Tag Archives: History

Karangahake History

On the way back from Waihi we stopped in for a look at the Karangahake gorge.

The two Batteries over the bridges. Karangahake at its best!
The two Batteries over the bridges. Power station in the middle. Karangahake at its best!

We are intending to do the bike trail but it’s all about gathering up more knowledge before we take this on. 

The remains of the first battery
The remains of the first battery
The first battery as it looked at the time
The first battery as it looked at the time

It’s a really interesting area with several short walks that are not part of the trail. We had a look at a couple of the old power stations and batteries while we were there which takes an hour according to the sign. The walking doesn’t take anything like that and it’s well worth a look. 

Click on the images to see them in hi res or slideshow

Karangahake was a small town which included all the things you’d expect to see in a town like Te Aroha or similar. 

We walked across the swing bridges and up the hill past the power station, the two batteries built down the hillsides. The ore was swung across the river from the tops of hills in a flying fox type of setup before processing with cyanide. It really was a huge setup. It’s not until you’re up there that you realise the scale of it all and looking at the remains, what it must have taken to build the buildings themselves and the infrastructure to go with it.

The base of the power station
The base of the power station

We walked all around and as the weather deteriorated, we worked our way closer to Rafe in the carpark. Another one of those feature areas that I’ve driven past lots of times and was really pleased we stopped for a look.

The Goldfields train

Isn’t just great having the NZMCA app now running on our iPads. Even though I’ve had the gps files installed in Rafes in dash gps, it’s really nice sitting in the deck chair with the iPad and figuring out where to next with the app.

Rafe behind the railway station
Rafe behind the railway station
The Motorhome parking behind the station
The Motorhome parking behind the station

We found in the iPad, a great spot in Waihi that sounded fantastic. It’s at the Goldfields railway station at Waihi. For $10 per night, there are 6 powered sites and more space for others as well. There is also access to water and the Rail Trail toilets as the Rail Trail ends at the railway station. About 15 minutes walk away is the centre of town.

Click on the images for hi res or slideshow

We arrived and plugged in, paid for the park and we’re just in time for the last train ride to Waikino and back. The perfect way to check out the bike trails before walking or biking the Karangahape gorge trails.

Waihi station with the parking behind
Waihi station with Rafe parked behind

The train stops for 15 minutes or so, just enough time for a beer, glass of wine or just a coffee or ice cream. A great way to spend a couple of hours and fun too.
There are 3 return trips each day from Waihi.

Retro Beauty

An old Dodge?
An old Dodge?

I found this beauty on my travels on the web.

It has the look of a 50’s or 60’s Dodge..this would be the perfect vehicle to arrive in Art Deco weekend at Napier!

Does anybody have any ideas?

Milford Marina Footbridge

As it was
As it was
The Bridge as it will look
The Bridge as it will look

This is a wee bit off topic, more about boats than Motorhomes but I’m so disappointed in our brain dead elected council people to let this go ahead. Read on.

Years ago, there was a huge footbridge with steps that went from the northern end of Milford beach and climbed up into the cliff to join a track to go to Inga / Beach Rd. Over the years, the bridge fell into a state of disrepair and in the late 60’s -early 70’s was deemed unsafe and demolished with a promise from the council that it would be replaced at a future date.

Time marched on and the Milford Mariners Society and Milford Cruising club members developed the marina to where it is today with about 200 boats with jettys, power and water.

Along came a few people from Castor Bay who couldn’t be bothered walking around the marina to get to the beach and had the council drag out the “promise” to renew the bridge.

This “replacement” is a mechanical bridge which they intend to operate remotely which is very different from what was there and with all the best intentions, will break down. When it does, it will become a safety issue, not to mention the costs in running it.

The bridge
The bridge

Anyway, how it works – Boaties are supposed to radio in to Viaduct Harbour to have the bridge opened when they want to leave or enter the creek. There will be alarms to “warn” people off the bridge which will be heard all around the Milford basin.

