While we had the car at Otamuri Bay, we thought it would be rude to not use it for a look around the area.
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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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!
The Whananaki Bridge
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.
We stopped at Moureeses Bay where some surfies were having fun. Another stunning Northland Beach which you would never know was there.
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.
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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.
Rafe in the corner
The river with the shops in the background
Part of the redeveloped Landing
The area redeveloped and now called the Landing. The National Bank building in the middle.
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.
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.
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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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.
On our way to town
The redoubt with the town behind. You can see the RV park with the grey building.
The redoubt, Pirongia behind
Mt Pirongia behind
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.
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.
One of the great new secrets of Mangawhai is the Motorhome parking behind the history in the new Mangawhai Museum.
It’s a huge area and perfectly flat and also has the dump station and for a donation, fresh water.
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.
Plenty of room
what a memory!
A model of the old wharf by the Hotel
Inside the museum
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.
Another great free parking discovery at Mangawhai and the Museum is one of the best!
There were thunderstorms predicted and the showers on the road from Kaiwaka to Mangawhai were pretty heavy. We were going to stay at Scandrett but decided, given the weather, we’d be better off plonking the 4 odd tons of Rafe on gravel or tarseal.
We looked at the Hakuru RSA on the way but as there was no one around decided we’d try the Mangawhai Pub which was an NZMCA Park over Property. Not my first choice on a Saturday night as we’d be sharing the park with pub patron cars. We thought we’d give it a go as there was a caravan who’d been there for a few nights who hadn’t had any trouble so we parked over in the corner as close to them as we could and headed in for a drink.
It’s a really nice old historic hotel right on the water. Everywhere you looked, it reeked with history and lots of character. As we settled down for our first drinks with a bowl of chips, a huge thunderstorm hit and lots of rain. I love a good thunderstorm, especially when you’re nicely tucked up inside out if the rain.
The rain didn’t last long so I went for a walk down to the beach in front and checked out the estuary for some piccies. I also did some more in the morning.
We settled down for tea and watched TV and about 11pm, we felt a few very gentle rolls of the van, like someone in the van had moved. Someone’s sense of humour as they were leaving the carpark! We ignored it and a second later it stopped and we heard more cars drive away. No harm done. A nice spot and really handy to town and it is free after all. Maybe not Friday or Saturday nights though!
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Parked in the corner
The main street of Mangahwai. Bennett’s chocolate factory on the right
A character building on the main street
The café at Bennett’s
Bennetts Chocolate Factory
Behind Bennetts Factory
The next morning we parked around behind Bennetts chocolate factory. I wasn’t aware but there is a huge large Motorhome friendly park behind the building.
After a cuppa at Bennetts chocolate factory café and some chocolate. we went for a wander around the shops in Mangawhai.
One of the few Auckland CSC Motorhome parks run by the council that we haven’t had a look at is Scandrett Regional Park. It is literally at the end of the road beyond Algies Bay overlooking Kawau Bay just north of Auckland.It is simply stunning.
With weather warnings and a forecast deluge of rain that didn’t really arrive, we were a bit cautious about staying here as the Motorhome parking is all grass but on a flat platform overlooking the bay. To get to this flat platform though is a not so flat uphill grassy paddock area back to tar seal.
On a fine day with no rain, it’ll be magic and there is lots to explore down on the beach.
The Scandrett family boatshed
Scandretts Motorhome parking at the end of the grass
Down by the beach
Along the beach. The bach at the end of the beach can be rented.
The fancy toilets
The original Scandrett family homestead is made of concrete which was quite rare and still stands, and all the sheds and barns, mostly built in the early 1900’s are also still there and in good nick. Auckland city has put explanations and signs on each and it’s well worth a look, even just for the day.
The CSC park costs the normal Auckland City $8 each and as the parking is clearly Motorhome only, you don’t have to tangle with the day trippers in cars which I really like. We’ve got it penciled in for the next fine day.
On the way back from Waihi, we stopped in at the Paeroa Maritime Museum.
With my past involvement with Classic Launches, I was keen to see what was there. The main building is the ex Paeroa Post Office and is chocker with relics from the area. Apparently Captain Cook sailed up the Waihou and checked it out for Spars.
The old Paeroa jail house
The camping area, normally there are no cars here.
Paeroa didn’t see roads until the mid 1940’s and the main transportation method was ships up the streams to where the Maritime Museum is today.
They also provide overnight Motorhome parking with power for $15 and there are toilets and plenty to see and do.
You can also go for a ride in one of their two vessels up the Waihou river.
The Goldfields Railway station at Waihi was the perfect place to base ourselves for the bike ride to Karangahake and back. See my earlier blog on Goldfields Railway.
We arrived at Waihi about 11am and plugged ourselves in and had just levelled Rafe up with the ramps when our friends from Snells beach, Rob, Helen and Chloe arrived in their AutoTrail Tracker and parked beside us.
A few more Motorhomers arrived straight after that and we were a wee bit concerned that there wouldn’t be enough powered parks left for Gary and Dianne in their XLI who were still to arrive from Taupo. I went and paid for our sites and we were given some cones for their site. They arrived not long after anyway.
