Kiwi North which is about 5k’s out of Whangarei on the road from Dargaville is also the home of the Whangarei Museum and many of the local clubs with an amazing collection of things that clubs have.. Stationery Engines, Medical Museum, Radio operators, Cars and Tractors, Railway enthusiasts and the list goes on.
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The big attraction though is the Kiwi house where you can get up close with them. This is the first time Fiona and I had ever seen one this close and with one of the volunteers close by telling us all about them was amazing.
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Niagara Lifeboat being restored.
Another well know homestead
Ride on minature trains.
They are actively involved with a Kiwi breeding program to try and stop the decline in their numbers and their modern Kiwi House makes it so easy to see them right up close. We were inches away from them!
The park is also currently refurbishing the Clark Homestead along with an amazing Octagonal shaped Chapel and other outbuildings.
There is the old Kauri Train station and the old Whangarei Woman’s Gaol there too.
To make it easier for NZMCA’rs who would like to check it out, they also have parking for up to 4 vans with power, toilets and showers for just $15. There is also a discount for access to the Kiwis and the Museum for NZMCA’rs too!
I’ve popped in here before but this was Fiona’s first time and its a great place with plenty to see and do.
Every Kiwi should do this and with international visitors being hard to come by due to Covid, make sure you pop in next time you’re up that way 🙂
Over the years there was a service run locally in Poutu by a chap called Jock who by all accounts was a real character and one of those really nice people who couldn’t do enough for you. Jocks operation used to run visitors along the 7 km beach to see the historic Lighthouse.
Sadly Jock passed away and the service stopped so the Poutu Marine Campground managers, John and Janine carried it on and it is not to be missed.
John popped over to Rafe the day before and had worked out the tides so we could get there and back with no issues along the beach the next day… wow we were fizzing..
I was to drive one quad bike with Fiona on the back and John would lead on the other. I was given a brief driving lesson on the front lawn and we were off to the boat ramp down the road and off down the beach.
The sun was shining but there was a good 20 knot westerly which we were driving into but it added to the fun. We stopped along the way to see a wreck which had just appeared out of sand dune.
Apparently every day is different when the wind is blowing where the beach completely changes and sand dunes appear and disappear. Its amazing.. This has the effect where all the historic wrecks along this coast do the same and when they’re uncovered, they’ll disappear just as quickly !
We moved on to see some really unusual sand dunes that had popped up and a ti tree grove that had been completely covered by sand. A bit further we veered off through the dunes to see a freedom camping spot with about 4 carloads of people enjoying a private little spot in the dunes. After a friendly wave, we carried on.
Up came some BIG sand dunes and it was time for another driving lesson to get familiar with the loose sand. These were massive and its huge amounts of fun.. Fiona stayed on the back so I think I passed the test 🙂
On a bit further and it was time to climb up the 80 odd metres to the famous Lighthouse. John was saying that DOC have just replaced the door broken by vandals and given it some paint but it needs much more. The lighthouse was built in the 1840’s as by then there had been nearly 100 shipwrecks with boats trying to cross the bar and sinking in the channel.
At the top there is more evidence of attempts to plant some trees covered by sand. The sand up around the back of the lighthouse is all quite new.
After a trip further around to another vantage point for a piccy, we set off back to the Poutu Camp.
The whole trip took about 3 hours and was just fantastic.
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Looking out to the bar
John about to head up to the Lighthouse
A day or so later in the afternoon, John popped over and offered to show us up the inner harbour which has a completely different look to it. That was great too and its amazing how much of the beach and cliffs have eroded up there. There was a pipe of a bore right at the water line where a village once stood but had to be abandoned.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The old Kauri Railway Station along with a separate reduced scale railway along with Riponui Pah school built in 1898. All really good stuff.
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.
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Inside the Clarke Homestead
The Riponui Pah school
Inside the school house
The original Whangarei womans jail from around 1900.
Alexander Clarkes Grave
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 !
Well worth seeing and doing and great parking.. Go there, they need your support 🙂
The Netspeed Speedtest for here (old Router)
Download: 8.43 Mbps
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Ping: 55 ms
We had just arrived at the Brett and Bronwen’s Park over property when Bronwen walked out to welcome us with a huge smile. Brett followed soon after. We very quickly felt welcome and they showed us where everything was.
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After spotting some power points off to the side next to a beautifully bulldozed flat platform, I asked if we could we use them? They were $10 a night so we were in heaven getting ready for a great New Years eve.
Brett and Bronwen have owned the property for 6 years and have made it available as a POP for just on 3 years but they missed the last NZMCA Bible but what a fantastic place to stay. They are planning to build their dream home up above the site in years to come. A lovely spot.
Brett was telling me that they’ve just installed a new Maytag washing machine ($4), a new toilet and a dump station too, all a quick walk from Tokerau Beach.
We were going to stay 1 night but feeling really comfortable and it being New Years eve, it would be rude not to stay for at least 3 nights 🙂
We went for a drive around to have a look around. Karikari Estate is just around the corner. The beach is amazing and goes for miles.
