The Ultimate test for Wifi

My friend Rob rang me out if the blue the other day, to say he was standing by our Motorhome outside our house and was gasping for a cup of coffee!
Not long after we were sitting on our deck in Milford, coffees in hand, and planning the weekend. Rob and Helen were keen to head to Sullivan’s Bay, Mahurangi. The forecast was the only niggle but as the week went by, but the forecast changed and we were on.
On Friday, a package arrived in my letterbox from Dunedin. It was my new Wifi 4g router for Rafe. A bit of a gamble as I’ve been hanging out for a NZMCA system that is in the pipeline.

The new Router
The new Router

The router is a little beauty as it runs on 12v, has the usual Ethernet ports, supports external aerials and best of all, is reasonably priced. This is the first broadband priced system that I have found that will work in a Motorhome. To say I couldn’t get the package opened fast enough was an understatement!
I plugged it in with the 240v transformer that comes with it and I was immediately able to connect to it and was surfing the web. Even though, I’m pretty tech savvy, this rarely happens so I was impressed.

The next day as we headed north to Sullivan’s bay to meet Rob, Helen and Chloe, we stopped at the Silverdale Pak n save for a few groceries. While Fiona went in, I was keen to give the router a go while were in a coverage area. I plugged it in with our newly soldered 12v temporary ciggy plug and away it went. I was surfing at a phenomenal speed in the carpark!
After loading the fridge and cupboards with goodies, we were off.
As we headed north to Sullivan’s, the forecast on the radio had changed dramatically and it was awful. Heavy rain and lots of wind from the east, perfect for Sullivan’s Bay 🤔🍷🌂 !(Sullivan’s faces into the east )

Despite the miserable weather, being the first weekend of the school holidays, there were quite a few campers and plenty of day trippers enjoying the beach and foreshore. Sullivan’s is always good and it doesn’t really matter about the weather when you have good company.

Its place above the door
Its place above the door

Having been here before, I knew that a cellphone signal was hopeless unless you were virtually paddling on the beach so had prepared myself for a no network situation and no playing routers.

wifiAfter settling down Rafe, in went the ciggy plug and we plonked the router temporarily above Rafes doorway inside. It was away. We had three bars out of five of 3G data streaming in an area where you can’t normally get a cell signal with no external aerials.. Amazing! The throughput wasn’t that flash ( nowhere near as fast as Silverdale’s 4g ) but it worked and for an area with no cell signal, a fantastic result.

wifiFiona later hooked in with Netflix and watched a movie. Even the ranger was excited about it and poked his head in the door for a look!

A fairly gloomy looking Sullivans Bay. Definitely movie time
A fairly gloomy looking Sullivans Bay. Definitely movie time

Now we need to get serious about installing it properly so I’ve booked in to my favourite installers at Vantage RV to get an external aerial installed so we can get the best out of it. For an area like Sullivan’s which is well known for bad cell service, a great result.

Rob and Chloe logged in from their van three parks away and on the other side of another Motorhome so that was good too.
Later we had Fiona’s homemade buttered chicken with Rob, Helen and Chloe.

Us on the left. Rob and Helen on the right and a visitor from Hawkes Bay in between.
Us on the left. Rob and Helen on the right and a visitor from Hawkes Bay in between.

Just give you an idea with the broadband, I speed tested it tonight with 4g and got 13 Mbps down and nearly 7 up. Pretty fast with no aerials and we’re talking over 100gigs a month for under $100!
A successful day and I’ll post more on this soon as we install it permanently next week, and do a few more tests on it with aerials, but I can’t fault it so far.

A few hidden surprises

Huntly is another town that has a few hidden surprises up its sleeve. I was keen to see what the holiday park looked like on the edge of Lake Hakanoa. 

Lake Hakanoa
Lake Hakanoa

Yep, Huntly has its very own lake with a Holiday park on the edge. It all looks very nice. We didn’t go in but stopped for lunch in the park next to the lake. The council have set it up well with nice planting and paths. I’m not a big bird watcher but there were some pretty unusual looking ones there apart from the swans. 

Lake Hakanoa
Lake Hakanoa

After lunch and a cup of tea, we headed off to another parking spot, I was keen to try on the edge of the Waikato river, the Huntly golf club. 