Most mariners will tell you that Milford creek is a nightmare to enter in anything from an easterly quarter in more that 15 -20 odd knots with the swell. If the bridge fails to open, there would be mayhem with boats up each others chuff in the corner of the entrance with nowhere to go.

I’ve entered the channel several times in Rorqual when it has been quite rough after a holiday weekend or two and once you’re committed to enter, there is no turning back. It is simply too narrow with rocks on both sides with the swell coming from behind. This makes it incredibly hard to steer until you get well into the creek. It is a safety issue which I think the council has largely ignored.

Map from Google Earth showing the layout
Map from Google Earth showing the layout

I understand the cost before construction started was already at $1m with talkfests and surveys. I reckon it’ll be at least $2-3 m before its finished.. all for a few people to walk to the beach.

A digger in the water preparing the bridge
A digger in the water preparing the bridge

We hear them say.. “ it won’t fail”. Those in Viaduct harbour will tell you about their bridge that “wouldn’t fail” that has failed regularly since it was installed which is why we are hearing talk about it being replaced.

Bridge in relation to the boats
Bridge in relation to the boats

Anyway .. as you can see, it is being built.

Looking down from Beach road towards the Cruising club. The poles for the safety pontoon.
Looking down from Beach road towards the Cruising club. The poles for the safety pontoon.

As a safety measure, they are constructing a pontoon which will require ongoing dredging (cost) just outside the bridge. On a busy holiday weekend with returning boats, this will be totally inadequate as it will only be big enough to hold about 4 vessels.

News Flash : A wee birdie tells me that the folk who open the bridge at Viaduct Harbour won’t work the Milford bridge as they have enough trouble getting folk off the Viaduct bridge before opening, let alone try to do Milford remotely.. What now ?

Historic place 400m

At Kawakawa bay
At Kawakawa bay

While waking up this morning to another nice sunny day, I thought I should head out to Kawakawa Bay and have a cup of tea while the cockle gatherers were doing their thing. It’s also a bit more interesting that watching small planes come and go  for another day. 💤
There were plenty of gatherers there too, making the most of the weather and getting down to business.

Kawakawa Bay cockle gathers on the go.
Kawakawa Bay cockle gathers on the go.

While there, I met an interesting couple with their newly built Motorhome who were trying to retire after giving their lifelong printing business to their adult children. There was a problem with a machine so they’d been summoned from their break  down by Kaiaua, to sort it out! It was interesting swapping notes on how our respective but similar business’s had changed over the years with technology and changes in the economy.
After an hour or so there, I headed back to Ardmore. As I went through Clevedon, I kept seeing these signs saying “historic place 400m” so decided to check it out.

The warehouse at Clevedon wharf with a ship purpose built for the river.. In the late 1860's. Pic from the sign on the wharf.
The warehouse at Clevedon wharf with a ship purpose built for the river.. In the late 1860’s. Pic from the sign on the wharf.
Clevedon Wharf, the site of he old wharf.
Clevedon Wharf, the site of he old wharf.
Clevedon Bridge
Clevedon Bridge

It turns out that the Wairoa River in Clevedon was quite a bustling place. There were warehouses, a sawmill and several other businesses on both sides of the river. They even towed barges with planes on them during the war from Hobsonville via “Port Clevedon” to hangers in Ardmore. Really interesting.
I had a quick walk around Clevedon before heading back to Ardmore MCA park for the afternoon.

The Main Street of Clevedon
The Main Street of Clevedon
Fiona's favourite shop in Clevedon and Cafe
Fiona’s favourite shop in Clevedon and Cafe

When I returned, I found my next door neighbour in the middle of the grass, under his Toyota Landcruiser doing a lube and oil! A caravanner saving some money. Isn’t it funny what people choose to do on a hot day😎

History in the Rimutakas

We headed over to Featherston today despite the 100k odd gale warnings and it was quite an interesting trip! Martinborough is down in a basin lower that Featherston so I suspect that protects it against the big blows but once up on the Featherston plain despite heading strait into the wind, it was evil. The Van was all over the place. Slowing down to 65k odd helped but that was all we could do when were exposed in the sides.
We looked for a park so the van wasn’t side on and found the Fell Locomotive Museum right over the road. You could barely stand up in the wind so we thought we’d run for cover into the Museum.

