Tag Archives: Small Towns

You know you’re on the West Coast When..

You’ve got black sand between your toes and at the Kopua Raglan Motorcamp right on the beach, there is plenty of that.

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The Black Sand

We’ve stayed here a few times now and one of the things that I really noticed this time is the recently done up showers and toilets. The pressure in the showers is so good, you almost don’t need soap.. let the water do its thing.. amazing.

Chess anyone?

When you check in, you get a swipe card which you use for both the automatic gates and the facilities. A good system and it worked well. There is a $10 bond which you get back as you leave after returning the card.

Lots of stripes

The camp is on a peninsula of sand basically so it there were no worries with the awful forecast of heavy rain. We knew we’d be fine on the well drained sand. It is almost completely surrounded by water but there is a well lit footbridge connecting it to the town with an easy walk in to the cafes and shops.

The Bridge to Raglan

There are more than 200 powered sites with quite a few permanent caravans and they also have Cabins that can be rented too.

The Fish and Chip shop on the edge of the camp and apparently they’re pretty good.

I heard someone comment that they thought it was a bit expensive but at $86 for two nights for two nights with power and all the new facilities with the NZMCA discount, I thought that was very reasonable.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

We spent a couple of really nice nights there. Yes it rained and it blew but nothing like the forecast said. Over the two days there with friends, Dianne and Gary from Taupo and Jonas and Irene from Auckland, we had several walks into town for a look around the shops and an great meal at one of their restaurants.

The Beach

Very easy accomodation, friendly people, great facilities and a really interesting town.

Rafe, The Niesmann and Jonas’s Trend

Before you ask, No Dogs but there is some free Wifi!

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Rafe’s Tracker to the Camp

A Special little town called Raglan

After a few weeks of being housebound and itching to get away, our friend Dianne in Taupo arranged a get together in Raglan.

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Jonas trying out a surfboard on a Mural

Raglan was deemed to be reasonably easy for everyone and a pleasant place to be. There were going to be three Motorhomes, Us in Rafe, Gary and Dianne in their Niesmann and Bichoff and Jonas and Irene with a Dethleffs Trend McRent Motorhome from their fleet.

One of the amazing shops

The weather forecast was a shocker with high winds and heavy rain forecast but when has that ever stopped us before 🙂 The Classic Yacht Association had already cancelled their annual Christmas hooley just based on the forecast a few days before !

At the campground

After staying a night with Alex and Sarah and the grandies, we set off early to the dump station at Papakura and then Raglan stopping briefly at the Countdown supermarket in Huntly for a few forgotten items.

We arrived at Raglan Kopua Holiday Park around lunch time and after parking Rafe, plugging in and opening some vents, we had a quick lunch and then set off to Raglan township across the bridge for a look around.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

At this stage we pretty much had a blue sky but the wind was blowing and it was threatening.

Raglan really is a seriously nice town full of very friendly people. The choice for cafe’s is fantastic and there seems to be a real Hippy/Surfy culture which you can see everywhere.

After an hour or so, we headed back over the foot bridge connecting the Motorcamp to the town and arrived back just in time to see Gary and Dianne arrive from Taupo.

The famous Hotel

The next morning we were joined by Jonas and Irene and had a another trip into the village for another look around and after an afternoon of chatting, cups of coffee, a few glasses of wine and lots of laughs, we headed back in for a meal in one of the towns fine restaurants.

Last time we were here a few years ago, we walked right around the foreshore to the wharf where there is an amazing fish and chip shop and some more great shopping.

One of the unusual shops

A fantastic town with an amazing atmosphere and I’m looking forward to going back sometime soon.

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Rafe’s Tracker map to Raglan

Simpsons Beach

A few k’s north of Whitianga is the famous Simpsons Beach.

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It is one of my all time favorite spots to stay being right on the beach and with pretty much all weather parking on grass and its huge.

It has been a while since we’ve been here so I never miss an opportunity. It is $10 per van per night.

A stunning part of the world

There is a cassette only dump station which is connected to a Septic tank which I’ve never used but plenty do and there is potable water too. I waited until I went back through Whitianga and used that Dump Station.

How good is this!

I rocked up to the “Office” door and Margaret popped her head around the door with the usual smiley face she has. A really nice lady and its amazing that she pretty much runs this now on her own now.

well drained sandy grass

All the proceeds from Camping are sent to the Charity of the moment. Last time we were here it was St Johns in Whitianga.

I met Dave and Helen who were in their Caravan from Whangamata who were with their friends who were next to us. Dave is a Self Containment officer so it was really interesting talking to him about Motorhome and Caravan things.

There was also a really nice guy from Nelson staying there called Bim who is travelling around the North Island with his friend in his Motorhome with a boat. With the wind blowing Dogs off Chains that day, neither Dave or Bim were keen to battle the elements out in the bay in their boats.

Whitianga around the headland in the distance

I went for a couple of walks along the beach and got some updated images.. Its a sensational place to stay and its a place you never get sick of.

