Tag Archives: Small Towns

Fun in the sun at Pauanui

With the Covid scare stopping our Anniversary weekend trip dead in its tracks, we headed off to Pauanui for the weekend to catch up with family and friends with our bikes on the back.

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Fantastic Beach

Its a great place for bikes as its all pretty flat and as most of the locals there use bikes to get around, they seem pretty tolerant and used to seeing them on the road.

We checked in at our favourite place for parking there, the Pauanui Sports Club. The Pauanui Club have been offering parking for NZMCA’rs for a few years now and doing a great job of it.

Looking good

The first day we were there, there was a knock at the door in the morning and it was our grandson Ayden who had biked around to say hello. We were later joined by his Dad, Alex and brother Liam.

Alex teeing off

The mini golf course next door was the place to be which was also busy with the long weekend. Granny Fiona went along too. 8 yr old Liam found a water trap within a few strokes of his club. As it was quite hot, he was in no hurry to get out either 🙂

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

We had been invited out to tea with one of Fiona’s old school friends Janette and her husband Evan. Always nice to see them so we were off on our bikes to their place for a great night.

Busy busy

The next day we spent meeting the neighbours. Paul and Ruth on one side from Auckland and Peter and Wendy from Tauranga on the other. Small world stuff too. It turns out I’d met one of Peter and Wendy’s good friends involved with the Motorhome industry who we met again later in the weekend. I also used to work with Paul’s brother in Auckland 30 plus years or so ago in the newspaper industry..

We took the boys to the village to get some lunch.

We finished off here by having fish and chips with the grandkids around at their place. A nice weekend.

I’ve been a great supporter of the Pauanui Club. They’ve been great supporters of the NZMCA and its members and provide a great facility.  It is run with little human intervention meaning, no booking, no sites are marked out.

Due to its popularity now, I think time has come for the sites to be marked out and a limit placed on the numbers like the NZMCA sites.

Over the weekend, we ended up having 14 vans in there with only half having some reasonable fire gaps between them.

An extra one out by the Airfield

The general thought here was that it would be a good idea that the club put some “below lawn mower height” pegs in to define some sites and make sure that everyone is kept safe. Cheap and easy and it can continue to be run as it is.

Busy busy busy

Its a fantastic place to stay with great people and long may it continue.

Nice to get away for the long weekend and catch up with everyone at a great spot.

Rafe’s Tracker map – Armada GPS

Big Motors, Big Sounds, Retro Caravans, Motorhomes at the Beach Hop!

One of those BIG events of the year which I reckon we should all do at least once. The 2020 Beach Hop was postponed from earlier in the year but it was just as popular as it always is.  Its a fun event and the fine people at Whangamata did well accommodating everyone as the place was literally jumping with people 🙂

One of our neighbours towed his Rolls Royce behind his Motorhome
Complete with a machine gun!

There were 1700 registered (for the show) vehicles plus they think about that again of unregistered owners of vehicles who turned up just to enjoy the fun.

Rafe in line

I parked on the Whangamata School footy field along with nearly 300 other Motorhomers and a whole lot of Retro Caravans. At $75 for three nights each van, it makes a great donation to the school of about $14k which replaces a lot of cake stalls 🙂

The Retro Caravans – Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

I managed to get to see some old friends who I haven’t seen for a long time. They’re both ex newspaper Photographers who have retired here now and love it.

Another neighbour with his Ford
Heading out

I met John who used to work at the Christchurch Press and Star, and his wife Cheryl at their favorite coffee shop in the centre of town. Very hard to hear anything with the big V8’s running past but it was really nice to see them. I also caught up with Paul who I used to work at the Herald with. We met at the Whangamata Club which is a neat place and just down the road from the school.. Paul is a Caravanner now so great to see him too.

Just Cruising – Click on the Gallery below to enlarge

Without a doubt the Grand Parade was one of the big events of the weekend and it went forever width the sheer numbers of cars. Quite a few woman made the most of the occasion and were dressed up in their bebop skirts and looked amazing.

Grand Parade and later – Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

Amongst the cars popped out a Morris 1000 with a half done paint job which got a few smiles. Most of us some where in our histories have had one of those or knew someone with one.

The Morris 1000

After enjoying a good lunch in a town café with an elevated deck for a view of the street, I wandered back and listened to one of the many bands playing.

There was one called Boom Boom Deluxe appropriately singing Rockabilly music and doing it really well. The female lead singer / double bass player, Hettie La Bomb, could really belt out the sound and looked the part too.

Hettie La Bomb on her Bass
Hettie La Bomb

One of the things I enjoyed this time was watching people reactions to the cars and the event.

Specialist French vintage Models, Dollykitten and Marion

A lot of fun and after several years of trying to get here but other things getting it the way, I’m pleased I came. Neat place, I met some nice people and lots of action.

