Xmas day

On Christmas eve, we stayed in my sons family’s driveway and early Christmas day was spent opening pressies with Alex, Sarah, the two grandsons, Ayden and Liam and with Sarah’s parents and brother Andrew. The hard part was keeping Liam on task opening all his presents as he wanted to stop and play along the way. All part of being a 3 yr old.

Waiting for the ferry at Half Moon Bay. Liam with Fiona and Ayden with his dad Alex.
Waiting for the ferry at Half Moon Bay. Liam with Fiona and Ayden with his dad Alex.
Ferry Unloading
Ferry Unloading

After Fiona had made croissants with Cheese and Bacon .. yum! we left to catch the ferry from Half Moon Bay to Waiheke, where were to have a great lunch with the wider family at Fiona’s sister Sara and Robs place in Onetangi.

Rob has some new toys in his toy box at the barn so after lunch we went up to the barn and he wheeled out the entertainment.

The Razor: a 4 wheel drive farm bike with roll cages but souped up mechanically. The Shredder: A track driven by a petrol motor steered by a wake board like setup.. see the piccies. Remember too to click on them for hi res.

Lots of fun mixed with some nice wine and great food with great company.

We all made it too the 7pm ferry at Kennedy point in time to get back to Half Moon Bay and to Ardmore.

It was a big day and I was literally falling into bed when I got back to Rafe.

A boxing day pic of Liam and Ayden
A boxing day pic of Liam and Ayden

We’re looking forward to heading up North for the next week .. watch for some Northland posts!  I hope everyone had a great Christmas.. have a good new year and if you’re on the road, be safe.

No Rafe for the weekend so feet have to do.

Rafe had developed a nasty little irritating rattle in what seemed to be the left front suspension.  We thought given the warranty runs out in 6 months or so, we need to get straight onto to these things and get it sorted. I dropped it off last Wednesday morning and took a technician around the block so I could point out the noise. It only appeared on coarse seal but was a quiet as a mouse on smooth seal.

The awning out with our new mat down
The awning out with our new mat down

Initially it seemed that although they could hear the noise, they couldn’t find a reason for a rattle. The suspension checked out ok and after a few hours of searching, there was nothing else.
A bit of light reading by yours truly on the Fiat forum in the UK showed that they have  this issue in Britain too. The Euro’s have smooth seal but they use coarse seal in Britain like NZ.  On Monday, they wired it all up with microphones and went for a drive to locate the rattle. To add the sound equipment, they had to take off the tray which is a big piece of black rubber/plastic mat that covers the whole underside of the engine and gearbox area to protect it from dust. The Brits found that they were the cause of the rattle. With all the sound equipment, they couldn’t hear any noise at all so it seems the tray might be the cause here too. We picked Rafe up on Monday and the’ve left the tray off to try it over the new Year period and so far I haven’t heard a thing 🙂   I’ll head back to the engineers in January and have it put back on with some foam to stop it rattling if that’s what it turns out to be.

As always, make sure you click on these images to see them in hi res.

Fiona with Takapuna Beach in the distance
Fiona with Takapuna Beach in the distance

What to do last weekend instead ?  We decided to walk around from Milford Bridge all the way down the beach and around the waterfront to Takapuna Beach. Its a great walk and only takes about 1/2 hour.

We stopped at Takapuna Beach for a while and watched the launching antics of the masses and the wayward backing attempts. Always a good hour or two’s entertainment although better at low tide 🙂

We walked up to Hurstmere Rd and had a nice lunch in a café there and then walked back towards Milford. There is a little track down to the beach right on the corner with Kitchener Rd so we headed back down along the beach and back home.

Fiona cooling off with Rangitoto behind
Fiona cooling off with Rangitoto behind

We’d only been home for a n hour or so when our good friends Tony and Julie popped in with a bottle of wine and some cider and then spent several hours sitting in the sun watching boats come and go in the marina.

A very pleasant day but I’m REALLY pleased to have Rafe back !

No Yotts on the campground please

Last week, several members of the Takapuna – Devonport board did an about turn on their previously promoted position of supporting the Takapuna campground against their tussle against government and council funded Yachting NZ for yet another yotting facility on public land.  The outcome was a compromise where the campground will lose about 10% of its land for a hard stand for the yotts. At least the campground gets to stay.

