Tag Archives: Great walks

Its all about that Beach

The Bowentown Holiday Park is in one of the best locations with one of the best Beachs !

With a friendly crew and with the NZMCA off season deal of pay for two nights,  and get two thrown in, it was just too tempting! Their normal tariff at $23pp powered I thought was very reasonable anyway, given the facilities provided.

With Tania’s cheery voice on the phone  and confirming there was a space for Rafe, I was underway.

Click on an image for Hi Res

On the way, I stopped off at Karangahake Gorge to do the Windows walk. Well worth doing, and after that, I stopped to check out the new NZMCA park at Waihi Beach.

Another great addition to the parks network.

Nice outlook

The Bowentown Holiday Park is at the end of a long  peninsula right on the beach. It is well setup up with a newish Amenities block with TV room, Games room, huge Kitchen and an amazing space age looking Laundry. There is also a spa pool area there too.
I was offered a park right up against the hill overlooking the beach and the rest of the park. It was a breeze getting in and settling Rafe and I was off for a look around and down to the beach. A magic spot.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

The park has just changed hands after 30 something years, with new owners Mike and Bec settling in and only just 4 weeks in, have already got a plan of attack for new improvements. Two of the cabins are well into a full refurbishment with more to come!

New owners Mike and Bec

The beach here though is the feature of course and being right next to it, it just doesn’t get any better. Even in Winter!

A nice park, nice people and I’ll be back soon.

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Rafe’s Track

Windows

Karangahake Gorge is just amazing. We walked around here a year or two ago but didn’t quite get to the Windows walk for some reason. Well.. its wild.

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The Main suspension bridge over the Ohimemuri river

After parking Rafe in the carpark next to two other Motorhomes, I set off with the box brownie and headed across the suspension bridge crossing the Ohinemuri River.

The Power Station looking back to the carpark

The old Powerhouse used to be at the other end but all that can be seen now is the concrete base.

Looking back over the old PowerStation ruins to the carpark.

The walk is supposed to take an hour and is 2.5 kms. I headed off up the right hand side of the gorge along a pathway which had some mine entrances heading off into the hillside.

How is that track

As the walk went further on, the pathway was cut into the sheer cliff face and protected by barriers. Just stunning with the river below. Knowing that this was a loop walk back across the other side, I couldn’t see anywhere across the other side that looked like it could accommodate a track!

The second bridge up to the tunnels.

As I went further on, I came across another suspension bridge crossing the river and a track leading up some steps into a Tunnel. Just as well I brought my cell phone for some light although a torch would have been better .. note for next time!

The original tracks are still in there for the Gold Diggings train too.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow of the walk

As the Tunnel went on their were little exits (Windows) out across the river and eventually it came out to a well formed track.

The Spanish chaps ahead

I bumped into a couple of chaps from Spain enjoying the walk who were keen to do more walks. A family with small kids went through too so its suitable for all ages.

One of the old carts

Further along there was the ruins of the processing plants that occupied most of the hillside. Its not a big area so its amazing what they fitted in there at that time.

The foundations of one of the big factories

After a chat with my Spanish friends at the end of the track, I headed back across the main swing bridge to the carpark where there was originally a whole township. An amazing spot! .. I’ll definitely have to come back here again.!

Rafe’s Track to the Windows walks

Boiling Mud and Geysers

Grandsons, Ayden and Liam were both really looking forward to seeing some boiling mud for the first time and if we could, the famous Pohutu Geyser.

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Fiona, Ayden and Liam on the way to the Geysers

We left early and walked about 100 metres to Te Puia all well connected by tunnels under the roadway. The family pass which was normally $150 odd seemed appropriate and because there was a NZ special discount, we were able to show our drivers licenses and get nearly $50 off !  A big saving.

The base of the Geysers

There  just enough time to get the boys an ice cream and us a coffee before the next tour was due to head off with Guide Kiri.

