Tag Archives: Northland

Staying with the Kiwis

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.

The Static Engine Club

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.

The Kauri Railway Station

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.

Great parking for 4 on a concrete pad with power and toilets too.

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.

Clarke Homestead with the Jane Mander Study

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 Jane Mander Study

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.

The Oruati Chapel

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.

Inside the Oruati Chapel. Made from one Kauri log in 1859!

The old Kauri Railway Station along with a separate reduced scale railway along with Riponui Pah school built in 1898. All really good stuff.

Looking out over the Clarke Homestead to Whangarei

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.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

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 !

Cultural Parking!

Well worth seeing and doing and great parking.. Go there, they need your support ūüôā

The Netspeed Speedtest for here (old Router)
Download: 8.43 Mbps
Upload: 7.47 Mbps
Ping: 55 ms

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Top Parking at Tokerau

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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Nice gardening

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.

The view from the top.

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.

Easy parking

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 ūüôā

Looking out from Karikari Estate

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.

Click on the Gallery for a Slideshow

A great place to stay in the Far North with some lovely hosts.

Rafe’s track to Tokerau

Tucked Away

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 ūüôā It was nice to catch up and I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.

Click on the Images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

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.

Right on the water

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.

Dusty with the older pic and the plan behind

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 !

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.

Beam me up laundry!

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
Upload: 4.03 Mbps
Ping: 59 ms

Rafe’s Track to this site

How I got there, you can see where I turned around to catch up with Terry.

The Wagon Train Park

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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Taken the next morning when the sun came out

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.

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.

This would be great in summer

You’ll find it just before the turnoff to Kerikeri. It is well worth checking out for a night or two.

The Netspeed Speedtest for this site.. its awful!..
Download: 2.28 Mbps
Upload: 2.37 Mbps
Ping: 60 ms

Rafe’s Tracker map

Off to Kerikeri

Historical Parking with a View

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!

Click on the images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

Dargaville from the Museum

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.

Museum parking

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.

Its a great wee town Dargaville, lots to see and plenty of places to stay.

One of the murals on the wall of the Dargaville Museum

This would be one of the premo places to park for a night or two and the Museum is a must do too.

Peace and Quiet

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.

Click on the Images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

Looking down from up the road.

Pahi is about 15 minutes off the main highway through to Dargaville. It is at the end of a peninsula south of Paparoa.

A local anti Fouling his boat

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.

All tide ramp

Apparently it is one of the few all tide ramps in the whole of the Kaipara.

Just like in the travel magazines!

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.

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.

Looking across to Whakapirau

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.

Rafe’s Track to Pahi



In the Sun!

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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Bland Bay
Bland Bay

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.

Rafe with the best seat in the house
Rafe with the best seat in the house

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.¬†

The Office and shop
The Office and shop

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.

Derek and Judy's bus Eagle Rock further along the beachfront
Derek and Judy’s bus Eagle Rock further along the beachfront

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.¬†

First Thing.. well worth getting up for :-)
First Thing.. well worth getting up for ūüôā

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 :-).¬†

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.

The kids from around the camp admiring the Marlin
The kids from around the camp admiring the Marlin

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.¬†

Bland BayThis 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.Bland Bay

One more day in paradise before we move on!

The Netspeed Speed test
Download: 18.16 Mbps
Upload: 4.71 Mbps
Ping: 56 ms

Rafes Track to Bland Bay

Bland Bay
Bland Bay

Catching up

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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Motorhomes and cars everywhere you look
Motorhomes and cars everywhere you look

After arriving early in the afternoon, Mark and Gary arranged for a parking spot on Marks front lawn.

Their House
Their House

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.

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.

Tina and Chris keeping an eye on things
Tina and Chris keeping an eye on things

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.

See¬† Mark and Tina’s ¬†Motorhome here and¬†Gary and Chris’s¬†Motorhome here.

Lunch and Coffee at Kaiwaka

We were on our way back to Auckland and were looking for somewhere to stop for lunch on the way.  Rob, Helen and Chloe were about 5 minutes behind us as we came down from the Brynderwyn Hills so the pressure was on.. finding somewhere!

kaiwakaJust before we came into Kaiwaka, Fiona spotted a nice little rest area off to the right. It was after the Motel complex but before the bridge into Kaiwaka.  We were too far past it to turn so we went into Kaiwaka to turn around and went back to it.

Just as we were turning into it, we spotted the Tracker coming down the hill ahead of us so they knew where we were.

The Tracker and Rafe
The Tracker and Rafe

We settled down in a dry hard area and got ready for lunch.

kaiwakaThere is a picnic table there and its all beside what looks like a tributary river to the Kaipara Harbour.

The river to the Kaipara
The river to the Kaipara

A nice wee spot and in a handy position. There is a bit of a hump at the entrance so for those with a big overhang, a diagonal crossing is wise. If you’re travelling north, Just after the bridge on the left before you get to the Motel complex.

At the Pub

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.

The pub carpark
The pub carpark

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.

In front of the pub
In front of the pub

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!

Don’t forget to click on images for hi res or a slideshow

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.

I love carparks like this. Behind Bennetts Chocolate Factory
I love carparks like this. Behind Bennetts Chocolate Factory

After a cuppa at Bennetts chocolate factory café and some chocolate. we went for a wander around the shops in Mangawhai.

Mangawhai Estuary
Mangawhai Estuary

A neat little town and not too far from Auckland.