Tag Archives: History

Waipu Caledonian Park

One of my all-time favorite places to stay and very good value. It’s also close to a couple of great Restaurants and Bars for later in the evening. I see too that the loos have had a bit of a do up which is great. Nice bright Scottish paintings on the outside.

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On the way back from Whangarei after topping up with fuel, we stopped in to see some of our old boatie friends from Auckland in Ruakaka. After lunch with Chris and then a pop in with Tina and Mark and their family, we decided we would just stay in Waipu in our old favourite park.

The Museum

They had just had a big festival there and some of the trucks had carved up the wet ground quite badly, so you had to be selective about where you parked! I parked on the outside edge closest to the driveway where it was unmarked and pretty dry.

Nice and safe next to the gravel.

It was blowing dogs off chains, so I set Rafe back a bit from the trees just in case and also for a TV signal ๐Ÿ™‚ย  The weather looked iffy too!

The plan was to get something in town to eat but in the end, we snacked in the van and had an early night given that we were heading home the next day.

A great 10 days or so away and nice to do the bits we’ve never seen in Northland.

Rafe’s tracker map to the Waipu Caledonian Park – Armada GPS

Bus Trip up Ninety Mile Beach โ€“ Cape Reinga

This was just such a treat and Fiona and I had been looking forward to it.. the highlight of the trip if you like. We met the bus I was later told; was a 400 HP beast that was once a Petrol tanker but was custom made for its current purpose of ferrying people like us up to the Cape on the sand.

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The driver picked us up outside the Awanui NZMCA park along with a neighbour in the park with his two grandsons and we were off.

Jason the driver and guide was a scream and very good with the flow of interesting information that went all day.

After turning off the main road north at Waipapakauri, we headed a few k’s towards the beach before we got to the sand. The weather for the trip was perfect and once Jason had changed into 4-wheel drive, we were off up the beach… all 56k’s of it apparently ๐Ÿ™‚ As Jason said on the commentary โ€œ It’s the only state highway that gets a wash twice a day โ€œ:-)

Getting out for a stretch

About half an hour or so of cruising up the beach, we stopped and got out for stretch and a look around. It’s an amazing beach with nothing really in either direction apart from the sandhills behind.

Looking South. the hole in the rock.

There was a rock of the beach with a hole in like the one off Cape Brett.

Jason running the Bus up the Te Paki stream for the sandboarding.

A bit further on, we were heading up the Te Paki stream beside the massive sand hills where we stopped to let to let those younger and more adventurous than us to boogie board down the sand hills. Jason gave them all a few safety lessons and they were off.

Jason doing the safety briefing.
Jason doing the safety briefing before they head up the dune.
Sandboarding !

They all seemed pretty happy with the occasion and about 45 minutes or so later, we set off again up the stream to rejoin the highway up to the Cape.

After Lunch

Next we were heading up to Tapotupotu Beach for lunch which Jason had stashed away. The road wasn’t for the faint hearted in a big vehicle and although there were a few Motorhomes there, it definitely wasn’t for me.

Looking towards Maris van Diemen

About an 1 hour later with a great lunch by the beach, we all headed back to the bus and Jason then took us all up to the Cape Reinga carpark to walk down to the lighthouse.

The oceans meeting

It’s about a 45-minute walk down to the lighthouse and back and quite steep in places but on a really nice track. As you go down on the left you can see Cape Maria van Diemen where the lighthouse used to be, Cape Reinga in front and the beach that we had lunch at off to the right with North Cape way off in the distance.

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The last time I was here, I think I was 13 years old or thereabouts. We were on a family trip with a 4-wheel drive with a beach buggy on an A frame. It was a trip for a photo shoot with a friend of my Dads who was a specialist Motor Racing photographer for a magazine article. The beach buggy got stuck on top of a sandhill… think all wheels off the ground so I got to learn how to drive it while we got it unstuck ๐Ÿ™‚

Back to the trip… it was fantastic to see it all again and all the improvements that have been made for easier access.

At the pub on the way home.

We were all back in the bus heading down the road for an ice cream stop and to the famous Waipapakauri where Fiona and I had a G & T to celebrate the end of a great day. We were only a few K’s north of the Awanui NZMCA park.

Back at Awanui.. great day !

A fantastic day and I’m really pleased we took the option of a guided bus trip. It wasn’t expensive given what was involved and a lot of fun and entertainment. Thanks, Jason, for the great commentary and a brilliant day out.

Rafe’s tracker map to the Awanui NZMCA park – Armada GPS

Mangonui, the Home of great Fish and Chips

Years ago, we had friends up here who lived in Hihi. We used to come up here and stay over the New Year period with them and other friends.ย  We stayed in a pup tent under a Ti Tree:-)ย  ย It was always heaps of fun and Mangonui was the local big town if you like.