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Easy parking at Karikari Estate
Probably the best view for a dump station in NZ!
Bronwen and Brett on their property.
A great place to stay in the Far North with some lovely hosts.
Driving along the waterfront in Paihia while I was trying to decide where to stay, I passed Terry and Ruth’s Dethleffs White Magic A Class Motorhome parked on the side of the road. I’ve been meaning to try to catch up with Terry as I’ve been following their progress around the bay with their friends on Facebook. I turned Rafe around and parked a few spaces behind and as it was lunchtime, wandered along the waterfront to look for something to eat.
There was neat place about 50 yards along which was doing $10 roast lamb meals which I thought sounded good and ordered a glass of Chardy to go with it. While I was sitting there, I thought I’d facebook message Terry and see if he was around. I’ve never met Terry or Ruth before so had no idea what they looked like. I simply said I was parked behind them, be nice to catch up and where I was having lunch.
Within two minutes, I had a response back and my neighbours at the next table were looking around for me. How’s that for small world stuff and technology.. I shifted to their table and we swapped various stories for the next hour or so. .. Fun times in the fast lane 🙂 It was nice to catch up and I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.
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After a memorable lunch with Terry and Ruth, I decided on staying at a little tucked away waterfront site called Beachside Holiday Park owned by Dusty and Aroha Miller.
In their office they have a picture on the wall taken in the early 70’s of the park and it looks completely different. Dusty and Aroha have been here for 15 years, progressively working to a plan they had done for the transformation of this fantastic site. They say there is still things to do but the place looks fantastic.
The Dump station is what you wish for everywhere where you don’t even need to get your grey water hose dirty. Simply back up over the grate and let her rip !
Great Dump Station
The 70’s pic
Terraced bush camping
Nicely laid out parks
Right on the Water
The laundry looks like a Space Station with industrial machines right along one wall. Toilets and showers are all in new condition and kept very clean. Walking around there are non powered sites for tents on little grassed terraces carved out for camping, most with great views of the water.
There is a boat ramp there and a rack of kayaks which are available for guests.
For the first night I was parked by the water but Rafe was poking out a bit on the roadway so I moved to a bigger site one row back for the second night. I was also parked under a tree so I had TV reception the next night too! The charge is $20pp which is pretty much normal at this time of the year around Paihia but right on the water parking with all the facilities, its fantastic.
Nice people and nice to see someone investing in the future and doing a great job of it.
The Netspeed Speedtest Download: 21.03 Mbps
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Ping: 59 ms
When Phil Walker returned from one of his last ocean going yacht delivery trips and settled with his wife Sylvia in Kerikeri on their lifestyle block, little did he know that he was about to get started rather than slow down for their retirement.
On a sunny afternoon he set out the picnic table for the arrival of some of his overseas yacht friends and over a few glasses of wine, they decided that the land should be turned into a an RV park with room for chalets, and they had decided on a new name for it too.
That was 12 years ago and what a great setup it is now.
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I dropped in on a really grotty day where the forecast was evil and decided it was time to plug myself in, wash my linen, vacuum Rafe and generally tidy myself up.
This was on the wall in the office which sums up the layout quite well.
As you come in
The communal Kitchen area
One of the Tourist flats
Nicely laid out parks
Rafe getting very wet!
Flash looking toilet blocks
As I arrived I met Phil who cruised down on his metallic pink scooter. He gave me all the background and its a fascinating story. Now in his mid 70’s, he runs the park and Sylvia is still working part time locally. What about the retirement I asked ? There’s a shrug of the shoulders and a smile.
You don’t see too many new RV parks with the perfectly flat and manicured parking spots, its great. The standard parking charge for a powered site is $18.00. There is a complete laundry available and a fully equipped kitchen.
You’ll find it just before the turnoff to Kerikeri. It is well worth checking out for a night or two.
One of the places I’ve been wanting to check out while in Dargaville was the Museum at the top of the hill. The GPS was giving me strange messages that it wasn’t available but it seems they’ve changed the roading to get there. My GPS just didn’t know wbaout it!
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Up the hill overlooking Dargaville is the Museum which provides Motorhome parking and also has a dump station and some outside Toilets near the parking with the most amazing view over the Dargaville area.
I had a quick nosey through the museum and it is amazing how much happened in this area with the river and shipping. The Gum Digging history is well documented too along with the Dalmation settlers who largely were involved with the Kauri Gum industry.
On the edge of Kaipara on the way to Dargaville
The view from the parking area with the Gumdiggers village in the foreground
Amazing murals on the wall
Some bits from wrecks found around Dargaville
Some old appliances in the Museum
Parking at the Museum
Its a great wee town Dargaville, lots to see and plenty of places to stay.
This would be one of the premo places to park for a night or two and the Museum is a must do too.
What a beautiful place Pahi is. We’ve been here before I was doing this blog with friends just after some heavy rain. We had to park on the gravel so its not an all weather grassy surface.
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Pahi is about 15 minutes off the main highway through to Dargaville. It is at the end of a peninsula south of Paparoa.
