He has owned the Horeke Tavern for more than 25 years so has seen some big changes.

Horeke Pub

Peter runs a shuttle for bikes and gave a us a ride back to the Rail Stay. Gary being a bit of sucker for some more punishment, decided to ride back on his electric bike and did it in really good time too, despite it being mostly uphill on the way back.

Back for a cold one with Rafe later.. Dianne, Jessica, Helen and Gary.

Old Rail Freight Wagons for a Snooze

Motorhome friends Helen and two of her daughters, Chloe and Jessica were heading up to Okaihau to stay at the Okaihau Rail Stay. We were also catching up with Gary and Dianne and cycling part of the Rail trail to Horeke which is about 30 k’s to the coast.

Nice layout

Arriving later in the afternoon, we checked in at the Office and met Noeline who set it up and she helped us with power and getting ourselves organised.

First Class

Noeline has been collecting and doing up old Railway Wagons for about 4 years and now has 4 of them set up for accomodation. There is also a Kitchen, Shower and Toilet all looking like a stattion and railway station side buildings. The whole place is immaculatly tidy and clean quite cleverly set out.

Neoline with Maeo the welcome committee ๐Ÿ™‚

The Motorhome parking is over a fence on a big paddock. Beyond that on another section is Noeline’s husbands trucking business.

The Rail Trail from Opua to Horeke is right opposite and so its just case of crossing the road to do the trail.

Us all settled in.

We were charged $30 a night for two including power.

Sorry no map as the GPS tracker has spat the dummy but Okaihau is about 15ks’ north of Kaikohe.

The Hundertwasser Town

Kawakawa is famous for its loos and the artwork of Frederich Hundertwasser. Some of the shops have now taken to this unique look as well and it looks great. We were on route to places North but stopped here for lunch.

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One of the shops

We parked down by the Railway Station at the other end of the town and as we walked through, we found that the Cafe’s were a bit light on the food.

The entrance to the Hundertwasser toilets

What we didn’t know was that there were a couple of cruise ships in at the bay of Islands just around the corner and they had bussed in passengers and literally cleaned out the Cafe’s of food!

The main street

We eventually found one at the other end that the busloads seem to miss so all was good.

Sharing the road

Kawakawa is one of the few places in NZ where the Train goes right through the centre of the main street in town but the locals take it all in their stride. It is a real sight.

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Although most of us know Frederich Hundertwasser as the designer of the Kawakawa loos, he has also designed Railway Stations, Grain Silo’s and other well known buildings all over the world.

Like a Tooth Missing

We were heading up North for the weekend to catch up with Helen, Chloe and Jessica and also meet Gary and Dianne from Taupo. The plan was to meet Gary and Dianne at the Caledonian Park at Waipu for a night and then go on up North after that.

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The Neissmann and Rafe

We pulled into the park early in the afternoon and it was good to see a few others in there enjoying the park. There were several Caravans and a couple of Buses there. What wasn’t so good to see was the missing buidings from the recent fire.

You can the back of Rafe in the park next door

As Gary said later, it was like a Tooth was missing. The fire happened in late September and burnt 3 shops to the ground including Fiona’s favorite cafe which is temporarily trading in a building over the road. Having something like this happen in a small town like Waipu would be devastating and I’m sure was a real shock to the town.

Neat Town
That Gap from across the road.

The town rallied around to help those businesses and many worked through their Christmas Holidays to help get some temprorary accomodation for the Cafe.

Cafe Deli’s temporary accommodation.
Cafe Deli at the back

The next morning we went for a look through the town and had a coffee at the Cafe Deli over the road in their temporary building.

Good to see some others here.

Its good to see they’re rebuilding but what a huge hole.

A new life for the Chevron

Shortly after we arrived at Kaupokonui, there was a knock at the door with two smiley chaps wanting to have a quick look at Rafe’s interior.

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Aimee and Brenton outside the Awning

It turned out that one of them was Brenton whoย  was a long way through the restoration of a Caravan. Brenton with his wife Aimee and two kids were from Wanganui and were staying right next door.

Comfy Bed
Looking across to the Galley

I later wandered over to have a look see. It was a 1974 Chevron lightweight which Brenton andย  Aimee started on about a year ago. When they first got it it was full of dark stained cupboards, the roof leaked in several places and it was generally a bit of a mess.

The new Awning

This is not what I saw when I went over.. Its looking great and doing the work themselves, has kept the lid on the cost. The biggest job was reroofing with a bitumen roll on product and then completely repainting the exterior and then redoing the interior.

A Bed at the other end too.

Along with a new Awning, its was great to see them away with other friends and family with their own two kids, enjoying their Caravan.

Looking good

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