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The Famous Mangonui Fish Shop

So, Mangonui was on the must do list for this trip. We stopped at a parking area just as you enter the town with Toilets, a dump station and is also a freedom camping area between the trees. A nice spot.

The parking by the water.. Toilets, and Dump station along with freedom camping.
The Old Oak Boutique Hotel

We then walked about 15 minutes around to Mangonui Fish shop passing all the lovely historic buildings, the Pub, a big shopping building, the over the water 4 square store, and lastly the fish shop.

Walking along the waterfront
The 4 Square shop

It’s a great spot and the fish is so fresh having the boats come in right next door. Some of the Lemon fish is actually caught from the shop.

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After an hour or so of indulging in this delicious food, we walked back via and ice cream shop opposite to Rafe and started heading north again.

The Treaty Grounds

After watching the Shakers with the Olives, we set off for the walk along the waterfront to the treaty grounds.ย  We’ve been here in the Bay of Islands so many times but haven’t really spent any quality time here at the Treaty grounds, so were well overdue for a visit.

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The Shakers getting the Olives off the trees.

At the entrance, we made our first priority a coffee and something to eat so headed towards the Cafe. We were really early for the guided tour so had plenty of time to kill.

Fiona on the new boardwalk up to the Treaty House

We decided to go on ahead anyway and walk up to the Treaty house and have a decent look, something I have never done and it’s really interesting. There is part of it at the back which is partly stripped to show how it was built as a kitset in Australia to be put together here. Really interesting.

Who knew there was a back courtyard!

I didn’t realise either that there was quite a big courtyard at the back of it which you never see.

Fiona decided to walk back down to the entrance to catch the guide for the walk back up. I walked over to the Meeting house just in time to catch the previous cultural show. They’re a fun bunch! Lots of humour but with a serious educational theme as well.

The very talented group doing the cultural shows.

There were about 30 people in the group and one person was volunteered to be the chief. He had to receive the challenge and then be accepted into the meeting house on behalf of all of us. He was Dutch and although his English was OK, he did really well as they had primed him to do a 5-minute speech which in the end was lucky if it was 30 seconds but all in jest but I’m sure he had some anxious moments thinking about it ๐Ÿ™‚

Our “chief” being welcomed onto the Whare

A great show and well worth doing and great performers.

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The show had just finished when Fiona turned up with her group, so I went into the show again with her ๐Ÿ™‚

We wandered back down through the grounds checking out a wonderful new Museum largely dedicated to the Maori Battalion and the contribution they made over the years. Both Fiona and I come from a strong Army background, so we found it really interesting. During the war, the Germans found the Maori Battalion to be fearsome warriors and extremely effective soldiers. It’s great to see them getting some recognition for their efforts.

People inside the whare after the show.

We checked out the other museum too which was more about the Treaty grounds and the early settlers. Really interesting and very well displayed with some great audio-visual displays as well.

Looking back on our walk back to the park.

It was back to Rafe at Jan’s Motorhome Park after that and a G&T to finish off the day.

Rafe’s tracker map to the Bay of Islands Holiday Park – Armada GPS

Lunch at the Duke of Marlborough from Paihia

From our spot in Kaikohe, we rang ahead and booked a spot for a couple of nights at the Bay of Island campervan park which is nestled in between Olive trees on the main road into Paihia. Its a perfect spot for walking to Paihia and to the Treaty grounds, both only 15 minutes away and it is very reasonably priced too.

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Paihia Wharf

The first day we were there we walked about 15 minutes into Paihia to catch a ferry over to Russell. The ferries were flat out so there were three ferries shuttling people across but there was plenty of room and it’s only a 15-minute trip across.

Leaving Paihia

We had booked into the Duke of Marlborough for lunch but were a bit early so walked around the waterfront, ate ice creams and drank coffee and eventually went to the Duke for a G&T. The โ€œDukeโ€ as it’s known apparently is NZ’s oldest licensed pub. There are several others that claim this title but as Russell was NZ’s first capital and one of its first settlements, they’re probably right ๐Ÿ™‚

Fiona ready for lunch ๐Ÿ™‚
My Snapper and Chips
The Group across the road enjoying their lunch

Fiona and I came to a wedding here several years ago and they’re slick operators where the food and Beveridge’s are concerned. There was a table setup for a group of about 10 across the road at the top of the beach having their meal out on the edge of the water… lovely!

The Duke of Marlborough behind the trees.
The Russell Ferry that was sunk after a collision with a boat a few days later. The boat in the background is a Classic called Wild Duck. It used to be a Flying boat tender in Mechanics Bay.