Kiri with the Tour group

She was fantastic and as the Geysers were still building up a head of steam, after teaching the group of about 60 in the tour how to pronounce the full name of Whakarewarewa(and a lot more), she took us first to see the craft academy. Whakarewarewa is the abbreviated form !

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

I didn’t realise but they have a full Academy for training craftsmen from Bone or Stone carving to Wood Carving, Jewellery and many other skills. They work on show for the tourists behind and below a walkway and you finally end up in a Gallery where the work is available to buy. The trainees have uniforms and have a full apprenticeship/graduation ceremony. It is an amazing setup. Very entrepreneurial and all done very nicely. I was impressed.

The base of the Geysers

The steam was building up so Kiri took us down to the Mud Pools then onto the Geysers. Unfortunately there was a grey sky and the steam and the clouds all merged so it was impossible to really see the water let alone photograph it. The boys enjoyed it and also got to sit on some warm concrete which was nice as it was only 10C!

Boiling Mud

We spent about 4 hours there all up and we decided it was time to head back to Rafe and go and warm up in the Hot Pool.

Pohutu Geyser is in there somewhere

As I say, I was very impressed with the way it was all setup. Paths and bridges are a long way from what I remember from the old Whaka village with them all being well engineered and maintained.
A fun day for young and old 🙂

Launch of the Books – Free Download!

Wow.. what a week ..

The last 2 of our Bugger it We Are Off series books were launched last week.  All four are now on Amazon as Kindles EBooks.

To celebrate this, I’ve got the Napier Art deco book available for free for the next 4 days from today (US time) – Tomorrow NZ Time

From 1st August (US time), this book will be available for free for 5 days.  …..Click here

I’ve got them available in the Epub format as well for Ipads but haven’t got a Mac which you need to upload to the iTunes store.. I’ll find a way!

These publications are all based on this Blog.
I’m not expecting them to be best sellers but if someone out there finds a couple of things of interest in there, it was worth doing.

The blurb below is copied from the OUR Books page.

As a Photojournalist of some 25 plus years and a Commercial Photographer for another 20, these books are all about the images. We went to some amazing places giving me the opportunity to get some great images.

Bugger it we are off to the Pinnacles in a convoy is about meeting Motorhome friends in Taupo NZ (central North Island) and heading in our three Motorhomes down to the Pinnacles at the bottom of the North Island.

We travel through the Hawkes Bay wine region on the way, go to a UB40 concert, survive a raging storm and enjoy a great meal in an old style Country Lodge. Lots of fun and some great images.

Bugger it we are off to Europe in an Old Hymer is based on our two week trip to the UK to pick up an old Classic Hymer Motorhome and then following our Motorhome friends through the Chunnel and over 5 weeks explore central Europe with bikes.

There were lots of adventures and lots of laughs. A truly memorable experience.

Bugger it we are off to the South Island of NZ is about our three month trip in our own Dethleffs Globe 4 around the beautiful South Island of New Zealand.

We met lots of neat people, caught up with some friends and relatives, stayed in some amazing places and had a great time.

To see more about these books and links to buy, see our Book Page

Staying with the Kiwis

One of the features of my around the Dargaville loop was coming across Kiwi North.

Run by a charitable trust, it includes the Whangarei Museum, a Kiwi house and much more, all part of a 25 hectare Heritage park.

Click on the Images for Hi Res

NZMCA’rs can also stay the night there with power for just $15 per night. This also gives you a discount to see the Kiwis and the Museum.

The Static Engine Club

I pulled in and parked in one of the two Motorhome parks out in the main carpark while checking in and met by a very helpful lady on the front desk who showed me where everything was and then gave me a brochure specially printed for NZMCA’rs who want to stay there. It also had a map showing what was there along with things to see and do.

The Kauri Railway Station

After parking Rafe in one of the 4 concrete parking pads setup for Motorhomes and plugging in and opening vents, I set off with the camera to have a look around.

Great parking for 4 on a concrete pad with power and toilets too.