Takapuna Beach Campground
Takapuna Beach Campground

Takapuna Camp ground on Takapuna Beach is one of only two campgrounds on the North Shore. It is on leased land from the council. I think if my memory serves me right, it was given to the council by a local Takapuna family to be used as a campground several generations ago and many people from everywhere have enjoyed the grounds and its proximity to the beach for years.

People enjoying lunch with the campground behind
People enjoying lunch with the campground behind

Yachting NZ were trying to build their HQ at the Strand, just down the beach but were rejected by the council. Even their past Chairman,  a well known yachtie, is on record of saying, the people of the North Shore have said no to building on the campground and learn when to give up.

Auckland City, compared to some of the smaller cities around NZ, is not one of the better supporters of dump stations and Motorhoming.
Yes they have some great coastal parks which they inherited from Auckland Regional Council and various benefactors over the years and they make them available to campers and Motorhomers, but they generally charge a lot for very little so every full serviced campground we have, we need to keep.

Bridge Dude Bridge Dude, Rorqual calling

Late last week the council had their usual 5am blessing for anything new and officially opened their new bridge across Milford Creek and I have to say, it looks pretty good. I think its a huge waste of ratepayers money but over the weekend, it was used pretty much non stop.

The Bridge with the emergency piles in the foreground
The Bridge with the emergency piles in the foreground

Remember to click on these to make sure you get the best of these images in Hi Res.  

Bridge

The entrance to the bridge
The entrance to the bridge

Later that day, Andrew and I walked to the Milford Cruising club for a meal and a couple of drinks. I haven’t been there for a while so it was nice to see some of the old faces including Geoff Bagnall who rebuilt our old Whalechaser Rorqual.

Below is a recent drone movie of Andrew bring Rorqual back to Milford on dusk. This was just before the bridge was operational.

Andrew was telling me a funny story, how he went out in the boat with a mate that day to the Rangitoto lighthouse and back and on returning couldn’t remember the correct radio callsign to open the bridge.

As he tells the story, it went along the lines of : Bridge dude Bridge dude, this is Rorqual calling(and his callsign). Open the bridge please mate as I’m coming in hot! His reply: Rorqual Rorqual, this is ATOC. The bridge will be open within 5 minutes. Please proceed.
You’d think the council would come up with something simple like Milford Bridge or something similar .. no, they have to have something silly that no one can remember!

The bridge ready for business
The bridge ready for business

During the evening at the Cruising club, we bumped into our old friends Heather and her husband Walter who was the previous commodore who was very involved with the bridge in its early days.
“Now don’t you go using that bridge to go home” she said as we left to go home    .. oops.. sorry Heather but it was the shortest way back 🙂

No Floor Show

After Fiona’s very pleasant work do at The Brigham Restaurant at Hobsonville, and after showing off Rafe to her workmates who mostly hadn’t seen the inside view before, we headed for the NZMCA Ardmore park in South Auckland to meet our old friends Gary and Chris Parkes who joined us for part of our South Island trip a few months ago.

With the sudden surge of pre Christmas work from clients, we have been temporarily grounded if you like  so we’ve been making every excuse to get away. It was nice to catch up with them again and with Alex, Sarah and the Grandies just next door to the park.

Us with our very big Neighbour!
Us with our very big Neighbour!

We arrived in the middle of the afternoon and after settling Rafe down, opening some vents and a little unpacking, we walked down the road to see the Ardmore Millers to watch some trampolining, some bike riding and catch up with Alex and Sarah.

Returning back a couple of hours later around 6 ish, we had the mandatory sundowners and tried to make some sense out of where we would head over the coming weeks of holidays. This turned into dinner and some cups of tea much later. A good night and nice to see them again.

Overnight we had a really solid rain and a few puffs of wind to go with it. There were decent sized puddles everywhere in the morning although fine but still windy. Gary found a leak in his roof but we suspect it might be the vent that was open for the rain overnight.

