In the rain

And boy did it rain! 

I headed to Uretiti Doc camp armed with my NZMCA Doc pass which is in its last month, to meet up with Gary and Chris who had been there for a few nights strategically hiding behind a big bush from the north easterlies. There was almost enough room for Rafe too but the winds were dying off and it was really about the rain now. 

Gary with the Mitzi and Rafe
Gary with the Mitzi and Rafe

Stuck inside due to the rain, we spent the afternoon watching an amazing Tv series done by the Norwegians set in the Second World War about the Heavy Water factory on Netflix. It was so good that we had to keep watching it and ended up watching the whole series!

The Netspeed speed test at Uretiti
Download: 24.42 Mbps
Upload: 2.45 Mbps
Ping: 49 ms
Connection Type: Wi-Fi
Server: Wanaka

There were a few good puffs overnight but it generally settled down and by the morning it was just a drizzly, dreary light rain. 

Click on the images to see Hi Res

Uretiti Beach .. which way
Uretiti Beach .. Chris on the beach, which way?

In a moment of madness, we decided to go for a walk on the beach but got as far as the sand and decided it was indeed a silly idea so headed back to dry off.

Chris escaping back to the Vans to get out of the rain.
Chris escaping back to the Vans to get out of the rain.

It was nice to catch up with Gary and Chris. They had a few things to do in their new hometown of Ruakaka where their house is rented out and then we were going to catch up again in Waipu where I headed and parked at the Caledonian park.

Due to the rain, I thought the grass was quite soft so I parked on the gravel. 

At Caledonian Park
At Caledonian Park – cell ph pic

Gary and Chris arrived later. 

The Netspeed speed test at Waipu.
Download: 40.33 Mbps
Upload: 25.28 Mbps
Ping: 62 ms
Connection Type: Wi-Fi
Server: Auckland,174.444321

Here’s a few helpful links to previous blogs:
The LTE Aerial and Internet installation
The Chrome Cast setup

Later in the day, we walked into town and enjoyed a great meal at the Indian restaurant. Chris reckoned it was one of the best meals she’d had!
Fiona and I have been there a few times and it has always been good. 

Waipu main street
Waipu main street – cell ph pic

As we returned to the park, we met James from Castor Bay who had just squeezed his 11m bus through the main gate and parked on the grass. I was impressed. 1 because he’d parked on the grass with 8 tons and 2, he’d squeezed through the gate in a big bus in the dark! Well done that man🤓.  Two other smaller vans parked there too and nobody had any problems. 

The main entrance from the road was all chopped up and muddy so getting to the parking was the real problem but we were happy on the gravel just for a night and it was nice to have some power too. 

The last time we were in Waipu, we had fine weather and we could park under the trees and it was magic.

See you in a few days

With nothing happening in my diary for a few days, Fiona suggested I head north and catch up with our old Boating, and now Motorhome friends, Chris and Gary Parkes.

Fiona will join us with the car at the end of the week.
They’ve cashed up and are now full timing in their Mitzi Fuso, Ci Munro truck for the next wee while and seem to be really enjoying it.

The remains of the weather that hit Sydney’s beaches was, due to hit Northland so I thought I’d try a campground away from the gale north easterlies hitting our coast.

I arrived in Paparoa, on the road to Dargaville mid afternoon and checked in to the Paparoa Holiday Park.

Remember to click on the images for hi res or slideshow

The view of the camp from the entrance.
The view of the camp from the entrance.

This park was built from a paddock by the current owners and is all gravel with lots of small trees and cabins which offer good protection from the wind and rain. On my own, it cost $15 which is extremely good value with power.

I got the bike of the back and went for a toodle into the Paparoa village for a look around. The Pub is just around the corner and the village is loaded with history. There is a river which comes up from the Kaipara which was used to get supplies up for the locals and dragged up a bank by wires from the boats. The old National Bank building is built into the shape of the corner which is interesting too.

One of the neat historic houses there
One of the neat historic houses there

A neat little town and a nice wee campground.

The 20000th Peppermint

I was having a bit of browse through the NZMCA app and found Athenree Holiday Park. We cruised into the entrance and popped into the reception. Well, what a welcome.. “You’re our 20000th customer, have a peppermint! ”
Fantastic. That doesn’t happen too often!

Fiona having a cup of tea in the sun
Fiona having a cup of tea in the sun

We’re parked right on the waterfront facing towards Katikati just up from Bowentown.

Remember to click on the images for Hi Res or slideshow

They have two hot pools. One is directly fed by a bore that goes down 220 metres and the water comes up about 35c. They have another smaller adults pool which has the water tweaked up by a heat exchanger from waste water. It’s fantastic.. Nice and hot.

