The Gold Town

I’ve just spent two great nights in the centre of Thames for free. As I first arrived, I met Dave and Janice, a retired couple from Taranaki who live in their well kitted out Caravan and were lots of fun. We were stuck inside for several hours when the heavens opened and spent it wisely having lots of laughs in their caravan. I met several other Motorhomers there too who wanted to have a look at Rafe and were keen to swap notes. Lots of fun.

Chocker at Danby field
Chocker at Danby field

The park is next to Goldfields shopping centre where there is a Warehouse, Pack N Save, McDonalds a KFC and numerous other smaller shops, everything you need. There are also a brand new toilet block and a playground as well.

It is one block from the Main Street of Thames, the Famous Brian Boru hotel and only a stroll to the Port of Thames and marina where I’m told is another of NZ’s great Fish and chip shops.
From a year or so ago when the Thames Coromandel district council were banning freedom camping and were being taken to court by the NZ Motorcaravan Association, it is fantastic to see a win win outcome where now, the TCDC are now one of the most proactive and better councils in NZ for providing freedom camping and managing it as well as they do. There are now great parks all over the Coromandel peninsula and it’s fantastic to see them now being enjoyed by self contained Motorhomers from everywhere.

One more tried to sneak in ..
One more tried to sneak in ..

A fabulous park, thank you and well done Thames Coromandel District Council.

Amazing home built Airflow

How is that lovely verandah cover.
How is that lovely verandah cover.
The interior
The interior
Looking the other way
Looking the other way

Check out these amazing piccies from Facebook. A home built Airflow caravan. The workmanship is extraordinary!

Retro colour

While we were getting ready for New Years Eve, I couldn’t help but notice and amazing retro looking Mercedes based motorhome on the other side of the park.
It was built in Germany as a Micro Supreme branded Motorhome.

Brian, Kim and their daughter Maddie and the Mercedes.
Brian, Kim and their daughter Maddie and the Mercedes.

Owned by Brian and Kim from Auckland, they bought this two years or so ago and it became Brian’s project do up. The Mercedes D307’s are really popular in Europe as delivery, courier vans and small trucks and enjoy a great reputation as reliable runners and Brian was saying, he has no problem getting parts for it. All he has done mechanically was put in a bigger radiator which is apparently a must do for motorhoming. It also has a real “unimog” look to the front of it which I think reveals its Mercedes truck DNA.

The retro paint job
The retro paint job

Mercedes

The Tv station iutside
The Tv station iutside

Inside, well all I can say is what a great job they’ve done. New toilet and shower area and a new galley area. The minute you walk in, you get this amazing feeling of big volume. Brian has done amazing things with a TV/ sound station including a server for movies, a wifi router and a pop out Tv station in the awning area.

Inside
Inside
The Galley
The Galley

A great achievement by them both, a nice van and although at 1988 it is not really that old, the improvements that they made are amazing and it was nice to see them enjoying Sullivan’s Bay in the sun with friends and family.

One of Aucklands best parks

Our friends Rob And Helen have stayed here regularly and really recommended it as a great place to stay so we booked in a few weeks before Christmas for two nights.

Awnings out while the sun was shining
Awnings out while the sun was shining

Sullivan's

A wonderful place and this would have to be one of Auckland City Parks better camping spots. On the western side of Mahurangi Harbour almost opposite Scotts Landing, there is a beautiful beach and the foreshore is divided into several areas. There is a general camping ground, for those that need water, toilets and rubbish collection. There is a self contained camping area (where we stayed) and there is parking for day trippers.

In a past lifetime when I was Launch Captain and on the Classic Yacht Association committee, we used to come up in Rorqual for the Anniversary Regatta and organise and help arrange the launch racing from this bay. We often anchored in here too. I remember a dreary day in Sullivan’s with the rain pouring down watching DVDs in Rorquals front cabin with my mate Alan while waited for other boats to arrive from Auckland. Being here in a Motorhome and seeing how well set up it is from a motoring perspective leaves me with a much greater appreciation of how good it is, despite the worsening weather.
The New Year’s Eve forecast wasn’t good and during the day, the wind steadily increased. There were a couple hardy souls anchored out there today but they sensibly moved on given the 20 odd knots blowing in here now.

