The Beach

Uretiti Beach
Uretiti Beach

Uretiti has to be in one of the best locations for a camping ground. Right behind the sand dunes and onto a beach that runs from Waipu Cove in the South to Ruakaka in the north. It’s about 10 kms long!

The park itself is huge and you basically park where you want to. As it is all grass, it’s sometimes a little tricky getting level but there is plenty of room with Long drop toilets and cold shower stations dotted throughout the park. There are walks around the dunes for those looking for some exercise.

Don’t forget to click on the images to see the Hi Res version

For the benefit of those offshore. Uretiti with the beach on the right and the main highway on the left. South of Whangarei
For the benefit of those offshore. Uretiti with the beach on the right and the main highway on the left. South of Whangarei

We parked on the beach side next to a track through the sand dunes to the beach.

We’d spent a great day brunching and riding around Whangarei Town centre which was fun so when we got to Uretiti, we were ready to blob out. On arrival, Fiona discovered that we had run out of tea😕 so in the morning we were off for a shopping trip to Waipu, then back to Uretiti to enjoy the sun. We parked on a knoll parallel to the beach and had a bit of a view of the dunes.

The awning out with our new mat down
The awning out with our new mat down on the knoll.

It was time for a swim. Even though it was a hot day, I’d have to say it was “refreshing”! I wasn’t in for long but it’s always nice to be able to tick off that first swim.

Fiona on Uretiti beach
Fiona on Uretiti beach

After a couple of hours on the beach, it was time to watch more Motorhomes and caravanners roll in for parks. Even when Uretiti is busy there are always plenty of gaps. It is huge!

The clothesline in action
The clothesline in action

With the sun coming down, out came the awning and down went the new mat under the awning for the first time and it was great to put the bike clothesline into service too.

With the phone ringing with work coming in, we knew we had to head back to Milford the next morning.

Our first night at Uretiti showing how much room there is
Our first night at Uretiti showing how much room there is

Uretiti is a magic spot. It’s even better when you have a NZMCA/DOC pass and we’ll be back.

The tenants are in and we’re off.

After a few last minute things to do to get the house ready for the tenants saw a couple of quick trips between Milford and Devonport but the tenants are in and it all looks good.

I celebrated with my first night away by catching up with long term friends Alan and Grant for a few cold ones and stayed the night at a reserve in Torpedo Bay in Devonport.
There were a few jobs to be done this week so we were in Milford until Saturday morning and now the fridge is pretty much sorted, we’re off.

At the Caledonian Reserve
At the Caledonian Reserve

The forecast was evil. Thunder and lightning was due and it was blowing a cross wind for most of the way north. We stopped for brunch at the Cider Shed just north of Warkworth. We’ve been there a few times before and they’re always good for a nice feed. There is a nice big level carpark making it easy to park large Motorhomes.

After a good break, we headed further north to Wellsford and then finally Waipu. Checking out the new NZMCA bible, we found the Caledonian park behind the shops. What an amazing place to stay. With power too, all for $10 a night.

Fiona with the menu in McLeod tartan at the Pizza Barn
Fiona with the menu in McLeod tartan at the Pizza Barn

We walked down to the McLeod Pizza Barn so Fiona felt right at home(she’s a McLeod) after an hour or two there we walked back to Rafe at the Caledonian Park.

All the Motorhome parks at the Caledonian park .. All with power and water.
All the Motorhome parks at the Caledonian park .. All with power and water.
The Celtic Barn at the Caledonian Park
The Celtic Barn at the Caledonian Park

By midnight it was raining pretty steadily and about 3am it was all in thunder and lightning. With the huge roof vent above our bed, it was fun watching the fun and games above. By the sounds of it, nothing like what they had back in Auckland.

On Sunday, we thought we’d head up to Whangarei and have a nosey around. We parked in the Motorhome parking in the Town centre while we had brunch. Whangarei is very Motorhome friendly with plenty of parking for bigger vehicles and several dump stations. The town centre is a fantastic place where it seems half of Whangarei meets, lunches and enjoys the ambience.