The big picture – Rafe’s Tracker map to Whangamata – Armada GPS
Rafe’s Tracker map to the school – Armada GPS

Mac and Cheese at Rangiriri

This is THE place for a stop for lunch with a Motorhome. Easy parking right over the road, good service and fantastic food.

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We were heading south from Auckland and it so often happens, it was right on lunch time and we both decided it was time to eat.

We have stopped at this Hotel before and discovered the standard of food to be above and beyond so we were looking forward to lunch.

Easy parking

Within minutes of being in there, Fiona was on the end of a big G&T and I had a glass of Chardy and we were waiting for our electronic beeper to do its thing.

Fiona at the bar

The pub was built in 1904, partially burnt down and rebuilt in 1905 and given that the Maori wars only finished 35 years or so before that, it was one of the early bigger buildings in the Waikato area.

The river flooded early this century and virtually surrounded the pub in water.

The big flood at the turn of the century – Weekly News Photo

The beeper went off and Fiona got the meals. I had an amazing Macaroni Cheese “Mac and Cheese” on the menu for $13 which was very filling and was very tasty.

Yum ! Mac N Chees !

We had a quick look around and carried on with our journey south.

There is an old Maori Wars Cemetery right opposite which is also worth a look at.

One to remember for both the quality of the food, the service, the price, the ambience and the easy parking 🙂

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Rangiriri Hotel – Armada GPS

A Kauri treat

Long Bay Holiday Park with the Kauri’s behind

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On my second day at Long Bay Holiday Park in Coromandel, I discovered the track to get up to the Kauri grove up behind the bay.

One big tree

There is a boot washing station to prevent Kauri Dieback getting into the forest but its an easy walk in. Its mostly uphill going in and I found myself stopping a few times just to catch my breath (must be getting old or unfit) but it is well worth the effort.

The walk up

There is one massive tree that I could see, and a whole lot of smaller but really tall trees and a couple of areas where you can sit and take it all in. Its a magic spot just like the rest of the bay.

The Grove at the top with the seating area

I sat up there for about half an hour before walking back down to the Holiday Park in the bay.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

I’ve never been one for long walks or studying trees but this is well worth seeing.

That’s a big tree

What a fantastic place to stay

There are few places in the world that you can stay at in a Motorhome that would beat Long Bay Holiday park.

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The Beach

In the off season, this is a camp saver park too. Leanne is the very friendly camp manager and also runs the well stocked shop. Everything is very easy and laid back.

Just lovely

I was lucky to have 2 out of my three nights here with just brilliant sunshine and made the most of it by walking around to the next beach called Tucks Bay.  Its an easy 10 minute walk around a coastal track which is well worth doing. There is also a gigantic Kauri tree and Kauri glade which is worth a look too.

Tucks Bay
Coming back from Tucks Bay

But its just a neat spot. You can also hire boats or kayaks and go for a paddle around. There are 65 powered sites and three onsite caravans as well.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

I went for a walk and met some of the neighbours. It is within walking distance rom Coromandel town (about 3 k’s) but probably a better bike ride.

A must do if you in the area. I’ll be back soon 🙂

Coromandel NZMCA park

It has been a few years since I was last in Coromandel town and that is partly due to meeting an oncoming logging truck on a blind bend a few years ago. He was going for it and how we didn’t connect or me disappearing into the tide, I still to this day do not know! Scary… Thankfully it looks as though they have done quite a bit of upgrading work to the coast road and it looks heaps better.

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Great view from the top.

It’s a great run up the coast and getting up to stop at the top lookout just before Manaia is always a treat for the eyes.

The Coromandel NZMCA park was famous for being wet and everybody crowding onto a small sealed area. Well.. no more. The whole area is gravel and it looks fantastic.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

One of the nice things about this park is its location right in the middle of town. With the Coromandel Smokehouse right in front and a couple of pubs and the shops within easy walking distance.. what a spot!

Look at all that Gravel

Convoy in Russell

Leaving Rawene early, I headed out through quite thick fog towards Russell. “The Maui Convoy” was due back today from a quick 24 hr excursion through Manganui, staying overnight at the Hihi Holiday Park which they all raved about so I must do a trip up there sometime soon.

The guys on the ferry did a great job on trying to get Rafe over to Russell without scraping the back but getting off was a big long scraping metal sound…. horrible but there was no damage.. just a cleaning of some dirt off the chassis.

My sideways park up the top

Once I was happy there was no harm done, I set off to Russell and checked in at the Top 10 who are doing quite a good off season rate if you give them a few days notice.

Great view.. taken the next morning.

The parks are a bit smaller but they found one that suited Rafe’s nearly 8 metres and the view was spectacular. All the parks have a grey water waste gully trap and everything is absolutely in tip top order.

I plugged in, opened some hatches for some fresh air and set off into the town which is just a few minutes walk. Its a special place here with the History and the old buildings.

Looking across towards Paihia

I wasn’t long down there when one in the convoy Grant rang to announce his arrival and was on his way down to set up a tennis game. All those in the convoy are members of the Ngataringa Tennis Club in Devonport.