The Pools .. hot adults pool on the left
The Pools .. hot adults pool on the left

Nice big flat parks and with the pools, great.

anthenreeAcross the road is a kids playground and the other side of the peninsula. More water!

Right by the water
Right by the water

Home for a few days after this.

Good Sounds

My son Andrew very kindly gave me an early birthday present of a Nakamichi 8inch subwoofer to match the stereo we have in Rafe.

The boys at Vantage RV had warned me not to install a subwoofer as they can draw heaps of power but having done this before on our old Whalechaser Rorqual, I felt confident we could do this without thrashing Rafe’s batteries.

I’ve found that speakers generally tried to reproduce the whole range of sound but compromised to get full depth with the bass. It tended to take the edge off the treble and mid range and add some distortion as well.
By adding a subwoofer and directing all the bass at the sub and removing it from the mid range speakers, you get a much cleaner sound but still with the depth from the bass.  Also with motorhomes, you get to remove the bass from the door speakers and get rid of some rattles 🙂

When  I did this with Rorqual, my first version of the installation had a bit of a boy racer look to it as soon as you entered the saloon.
I got a bit of stick from a couple of fellow Classic Yacht Association committee members who were telling me it was “Very non CYA compliant” and it needed to be addressed fairly quickly 🙂

The VERY obvious subwoofer
The VERY obvious subwoofer

My second attempt with a teak grill which I made with glue and clamped together looked vastly better. The sound was spectacular with several saying it was one of the better boat stereos around.  Since then, my son Andrew  has removed everything I did, and taken it to a whole new level !

After with the "CYA compliant teak grill
After with the “CYA compliant” teak grill

Anyway, back to the birthday present !
I was surprised how heavy it is for its size. There must be some serious speaker magnets and stuff in there. I was also quite surprised to hear they can draw up to 80 amps ! I suppose that’s if you’re really cranking it. As I said, for me its about having the quality of the sound rather than the volume.

Remember to click on the images for the detail

The bits on the table. Look at the size of that fuse holder.
The bits on the table. Look at the size of that fuse holder.

After arriving at Vantage to get it installed and getting past all the jokes about trying to be a 15 year old again :-), Phil got the job of installing it.

Before we started
Before we started

We had a spot under the table on a kick board which is well out of the way and I figured that would make it easy to get at the dashboard where the stereo and power was .. How wrong could I be!

It was the perfect place but getting the wires across the floor wasn’t an easy task and then getting the big 80 amp cables across to the house batteries under the drivers chair, meant actually pulling the chair out! It was turning into a major.

Sub fixed to its position
Sub fixed to its position

There was a stage it looked like a nightmare with all the wires out of the dash, the starter battery box opened on the floor, the drivers seat removed, it looked pretty chaotic but as quickly as it came apart, with a bit of time, it all tidied up.

What a shambles. Seat out for access to the batteries.
What a shambles. Seat out for access to the batteries.

Another hour later of finishing the wiring and putting the stereo away in the dash, it was all good.

The stereo on the dash with the blue sub wires plugged in
The stereo on the dash with the blue sub wires plugged in

The sound was spectacular. Later that night, Andrew helped me tweak bypass levels and whatnot with the stereo and it sounded amazing.

The end result
The end result. A very tidy installation.

I also got a switch installed on the dashboard to disable the sub in case the power becomes an issue. As always,  Phil did a magic job of the installation with all the cables in conduit and tidied up with the appropriate clips.

The Route March

I picked Fiona up from work after at 6pm and we headed to Ardmore park to meet Rob, Helen and Chloe in their Autotrail Tracker.

Early start and it was cold!
Early start and it was cold!

The park was chocker as there was an air show on for the long weekend starting the next morning so we were up early and after getting some diesel in Papakura, we were on the motorway heading south.

Remember to click on the images for Hi Res or slideshow

The frost at Ardmore
The frost at Ardmore

The holiday traffic hadn’t started yet. At the bottom of the Bombay hills, there was really heavy fog and it didn’t really lift until we got to Paeroa.

At  9:30 am, we were having morning tea at the Talisman Cafe at Karangahake. We’d been here before and it’s a great place to stop with a motorhomes as there is a huge park right opposite by the swing bridge beside the river. See our earlier blog on Karangahake here.
About half an hour later, we passed through Katikati and met Rob and Helen buying Limes and Manderins on the road to Sapphire Springs.

Rosie arriving.
Rosie arriving with Gary and Dianne.

Gary and Dianne arrived shortly after from Taupo in their newly named “Rosie”. It’s great as I can now refer to her as Rosie rather than “the XLI”!

