Tag Archives: History

Character, Soul and Scones

After meeting my new friends from Christchurch, Rory and Henny and their friends Dave and Karen, I made a point of making sure that at some stage during the day, I should pop down to the NZMCA park and have a cup of tea with them and a catch up. 

The Coromandel Pub, you can also stay behind this for $10 including power
The Coromandel Pub, apparently you can also stay behind this for $20 including power

I set off reasonably early on my bike with my camera tucked down inside my coat and made my way down to the other end of Coromandel town.

Don’t forget to click on the images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

CoromandelThe shops and buildings are fascinating and you can feel a real vibe about the place. They were getting really for the Illume parade and event that night so it was even more buzzy than normal.

After getting some nice piccies and talking to a couple of the locals, I biked around to the wharf and then back to the NZMCA park where I caught up Rory and Henny and with typical South Island hospitality was just in time for some of Henny’s lovely homemade scones and a cup of coffee. We had a great hour or two talking about everything and they’re great fun and good company.

Its easy to tell where the Laundromat is !

I biked back, checked out the campground and blobbed out with the stereo before  hittting the sack early to get ready for another big day. 

Looking back towards Coromandel .. my bike on the right
Looking back towards Coromandel .. my bike on the right

A neat place to visit, some great places to stay and despite the weather, plenty to do and see.

Waterfront Parking

Sandspit Holiday Park is one of those places I’ve wanted to try out for months so I was chuffed when I found a good reason to stay here and with reasonable weather too.

It is an easy walk to the wharf for ferrys to Kawau so its well placed if you want to do a day or two at the Island. Its also an easy walk to the Sandspit Yacht club and the brand new marina that has just opened there.

Check out the images in Hi Res by clicking on them or for a slideshow.

Our spot near the water
Our spot near the water

We dropped in out of the blue after a few days of heavy rain so we were walked down to check the grass waterfront parks to see if they were up to handling Rafe’s weight. With plenty of gravel and sand about, I decided it felt pretty solid and we’d give it a go.

Neat Cottages that you can stay in all along the waterfront.
Neat Cottages that you can stay in all along the waterfront.

As it was off peak in winter, the cost for two of us was $32 with power for the night which I thought was great value.

After settling down Rafe, plugging in and opening hatches, I went for a walk with the camera.

They have some amazing quirky cottages and the buildings are great. There is even Horace the Morris parked in the grass.


The ablution block is almost brand new and the shower and toilets are amazing.

Bring the boat in
Bring the boat in

We went for a walk before the sun went down to the ferry jetty where boaties were coming in and a few were fishing.

A really interesting place.  We’re planning to go back with the Grandies as they could easily stay in one of the many cottages there.

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Tyers Magic

Before we enjoyed a great lunch at the Helensville Railway Station Cafe, we visited the Helensville Train Museum right next door.
Run by the Helensville Railway Station Trust by volunteers, this is well worth checking out.

Helensville Railway Station with the Museum behind
Helensville Railway Station with the Museum behind

parakaiThere is a gigantic model railway based on Helensville, even replicating well know local buildings and known points. There is even a little orange sign that says, “You are Here” 🙂
The chap that built the model spent 30 years putting it together.

Click on any photo for Hi Res or a Slideshow

Helensville Station. Note the pub in the background
Helensville Station. Note the pub in the background
The Pub over the road
The Pub over the road

After spending an hour or so, checking it all out, one of the volunteers came over and said to me, “come and check this out, I’ll demonstrate it for you”.
There were two red boxes with buttons and bells.
This was The Tyers Tablet system which railways in both Great Britain and New Zealand used up until 1994 on single lines to prevent head on collisions.
It involved a sophisticated coded bell system with switches with electromagnetic locks that allows a small disk, a Tablet, to be released for a train driver when the line is clear. The system was setup between railway stations at each end of a line.

All Packed
All Packed

Given that it was setup in the dark old days of bleeps over the phone lines, it’s a clever system. Helensville Railway Museum is the only one that we know of still in working order and when you think of what it had to do and when it was invented, it’s pretty clever.
If you want more info on this, Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about the Tyers Tablet system and here’s a youtube vid of the Helensville setup being explained.


The two volunteers there were only too happy to show me everything at the museum and couldn’t have been more helpful. It’s a must do if you’re in town.
It’s $3.00 each and well worth it.

On Track

Helensville is a neat little town and after spending a nice afternoon in the Hot Pools at Parakai, we took Rafe in for a nosey around.
We’ve been to the Railway Station before we had Rafe and it has a fantastic cafe which is where the original NZ Railways cafe was.

The Railway Station in 1910
The Railway Station in 1910

There is also a antique shop run by a nice lady who once lived in Auckland but escaped to Helensville a long time ago!
The Railway Station is owned by the Helensville Railway Trust and they’ve recently just done up the building including the loos. There is plenty of parking so it’s an easy place to park your Motorhome.

Just a friendly reminder, click on the images for hi res or a slideshow.

It was time for lunch so to the cafe. Still being ultra nice to my front tooth, I had to skip some of the real bready lunches and had a “Train smash” I think it was called which was basically a full breakfast.. Very nice. Fiona had an Angus beef burger.

My "Trainsmash"
My “Trainsmash”
Fiona's Angus Burger
Fiona’s Angus Burger

On the wall is a great photo of the staff at that particular time. Looking at the gear, they’re wearing, I’d say it’s late 1800’s or early 1900’s.

NZR café staff in the early 1900's . The lady in the middle was the manager who recently had her 90th birthday at the Café.
NZR café staff in the early 1900’s . The lady in the middle was the manager who recently had her 90th birthday at the Café.