After a few hours of taking it all in, we set off to try a new park we heard about on the NZMCA Northland Facebook page called Pohe Bridge. A big carpark next to a new bridge. There is a cycle way / walkway which goes all around the harbour from the bridge and back again. Off came the bikes and we were heading back into the town centre again. Across a foot bridge, through the town centre and back along the northern side and back to Rafe.
We opted not to stay there, only because the sun was shining and we fancied getting some mileage out of our Doc pass which we’ve hardly used, and thought Uretiti beach seemed like a nicer spot with the beach.

Our first night at Uretiti
Our first night at Uretiti
Fiona on the Uretiti bridge
Fiona on the Uretiti beach

A walk and sit on the beach for a while and we settled down for the night.

The Anxious Fridge

Every now and then a good product can fail which can be simply bad luck. We get it repaired and life goes on. When things like a fridge fails to work or fails to be useable, there are consequences like food going off or a cancelled trip. When there is a failure due to a silly design fault which lead to these consequences, there is plenty of room for an end user to be a bit miffed.

Rafe at Uretiti Doc park this weekend
Rafe at Uretiti Doc park this weekend

About a year ago, I was chatting to a neighbour at Uretiti DOC campground in Waipu. He had a New Euro Motorhome with the same fridge as ours and was showing me how his door lock mechanism had failed so he couldn’t open his fridge door. He ended up taking out the decorative panelling off the front so he could get to a shaft to open his door with a pair of pliers! The shaft had failed when two bits of coat hanger like wire, end on end had slipped past each other rendering the door mechanism useless. There was no proper joining shroud to keep the two bits of wire lined up. He’d gone to some trouble to show me how to get at this shaft and seemed fairly convinced, I was going to be next. This thankfully, hasn’t happened yet but I was very appreciative for the efforts he went to so I knew how to deal with it. My memory from this was how Micky Mouse, the whole setup was for a supposedly quality fridge that was more expensive than my fridge at home.

Friday night was looking good to get away up north for a few days. We’d both just finished work and decided to stop at the Silverdale Roadside Cafe and BP station for some diesel and food.
We’d just got going when the fridge starting beeping with a light flashing as well. It beeped for 30 seconds every 2.5 minutes. It was driving us nuts and we knew we’d never be able to sleep with it like this. At the truck stop, we turned off the fridge while we had tea and got some fuel as it seemed to keeping stuff cold, just making a racket!
After tea, reading through the “book” gave error messages for things like no gas, no power and talked about other buttons beeping with the alarm but nothing for this error. It did talk about having a “door open” alarm and the “light on in the fridge” alarm. That’s what it had to be as the fridge was still working perfectly.
In the meantime, we had a fridge full of food and didn’t know how to fix it.

Our fridge. If you have a fridge like this and it beeps at you, you'll know how to deal with it!
Our fridge. If you have a fridge like this and it beeps at you, you’ll know how to deal with it!

We decided we’d go home, rescue the food and try again Saturday morning if we could find a fix.
Isn’t Google great for this… “Why is my fridge beeping” gave me a list of answers from several caravan sites and they all mentioned two fridges, ours being one of them. The fridge, can’t remember the model number now but it’s definitely the same as our one and they’re in all the newer bigger motorhomes and caravans.

Well, the nitty gritty of it is, they have a bad built in design fault or as some call this “an undocumented feature”! The led light is part of a printed circuit board inside the door catch assembly with an edge connector poking out the back into the fridge space.
Who is the fruit loop who thought putting an unprotected printed circuit board in a fridge was a good idea? Why not give it sealed plastic cover and some heat shrink and make it reliable?

The door catch with the cover on
The door catch with the cover on
Door catch with cover off with the cover on the shelf.
Door catch with cover off with the cover on the shelf.