Roger & Marion's AutoTrail with Alex and Sarah's black VW next to Gary and Chris's Mitzi Fuso at Ardmore
Roger & Marion’s AutoTrail with Alex and Sarah’s black VW next to Gary and Chris’s Mitzi Fuso at Ardmore

The morning tea bell rang from the Parkes truck and not long after that, Alex and Sarah arrived with Ayden and Liam.  We walked down to the Airport Café just in time to see the ole restored DC3 take off for a circuit but there cant have been too many customers as it landed after we arrived and taxied to its parking spot behind the tower. There was very little other plane movements which was disappointing. It must have been too windy or unpleasant for the small planes.

We walked back to the trucks and I spotted a nice pic of flowers and parked planes which summed up the day nicely. Our friends Roger and Marion’s Autotrail Delawere was at Ardmore park too and we caught up with some of the other regulars as well.

The planes all parked up. Alex and Sarah's treelines driveway behind in the distance.
The planes all parked up.
Alex and Sarah’s treelines driveway behind in the distance.

After tidying up Rafe and saying goodbye to all, we left after lunch and headed for home to more work this week.

Retro Beauty

An old Dodge?
An old Dodge?

I found this beauty on my travels on the web.

It has the look of a 50’s or 60’s Dodge..this would be the perfect vehicle to arrive in Art Deco weekend at Napier!

Does anybody have any ideas?

The Dunes

After leaving Orua Bay, we quickly checked out Graham’s Beach which looks like a great spot to stay.

As were a stones throw from Awhitu Wines, we toyed with the idea of going wine tasting but as it was only 10am (yep, we checked the time) we decided it wouldn’t be a good look🍷😳 so we went on to Awhitu park.

Fiona with Rafe at Awhitu
Fiona with Rafe at Awhitu

This was originally a huge farm run by the Brook family in the late 1800’s.
We left Rafe in the carpark and walked down and along the beach to the Brook homestead and cottage. Many generations of the family lived in these houses and there is a picture there if them enjoying Christmas dinner on the verandah in 1950.

The wharf at the Brooks homestead
The wharf at the Brooks homestead
The Awhitu beach walk to the Brooks Homestead
The Awhitu beach walk to the Brooks Homestead

image

The Brooks Cottage
The Brooks Cottage

After getting lost in the golf course, yep.. We even had to consult google maps to get back to the carpark. We had lunch and then left to find Hamilton Gap in the West Coast.

The Giant Sandhills at Hamilton Gap
The Giant Sandhills at Hamilton Gap
The Sandhills at Hamilton Gap
The Sandhills at Hamilton Gap

What an an amazing place. There is a self contained Motorhome park there which is free but as it was blowing 20 knots from the west, we decided to press on.
We had a good look around at the most amazing Sandhills built up by the wind. Check out the images.

Make sure you click on them to see the hi res versions.
Fiona checked out a very trendy looking toilet and decided it wasn’t that trendy inside.

Rafe with the Trendy Loos which Fiona says aren't that trendy inside!
Rafe with the Trendy Loos which Fiona says aren’t that trendy inside!

Two days of having a look around the peninsula just on our doorstep and finding these beautiful spaces. Such a contrast.

Sandhills at Hamilton Gap
Sandhills at Hamilton Gap

After an hour or so of looking around, we headed back to Waiuku and then onto Ardmore to check in with Alex, Sarah and our grandsons.

Where to today? North or South

The leading contender was head south and as I’ve been keen to check out the lighthouse at the end of the Awhitu Peninsula which is on the western side of the Manukau Harbour from Waiuku.

The lighthouse
The lighthouse

It’s about 100ks from Auckland by road. It’s an interesting drive and who would believe it was on Aucklands doorstep!
We left Milford and headed for Shore City for Fiona’s new specs, then onto Countdown for a couple of days provisions. I like Countdown in Takapuna as its really easy to park Rafe in there. They have these great double length car parks.

At Countdown Takapuna
At Countdown Takapuna

We headed south towards Waiuku. It’s an amazing little town that gets forgotten about but it’s got so much history. I must remember too to take the grandkids to the Glenbrook historical steam railway. That is just out of town and largely run by volunteers. A great setup.
The road out from Waiuku to the lighthouse is quite windy towards the end and in parts quite narrow but Rafe did it with ease.