When I arrived, I was met with a sign in the office to make myself comfortable in a park of my choice and they’ll catch up with me. For $10 (with NZMCA discount) per person per night with power, it is exceptionally good value and its in a lovely spot in the northern reaches of the Kaipara Harbour.
Apparently it is one of the few all tide ramps in the whole of the Kaipara.
The wharf is great for a walk down or just for a look around. There are some really quirky little houses there dotted around the waterfront, almost like an old fishing village you see in the magazines.
Looking across to Whakapirau
Looking north past Whakapirau
Just like in the travel magazines!
Close to the water
Dawn with Fog
Pahi Hall by the wharf
The camp is a Doc park with the staff being managed by a local committee and apparently it works well. There is an old Hotel which had its license transferred to the Paparoa pub in the 50’s. It is still in great shape but is now a private house. The camp has a dump stations and a recently renovated toilet and shower block.
A lovely spot which you could easily spend a few days at and run by some really nice people.
There was a good 3G Internet signal here but I forgot to speedtest it.
The forecast was fantastic for the best part of the next week. My thinking was I had to be near a nice beach and it had to be northwards. With the holiday weekend approaching, I thought I might be lucky getting a park at Bland Bay but thought, I’ll give it a go.
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After 50ks odd of winding road around the Whangaruru Bay, I arrived at the Bland Bay Camp. In the office was manager Wayne who couldn’t do enough for me and even though I’d just walked in off the street, made me very welcome and even found a waterfront site for the night. If I wanted to stay longer, I’d have to move one back which was fantastic.
I’d just plugged in Rafe, opened vents and settled things down and then went for a walk (5 steps to the beach) to get a piccy with my phone for Facebook.
No sooner had I posted it when several old colleagues from my days at the Herald as a photographer, reminded me to be on my best behaviour as another ex photographer Ross lived here. Several suggested I look him up and found the address. An hour later, I’d found Ross in his kitchen preparing Veges for his freezer. In his early 70’s, he’s a picture of health, fit as a buck rat living off his huge vege garden and the fish he catches in the bay and loving it. He’s just the same and it was great to see him.
I’d just got back to Rafe when a face popped in the door with a platter of Tuna with two sauces inviting me to try them out. This was Derek who I later had a drink with and his wife June by their bus further down the waterfront. A lovely couple who have been living aboard for 2 years or more. Derek was in the Army for 20 odd years and he knew a few people that people in my family knew so we had plenty to talk about. A great evening.
The next day I moved Rafe back a parking space and found myself next to Terry and Louise with their grandson Max in their Dethleffs Sunlight. I spent most the day nattering to them and lazing in the sun. I really wanted to go for a swim but with a cool onshore breeze and the water being so cold, couldn’t quite get there.. One day soon :-).
The Bland Bay tree which was struck by lightening recently and is now a shadow of its former self.
Yum .. friends of Dereks
The Dump Staion on the end of the toilet and shower block
The new Toilet and Shower block
Later in the afternoon there was a lot of excitement when Derek and his friends in a 26 foot odd runabout with half cabin had returned to the beach with what turned out to be a 149kg Marlin. Huge excitement and it was later put next to Derek’s bus and packed in ice for all to see. Amazing.
After another day with Fiona having finished work and she was going to drive up and join me. Shops or beach I asked her.. It didn’t matter she said so Wayne managed to squeeze us in for two more nights and she arrived later in the morning.
This camp really is spectacular. Right on the beach sheltered by another peninsula, it is just a lovely. Although several people asked me not to rave about this place as they wanted to keep it for themselves :-), it really is special. At $22 pp powered, in peak season with nice loos and showers ($1 shot), a dump station, UV treated bore water and a good internet signal, it doesn’t get much better.
There was nothing in my diary for a few days and Anniversary Weekend was coming up. Fiona had to work for three days so I was off. I thought if I could, I’d try and catch up with old friends Gary and Chris who were with Mark and Tina at Ruakaka.After checking that they were there, I was off.
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After arriving early in the afternoon, Mark and Gary arranged for a parking spot on Marks front lawn.
Mark and Tina are getting stuck into a house that they had bought that needs plenty of TLC and had some experts in the previous day to remove all their weather boards which had some asbestos in them. Mark and Gary were wrapping building paper all around the weatherboard less house to keep the weather out. I was just in time to help where I could but they’d pretty much done the worst of it by then.
Mark up top with Gary helping below
Gary pulling out more strapping
From the inside
On the lawn
It was Mark and Tina’s wedding Anniversay so we headed into McLeods Pizza Barn in Waipu for tea. The pizzas were fantastic and the McLeod beer is good too. The girls were knackered afterwards so the 3 of us headed into Rafe for some after dinner drinkies. Very pleasant and nice to catch up them all again.
Early the next day, the building inspector turned up and then a safety inspector. Both were happy with what was happening but I couldn’t get over the “dob in” factor of the neighbours. It’s great to be a concerned neighbour but I couldn’t help but feel that this was just trying to cause trouble. A needless waste of many peoples time.
Great to see their new house and that they’re really tearing into it.It’s just as well they’ve got a Motorhome they can stay in while they’re doing it up.