Kids playing in the river
Kids playing in the river

Sapphire springs is a lovely little camp built around a meandering river. There are quite a few cabins and permanent caravans there but it is well setup with clean loos and showers, and of course, the hot pools.

The pool complex is very smart and well setup but we found the pools a wee bit on the cool side. I think the hottest was around 35 degrees but it was very pleasant all the same. After getting dressed and getting ourselves organised, we had sundowners (without the sun as it had gone), in Rosie.

The route march home. Helen in front
The route march home.

The next day, the decision was made to walk into Katikati. Those who know me will know that I while I love bike riding, I’m not too fussed about long walks! This was 6.5 k in each direction which was  ok in the end. The original plan was to walk in and taxi back but there were no taxis. Good excercise anyway.
imageWe had a lovely lunch at the Talisman Hotel which has a huge car park out the back if you’re looking for somewhere to park your motorhome. As far as I’m aware, it’s not for overnighting. After our hearty lunch, we had a quick look through one of more than 3-4 antique or second hand shops, and then we set off for the camp.

We got as far as the Countdown supermarket and there was a chap in a near empty bus waiting for someone. Gary joked with him if he was going our way and he replied if he saw us, he’d stop and pick us up. We were about 1k down the road and there he was. He’d stopped to pick us up and he ran us up the road to the motor camp.. another 4ks odd. Rob decided he’d walk so carried on walking.
It turns out he has a motorhome of his own.

As we got off, I gave him $20 and suggested he buy himself a beer as a gesture of thanks but he was adamant he wouldn’t accept it and left it on the floor. Everyone got off behind me and no one would accept it back.
Rob arrived back about 20 minutes or so later with the $20! Apparently he pulled over to Rob, opened his hand out of his window so Rob couldn’t see what he was doing and dropped the $20 in his hand and drove off ! Bugger!
We did our best ! It was really nice of him to give us a ride back.

Later on the first day
Later on

We had a few drinks in the Tracker with Rob, Helen and Chloe. A quick tea and I was bed by 8pm. A big excercise day 😃
Great fun catching up with our Motorhome friends in a nice spot.

The Farmers Markets

One of the nice things about travelling in a Motorhome is visiting all the out of town village like shopping areas and the Farmers Markets.

Fun in the Sun
Fun in the Sun

While we were staying in Ardmore recently, we visited the Clevedon Farmers Market which is just out of the village but well signposted.

Click on the images to see Hi Res or a slideshow

We found out very quickly how popular this is when we first looked for a park. Its amazing, people everywhere.

marketThere is everything from Veges, Cheeses, Spices and Jams all with some live music and a hay bale to sit on. Its a great atmosphere.
The weather wasn’t really behaving itself when we went with showers but it didn’t seem to worry anyone with lots of shelter there.

Sunday mornings from 9am – 1pm.. well worth a visit. If you want to park there with your motorhome, get there early 🙂

Getting rid of cooking moisture

When we first bought our van, we looked at the option of getting an extractor fan over the cooking area but decided there were too many other things higher up the pecking order.  Deckchairs, tables, barbeques and mats but having seen how they work in other vans, we decided it was time to finally do it.

On a not so sunny Wednesday morning, I took the van up to my favorite RV place in Silverdale, Vantage RV to get the extractor fitted.  Phil got the short straw and got stuck in.

Phil unwrapping the unit
Phil unwrapping the unit

After unpacking it and sizing it up, he cut the hole in the bottom and middle shelf for the Vent and then later through the roof.

Remember to click on the images for hi res or a slideshow

Once on top, it was time to slide in the plastic vent and seal it up with a cap.

The end result
The end result

There were two lights that were there under the cupboard which were removed and replaced by the built in ones on the fan.

Screwing in the unit
Screwing in the unit

After wiring it all in, the unit was screwed in and put together.

All done
All done

We’ve since been away and it works a treat. You can see steam off the food going straight out. A very worthwhile upgrade. Thanks Phil.

Motorhome Friends at Paeroa

The weather forecast for the whole weekend was a shocker but we knew we’d be safely tucked up once we got to Paeroa.

We left early on Friday night after Fiona finished work and headed down to Ardmore to stay in my son Alex’s driveway so we could see  Ayden playing rugby in the morning. He had a really good day and after scoring a few tries, he got Player of the Day so that was special and good to see.

Grandson Ayden with the ball. The expressions on their faces are priceless.
Grandson Ayden with the ball. The expressions on their faces are priceless.

After a cup of coffee, we left Ardmore and headed for Paeroa where we were meeting up with other Motorhomers who are part of a really active Facebook group called Motorhome Friends NZ.  North Island Admins, Steve and  Karen did a great job organising the get together at Paeroa RV Centre.

