Tag Archives: Free Parking

Zion Owners Group Rally

This year it became part of the Covi Rally and Show as it has grown so much with Zion’s new brands. The more the merrier and more to talk about 🙂

I arrived at Ellerslie Racecourse around the middle of the day on the Friday and within minutes met Gary and his wife Alison who have a Dethleffs Esprit which is very similar to Rafe in layout, length and size and only a little younger.  As it turns out I used to work with Gary’s Dad who was an editor at the Auckland Star when I was an 11 year old on work experience when I was at School.  Small world and we had lots to talk about.

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Racing this time. Behind the jump. Gary’s Esprit on the left, Rafe on the right.

When we first arrived there was a bit of confusion as to where to park so after a big Frankia moved from the inside of the Steeplechase jump, I moved in to the hole and Gary parked beside me. We had just finished parking when we bumped into several other people we knew too.

Rafe parked in front of the Steeplechase jump

I was supposed to go to the show that afternoon but it all got a bit too social so I stayed put but it was a great afternoon. When the volunteer stand workers returned home, there was a gigantic happy hour squeezed in between Rafe and Gary’s Esprit.
Lots of fun and we met a lot of new people.

The Happy Happy Hour
Jonas and Irene talking to Gary with the hat in front of Rafe

The owners of Zion Jonas and Irene, joined in too and it was a fun night.

Irene and Jonas with the Happy team

The next morning was showtime. I caught the bus to the show and returned early in the afternoon.  I was really looking forward to the Zion meal which was being hosted that night by Jonas and Irene out at Melba Restaurant in Manukau. We were picked up in Buses and after a great night, dropped off back to our Motorhomes.

All different sorts

Gary, Alison and I joined their friends Grant and Jo in their Airstream Bar which was parked near us for a few drinks afterwards for what was a really funny night. 😂

Good Parking

Lots of fun with some nice people. Thanks to Jonas, Irene for a great night at Melba.

Covi Rally 2020 at Ellerslie Racecourse

This never disappoints and although this year possibly wasn’t as big as previous years, there would have been at least 400 odd Motorhomes and Caravans.

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The volunteers did an excellent job parking everyone and there was a Bar open for a couple of the nights if you felt the need for some cold lubricant 🙂

From the Stand

There was also a special area for the Dethleff, Frankia, Morelo and Neismann and Bichoff Motorhomes.. more on this later.

Rafe on the left in front of one of the Steeplechase jumps
All shapes and sizes

The buses called around regularly to ferry people to the show at the showgrounds, the weather was fine, it couldn’t have been better.

Smiles from the Volunteers

Thanks again to the Volunteers who make it all happen.

Looking toward the stand

You can stay in your Motorhome at this Historic Hotel

Having done the section of the Bike Trail all the way to Alexandra, we thought it best to move towards Clyde. The GPS was suggesting the road over the hill from the Ida Valley into Ophir and down from there.

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The Old Cottage at Ophir

There was an old Stone Cottage on the hill just as we came into Ophir so we had to stop and get a pic even though we know nothing about it 🙂

The Bacon Butty 🙂

We headed off to Chatto Creek to have a good look at the Pub and Historic Post Office. While we were there I had an amazing Bacon Butty and Fiona had a Seafood Chowder. Both fantastic, HUGE and under $20.. great meals!

Fiona’s Seafood Chowder

In the grounds of the Pub is the original Chatto Creek Post office which was in use up from 1892 up until 1975. After that it had a short stint where it was a sleep out in Alexandra but it was soon retrieved and reinstalled to its orginal spot. Fancy borrowing a historic Post Office !

The Post office

A really interesting spot that has had its moments, the Pub even completely losing its roof during a wind storm in the late 1990’s but it is looking great.

The pub as it is today
As it was some years ago – a picture on the wall.

They are happy for Self Contained Motorhomes to overnight in the carpark and there is plenty of room. The Otago Rail Trail passes just behind the pub so its handy if you’re doing the Trail and they have accommodation as well.

A nice pub in a good spot.

Rafe’s Tracker Map to Chatto Creek

In the Paddock at Oxford

The Oxford Workingmans club was handy to the Anzac day service the next day so we thought we’d check it out. It was also handy to the cemetery where we went to check in on my Grandparents and see how things looked there.