I could see by putting my finger in the door switch that the interior led light went off but still had a faint glow so the door switch must be short circuiting by moisture. This was mentioned on various sites as well.

The fridge catch with the cover off. Note the unprotected wires at the back
The fridge catch with the cover off. Note the unprotected wires at the back

The recommended fixes from the Internet: pull the door catch cover off, wipe the plug surfaces dry and reconnect, reset fridge.. This didn’t work. Next step, disassemble again and disable the light by pulling the plug off. Yippee, success, but no light but at least the bloody fridge was quiet, works efficiently and we could sleep without the damn thing beeping all night!

So we shifted all the frozen and perishable foods, cheese and wine etc back into Rafe and we finally got away at 10am. It seems I’ll have to get a new door micro switch.

The coffee cup holder

This was Pete’s first rally with his new Dethleffs Black Magic so it was great to see the Kiwi ingenuity being applied to his van.

There is a notable absence of anywhere in the Ducato cab for holding coffee. Pete decided this had to change and came up with a nice  tray with  locking blocks underneath the hold it between the two front seats on the seat arms.

Pete with his coffee cup holder
Pete with his coffee cup holder

Clever use of dead space and with the use of matching vinyl from the floor and a nice wooden surround, it really looks the part.

The Wooden Table

This is Richards second year at a Dethleffs owners rally so it was nice to catch up again.  Being the clever chap that he is, he  significantly upgraded his dining area with a  new table. Looking at the photo again, it looks like it might be Kauri. Very Nicely done!

Richard with his new table
Richard with his new table

A thing of beauty.

The slide out cupboard

John with this Black Magic
John with this Black Magic

The nice thing about a get together like the Dethleffs Owners meetings is to catch up with other owners like John with his Dethleffs Black Magic, and see the modifications and improvements they have made to their Motorhomes.

Johns Slide out masterpiece.
Johns Slide out masterpiece.

One of the wee gems that I really liked was John’s change to his curved galley cupboard which was hinged with shelves, into a full slide out cupboard. It completely changes the the availability of the shelves behind and allows you to make better use of the shelf space.

2nd Dethleffs NZ owners rally, day 2 – 20 plus images

The next day under cover
The next day under cover

After a great day of meeting new people, swapping notes and checking out new Motorhomes, everyone arrived at the Miranda Motorcamp outdoor kitchen. While most continued the chat over a cold orange juice,  a BBQ fry up was under way by Owen and his team representing Jonas and Dethleffs NZ. They did a magnificent job of cooking for over 80 people. Thank you Owen, Jonas and Dethleffs NZ for providing the great food and for another great event.

Dethleffs crews ready for tea
Dethleffs crews ready for tea

A surprise for the evening was the presence of a team from Mecatronics and Kiwisat in Italy who supply the bulk of the Dethleffs TV antennas in NZ.

The team from Mecatronics with Rob from UCC in Christchurch (with the blue stripe) and the agent in NZ for Mecatronics on the right.
The team from Mecatronics with Rob from UCC in Christchurch (with the blue stripe) and the agent in NZ for Mecatronics on the right.

Enjoy the Gallery and remember to select the images for hi-res images.

After the tidy up, many retired to the hot pool in  the Campground.

Bernie had an impromptu class of how to look after and maintain your toilet cassettes. The reaction from the willing students was fun.
Bernie had an impromptu class of how to look after and maintain your toilet cassettes. The reaction from the willing students was priceless!
Dethleffs owners and others enjoying the Hit pool this morning.
Dethleffs owners and others enjoying the Hot pool this morning.

This morning, many left to head home to all over NZ but there are quite a few staying on. More tomorrow!

2nd annual NZ Dethleffs owners rally. 30 plus images

imageA great showing of hardware, nice weather, lots of happy faces and gatherings of like minded people swapping notes and enjoying their Motorhomes. imageMiranda Holiday Park is a great venue and is chocker with Dethleffs. I’m looking forward to a swim in the hot pools later.