One of the features of the park apart from the Kiwi House and Museum is the Grand old Clarke Homestead built in 1886. The Clarke family also had a Butchery, a Laundry, Dairy and Milking Parlour and has been occupied by three generations of the family up to 1972.

Clarke Homestead with the Jane Mander Study

Also next to the Clarke Homestead is the Jane Mander Study which was a turret that was once on top of the family home in Whangarei. Access was by a rooftop walkway. Jane’s Dad owned the Northern Advocate in the early days and Jane went on to be the Editor.

I found this really interesting as in my Newspaper days as a photographer, with the Herald and the Star, I had to work with the Advocate  guys during Waitangi day protests along with other jobs. They were a great crew to be with and always very helpful.

The Jane Mander Study

The other amazing thing here was the Oruati Chapel built from a single Kauri log in 1859 and was in Doubtless Bay in the north. It is still used today for Weddings and Christenings.

The Oruati Chapel

There are many of Whangarei’s Clubs based here in their own buildings like the Steam society, the Ham Radios club and many others. Its a very interesting place to just have a look around.

Inside the Oruati Chapel. Made from one Kauri log in 1859!

The old Kauri Railway Station along with a separate reduced scale railway along with Riponui Pah school built in 1898. All really good stuff.

Looking out over the Clarke Homestead to Whangarei

Down one end of the park is a Alexander Clarkes grave. He’s the chap that originally came out from the Uk and built the Clarke Homestead.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

A wonderful place to park, plenty to see and do and they really want you to visit them. I couldn’t believe how organised they are for Motorhomers, even having a brochure for NZMCA’rs on what to do and see and complete with the Wings on the cover !

Cultural Parking!

Well worth seeing and doing and great parking.. Go there, they need your support 🙂

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Rafe’s Tracker Map

New Dargaville park with History

This was my first trip to the brand new Dargaville NZMCA park and its a cracker.

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Close to the water

It is right on the rivers edge with another smaller river on a side boundary and only a few minutes walk to the centre of town.

This was one of my first times of the new check in system and paying on the NZMCA App and it was easy. What a great system.

There are two old heritage buildings on the site with a couple of old jettys on the side of the river.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

After a wander around watching the river water flow from all the rain we’d had, it reminded me of when I was a nipper just mooching around the waters edge and sitting on old wharves on a quiet day.

2 minutes walk to the Rotunda and the town

I went for a walk into town over the bridge and what a neat atmosphere. The old band rotunda and some public loos are only a few minutes away and although the brown colour of the Wairoa River isn’t exactly beautiful, there is a real sense of history and a real charm about the place.

All weather and safe

We’re very lucky to have this network of NZMCA parks and once the word gets out, this new one is sure to be popular.

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Rafe’s Tracker Map

On the Estuary.. Stunning

One of my all time favorite places in the world is Mangawhai. We’ve even (I have anyway 🙂 ) thought about buying here for later years 🙂 I’m not winning that one though… so far.

Click on the Images for Hi Res


Heading up this way midweek with some fairly dubious and cold weather forecasts, it was the first on my list of places to check out.

Great Spot

Noela was very helpful in the Mangawhai Holiday Park office and showed me where everything was. There are two parts to the camp with the office in the midde. I was given a spot on the northern end right on the waters edge which was just magic.

Nice and Quiet

With just a small hop over the rail and a trot down the beach, you can actually go for miles. There are a couple of good walkways too around to the surf beach (10 mins) and a walk up into the hills which takes you further along by the Mangawhai Heads surf beach.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

The cost for a powered site for 1 was $20 with really nice toilets and showers. Water was right on the park.

Looking back to Mangawhai

There’s something about Mangawhai which I really like. Maybe its just the laid back atmosphere. The Museum is amazing too and is just up the road.

Looking back

I spent the night there before catching up with some old friends Les and Liz who have a sizeable lifestyle block up here with an amazing old villa. They escaped the rat race of Auckland some 13 years ago and just love it here.

Tides Out

A really nice spot and I bet it is busy in Summer.

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Rafe’s Tracker map