As the time crept on, we crossed to the road to the jetty and caught the ferry back to Paihia.

The ferry we caught back was being skippered by a lovely guy who also collected the tickets was the ferry that was sunk a few days later, by an alleged helmless 600hp go fast boat that hit the port side. He was badly injured and airlifted to Auckland in a critical condition. A terrible situation and from my past boating background, being hit on the port side means the ferry had right of way. Witnesses say there was no one at the helm. I hope after the investigation that the transgressor has the book thrown at them.

Leaving Russell

After getting back to the camp, I had a great chat to Jan who owns the camp and previously ran another bigger camp at Haruru Falls. It turns out that Jan is the big sister of an old Auckland Star colleague of mine who was a subeditor and used to lay out my photos on the fashion pages… Small world ๐Ÿ™‚ She was ex media too but in Televison!

Click on the Gallery below for an Enlarged Slideshow of the Park

The camp is a little pearler with very tidy loos and showers and some apartments, some of which go up the hill. The camp sites are separated by Olive trees which is nice and the next morning, we were entertained by the โ€œShakersโ€ shaking out the Olives from the trees. The Oil is bottled along with the Olives and donated to charity.

The crew get stuck in.
The Shakers in action

A great park in a lovely spot and so handy!

Rafe’s tracker map to the Bay of Islands Holiday Park – Armada GPS

On the Run Home

We had been lucky dodging the worst of what was the storm Hale but the tail was alive and well.

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The iconic Lord of the Rings Isite centre in Matamata -iphone image

We decided to cut the trip a bit early and head for home via โ€œsomewhere in the Waikatoโ€.ย  Fiona wasn’t keen on Te Aroha as there had been some earthquakes there so that narrowed things down a bit.

It was pouring with rain with some big easterly puffs of wind and generally pretty unpleasant.

Great parking

I found getting through Tauranga with its Motorway system changes is always a mission and twice before I’d missed the turnoff to get to the Kaimais before Mt Maunganui and today we did it again. This time we followed a motorhome in front to see if he knew another way through, but it ended up being a case of the blind leading the blind and 15 minutes or so later, we were back where we started. We eventually found a tollway though to the Kaimais and were away laughing.

By the time we got across the Kaimai road, we were ready to call it quits and my immediate thought were Matamata for a late lunch and then Firth Tower… nice and close and since it has been about 6 years since we’ve been there, we were well overdue for another visit.

Firth Tower

It’s a great place and now run by the Matamata Historical Society has changed a lot since our last visit. It’s well worth looking at our last visit as we the pictures I took back then had the benefit of some good weather ๐Ÿ™‚

Some of the neat buildings from around the district

The Motorhome Parking is now marked out and with more Powered sites and a complete overhaul of the loos, it’s a great spot for overnighting. It was also blowing dogs off chains, but we were well sheltered behind some big hedges and trees.

Click on the Gallery below to see this amazing Museum Enlarged

As I’ve said, the remnants of the storm were still with us, and it looked a bit grim but check out the pictures for an overview. Check out our previous visit 6 or so years ago for some sunshine in the images ๐Ÿ™‚

Looking down through the mirk from the tower.

A great spot to stay and good value for $15 per vehicle including power and access to loos and really nice people too.

Rafe’s Tracker map to The Firth Tower – Armada GPS

Springvale Suspension Bridge

About 45 minutes after we left Taihape, we arrived at this very popular camping area right by the river. We stopped in a parking area with other Motorhomes for lunch and a look around.

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The new and the old.
Looking back where the road used to go.

Built in 1923 and opened in 1925, the bridge allowed farmers to get their wool through to the port in Napier. In 1970, the road was realigned and replaced with today’s modern bridge. The original bridge is now maintained by the Heritage New Zealand.

Fiona checking out the old bridge.

Looking down from the bridge

When Fiona was living in Waiouru as a child, she remembers doing several family trips to Ongaonga to see her Grandparents. The road took 5 hours to get from Taihape to Napier in their Triumph Herald on the gravel road. You can imagine it with 3 kids in the back over that distance. Sounds like a fun trip ๐Ÿ™‚

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It truly is a lovely spot, and I can see why people like to camp here. There were a few people under the trees in tents along with several Caravans and Motorhomes.ย  Several cars were down on the shingle by the river with people having a crack at catching something.

Camping by the river

We walked up to the bridge so I could get a piccy of Fiona on the old bridge. It’s great to see our heritage being looked after like this.

People enjoying the river

We easily spent a couple of hours there chatting to other Motorhomers after having something to eat. A lovely spot.

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Springvale Bridge – Armada – GPS

The Famous Puhoi Pub

One of the iconic Hotels around and just out of Auckland is this wonderful old historic pub. It also has a huge carpark where you can stay overnight in your Motorhome or Caravan.