A Happy crew
A Happy crew

After settling down Rafe in a little corner of the park, we headed into the 3pm meeting in the Hall. There was a pot belly stove stacked up nicely belting out the heat so it was nice and cosy despite the showers outside. We were really lucky to be able to get a powered site as there was a dire shortage of them so thanks Paeroa RV for helping us out there.

Remember to click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

It was really nice to catch up with people and put faces to names. I’m a relative newcomer to the group but Fiona and I felt right at home with them all.

Steve getting the Karaoke gear organised
Steve getting the Karaoke gear organised

There was a Kareoke night  which we didn’t get to but I gather it was a huge success and everyone had lots of fun. We had two lots of Motorhomers around for drinks in Rafe. Nick and Karen who have just bought a Autotrail Comanche which they are living in full time. The Comanche is a biggie with dual axles at the back and is 8.4 metres long.  A nice van.
We also had Gaylene and Les from Huntly with us and it was nice catching up with them too.

The view in the yard
The view in the yard

In the morning, there was a 10am coffee meeting to farewell each other. The rain was pretty steady by then and not a good time to be trying to photograph people with their vans but I managed to get a few.

The Hot pool at Miranda
The Hot pool at Miranda

Given the weather was like it was with squalls of heavy rain, we decided to head to Miranda Holiday park and hunker down in the hot pools and not long after we arrived met some others from Paeroa there too. Isn’t it funny how great minds think alike !

At Miranda. Given the weather, it was nice to be plugged in and sheltered.
At Miranda. Given the weather, it was nice to be plugged in and sheltered.

A nice weekend with some nice people.

Persimmon at Pirongia

We were on our way home from Taupo after catching up with friends and we’d had a warning that the whole of the country was in for the bash from the weather.

The Café with the Motorhomes at the back
The Café with the Motorhomes at the back

Thunderstorms and strong winds meant hunkering down on some gravel with some power. Years ago when we had wee Rafe, the caravan, we stopped at a café in Pirongia which had some Motorhome parking on gravel out the back.

This sounded like a good destination and we would easily be there before the weather nailed us around 6pm.

Click on the images for Hi-res or a slideshow

The RV Park
The RV Park

We arrived with plenty of time, plugged in and decided to go for a walk into town for a look around before the rain hit. We’d just arrived in a café in town when the heavens opened up. Fortunately it was just a shower so we still had time to check the Alexandra Constabulary Redoubt which was a fort on a small hill overlooking the town. It has dug trenches around almost like a moat and is well worth a look. It also happens to be right over the road from the Persimmon Café RV park where we were staying the night.

A nicely set up RV park but it is really a carpark with powerpoints and a toilet block. The cost for us was $25 for the night. $10 for us and $15 for the power. If we wanted to use the onsite dump station, that would be another $15 and the showers another $5 each.
It was explained that the dump station had to be emptied on a regular basis and trucked into Te Awamutu hence the charge.
My thinking was that although it wasn’t waterfront or top ten standard, it was perfect for sheltering for the night or passing through. It is also very central with the town only a few minutes walk away.

We decided to use the free dump station at Drury as we were heading that way but there is also a free one at Te Awamutu and we used our own shower.

Not big
Not a big park but perfect for passing through.

It was nice being on the gravel and plugged in as the weather really laid it on. Lightening and thunder and lots of rain. It was an interesting night with some good puffs of wind and plenty of action from the sky but we felt nicely tucked in and sheltered.

Pirongia is a nice wee town and there is heaps of history there. Its well worth checking out the redoubt.  The town is spoilt for choice for motorhome parking  with the Clydesdale Café and if you’re an NZMCA member, at the Golf Course just on the outskirts of town.

Quirky Cottages

I’ve wanted to check in on Mangakino for a while but being on a slightly off the beaten track road, it wasn’t until we needed to get through to Te Awamutu on the way to Pirongia, that we found a reason to go this way.

Love the flower pots

kuratauIts a neat little town. The buildings are all amazing little workers cottages, built for the dam workers by the Ministry of works. Nowadays, its a big bach area with many of the cottages taking on a new look as people customise them for their own needs.

We popped in for a cup of tea and went to check out the free parking area by the lake. You can also get power for $5.  The weather was building up for nationwide thunderstorms when we arrived so it was pretty cloudy but if you were going that way, it looks like a good place to stop. There is a Café run from an old bus with loos as well.

The lake
The lake

The town centre looks pretty trendy being all in one newish building further up the road so it’s all there. A nice spot to visit if you’re in the area.

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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