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Workingmans club

At the cemetary, the headstone was in a bit of a state and you could barely read it so we thought we’d get some potent cleanup stuff and take to it with a stiff brush. It came up really well and looks fantastic.

Fiona cleaning the Headstone
The end result!

After that, we went and checked out the local Workingmans club which has free accomodation for Motorhomes in a well separated paddock out the back.

Our neighbour in the paddock

We decided to join the Oxford Workingmans Club and after enjoying a couple of wines, we bought some Fish and Chips and headed back to Rafe. They’re fantastic people there and very helpful. A place to remember.

Rafe’s tracker map

De Molen Windmill

We’ve passed through Foxton several times and every time have said, we should have stopped to check out that Windmill.. well, this time we did and what an amazing project.

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The Windmill

It is modelled on a 17th century Dutch Windmill with some modern changes to meet NZ building codes.

The Milling gear in the Windmill

De Molen was setup by two Dutch immigrants Jan Langen and Cor Slobbe and opened in 2003. It was established as a monument to all the Dutch immigrants that came to New Zealand and bring tourism and create some employment for the town.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

There is easy Motorhome parking behind the Public Library right next door on grass. Admission is $2 for a self guided tour and from the top, you can right out to Foxton beach and also a great view over the town.

Looking out to Foxton Beach

Its well worth doing and Fiona and I also saw the Rembrandt paintings on at the Library right next door. A really interesting hour or so,k

Rafe’s track to the Windmill

Narrow Neck Sunshine

Our first night out of the house was spent at a friends Garage Forecourt in Devonport. Mark very kindly said we could stay the weekend but the first two nights away from the house were fantastic and with the remnants of a cylcone bearing down on us, it was nice to half tucked under his forecourt verandah.

We met our regular Friday night friends Alan, Grant and Robyn, just around the corner at a Bar and enjoyed some good nerve settling banter with them before joining them for a great Italian meal up by the Victoria Theatre in Devonport. Fantastic night.

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Waking up early on Saturday, Rafe’s grey tank said it was full (which it wasn’t) so a quick trip was made to the dump station at Albany and we did a complete dump and top up of fresh water so we were right for a few days. Fiona followed me in the car up to the lockup with some last minute leftovers from the Packers like vacuum cleaners and cleaning stuff to squeeze in the door 🙂 .. It is packed to the rafters literally !!

Good easy parking

With the weather improving, we headed to Woddall Park in Narrow Neck, a well known freedom camping spot. Its interesting as one of the recent less than intelligent moments from our Council was a decision to ban Motorhomes staying at this park without any discussion. The locals however were outraged and promptly got them to reinstate the parking as the presence of Motorhomers meant the hoon element had completely dissapeared.
Fan bloody tastic ! .. A classic case of Council plonkers making arbitrary decisions and not listening.

My intermediate and High School years were spent not living very far from this beach so I know it pretty well.

Fiona lived on the beachfront reserve for a few years as it was Army housing as her dad was CO of Fort Cautley, so she was really familiar with it too.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

A lovely spot. The day we were there, there was a big day for small yacht racing out on the beach.

Its neat to watch the Dads all pitching in helping their kids rig their yachts and set them off racing.

Dad’s waitiung

Lovely to see them having a cuppa at the club house and waiting on the beach and helping them in too afterwards.

Narrow Neck with Browns Island behind

The pictures tell the story really but a fabulous spot for a night and great walks from here to Cheltenham and most of the way to Takapuna too.

Rangitoto Island

There is also a bus stop to the ferry or to Takapuna right next to the park.

The Netspeed Speedtest
Download:  64.84 mbps
Upload: 36.68 mbps
Ping: 37 ms

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Port Albert Wharf

After stopping at the Port Albert General Store to check out the amazing fish and chips, we doodled down the hill to check out the Wharf and domain.

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Amazing wharf

The area was settled in the 1880’s and was quite thriving settlement caller Albertland but they eventually all drifted away to Auckland and other bigger centres. There is a museum in Wellsford dedicated to this area which is well worth a look at.

A Plaque telling the story of the Albert Landers

Self contained Motorhomes can stay here for free for up to 2 days but need to vacate during the day.

There are good Toilets here and a huge gravel area which runs down to a boat ramp.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Its a lovely spot and while we were there, there were three small vans ready to stop for the night.

