Tag Archives: Special events

A Bike ride to Wedderburn

We were staying at the NZMCA park at Ranfurly which is huge and virtually right in the middle of town. There is a dump station right next door along with recycling.

On our first night there, we met up again with David and Therese from Papamoa who we bumped into while we were looking at Ophir. It was nice to see them again.

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The NZMCA Park. Dave and Therese’s caravan on the left. Rafe on the right.

The next day saw an excellent day for weather, little wind, about 25C and we were ready to go. My old mate Gary who used to live here for a few years with his wife Chris, had recommended that we head up to Wedderburn as its only 9k’s and although its a slight uphil run all the way, we would love coming back after a beer at the Wedderburn pub 🙂

Starting off at Ranfurly Railway Station

Sounded like a great idea to me! Gary and Chris moved down here a few years ago and setup a B&B just on the outskirts of the town but have now moved to the warmer climes of Ruakaka to be closer to their adult children.

We left the Ranfurly Railway Station right on 10am and off we went. It was really easy riding for most of the way. The only impediment in some parts was watching places where there was extra gravel that could slip under the wheels but the surface generally was easy.

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There are a couple of huts along the way for a breather along with historical information. One has a loo slightly off in the trees but its there !

Fiona heading for Wedderburn

I didn’t look at the watch when we arrived but it was lunchtime so after some water and a cup of coffee in the pub, we had lunch which was fantastic.

The Wedderburn Tavern

I think her name was Sheryl (not sure) but she and her husband are selling after running the pub for 17 years ! They are moving to a new lifestyle place North of Auckland so that’s a big change for them. They have done a great job with their Wedderburn Tavern. It looks fantastic.

Great Countryside

We set off on our bikes and with minimal pedalling, were back in Ranfurly in time to tidy up and to meet up with David and Therese for a drink at the end of the day. Its great riding and Gary hit the nail on the head for a ride from Ranfurly. Its a lot of fun and even for someone like me. We both found it easy on an ordinary bike.(Not electric!)

Let’s start with Wet Jacket

Fiona’s sister Sara had popped into Queenstown for 3 days to see her daughter Jessa. Sara lives on Waiheke Island which is now pretty much a suburb of Auckland which has a strong wine culture, so with her arriving in Queenstown, we were going wine tasting.

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Sara, Jessa and Fiona wine tasting at Wet Jacket

We were staying at Creeksyde Motor camp and first thing in the morning, Sara and Jessa arrived in Jessa’s car and we were off. The thought was to start at a really popular Vineyard by the Queenstown / Arrowtown turnoff and we went from there. They had a cheesery there too so we tasted that as well.

Nice Cheese at Wet Jacket

There was some wonderful Goats cheese and some nice Blue Cheese too. We bought a bit of each. The lady running the wine tasting was french and really knew her stuff.  Sara and I bought a couple of bottles between us and next we were heading for the Gibbston valley, to go the Chard Vineyard.

The road through the vineyard through the Kawarau Gorge

To get there we had to cross the bridge by the Kawerau Gorge bungy jump and then turn right up the hill and drive along a road that literally clung to the cliff. Amazing.

Great buildings at Chard Farm

They had a great Vineyard and after tasting, Sara and I bought more wine. We were doing well 🙂

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Next was Mt Rosa Vineyard where we had Edita showing us the wine and she knew her Onions too.

Mt Rosa’s vineyard in the Gibbston valley

Stunning wines and they had a pack of two bottles of Rose and some mulled wine syrup which made 3 bottles of mulled wine. I’ll get some other cheaper Rose rather than use their good stuff for Mulled Wine. We had a lot of fun there and Edita did well.

Jessa checking out a Pinot Gris at Mt Rosa

It was time for lunch so we headed back towards Queenstown slightly for the Gibbston Valley Tavern. The original old pub and is just a real charmer with several original outbuildings in Schist.

Lunch at the historic Gibbston Valley Tavern

We had some amazing pizza’s there and headed back to Rafe at Creeksyde to try some of our new wine and cheese. Fiona doesn’t drink wine so she drove which was just as well 🙂

Great history at the Gibbston Valley Tavern

A wonderful day with clear blue skies and nice people in some great places with great Wine.

Little Downham

One of the main reasons we came up to Ely is that my English family were all originally from Little Downham which is about 10k’s out of Ely.

The main street of little Downham

Little Downham is a small farming village basically all centred around one main street.

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The church at the end of the road

At one end is the church which is like what you see on the TV shows and at the other end of the street is a pub called The Plough. Word has it that every generation in my family has had a drink in this Pub. It was shut when we were there so my turn will have to wait for another time.