It was hot and humid so we thought we’d have to do sundowners while giving Gary and Diannes new XLI’s Air conditioning a good workout and it stood up to the test well along with lots of laughs!
The next day we were up ready for the 10am train to Waikino with our bikes.
Rob, Helen and Chloe set off for the 15k’s round trip walk and we were to meet up further down the trail.
We got our bikes off the train at Waikino as planned, and set of over a walkbridge to the Victoria Battery where there was pretty much a whole town setup, complete with power house and other buildings. It’s just a big empty space now. The power house is the site of the museum which is really interesting and well worth a look through.
As Fiona slowed down to stop in front of the first sign, she over balanced and ended up on the ground. Fortunately, it was just few scratches and bruises and she was back on her bike and away again.
On the train
Fiona on the first bridge at Waikino
In the Victoria Battery museum
Heading to karangahake
Others heading into the tunnel
Gary about to go into the tunnel
The view before the tunnel. You could be anywhere in the world.
Dianne, Gary and Fiona heading into the tunnel
The narrow bit. Gary on his bike on the right. The girls were further around.
The swing bridges at Karangahake looking behind!
After leaving Victoria Battery, there was a 3-4k flat run until we got through to the tunnel. This was quite a sensation. Gary and I rode through the tunnel but Fiona and Dianne pushed their bikes through on foot. It was amazing to ride through as although it is lit, it really is still quite dark. There is also quite a bit of water from the rain seeping though and quite muddy. Gary and I and the bikes were in a bit of a state when we came out the other end🤓. Rob, Helen and Chloe had done well on foot to get here in good time and were looking good. Gary and I were covered in mud.
After the girls caught up, we were keen to get some lunch so we biked back across the swing bridge to a great cafe called the Talisman where, as Gary read from the sign, they have “world famous BLT’s” which were amazing. They also have a big Motorhome compatible carpark if you want to go directly.
We set off after lunch back across the swing bridge to head back to Waikino. The first part of the track is really not rideable and in some parts is only a few feet wide and right next to the river. A stunning walking track so close to the raging water that you could be anywhere in the world…
Where it joins up back to the tunnel entrance it becomes rideable again all the way back to Waikino.
We got back to Waikino and caught up with Rob, Helen and Chloe with 10 minutes to spare before the last train of the day was departing at 2:30.
Gary and Dianne decided to ride back to Waihi, another 8k’s or so so off they went. We briefly saw them from the train across the river on the trail as we caught up to them when we’re nearly back at Waihi. Unfortunately Dianne took a tight turn in the track and came off, an accident black spot that probably should be marked. Like Fiona, luckily, the damage was restricted to some grazes and bruises and she was able to continue riding back.
We sat under Gary and Diannes awning with some heavy showers, with a few cold ones after that comparing notes and the girls compared their battle scars. Neither looked too good but there were no broken bones and I think after a couple of ciders, all was ok.
Gary cut the back of his leg on his pedal and I got a scratch on my leg but can’t remember how, so it was bandages at dawn for us all.😀
We all agreed it was a fantastic day enjoying some fantastic NZ scenery which you can only get to by getting out on foot or bike. If you’re in the area, a must do!
We came through here years ago and simply stopped for a drink but my old boating mate Alan, used to come here years ago for election night parties with his buddies.
It was on the market not so long ago and I believe it now has new owners and they’re really getting stuck in
The camping ground at the Okoroire Hotel has all been cleaned up and while it is not particularly flat, (bring your ramps) for its money it is good value. $10 a night each gives you power, loos and you’re right next to the track down to the newly restored hot pools by the Waihou river. There are three pools on the riverbank above the river. The pools are $5 each to use. An amazing setting.
Outside the Okoroire Hotel
Inside the hotel
The path down to the pools
Fiona in the pool
The river from the pools
Fiona in the hot “hot”pool
The hotel itself is just up the road a bit and was first built in the 1880’s and was setup as a stopping point for the stagecoaches from Auckland, heading south. You can also stay at the hotel and there is also a 9 hole golf course. What more could you want?
We arrived here directly from crowds of people at the balloon event so it was nice just to blob out with some peace and quiet but Fiona’s keen to stay another night so it must be good.
As you arrive into Hamilton off the expressway from the north, you will see at one of the roundabouts, a car on top of a pole.
This is the Jukebox Cafe and Classic Car Museum. NZMCA members can stay the night here for free and there is tons of room at the back of a huge carpark.
The Jukebox cafe is all decked out with an American 60’s Rock n roll type decor along with the staff wearing the retro clobber. While we didn’t eat here it all looks pretty good.
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The back of the Auburn
A car I had as a teenager, a Mark 1 Zephyr
The front of the Auburn
Fiona’s favourite, the Messerschmitt
The Classic Car Museum is a must do and is someone’s private collection. It includes a caravan, a Cord, and an amazing looking Auburn which I’d never heard of.
There’s a Messerschmitt along with trucks and many others. You’ll easily get lost in here for an hour or two.
We went through here with Gary and Dianne before they headed back to Taupo and were sitting in the carpark getting ready for a cuppa while waiting for Fiona. She was really taken with the Messerschmitt.