Our site on New Years eve
Our site on New Years eve

By 5pm, we’d moved around the back of Rob and Helens van for the start of our New Years Eve celebrations. We were joined by John and Heather who we met in winter at Miranda when they were enjoying their first night in their 7m plus Trail lite which they had just bought. It was nice to see them again.
We barbecued tea and sat outside out of the wind before the clean up started about 8ish and before it rained. A great night in a nice park with good company.
Later: The forecast has got worse so rather than risk being blown off the ridge road by predicted 50knot winds, we’ve booked to stay another night and hunker down.
I couldn’t think of a better place to be.😎

Water all around

After a few nights up by Tutukaka, we decided to splash out for a day in Whangarei.
We parked in the town centre Motorhome parking and checked in at one if the restaurants overlooking the marina for lunch. It cost a wee bit more than a bread roll but it was very pleasant for an hour or two.
After getting back to Rafe, we thought we’d check into a Motorcamp for the night.
Our friends Gary and Chris had talked about a neat park along the northern side of Whangarei harbour which was on a peninsula almost surrounded by water so we though we’d give it a go.

Rafe with the water up to the edge.
Rafe with the water up to the edge.
Rafe peering over the retaining wall
Rafe peering over the retaining wall

The owner  was very helpful and after a short guided tour of the park, we popped Rafe into our hole for the night. I was amazed when Fiona tried the TV to see that we had a reception given we were half under trees. The park was busy and very full.
I went for a walk with the camera to try and illustrate where we were. The park was built up with a wooden retaining wall all around to protect it from the sea.

The end of the peninsula looking towards Marsden Point
The end of the peninsula looking towards Marsden Point

A great spot with a fabulous host. It was a wee bit on the pricey side at $59, but given it was peak summertime and everywhere else was full, top marks to the owner for being a good entrepreneur and such a nice guy to go with it.

Robs Fan

Having spent the last few days with our friends Rob and Helen and their 11yr old daughter Chloe, Rob was keen to show us a modification he has made to his fridge to make it more efficient. Now Rob is a clever guy and is very familiar with things electrical so to see it working as well as it does is fantastic.

Rob with his fan
Rob with his fan

Robs fridge is an under the bench style Dometic 3 way fridge. They imported their AutoTrail themselves from the Uk a few years ago and of course it came with a “Northern Hemisphere” fridge. The difference between those and the “tropical” fridge is that the NZ fridges apparently are setup to be able to deal with hotter climates.
The work around for Uk fridges in NZ is to fit a 12v fan in the cavity behind the fridge with a thermostat to expel the air from behind the fridge, outside.

The thermostat
The thermostat

The 12v fans use next to no power and are really reliable.
Rob says it has made a massive difference to its performance and both he and Helen are really pleased with the way it performs.
There is a link to an Aussie web site which details the technical which Rob found that makes it relatively easy.  Here’s the technical link

Whangarei Falls

On the way back from Matapouri, we almost stumbled on these falls in a well setup park on the Ngunguru road.
Very nice new toilets too if you’re looking for good loos.

Whangarei falls from the top
Whangarei falls from the top

We spent an hour or so wandering around what’s called the inner loop walk which takes you down an easy track to a huge cavern like area with the huge waterfalls falling into a big lake about 100 odd feet below.
There is a picnic table there and a nice area to take it all in.
Well worth a look and good exercise too 😎

Sun sand and lots of people

After a good night at Whangauru bay, we went to Tutukaka for morning tea and a look around the marina. The last time we were here was 12 or so years ago when we purchased Rorqual.

Fiona on Rorquals old pier
  Fiona on Rorquals old pier
Tutukaka monument
Tutukaka monument
Looking back from the Marina
Looking back from the Marina

It was nice to see the activity around the piers, people getting ready to go away on their boats and doing last minute jobs on them. Fiona sneaked off to the shops for a look around and then we were off to Matapouri bay.

It was chocker with people and a struggle finding a little room for an 8m Motorhome.

Mayhem at Matapouri
Mayhem at Matapouri

One of the things to used to annoy Fiona during my newspaper career as a photographer over 30 something years, was my dislike for crowds and having to get in them. I worked often in crowds, either at events, concerts or just big council events. It always meant difficulty parking and sometimes carrying or running some distance with heavy camera gear.
So by the time I got home, concerts or gatherings of any sort were always off the radar… So imagine me in a huge Motorhome and all these people with narrow streets and people wanting to get home, all hot and at the end of the day.