The Parking area

While I was in this neck of the woods, I thought I’d pop in and check it out.

How the first settlers arrived.

Puhoi started out having three Hotels after emigrants from Europe all wanted to be in on the business. Eventually one bought the others out and the current Puhoi Hotel which was built in 1879 became the communities premier place to socialise.

It has been owned by the same family since 1962.

At the bar

I love old buildings and this one has the charm and grace to go with it. The bar is decked out with every Knick knack you can imagine. It just reeks of character.

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You can stay the night in the hotel too if you have friends without their own accommodation. The parking for Motorhomes is just across the road.

I went for a brief walk around the village, and it is like time stood still. The old buildings look like they would have been 100 odd years ago.

A neat little village and nice to place to stop.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Puhoi – Armada – GPS

Frankia Owners Group meet at Coromandel

We set off early on the Friday morning thinking there might be a bit of early Labour weekend traffic, but it wasn’t to be, and we made it to Coromandel in pretty good time.

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Steve Gibson took this amazing shot with his drone. Coromandel shops are off to the left.

The Frankia Owners group organiser Brian Maginness, had invited me along to meet some of the group. Many of them were ex Dethleff owners so it was nice to see them again. They’re a good bunch and I’ve always admired the Frankia Motorhomes so we were really looking forward to it.

Brian had booked out the entire Park over property at Acres which is almost right in the middle of Coromandel town.ย  Run by Pauline and Ron as part of their property in a separate area complete with power and a bathroom, it is spectacular, and we’ll definitely be back to see them again.

Late on Friday afternoon, a few gathered outside Rafe and Happy Hour was on.

I met Russell and Lorraine who were originally from New Plymouth where I had just come from the photo Auction for Hospice.

It turns out that Russell spent a lot of his working life as a Linotype operator at the Daily News in New Plymouth so knew many of my press photographer friends who were involved in the Auction as they had also worked at the Daily News. Small world stuff.

It was really nice reminiscing about the old technology with the lead bars, slugs on the page (letters/paragraphs for the press) Great stuff.

Outside the gate

I also caught up with Peter and Heather who have adult children a similar age to our own and have lived close to us in Devonport for a long time. They’ve recently just got started with their near new Frankia Platin. Lovely to see them enjoying their new Motorhome.

My old friend from Devonport, Peter.

After the happy hour was finished, we all headed up to one of the restaurants in the main street of Coromandel about 5 minutes’ walk away. A great night and everyone had fun.

The next morning, it was each to their own. Some went bike riding, some walked up the back through the bush, we went for a walk through town and after lunch, walked back slowly to the camp to catch up with our neighbours in their Motorhomes.

Off for a Bike ride

Happy Hour rolled around and after this, I set up a team piccy and moved the group, so our Dethleffs was out of the background ๐Ÿ™‚

The Team

That night’s tea was at my favourite restaurant in Coromandel, The Star and Garter. The meal I had was massive and Peter who was sitting next to me, watched me struggle through it. It was so nice.
I wasn’t going to waste any of it. ๐Ÿ™‚ A nice meal as always and at a reasonable price. Another great night.

Star and Garter on the left looking up the main street.

We all ambled back to the park and crashed.

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The next day, many left. The rally was over but Fiona and I along with several others had enjoyed the park and the others company so much, we weren’t quite ready to go home ๐Ÿ™‚

a Happy hour getting started.

A fantastic gathering… Well organised Brian and thank you to you all for making us both welcome.

Rafe’s Tracker map – Armada GPS

Pukekura Park

One of the things Iโ€™ve wanted to visit but either ran out of time or was too far away, is the amazing Pukekura Park.

Click on any Image to EnlargeIt was started in the late 1800โ€™s and started as 54 Acres. It is now 128 acres, significantly bigger and is just beautiful. They also have an amazing nighttime display with Lighting which Iโ€™ve yet to see.ย  One day soon.

The old band Rotunda
Through the Ferns

I got a cab up from Fitzroy Motor camp and went for a walk through. Thereโ€™s a neat Waterfall just as you get in by the lake, a Kiosk which sells everything next to the lake and an old Band Rotunda.

The Waterfall

I walked down around the lake to cross the old wooden bridge and back the other side. With Ferns everywhere you look, it’s a fantastic place to see. It is just stunning!

The Fountain
The small electric Bus

There is a small electric bus which does the rounds for $5 if you donโ€™t feel like walking.

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As I walked out, I discovered another lake with a fountain in the middle of it next to another playground and skatepark. New Plymouth has it all!

The Kiosk

What impressed me most was the planting and the scale of it. Well worth the visit.

Looking back from the bridge