The woman in the middle was in charge at the time and she recently celebrated her 90th birthday at the Cafe. A great story.
There are some really interesting pictures on the wall, one which looks like it might have been in France where a train jumped out of a wall on a second story. Oops!

After having a look around, we stopped for a look at the shops in the Main Street.

Main Street
Main Street

Some interesting buildings, everywhere you look  you see history.

BMW Reisemobile

Jonas Ng recently took a team over from NZ to Germany to check out the new Frankia and Dethleffs models and their new features.

bmwWhile he was there, he visited the Hymer Museum and took these amazing pictures.  Hymer is the parent company of Dethleffs Motorhomes and Caravans.

bmwThis is the second of two posts.  Todays one is the one of the early BMW Motorhomes. I’ll let the pictures tell the story.

Click here to see earlier Dethleffs first caravan

Thanks Jonas!

Wohnauto – Dethleffs first caravan

Dethleffs NZ’s Jonas Ng has just returned after a week or two in Germany catching up with Dethleffs and Frankia to see whats coming soon with the new models.

caravanWhile he was there, he visited the Hymer Museum and took these amazing piccies of Dethleffs first caravan.


He also found an early motorhome.. that’s coming soon.

Click on the images for a slideshow.


Thanks Jonas for sharing these piccies.

The longest Pedestrian Bridge in the Southern Hemisphere

While we had the car at Otamuri Bay, we thought it would be rude to not use it for a look around the area. 

The Whananaki Bridge
Fiona walking on the Whananaki Bridge

We headed back over the hill to Whananake North so we could answer texts and emails and the set off on foot to check out the Whananaki foot bridge which connects the southern shore of the estuary to the northern shore. 

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The Whananaki Bridge with the school on the other side.
Fiona on the Whananaki Bridge with the school on the other side.

I had to stoop to hold the hand rail where I felt the need and it takes about 20 odd minutes to cross it. It would be fun for the school kids in a blow to get to Whananake North School! 

An interesting crossing so after that we headed back to Otamuri bay and beyond. The seal stopped on the road just past the Doc camp and a rather twisty, windy road takes you straight up and straight down again to a bunch of surf beaches.

Surfing at Moureeses Bay
Surfing at Moureeses Bay

We stopped at Moureeses Bay where some surfies were having fun. Another stunning Northland Beach which you would never know was there.

See you in a few days

With nothing happening in my diary for a few days, Fiona suggested I head north and catch up with our old Boating, and now Motorhome friends, Chris and Gary Parkes.

Fiona will join us with the car at the end of the week.
They’ve cashed up and are now full timing in their Mitzi Fuso, Ci Munro truck for the next wee while and seem to be really enjoying it.

The remains of the weather that hit Sydney’s beaches was, due to hit Northland so I thought I’d try a campground away from the gale north easterlies hitting our coast.

I arrived in Paparoa, on the road to Dargaville mid afternoon and checked in to the Paparoa Holiday Park.

Remember to click on the images for hi res or slideshow

The view of the camp from the entrance.
The view of the camp from the entrance.

This park was built from a paddock by the current owners and is all gravel with lots of small trees and cabins which offer good protection from the wind and rain. On my own, it cost $15 which is extremely good value with power.

I got the bike of the back and went for a toodle into the Paparoa village for a look around. The Pub is just around the corner and the village is loaded with history. There is a river which comes up from the Kaipara which was used to get supplies up for the locals and dragged up a bank by wires from the boats. The old National Bank building is built into the shape of the corner which is interesting too.

One of the neat historic houses there
One of the neat historic houses there

A neat little town and a nice wee campground.

Persimmon at Pirongia

We were on our way home from Taupo after catching up with friends and we’d had a warning that the whole of the country was in for the bash from the weather.

The Café with the Motorhomes at the back
The Café with the Motorhomes at the back

Thunderstorms and strong winds meant hunkering down on some gravel with some power. Years ago when we had wee Rafe, the caravan, we stopped at a café in Pirongia which had some Motorhome parking on gravel out the back.

This sounded like a good destination and we would easily be there before the weather nailed us around 6pm.

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The RV Park
The RV Park

We arrived with plenty of time, plugged in and decided to go for a walk into town for a look around before the rain hit. We’d just arrived in a café in town when the heavens opened up. Fortunately it was just a shower so we still had time to check the Alexandra Constabulary Redoubt which was a fort on a small hill overlooking the town. It has dug trenches around almost like a moat and is well worth a look. It also happens to be right over the road from the Persimmon Café RV park where we were staying the night.

A nicely set up RV park but it is really a carpark with powerpoints and a toilet block. The cost for us was $25 for the night. $10 for us and $15 for the power. If we wanted to use the onsite dump station, that would be another $15 and the showers another $5 each.
It was explained that the dump station had to be emptied on a regular basis and trucked into Te Awamutu hence the charge.
My thinking was that although it wasn’t waterfront or top ten standard, it was perfect for sheltering for the night or passing through. It is also very central with the town only a few minutes walk away.

We decided to use the free dump station at Drury as we were heading that way but there is also a free one at Te Awamutu and we used our own shower.

Not big
Not a big park but perfect for passing through.

It was nice being on the gravel and plugged in as the weather really laid it on. Lightening and thunder and lots of rain. It was an interesting night with some good puffs of wind and plenty of action from the sky but we felt nicely tucked in and sheltered.

Pirongia is a nice wee town and there is heaps of history there. Its well worth checking out the redoubt.  The town is spoilt for choice for motorhome parking  with the Clydesdale Café and if you’re an NZMCA member, at the Golf Course just on the outskirts of town.

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!