Work in Wellington

Wellington beckoned with some photographic work for some ads and a manual for a client I’ve worked with for nearly 20 years. The plan was to drive down in Rafe, take my gear and photograph some people in and around Wellington doing their thing.

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Plenty of room

So off we went checking in with our old friends Dianne and Gary along the way in Taupo, and the next day, checking in to the Wellington Top 10 in Petone.

Lots of space

They were doing an off season deal where if we stayed for more than 5 days, we’d get an extra two nights for free. That worked perfectly for us as the work was finished in 5 days and we’d get to catch up with some of Fiona’s cousins for the last days.

One of the best games / entertainment spaces I’ve seen in a Holiday Park.

The client also arranged for a small rental car so I could get around to all their sites and get the piccies done which was magic.

Fiona up on Mt Victoria

Once the work was done, we had a half day where we could have a bit of a look around with the car to see my old school in Clifton Terrace in the city in Wellington. Its now called a model school. I’m not sure what that means but it was two classrooms and went from the primers all the way to standard 6.  I was about standard 2 or thereabouts and occasionally used to catch the Cable Car to school 🙂

The house we lived in then has now gone and is roughly where the motorway is by the Aurora Tce bridge.

One of the old Cable car trams

We checked our old house in Eastbourne and later, my grandparents old house in Melrose over the hill from the Zoo. The house was huge with a massive garden up the hill behind which was almost vertical.

My grandparents house in Melrose.. my room was the top floor on the left. The workshop was the row of windows by the terrace above the garages.

I remember watching the old Bristol Freighters taking off from Wellington Airport across the other side of Lyall Bay.  My bedroom when we stayed there (we were living in Christchurch then) was on the top floor and used to get the lighthouse flicking through the window every now and then on the wall… amazing.

He also had an amazing workshop and showed me how to make string puppets and a lot of other things. All sorts of things came out of that small workshop. He made some trolleys for us  (younger brother and sisters) to play with on the terrace outside above the garages.

He was a really clever guy and I could never work out why my mothers nick name for him was foolie 🙂
A house with lots of memories.

Te Papa was closed

After returning the rental car, we caught the bus into the city with the idea that we would visit Te Papa and see what had been updated but that was first day of lockdown and it was closed,  so we settled for a nice lunch at Mac’s with a glass of wine.. very civilised !

Fiona about to tuck in a meal at Mac’s

We’ve stayed at the Top 10 before and it is really the only Motorcamp in Wellington for bigger vehicles. It is well equipped with everything and being quiet, we pretty much had a whole section of 6 parks to ourselves for the first part of the week.

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I had to photograph some people (formal business portraits) using a portable studio and they were very obliging in letting me use a corner of their conference room for an hour.

More of that amazing games room

They are about to install a heated pool which sounds huge. That will be great as it is a little bit removed from anywhere but the bus stop to the city is only a 10 minute walk away.

The new pool goes here..

They have the best TV / Games room I’ve ever seen in a campground and everything else is tip top. A nice park with everything you would expect from a Top 10 park.

Earlier in the week, we checked in with Fiona’s Cousins, Shona and Bruce and their partners in Plimmerton.

After stopping at their local supermarket which has the best parking for Motorhomes I’ve ever seen, we stayed in Fiona’s other cousin Malcolm and Michelle’s  driveway before heading back up to Taupo.

Outside the New World at Paraparaumu Beach.. great motorhome parking !

It’s always nice to catch up with Dianne and Gary in Taupo. Their house is on the market so it might be our last night at their old house. We enjoyed a fun night with a glass of wine or two and lots of laughs.

Parked with power at Gary and Di’s in Taupo for the last time (Probably)

A week of fun in Wellington with a bit of work thrown in but lots of great memories and nice to catch up with people we haven’t seen for a while too.

Just leaving Waiouru on the Desert Rd.

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..

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 !

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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.

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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.

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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

First Outing in their new Van

Parked directly behind me at Hahei Beach were Patricia and Nacho from Wellington in their new van. They’re a really interesting couple with Nacho a programmer originally from Argentina and Patricia is a teacher from Spain.

Looking in from the back
The view!

They bought the van two months ago and after a few initial tweaks to suit, this is their first time away in it.

The Galley area

Already they have plans for some modifications so they have some seating to shelter from the weather.

The cooker

A nice couple just getting started on the road.

Paradise on the Beach

That’s Hahei! one of my favorite spots to stay but it has been a while since I’ve been here..

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The Beach

Arriving at Hahei and checking in with Cathy at the front desk was easy and she directed me to a great spot right behind the dunes by the beach. Cathy’s husband Grant is General Manager and it was really nice to chat to them both. With the Covid 19 lockdown, the NZMCA Camp Saver program has given them a welcome boost to their numbers.. You can only imagine the effect the lack of tourists would make to the bottom line for a big park like this so great that its working for them.

Grant and Cathy

The last time I was here was with friends from Taupo and Snells Beach but that was way back in 2017 according to Cathy’s records.. how time flies!

The weather was due to deteriorate but I had the day to check the place out and there is plenty of it.

Great Outlook

Just down the road is Cathedral Cove which you can walk to. Fiona and I did this a few years ago and its well worth doing.

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Since I was last here, there is a Spa pool available now right on the crest of the dunes next to the beach which looks out over the bay to the Islands beyond. What a nice idea and I bet its popular in the peak season. There is also a BBQ hut with shelter looking out over the bay too..

The spa

Its a huge park with some really nice Tourist flats at one end overlooking the beach. And just acres of parking spots.

The Tourist Flats

With more than 200 powered sites, there is lots of space with room between parks and easy access to them as well.

Just a lovely atmosphere, a fantastic beach and its just over a couple of hours from Auckland.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Hahei

Birds, Trains and Motorhome parking

There is a bit of everything here and with Camp Saver Motorhome parking. Its called Mill Creek Animal and Bird Encounters and is about 3k’s off the main road just south of Whitianga.

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Nice parking

Unfortunately they had just had a big rain event and been flooded so the ride on train wasn’t running but all the animals and birds were there.

The Lorikeets

There is a walk in Aviary where you can go in amongst the Lorikeets which is neat and they’re super friendly as well.

Some Peacocks

There are over 400 birds here with Macaws and Cockatoos along with many farm animals all spread out. Everywhere you look there are peacocks roaming around and down by the Motorhome parking, there are Pigs, Goats, small horses, big horses Donkeys, you name it, its there. You can also get a coffee at the station cafe.

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As I arrived I was greeted by a large duck who chased me to the Farm Animal area 🙂

This Duck had plenty to say for itself

The nice flat parks are generous in size, about 8 metres square with small panels to separate each park. The showers and toilets look brand new as well so a great spot to stay.

Fun for the kids

Even though it was pretty cold and miserable, there were plenty of families there enjoying the park. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area and great for the kids.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Mill Creek

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.

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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.

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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

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