Click on the images to see hi res or the Gallery below for a slide show

Our motorhoming friends Rob and Helen are the golf club experts and have stayed at lots but this was our first ever golf course and it looked like a purler! As we arrived, I got talking to a local who was keen for me to spread the word about motorhoming here as they’re keen to promote it. 

Huntly$10 including power and the use of their toilets and showers which I thought was very good value.  After plugging in and settling things down, we went for a walk through the golf course and went right across to the Waikato river. It was a bit grey and gloomy but still nice to be near the water.

Waikato River
Waikato River

After an hour or so, the last player finished and we were on our own.  Another great spot, not too far from home!

Looking over lake Waikare

After a couple of nights catching up with our grandchildren in Ardmore, it was time to head off and check out some places we haven’t stopped at before but seen in the NZMCA bible. We did a quick visit to the Papakura dump station to empty the tanks and as we arrived, there was a mattress vanner, on his knees at the dump station washing his dishes under the tap! I’ve seen it all. Unbelievable! 

Look at that view
Look at that view

 With that, we headed of down the motorway south. We turned off at Te Kawhata and slowly made our way to the Te Kawahata domain where there are two big fields and a huge carpark with power points for Motorhomers dotted around the outside. You have the choice of staying on grass or asphalt. There is power, toilets, a dump station and fresh water as well, all for a donation of $5! 

We pulled up at the edge of one field close to a power point where we were looking over Lake Waikare. The lake is massive and unless you’ve had a good look at the map, driving past through Rangiriri, you’d never know it was there.

One of the many mattress vans there.
One of the many mattress vans there.

There were two or three other vans there, all mattress vans but a Britz Motorhome turned up a bit later. 

Fiona and I went for a walk into the township, only two blocks away to check it all out. Being Sunday, most things were shut so it was very quiet. An Indian takeaway, a pub, a 4 square. All the things a good Motorhomer needs 😎. 

Te Kauwhata's main street
Te Kauwhata’s main street

We headed back to Rafe and watched some TV and later, crashed. The only noise in the night was the siren for the volunteer fire brigade. A nice quiet night and although we found skid marks in the middle of the field the next day, it did feel safe. In the morning we went for a drive around lake Waikare to check it out, it’s huge.

Lake Waikare from further up the road
Lake Waikare from further up the road

Another one of those places that we tend to drive last and not give a thought about but a nice easy place to stay and at the best price!

Softer underfoot

Today was a big day. We got new Carpet cut in to Rafe after going bare floors since we first got Rafe.

Before in the Galley
Before in the Galley
Before looking forward
Before looking forward

White nylon carpet came with Rafe but they could probably be called mats as there were gaps up to several centimetres around each piece and being white, they were impossible to keep clean.

Fiona and I managed to clean them then we wrapped them up in plastic and stuck them in the “tomb” under our rented house with some of our furniture to sell with Rafe if/when we sell.

The first bit is done
The first bit is done
Paul doing the Galley
Paul doing the Galley

In the meantime, I bought a 3 metre offcut of Schist Godfrey Hurst Nylon and I have to say it looks heaps more practical.

Click on the images for Hi res or Gallery for Slideshow

Paul, my friendly carpet layer spent the morning here cutting it in and it looks the business. It should also be a little better in winter too with something softer underfoot.

All done
All done

After Paul finished, I made some rugs out of the leftover carpet.
I’ll get them overlocked and then we’re in business.

Parking behind the History

One of the great new secrets of Mangawhai is the Motorhome parking behind the history in the new Mangawhai Museum. 

Parked behind the Museum
Parked behind the Museum

It’s a huge area and perfectly flat and also has the dump station and for a donation, fresh water. 

One of the most decorated dump stations
One of the most decorated dump stations

We arrived here fresh from having a look around Bennetts chocolate factory and the old Mangawhai shops and were keen to check out the Museum. 

In a brand new purpose built building with a cafe, it is really well done and well worth a look through. There is a lot of history on the Niagara sinking and a huge amount of items donated by the founding families of the the area. 

After visiting the Museum, we unhitched the bikes and went for a bit of a trek around the new housing areas opposite the Museum.  As we left, we saw our caravan neighbours from the pub carpark the previous night arriving at the dump station. 