Enjoy the images.

Don’t forget to click on each image to get the hi res version

It I s interesting to see innovative improvements made by owners to their Motorhomes. I’ll post more on these over the next few days.

imageLast year, we had 24 odd Motorhomes  attending, this year it is more than 40! What will it be next year.

 

 

Milford Marina Footbridge

As it was
As it was
The Bridge as it will look
The Bridge as it will look

This is a wee bit off topic, more about boats than Motorhomes but I’m so disappointed in our brain dead elected council people to let this go ahead. Read on.

Years ago, there was a huge footbridge with steps that went from the northern end of Milford beach and climbed up into the cliff to join a track to go to Inga / Beach Rd. Over the years, the bridge fell into a state of disrepair and in the late 60’s -early 70’s was deemed unsafe and demolished with a promise from the council that it would be replaced at a future date.

Time marched on and the Milford Mariners Society and Milford Cruising club members developed the marina to where it is today with about 200 boats with jettys, power and water.

Along came a few people from Castor Bay who couldn’t be bothered walking around the marina to get to the beach and had the council drag out the “promise” to renew the bridge.

This “replacement” is a mechanical bridge which they intend to operate remotely which is very different from what was there and with all the best intentions, will break down. When it does, it will become a safety issue, not to mention the costs in running it.

The bridge
The bridge

Anyway, how it works – Boaties are supposed to radio in to Viaduct Harbour to have the bridge opened when they want to leave or enter the creek. There will be alarms to “warn” people off the bridge which will be heard all around the Milford basin.

Most mariners will tell you that Milford creek is a nightmare to enter in anything from an easterly quarter in more that 15 -20 odd knots with the swell. If the bridge fails to open, there would be mayhem with boats up each others chuff in the corner of the entrance with nowhere to go.

I’ve entered the channel several times in Rorqual when it has been quite rough after a holiday weekend or two and once you’re committed to enter, there is no turning back. It is simply too narrow with rocks on both sides with the swell coming from behind. This makes it incredibly hard to steer until you get well into the creek. It is a safety issue which I think the council has largely ignored.

Map from Google Earth showing the layout
Map from Google Earth showing the layout

I understand the cost before construction started was already at $1m with talkfests and surveys. I reckon it’ll be at least $2-3 m before its finished.. all for a few people to walk to the beach.

A digger in the water preparing the bridge
A digger in the water preparing the bridge

We hear them say.. “ it won’t fail”. Those in Viaduct harbour will tell you about their bridge that “wouldn’t fail” that has failed regularly since it was installed which is why we are hearing talk about it being replaced.

Bridge in relation to the boats
Bridge in relation to the boats

Anyway .. as you can see, it is being built.

Looking down from Beach road towards the Cruising club. The poles for the safety pontoon.
Looking down from Beach road towards the Cruising club. The poles for the safety pontoon.

As a safety measure, they are constructing a pontoon which will require ongoing dredging (cost) just outside the bridge. On a busy holiday weekend with returning boats, this will be totally inadequate as it will only be big enough to hold about 4 vessels.

News Flash : A wee birdie tells me that the folk who open the bridge at Viaduct Harbour won’t work the Milford bridge as they have enough trouble getting folk off the Viaduct bridge before opening, let alone try to do Milford remotely.. What now ?

The view from the new pad

Who would have thought that by the end of the day we would have thunder, rain and hail. I went upstairs today to be greeted with this amazing view.

From the Lounge window
From the Lounge window

These have been taken on a camera as opposed to a cell phone.

Click on the images to see the detail.

Rorqual in front of the Cruising club
Rorqual in front of the Cruising club

Andrew couldn’t have set this up any better. After handing our Whalechaser Rorqual to the next generation, Alex and Andrew, Andrew has managed to get a house where he can see the boat lying in his bed out of the window!

The Dethleff Owners meeting is on this weekend at Miranda which I’m looking froward too. Look out for plenty of images from that.

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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