See Rafe’s tracker map below for the location.

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A Reunion of sorts

Friends Gary and Dianne have just spent 3 months Motorhoming around France and a Mediterranean Cruise so it was good to be able to catch up with them and hear all their news. We last saw them  well over 6 months or so. We arranged to meet “half way” between Taupo and Auckland and that was Waihi Beach 🙂

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Rafe at Waihi beach NZMCA after we arrived.

Several weekends ago, the grandsons Ayden and Liam came to stay the night with us. Liam left his comfy Bunbun (soft toy rabbit) behind so we needed to stop in at their place in Ardmore on the way and drop them off. We haven’t seen son and daughter in law Alex and Sarah much lately so it was nice to see them for the night.

We set off for Waihi Beach NZMCA park early the next morning and stopped at Ngatea for a Latte, as you do and while sitting in the sun, I received a call from Tracey to say she would highly likely have an offer for our house by the following morning… WOW .. after the best part of a year in trying to sell it.

So with that start to the day, we were off fizzing through the Karangahake Gorge and into Waihi Beach.

Must be Dethleffs corner!

I expected the NZMCA park to pretty full but there was only a hand full of caravans and Motorhomes scattered around the outside when we arrived. The weather was stunning so we sat outside and had cups of tea until Gary and Dianne arrived in the Neismann & Bischoff.

Cups of Coffee with the sun beating down

More phone calls arrived and with confirmation that an offer was coming and what it was, we knew we had something to celebrate 🙂 .. and celebrate we did. Fiona even had two bottles of cider !!
It was really nice to hear some of the highlights of Gary and Diannes trip and some of the places they stayed at in France and good to catch up too.

Dusk at the Waihi Beach NZMCA park

In the morning, we spent most of the morning with phone calls and sending and receiving documents and by late afternoon, it was in the bag! A great day..SOLD .. cash unconditional too!

Gary, Fiona and Dianne about to head back to our bikes from the shops.

The next day.. more fine weather and we set off on the bikes into Waihi Beach shops to get some groceries from the 4 square which is about 1 k away. An easy flat ride.

Another nice day in the sun. Later that day Robin and Linda who recently sold their house in Waihi and bought a Morelo that they’re now living in, popped in to say hi and later joined us for a drink. Really nice to see them too.

L to R, Gary, Fiona, Dianne, Linda and Robin with the N&B, Morelo and Rafe behind.

After they went, Gary and I walked down the road to the local Fish and Chip shop to hunt and forage for tea and the girls were very happy with the result.. complete with Oysters and Scallops 🙂

The NZMCA park is a great addition to the park network and is very hand to the beach, shops and there is a Cafe right next door too, and don’t forget the Fish and Chips!

A neat weekend and great to see everyone.

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A Park with a view.

Kevin and Melissa Wallace escaped from Auckland about 15 years ago and bought their piece of paradise in Port Albert not long after.

Looking over towards Port Albert

The house along with a huge orchard sit on the top of a ridge overlooking the back of Port Albert and there’s a peek of the Kaipara too.

Great parking

Fiona and I arrived in Rafe and keen to check it all out, were there when Kevin popped in and was very happy to show us around and we were invited to check out the orchard on the other side of the house.

Fruit for Africa

After plugging Rafe in and opening some vents, I went for a wander to see what was what.

Part of the Orchard

There is a fantastic shower with a loo, a dump station and UV treated water. It was all there.

We had a great night there and all for $20 for us both.

In the morning, Kevin popped in with some Avocados and a Lemon which was great. Fantastic hosts sharing their lovely place by the Kaipara.

If you’re heading to Port Albert and go about 4k’s past the turnoff, you’ll find it on your left or on the App.

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Fulltimers finally land.

After 3 years or so off full time Motorhoming, Gary and Chris  are back in their Ruakaka bach after having it rented out while they were away. They’re still in their Motorhome outside though while they do a virtual rebuild along with huge changes and additions for their retirement.

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Outside

Gary and Chris were old boatie mates and we used to spend most weekends and Christmas holidays in the Hauraki Gulf when we had our old Whalechaser Rorqual. They had a lovely old classic sedan called Nau Mai. There were many happy moments and we had a lot of fun.

Gary on the nailgun

After selling up in Devonport and spending 5 years or so in Ranfurly, for a change of scene and direction running a B&B, they then bought their first Motorhome, an ex CI Munro renter on a Mitzi Canter base. They later upgraded this to a newer 6 berth on a Mitzi Fuso which is what they have now.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

The house is looking fantastic and is very different to how it was.

We popped up a week or so ago to see how theyre going and theyre nearly up to gibbing after huge changes and the place looks fantastic. New Aluminium Joinery and newly cladded and with a very different layout, its looking very sharp. We’re going up to help them do some painting soon.

Chris with the plans of the Kitchen

Looking Good Guys and looking forward to catching up soon with brushes..!