Lots of room and dead flat
Lots of room and dead flat

Another great free parking discovery at Mangawhai and the Museum is one of the best!

At the Pub

There were thunderstorms predicted and the showers on the road from Kaiwaka to Mangawhai were pretty heavy. We were going to stay at Scandrett but decided, given the weather, we’d be better off plonking the 4 odd tons of Rafe on gravel or tarseal. 

We looked at the Hakuru RSA on the way but as there was no one around decided we’d try the Mangawhai Pub which was an NZMCA Park over Property. Not my first choice on a Saturday night as we’d be sharing the park with pub patron cars. We thought we’d give it a go as there was a caravan who’d been there for a few nights who hadn’t had any trouble so we parked over in the corner as close to them as we could and headed in for a drink.

The pub carpark
The pub carpark

It’s a really nice old historic hotel right on the water. Everywhere you looked, it reeked with history and lots of character. As we settled down for our first drinks with a bowl of chips, a huge thunderstorm hit and lots of rain. I love a good thunderstorm, especially when you’re nicely tucked up inside out if the rain.

In front of the pub
In front of the pub

The rain didn’t last long so I went for a walk down to the beach in front and checked out the estuary for some piccies. I also did some more in the morning.

We settled down for tea and watched TV and about 11pm, we felt a few very gentle rolls of the van, like someone in the van had moved. Someone’s sense of humour as they were leaving the carpark!  We ignored it and a second later it stopped and we heard more cars drive away. No harm done. A nice spot and really handy to town and it is free after all. Maybe not Friday or Saturday nights though!

Don’t forget to click on images for hi res or a slideshow

The next morning we parked around behind Bennetts chocolate factory.  I wasn’t aware but there is a huge large Motorhome friendly park behind the building.

I love carparks like this. Behind Bennetts Chocolate Factory
I love carparks like this. Behind Bennetts Chocolate Factory

After a cuppa at Bennetts chocolate factory café and some chocolate. we went for a wander around the shops in Mangawhai.

Mangawhai Estuary
Mangawhai Estuary

A neat little town and not too far from Auckland.

At the end of the road

One of the few Auckland CSC Motorhome parks run by the council that we haven’t had a look at is Scandrett Regional Park. It is literally at the end of the road beyond Algies Bay overlooking Kawau Bay just north of Auckland.  It is simply stunning. 

Across Kawau Bay
Across Kawau Bay

With weather warnings and a forecast deluge of rain that didn’t really arrive, we were a bit cautious about staying here as the Motorhome parking is all grass but on a flat platform overlooking the bay. To get to this flat platform though is a not so flat uphill grassy paddock area back to tar seal.

The Motorhome parking
The Motorhome parking

On a fine day with no rain, it’ll be magic and there is lots to explore down on the beach.

The original Scandrett family homestead is made of concrete which was quite rare and still stands, and all the sheds and barns, mostly built in the early 1900’s are also still there and in good nick. Auckland city has put explanations and signs on each and it’s well worth a look, even just for the day.

The Scandrett Homestead
The Scandrett Homestead

The CSC park costs the normal Auckland City $8 each and as the parking is clearly Motorhome only, you don’t have to tangle with the day trippers in cars which I really like. We’ve got it penciled in for the next fine day.

Classic VW Motorhome

Love this .. It must be one of the early ones!   – From FacebookVwVwVw

Motorhoming with the boats

Paeroa
The old post office building and the Paeroa racecourse ticket office.

On the way back from Waihi, we stopped in at the Paeroa Maritime Museum.
With my past involvement with Classic Launches, I was keen to see what was there. The main building is the ex Paeroa Post Office and is chocker with relics from the area. Apparently Captain Cook sailed up the Waihou and checked it out for Spars.


Paeroa didn’t see roads until the mid 1940’s and the main transportation method was ships up the streams to where the Maritime Museum is today.

Visitors going up the river
Visitors going up the river

They also provide overnight Motorhome parking with power for $15 and there are toilets and plenty to see and do.
You can also go for a ride in one of their two vessels up the Waihou river.