Grant .. all concentration

So we sat in the plastic chairs (the Grandstand) on the court for a Wimbledon experience 🙂

The fans In the Grandstand

I didn’t catch who the winners were but we were then off to the Duke of Marlborough to watch the rugby being played at Eden Park. Great game..

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

One of the drivers Malcolm who was travelling with his wife Bonny is a real gem on the piano. They live in Whitianga. Malcolm found a grand piano in the bar and off he went. Everybody was hugely impressed and with a few glasses of wine behind us, it was a whole lot of fun !

We were all starting to get a bit hungry and there was no food left at the Duke so we adjourned to the Sportfishing club next door where they whipped up some fantastic meals for us.

The Duke !

This was the last day of the Convoy. All the vans had to be handed in at 2;30pm in Mangere the next day!

Grant off for a shower

A bit of pool playing and then we walked back to the Holiday Park.

A great day and a lovely town. Coming here for just one day as we did is not a very clever idea, I’ll have to come back for more 🙂

Rafe’s tracker map to Russell

Those lovely old Buildings

There is something about Dargaville

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The famous bridge behind the band rotunda

It has a special feel to it. Maybe the old houses and the history but it definitely has a vibe all of its own.

Plenty of room

Having a great NZMCA park here so close to town is great too and it is full of character just like the town with the old buildings.

The main street of Dargaville

I was last here just after it was first opened and I think I commented then what a special place it was.

Now there is fresh water and I noticed from around by the band rotunda that there is a seat out on the point off the end of the park.

The special NZMCA seat on the point

A great effort from those involved in putting this park together as it is definitely one that stands out!

This has grown !

Historic Rawene

This is an amazing little town with some of it built out over the water.

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The supermarket !

This is where the car ferry leaves for Kohukohu on the northern shores of the Hokianga Harbour.

While the convoy was doing the tourist thing at Opononi, I headed off and got checked in at the Rawene Holiday park which is right up on the top of the hill. Its about a 20 minute walk down to the town and bit longer to get back 🙂

Parked with a great view

I got Rafe settled and headed off down to the township to have a look around. I found a café and sat down in the sun with a coffee while I waited for the “Convoy”. About 20 minutes or so later, they rolled in one by one.

Most of the crew.. L to R Grant, Paul, Pete(standing), Malcolm (crouched in front), Craig, Cathy and Bonnie.
and theyre off.

Its a fascinating town with the supermarket and several shops all built on piles over the water.

On the corner

As the mid day ferry arrived, they all boarded and were off.  After getting a few piccies around the town, I headed off back to the camp and had a quiet time listening to some music.

Amazing place and loaded with history.

Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow

About 7pm, 3 Motorhomes turned up from the ferry and maneuvered their way around me to park in. It all seemed quite close but when I saw it in the morning, I could get out easily. It would have been awkward with any more. I think this is definitely a 7 metre limit camp unless there is no one else there.

The view
Some of the unusual cabins

A really nice helpful crew with some amazing quite unusual looking cabins and great view down the Hokianga from the parking area. The loos, showers and toilets are really good and close to the parking.

Rafe’s tracker map to Rawene

Sandhills at Opononi

The Maui convoy arrived in Dargaville at about 4pm at the Dargaville Countdown supermarket. There were provisions to be bought and then we were headed together to Opononi.

We all convened in a street opposite the supermarket and then set off towards Opononi. They were going to stop in and check out Kai Iwi lakes and then head on up through the Waipoua Forest.

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From the top of the Hill looking out to the entrance to Hokianga Harbour

Its a twisty windy 80 odd k’s but quite a neat drive and after stopping up at the top of the hill of Omapere to get some piccies. I rocked on to the Opononi Beach Holiday Park.

Looking down to Omapere

The park is made up of terraced parking areas with some cabins as well all looking over the lovely sandhills at the entrance of the Hokianga harbour. Great views.

Out to the heads

I checked in casually mentioning that there were 5 Maui campervans about half an hour behind me !

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

As they’ve had so much rain, we were to park on the road along the top terrace instead of in the park “otherwise we’d be there there for weeks”! So I was pleased about that.

Looking up at the road.

This campground had some awful reviews on the app but to get here and dealing with the owners who were fantastic, you would think you were at another Motorcamp.. so don’t believe the reviews.

Some cabins too

The troops turned up in the Maui vans just as it was getting dark and we were all parked one behind the other on the road with extension cords out for the power.

The crew arrives. Check out the view
The convoy arrives!

Rafe was host to a bit of Happy Hour before we all walked about 100 metres around the corner to the Opononi hotel for tea and a cold one as you do.

Great Harbour

A lovely spot and I imagine it would be great in Summer.

Breakfast time between the vans

In the morning we all got under way and headed to Rawene just a few k’s along the road so they could get the ferry further north.

Rafe’s tracker map to Opononi