Rafe and the winding road
Rafe and the winding road

We parked in the carpark and when I saw the steps up the hill. I thought of my mate Alan who visited me for a cup of tea a few days ago at Milford. Our driveway there is almost vertical and Fiona still refuses to drive up it. Alan got to the front door and said “oxygen oxygen”! Im sure he was joking but one never knows 😜
The steps up to the lighthouse were a piece of cake but there were a few of them. I remember seeing someone’s blog somewhere who reckoned there were about 275 odd !

The steps!
The steps!

The view at the top was well worth it. The lighthouse has been moved from its original location further up the hill but is basically as it was. There was a full community built around the lighthouse keeper and his family with a complete self sustainable farm to provide food, eggs and milk.

After an interesting hour of checking it all out we checked into the Orua bay Motorcamp about 3 k’s away on the beach opposite Cornwallis.

Our park at Orua Bay
Our park at Orua Bay

The Motorcamp is largely occupied by permanent caravanners. One of them wandered over for a chat about Rafe. Nice chap. It turned out that he was related to the lighthouse keepers family and had grown up in the area.
Tomorrow we’ll head to Awhitu park back down the peninsula.

Catching up

From our side of the creek.
From our side of the creek.

One of the things we’ve been a bit careful of was to keep in touch with our friends after renting the house out. Although we’ve been flat out getting the place ready and then had a couple of breaks, it’s nice to come back and see our old friends.

After getting back from a weekend with the grandkids and family in Ardmore, it was nice to be surprised with a phone call by an old boating mate Geoff. His boat Florence Rose was on the slip on the other side of the creek from us and he recognised Rafe parked beside the Marina.

We spent many Christmas holidays and New Years Eves with Geoff and his family around the harbour with our old whale chaser Rorqual and  she now is moored just along from Rorqual at Milford.

I walked around to see them and what he was up to. He’s just spent 4 days with his sons, anti fouling, and painting the hull so was pleased to be nearly finished.

Geoff with his boat, Florence Rose on the slip looking very sharp. Son Ben on the back of Flo Ro
Geoff with his boat, Florence Rose on the slip looking very sharp. Son Ben on the back of Flo Ro

While we were nattering, out came a good idea that we should stay in his driveway in Rafe and go out to one of our favourite restaurants in our old suburb Devonport.

After arriving and settling down Rafe in Geoff and Bevs driveway and after a few drinks and nibbles, we were off to the Restaurant. There we were met by two other old friends, Mark and Tina.

At the restaurant looking happy. L to R, Geoff, Mark, Geoffs wife Bev, Marks wife Tina and Fiona.
At the restaurant looking happy. L to R, Geoff, Mark, Geoffs wife Bev, Marks wife Tina and Fiona.

After a great night and a couple of Rums to finish the night of, we settled down for the night. Good fun and great to catch up.

Wheels of the Freewheelers

The view from the road
The view from the road

At the end of the week, it was time to think travel again and with a son with a birthday, Ardmore was the destination. After provisioning for the weekend at the easy to park in Countdown Takapuna, I headed to the Ardmore NZMCA park after getting some diesel at .91c a litre In Manurewa ! Fiona was driving out to join me after work.
I caught up with some if the regular liveaboards in the park which was great.

Our view of the Freewheelers.
Our view of the Freewheelers.

The Freewheelers were having their Christmas rally and were there in great numbers, all parked outside the NZMCA Ardmore park.

Click on the images to see them in Hi Res

Freewheelers are single people out enjoying their Motorhomes and they’re a lot of fun.
They had a Its in the bag night in the hall and it sounds like they had a great time.

The crew looking happy on Saturday morning
The crew looking happy on Saturday morning

With more than a hundred people turning up in 80 vans, it was a fantastic turnout.

Inside the NZMCA park looking out towards the Freewheelers in front. Fiona's car next to us.
Inside the NZMCA park looking out towards the Freewheelers in front. Fiona’s car next to us.

We went out to tea in Takanini with our friends Roger and Marion which was great. In the morning moved around to son Alex’s family in Ardmore in the morning.

Fiona & Chris, two empty nesters put their dreams of doing something different into reality… Living in their Motorhome, come along for the ride.

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