The Fell Shunter
The Fell Shunter

What an interesting place. The steep grades over the Rimutakas ranges were such that they had specially designed Shunters that used a third rail to climb and brake.

A display showing how the centre rail, the one on the left was for the loco to grip onto for traction and braking. The normal rail on the right.
A display showing how the centre rail, the one on the left was for the loco to grip onto for traction and braking. The normal rail on the right.

Apparently, they used to get through a set of 8 brake shoes per loco for each descent and 4 for each brake van each descent! They had a cog driven wheel in each side of the loco of the centre rail that was wound in by the engineer and driven by the steam engine. It was held in by gigantic springs for the extra traction uphill. Apparently it worked really well. Each loco could deal with 3 passenger wagons or 4 freight vans depending on the weight and it was quite common to see 4-5 Shunters per train with passenger carriages and freight in between.

The brake van. The guard used to wind the brakes in on springs so the pads would slow on the centre raised rail.
The brake van. The guard used to wind the brakes in on springs so the pads would slow on the centre raised rail.
Under the loco showing the brakes on the raised rail. There were two huge geared wheels which locked in behind the brakes for uphill traction.
Under the loco showing the brakes on the raised rail. There were two huge geared wheels which locked in behind the brakes for uphill traction.
The drivers cabin
The drivers cabin

We were warmly welcomed by some nice chaps who showed us and explained us how it all worked and then shown to a theatre where we saw an early 1900’s film of the whole system working. Great film. Funny to see all the old clobber that people wore back then and really interesting.
If you’re in Featherston, check it out. At $5 a head it’s well worth the visit.

Another pic of the skippers cabin showing the firebox and other controls.
Another pic of the skippers cabin showing the firebox and other controls.

We visited an unnamed disappointing coffee shop after that, that interestly had its front door facing out of the wind ! Awful coffee and very average cakes.. That’s the first we’ve struck that bad on the whole trip so can’t really complain.

My perfect house, plenty of room, vineyard all around. Just need taps on the end of those vines fir an easy refill of the glass  😎
Back in Martinborough – My perfect house, plenty of room, vineyard all around. Just need taps on the end of those vines for an easy refill of the glass 😎

Given the wind was so bad, we headed back to Martinborough for our last night. Rugby tomorrow morning. All Blacks v France. Just as well I brought the sky card with us. We’ll head to Napier after that.

Firth Tower Museum

The Firth Tower and House. The original was burnt down in 1902
The Firth Tower and House. The original was burnt down in 1902

3k’s or so outside of Matamata is the Firth Tower Museum.
Its an amazing collection of original buildings in the grounds of what used to be a farm for the Firth family in Auckland to feed the flour mill.  It later became the base for a well known Waikato family to farm.
The original farmhouse was built with the tower in the later 1800’s but the farmhouse burnt down in 1902 and was replaced  then by the current house. It was then owned by the McCaw family.
Don’t forget you can click on the images to enlarge them

In each of the buildings there is a theme of history, Agriculture, Transport, Medical, local war involvement, and there is even two carriages with the History of the Kaimai tunnel as well.
The volunteers who staff it were all wearing historical gear to add to the feel of the place.  When  we visited, there was school trip of local primary school kids and they all got dressed up in historical clothing to add to the occasion.

Dusk, Glass of Red in one hand, camera in the other!
Dusk with The Tower

For $10 you can stay the night with power or free parking without power. One of the nice things about being on the road is discovering new places to stay and how nice they can be and often it is the least expensive that are the nicest places to stay… this was one of those times.   A great way to spend the day and it really is a well setup museum.

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