The Gravel area.

Its only 8 k’s from Wellsford and the road runs down to Helensville and Kaukapapa so is not far for many things to see and do.

Rafe’s Tracker map

The Control Gates at Aratiatia

On the way to the National Equestrian centre where we were to stay for the night, there is a bridge and dam that is crossed which crosses the Aratiatia Control Gates.

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Waiting for the start with the gates behind

Every now and then, they open the gates to let the water head down the Waikato river. It is spectacular and there are always good crowds there to see it happen.

Before

The rush of water is amazing and the area below the bridge transforms from empty to full with millions of litres of water in minutes.

Nearly full

There is good parking there for Motorhomes and Caravans and while we were there, there was a visit from the Huka Falls Jetboat.

The Huka Falls jet above the gates

We quietly queued up and waited for the sirens and then the rush of water.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow of the stages

An amazing spectacle and you can check with the Taupo visitors centre for opening times.

After the action, we moved on up to the Equestrian Centre for the night.. another favorite place.

Toilets, Showers and rubbish right opposite

The prices have changed and are now $5 per person plus $5 for power. This includes access to a toilet and shower. A good place to stop for a night.

Dawn on Farewell Spit

This is something every Kiwi should do.. fantastic trip done in late 2015 early one morning.  Enjoy.

Madam with the Bedfird Bus
Madam with the special Bedford Bus

After a night of rockin and rollin with the wind( I thought that only happened on boats!), we were up a 6am to drive to the Spit to meet the tour bus. Nobody had really had any sleep since 3am when the big puffs came through but we were all looking forward to a great trip so it didn’t matter. The wind was blowing 30-40 knots creating a mini constant sand storm.

A tree washed out from Golden Bay with the bus
A tree washed out from Golden Bay with the bus

The bus picked us up from the carpark at 7am from a paddock next to some forestry equipment.  This is set around the tide so we could get back safely. There were about 8 of us on the bus and off we went.

We headed down the beach. The trip is about 30ks to the end of the spit.

The dunes under the lighthouse
The dunes under the lighthouse

We stopped briefly to check out a tree which had been blown around from the bay around the end of the spit and washed up on the northern ocean side and got buried in the sand.

After crossing a creek and about 45 minutes, we arrived at the lighthouse and to have a cup of tea and muffin in the lighthouse keepers old house. This has been done up and maintained by the Eco tour operators and DOC and was in its original form as it was when the lighthouse keepers left in the early 80’s. Some of the lighthouse keepers families have donated pictures as they were at the light. The history and artefacts on display are amazing. I didn’t realise that the lights ran on kerosene, like a gas light with a mantle right up until the early 50’s in some if these lighthouses.

The lighthouse
The lighthouse
Madam leaning into the wind
Madam leaning into the wind

Back to the bus and we were off to have a wander in a sand dunes. The wind was howling by this stage so the sand was flying.

Footprints leading up from the Bus
Footprints leading up from the Bus 

After a trip to Fossil point to look at some fossils of shells. ( I found Gary 🙂 ).  After that we were dropped off back at Rafe in the paddock.

A must do trip for every Kiwi, I thoroughly recommend it.

The Gravel pit

Another from the 2015 South Island trip – Collingwood  and more!

Collingwood Harbour
Collingwood Harbour

After leaving the comfort of the camping ground at Takaka, we headed towards Collingwood. A cup of tea was the order of the day and a whitebait sandwiches for $10.00 and it was delicious. Collingwood is a small settlement on the edge of an amazing harbour. We sat and admired the view before heading to our park for the night, the Gravel Pit south of Puponga.

Us parked at the Gravel pit
Us parked at the Gravel pit

The Gravel pit is a small area of flattened out gravel on the edge of the water with views for Africa and very popular but free!

Looking towards Farewell Spit from the Gravel pit
Looking towards Farewell Spit from the Gravel pit

It is about 10 minutes drive from Puponga which is at the beginning of the spit so a perfect spot if you’re doing the spit trip. When we arrived, there was brilliant sunshine and it was very pleasant.

The forecast 30 odd knots of wind which we thought we’d be sheltered from whistled straight in at 3am and we rocked and rolled until 6am when we got up for the spit trip.  Next posting !