We decided to move on to Woolleys bay, the next bay north hoping there would be less aggravation parking and some space. And it was lovely. We’d just arrived in the carpark behind the sand dunes and drove right into a flat spot next to another Motorhome who had been there the previous night. A really nice chap with his wife and two girls who was a supplier to Dethleffs and knew Jonas the importer.
Fiona and I sat in our new Christmas chairs and enjoyed lunch in the sun before changing and spending a few hours on the beach. Not a cloud in the sky and a bit of surf, just nice.
Later in the day, we thought we’d better check in with Rob and Helen who had got a premo spot in Matapouri bay and were encouraging us to come back.
It was mayhem but with both Rob and Helen acting as ace parking wardens, somehow we managed to get a spot right next to them. I have to say though, a bit stressful and although it’s a great beach, I really think that the beachfront carpark isn’t setup or well suited for large Motorhomes as everywhere you park is potentially exposed to a bad or careless car parker. Most of the cars had gone by 7pm and it started to settle down and by then, really nice.

Us once the cars had gone. Rob and Helens AutoTrail on the left
Us once the cars had gone. Rob and Helens AutoTrail on the left

All those people and the extra risk to Rafe, give me a quiet little Bay any day😎

Testosterone overload on SH1

Well, what a day. We had a great night with Fiona’s brother John and better half, Marnie where I whistled out the plug in Bbq and John made a great salad, we ate and drank until late. It was lots of fun. Our visit to J & M’s was well overdue and I’m sure we well and truly made up for it 😀

Rafe at John and Marnie
Rafe at John and Marnie
The long haired driveway
The long haired driveway

John cooked up an amazing breakfast of bacon and eggs that morning which prepared us well for the day. The drive needed a good haircut but we managed to get down with Fiona walking ahead and pulling the long branches out of the way and we were off via Pack n Save in Silverdale to meet Rob and Helen at Whangaumu  near Tutukaka.

As we headed up the hill to windy ridge on the first passing lanes, towards the end of the passing lanes we were overtaken in a hurry by two cars, a Toyota smallish car and a new X6 Bmw who pushed into the passing lane in front of me, earning himself a good loud toot of my horn for being a dickhead.

As we went on at the next passing lanes around the corner, the Beemer pulled out to overtake and immediately the Toyota pulled out in front to stall the bmw from going forward. There was obviously some history with these two. I kept back leaving a gap in the left for the bmw to move back into. On it went with the Toyota stopping the flow forward of the right lane really upsetting the beemer driver. The passing lanes eventually run out at the top of windy ridge and the Toyota moves left with the beemer trying to push in with no passing lane left. I’m still holding a big gap for the beemer to drop back into. Eventually the Beemer gives up, drops back into the gap in front and then crosses over to a wide left margin and came up the inside of the Toyota and tries to push in front from the left, deliberately ramming him and as he tries to get in front the beemer goes sideways with the Toyota driving into the drivers door of the beemer pushing it sideways. Wow.. All in glorious technicolor on our widescreen windscreen. We couldn’t believe what was happening!
The Toyota moves off to the side of the road and out of the Beemer pops out a hopping mad irate trendy chap shouting sweet nothings to a mid thirtyish bloke.
Both at fault but the beemer driver needs to keep his testosterone in his undies, that’s for sure. I pull over a little further up the road and run down with a card, Telling the beemer driver who is still ranting and raving what a dickhead he is, that I saw it all and gave the Toyota driver a card and told him to give me a call. Wow.. We both decided we needed to get to somewhere and have a cup of tea to settle things down.
We stopped at Waipu for lunch and a cuppa and a break and give the heart a chance to slow down!

After a quick visit to the Whangarei dump station to get water and dump, we pressed on to Whangaumu bay near Tutukaka where we met Rob and Helen and their daughter Chloe.
A stifling hot day with heaps of people on the beach. A fantastic spot right on the edge if the beach. Well done Rob and Helen for finding it! We met our neighbours Liz and Dennis in their Toyota Bus. Nice people too.

Rafe at Dusk
Rafe at Dusk

The images tell the story. I thought later I wish I’d taken the camera down to the fighting drivers to get a real news piccy but as Fiona says, I might have attracted more attention than I could deal with 😳

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.

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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