Tag Archives: Small Towns

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

Click on an Image to Enlarge

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.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

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.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

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

Paradise at Ruakaka

From the moment I stepped out of Rafe at Ruakaka Holiday Park, everything about this place is HUGE. There are more than 260 powered sites and the camp is spread out over 13 hectares. The camp is divided into several regions each having their own ablution blocks.

The land that it sits on and its layout and the views are absolutely sensational.  Everywhere I looked I could see nice images.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

My view

It also is a participant in the NZMCA’s Camp saver program and owner Anne-Marie says it is working well for them. They also do off peak weekly stays too.

On the waterfront

I was interested to see their information sheet included how to park within your site to ensure that everyone has 3 metres separation. I think this is good news as many Holiday Parks  parking is far to close for fire safety.

Great parking

I was a bit lucky to get one of the waterfront sites facing out to Marsden Point and Bream Head even though it was pretty exposed to the easterly nasties that came through, it was really nice to wake up to a great view when the weather played the game.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The weather wasn’t that flash with an amazing thunder and lightning storm coming through with showers before and after but there was enough fine weather to get some nice images.

Old friends Mark, Tina, Gary and Chris all live around the corner in Ruakaka beach so it a good opportunity to pop in and see them too.

And just around the corner

This campground though has it all.. the views and the sites are spectacular with great facilities.

Ruakaka Beach is just down the road and there is a Bird Sanctuary to walk through too.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Ruakaka

Opal Springs Hot Pools

As I’ve got older I’ve noticed how I can’t do the big marathon drives I used to do but I suppose some of this has to do with the fact that I’m now driving a 4 plus ton Motorhome, not a Mini or something.

Click on an Image to enlarge it

Some of their Caravans in the fog!

Coming back for our last night away from our post Covid few days away from Whakatane, I decided I’d had enough just as I descended down the Tauranga Kaimai road and that Coffee lounge in Matamata never looked better 🙂  We sat down to a lovely all day Eggs Benny and it was just lovely washed down with some great coffee.

Cabins at the back, motorhome parking and pools down below.. in the fog!

After that, it was off to a place I’ve been to once before just out of town called Opal Springs.

Amazing Fog

They have plenty of powered and non powered sites along with some cabins and they also do a discount for NZMCA’rs.

That pesky Fog

We stopped in and were met by Vanessa who remembered me from a couple of years ago and pointed us in the right direction. Its a great setup with the powered sites all up on a plateau overlooking the pools down below.

It wasn’t long after we arrived, we were off down to the pools where we met a couple from Orewa who were having a Covid breakaway too.

There are several pools with a really hot Private Pool and a Spa as well.  Nice spot, nice people, nice and quiet with great facilities and a really reasonable price.

Rafe’s Track to Opal Springs

Whakatane River

Whakatane .. its great to be here..

It’s been a wee while  since either of us have been in this part of the country so I was really looking forward to checking it out.

Click on any Image to enlarge it.

The Awakeri Campground was great with the pool too but we were leaving that behind.. we arrived in Whakatane later in the morning and checked in and settled down.

Biking past the campground

This was a very different camp from Awakeri where the sites were a lot smaller but it was only $20 a night with power and had everything you would ever want in a fantastic location.

Easy Parking

Whakatane Holiday Park is pretty much right in the centre of town on the edge of the river, protected by a raised stop bank with a walking track on top which the locals seem to really enjoy.

Close by the town
The walking track around to the town

The track goes right into town and it is only 5 minutes away.  All the White Island boat services and Tourist area is based on the edge of the river just along from the park. There is also the Gardens and a model train and playground set up there too.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

We enjoyed a good look through the shops and a cuppa in one of the coffee shops and then headed back to Rafe.

Dusk with the walkers

Later in the day, we met David and Michelle who were visiting in their near new Dethleffs Trend motorhome. This is their first motorhome and they were really enjoying it. Nice people and they popped over later for a drink. It was really nice to see them.

Rafe’s Tracker trail to the camp at Whakatane

Nice spot and really handy and great value with the Camp saver.

Karangahake History

This was first posted in Feb 2016 .. a special repost for lockdown!

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

This was first posted in Feb 2016 .. a special repost for lockdown!

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 Karangahake 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.

The Show must go on

This was first posted in Feb 2016 .. a special repost for lockdown!

After the torrential rain on Saturday morning, the organisers of the Rotoiti Classic boats decided to postpone it until Sunday.

For the last few years, Alan and I have jumped into Rafe and come down to see the great spectacle that is the Rotoiti Classic Boats Parade. For the last few years, we have also provided images to the society for their annual calendar. They’re a really friendly bunch and we’ve made some really good friendships with quite a few of them.

We left the camp early and after a quick breakfast, we took Rafe around to the top of the “viewing platform” which is a park and parking area just along the road from Okere Falls Store.

Rotoiti
Rafe overseeing things

We were welcomed by commodore Grant and past commodore Fraser down by the water and offered several options for possies to help with pictures and they couldn’t have been more helpful.

The crowd enjoying the Parade. Commentary boat on the right
The crowd enjoying the Parade. Commentary boat on the right

Alan took his from the back of the commentary boat while I set up in my nice comfy deck chair on the grass and sat right by the waters edge and shot from there.

Rotoiti
During the parade.. Alan on the back of the boat on the right.

Several hundred people materialised from everywhere quite quickly and made themselves comfortable on the grass.

Rotoiti

At 10:30, the whistle sounded and the first boats started the parade. From Rowing boats right through to big launches. All meticulously maintained and most with oodles of history.

As always, click on the images to see them in hi res and the slideshow below. 

A great spectacle. A nice weekend with some great people.

After the parade finished, the boats all headed over to the other side of the lake and enjoyed their annual picnic on the beach.
We headed for home after stopping briefly at Tirau for lunch.