The Control Gates at Aratiatia

On the way to the National Equestrian centre where we were to stay for the night, there is a bridge and dam that is crossed which crosses the Aratiatia Control Gates.

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Waiting for the start with the gates behind

Every now and then, they open the gates to let the water head down the Waikato river. It is spectacular and there are always good crowds there to see it happen.

Before

The rush of water is amazing and the area below the bridge transforms from empty to full with millions of litres of water in minutes.

Nearly full

There is good parking there for Motorhomes and Caravans and while we were there, there was a visit from the Huka Falls Jetboat.

The Huka Falls jet above the gates

We quietly queued up and waited for the sirens and then the rush of water.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow of the stages

An amazing spectacle and you can check with the Taupo visitors centre for opening times.

After the action, we moved on up to the Equestrian Centre for the night.. another favorite place.

Toilets, Showers and rubbish right opposite

The prices have changed and are now $5 per person plus $5 for power. This includes access to a toilet and shower. A good place to stop for a night.

Launch of the Books – Free Download!

Wow.. what a week ..

The last 2 of our Bugger it We Are Off series books were launched last week.  All four are now on Amazon as Kindles EBooks.

To celebrate this, I’ve got the Napier Art deco book available for free for the next 4 days from today (US time) – Tomorrow NZ Time

From 1st August (US time), this book will be available for free for 5 days.  …..Click here

I’ve got them available in the Epub format as well for Ipads but haven’t got a Mac which you need to upload to the iTunes store.. I’ll find a way!

These publications are all based on this Blog.
I’m not expecting them to be best sellers but if someone out there finds a couple of things of interest in there, it was worth doing.

The blurb below is copied from the OUR Books page.

As a Photojournalist of some 25 plus years and a Commercial Photographer for another 20, these books are all about the images. We went to some amazing places giving me the opportunity to get some great images.

Bugger it we are off to the Pinnacles in a convoy is about meeting Motorhome friends in Taupo NZ (central North Island) and heading in our three Motorhomes down to the Pinnacles at the bottom of the North Island.

We travel through the Hawkes Bay wine region on the way, go to a UB40 concert, survive a raging storm and enjoy a great meal in an old style Country Lodge. Lots of fun and some great images.

Bugger it we are off to Europe in an Old Hymer is based on our two week trip to the UK to pick up an old Classic Hymer Motorhome and then following our Motorhome friends through the Chunnel and over 5 weeks explore central Europe with bikes.

There were lots of adventures and lots of laughs. A truly memorable experience.

Bugger it we are off to the South Island of NZ is about our three month trip in our own Dethleffs Globe 4 around the beautiful South Island of New Zealand.

We met lots of neat people, caught up with some friends and relatives, stayed in some amazing places and had a great time.

To see more about these books and links to buy, see our Book Page

A & P Parking at Pukekohe

A new addition to the NZMCA clubs network is the Franklin A&P society in Pukekohe.

Click on an image for Hi Res

Plenty of room

I popped in and their parking is tucked in behind the Saleyards not far from the Racetrack.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

On arrival I popped in to the office where I met a very friendly Jannine who showed me where everything was. There are toilets, they allow Dogs on leads and there is oodles of parking with about 10 powered sites. The powered sites are $12 a night and are tucked in with the partial cover of some trees and protected behind some gates.

Smiling Jannine by the parking

It is all very secure and a neat place to stay.

Rafe in a park. Its probably better diagonally

Jannine is doing a deal for the V8’s and being right next door is the perfect location for the event. Its also a few minutes walk into Pukekohe’s main village.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Parked next to the 1st Hole

One of the great surprises from a wee jaunt around the Waikato has been the discovery of the Ngaruawahia Golf Club.

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A late player at dusk

I phoned Lyn from 50 odd k’s away to make sure that they had space and were open and was bowled over by Lynn’s happy voice on the other end of the phone. It couldn’t have been easier.

30 minutes or so later, I was being shown  a level patch of solid grass nicely protected by a few trees with 3 powered boxes (4 sockets on each) and a picnic table nicely positioned away from the general parking area. It was heavenly!..

At $15 a night per van with power, with the bar handy in the newish clubhouse with toilets and showers available during the day, its fantastic parking.

Nice new building

After settling Rafe down and plugging in, one of my first stops was upstairs to the bar where Lynn was helping out.

Lynn at the bar

I met a couple of really friendly locals there who had just finished 18 holes and were enjoying a couple of beers. They lived and worked in Hamilton which seems to be where a lot of the membership and bars patrons came from but what a nice crowd.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

Lynn showed me where the walking / bike trail is to the Ngaruawahia township along the river which I later walked some of the way along. There is a huge brand new housing subdivision right next door with some amazing houses. I stopped halfway as it started raining and headed back to Rafe but what a lovely spot.

The historic old pub on the corner

A nice place to park with some friendly faces in a nice town.

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