Nicks and Scratches

The Goldfields Railway station at Waihi was the perfect place to base ourselves for the bike ride to Karangahake and back. See my earlier blog on Goldfields Railway.

Rafe, Helen and Robs AutoTrail, and Dianne and Gary's XLI safely tucked in at the Goldfields Railway Motorhome parking
Rafe, Helen and Robs AutoTrail, and Dianne and Gary’s XLI safely tucked in at the Goldfields Railway Motorhome parking

We arrived at Waihi about 11am and plugged ourselves in and had just levelled Rafe up with the ramps when our friends from Snells beach, Rob, Helen and Chloe arrived in their AutoTrail Tracker and parked beside us.
A few more Motorhomers arrived straight after that and we were a wee bit concerned that there wouldn’t be enough powered parks left for Gary and Dianne in their XLI who were still to arrive from Taupo. I went and paid for our sites and we were given some cones for their site. They arrived not long after anyway.
It was hot and humid so we thought we’d have to do sundowners while giving Gary and Diannes new XLI’s Air conditioning a good workout and it stood up to the test well along with lots of laughs!

The next day we were up ready for the 10am train to Waikino with our bikes.

The bikes on board
The bikes on board
Waihi
Dianne, Helen, Rob, Chloe and Fiona on the train

Rob, Helen and Chloe set off for the 15k’s round trip walk and we were to meet up further down the trail.

Please do not read this sign!
Please do not read this sign!

We got our bikes off the train at Waikino as planned, and set of over a walkbridge to the Victoria Battery where there was pretty much a whole town setup, complete with power house and other buildings. It’s just a big empty space now. The power house is the site of the museum which is really interesting and well worth a look through.
As Fiona slowed down to stop in front of the first sign, she over balanced and ended up on the ground. Fortunately, it was just few scratches and bruises and she was back on her bike and away again.

After leaving Victoria Battery, there was a 3-4k flat run until we got through to the tunnel. This was quite a sensation. Gary and I rode through the tunnel but Fiona and Dianne pushed their bikes through on foot. It was amazing to ride through as although it is lit, it really is still quite dark. There is also quite a bit of water from the rain seeping though and quite muddy. Gary and I and the bikes were in a bit of a state when we came out the other end🤓. Rob, Helen and Chloe had done well on foot to get here in good time and were looking good. Gary and I were covered in mud.
After the girls caught up, we were keen to get some lunch so we biked back across the swing bridge to a great cafe called the Talisman where, as Gary read from the sign, they have “world famous BLT’s” which were amazing. They also have a big Motorhome compatible carpark if you want to go directly.

Fiona and Dianne coming out of the tunnel
Fiona and Dianne coming out of the tunnel

We set off after lunch back across the swing bridge to head back to Waikino. The first part of the track is really not rideable and in some parts is only a few feet wide and right next to the river.  A stunning walking track so close to the raging water that you could be anywhere in the world…
Where it joins up back to the tunnel entrance it becomes rideable again all the way back to Waikino.
We got back to Waikino and caught up with Rob, Helen and Chloe with 10 minutes to spare before the last train of the day was departing at 2:30.
Gary and Dianne decided to ride back to Waihi, another 8k’s or so so off they went. We briefly saw them from the train across the river on the trail as we caught up to them when we’re nearly back at Waihi. Unfortunately Dianne took a tight turn in the track and came off, an accident black spot that probably should be marked. Like Fiona, luckily, the damage was restricted to some grazes and bruises and she was able to continue riding back.

After the ride/walk and before the rain! Gary, Fiona(back on) Rob, Helen and Chloe
After the ride/walk and before the rain!
Gary, Fiona(back on) Rob, Helen and Chloe

We sat under Gary and Diannes awning with some heavy showers, with a few cold ones after that comparing notes and the girls compared their battle scars. Neither looked too good but there were no broken bones and I think after a couple of ciders, all was ok.

Gary cut the back of his leg on his pedal and I got a scratch on my leg but can’t remember how, so it was bandages at dawn for us all.😀

The view before the tunnel. You could be anywhere in the world.
The view before the tunnel. You could be anywhere in the world.

We all agreed it was a fantastic day enjoying some fantastic NZ scenery which you can only get to by getting out on foot or bike. If you’re in the area, a must do!

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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