The Church

One of my cousins Jan and her husband Bryan who are motorhomers too, organised the family to meet at another local pub called the Anchor. For Fiona and I, it was the first time that we’ve met most of them but I had known about many of them.

Outside the Anchor looking down the main street of Little Downham

Jan is a niece of my grandfather Bert and there were 11 brothers and sisters in the Miller family ! .. lots of cousins.

The whole family around the table

My grandfather Bert was a real hard case and was in the battle of the Somme during the first world war. He was a Tankie in one of the old diamond shape tanks in this battle and was one of the few to survive. He was listed as missing in action as they couldn’t find him!

Word has it that when he arrived back in Little Downham the town was deserted. He saw someone he knew and asked where everyone was. “Oh they’re all down at the church at your funeral Bert!”
So off he went down the road. His mother was so pleased to see him that she scraped the dirt of his great coat and put in a tin. This has been handed down through the family and is now in the safe hands of my son Alex with all the other family military memorabilia. The dirt is said to be from the Somme but is could easily be from a puddle anywhere 🙂 Good story anyway!!

Back to the reunion.. we had a great lunch .. it was neat meeting all those from my Grandfathers family. They’re a fun lot and we’re looking forward to doing another trip here to see them again.

Linda, Jan’s younger sister who lives in Ely very kindly gave us a ride back to the Lamb Hotel in Ely where were staying.

I just love these English towns with the history and the amazing buildings.

Storm at Coromandel

The build up was huge and as a result, we left Coromandel early and headed to Whitianga and then onto Hahei, as we figured it was very likely that we could get blocked in at Coromandel with closed roads. The road to Thames was already closed due to slips and wasn’t due to open until after Easter. After stopping at Whitianga for groceries, I cruised onto Hahei Holiday Park.

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I parked two rows back from the beach for the first two nights until the storm went through but on the second day, I decided to park behind the office amongst some trees for wind protection drawing on old boating experience.

My hideaway with the trees

Friends Gary and Dianne were in a beachfront cottage and Fiona had gone back to Auckland on the ferry for a couple of days work but was due back soon. ..so I was flying solo for a couple of days.

The Beachfront Cottages

Unfortunately the  camp was absolutely deserted as most Motorhomers had disappeared and run for cover due to the forecast which initially had Cormomandel getting hammered by the remnants of ex tropical  cyclone Cook.

The primo beach spots all empty

Gary and Diannes friends Neil and Christine arrived up from Otaki way on THE day and later, when the bell struck 4pm and the promised winds were only about 20 knots at peak and the rain was easing, we decided it was a fizzer and it was time for a light refreshment.

Just after 5 it stopped raining and it was time to go and check out the beach .  What a great sunset with all the clouds.

I felt for the campground people as the place was deserted and from Hahei’s perspective, there really wasn’t a storm at all. Yes there was plenty of rain but the cost to all those on the peninsula at a peak time, it really was a beat up. I suppose from the forecasters perspective, it had to be that way rather than have people unprepared and it could have been a lot worse. It seems a real pity that it affects so many people’s livelyhoods.

Out in the sunshine

The next day, everyone that was there all seemed to be enjoying the sunshine on the beach. It really is one of the best beaches around.

Rafes tracker image to Hahei

To Hahei

The Wedding at the Fort

What a fun weekend. Our old friends Mark and Tina’s eldest daughter Alisha was getting married to Tom and they had chosen The Officers Mess at Fort Takapuna as the wedding venue.  A fantastic spot and where Fiona’s family had spent some years in the officers housing by Narrow Neck beach.

The roof of the old fort with the Officers Mess behind and the carpark.

Just as it says, The officers Mess has been converted into a Wedding Venue and Café and was the old Officers Mess for the Army and later used by the Navy as well.  Its a lovely old building which looks out over the harbour towards Rangitoto Island.

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Fiona’s dad Norm was CO of Fort Cautley which was then the HQ for the Army’s 3rd Battalion. There were officers and senior NCO houses from the current buildings all the way down to Narrow Neck Beach.

Narrow Neck beach. This grass is where all the officers housing was.

Fort Takapuna has a huge history. It was originally built to fend off the Russians in the 1860’s and later updated for the two world wars in case the Japanese or Germans got down here. It is now looked after by DOC and more information on it can be seen here.
Its well worth a look around and the carpark is huge, perfect for Motorhomes and Caravans.

The Old Fort

When Friday came around, Fiona and I decided we would make a weekend of it and stay in Devonport on Friday night. We earlier met our old friends Dani and Grant at the Esplanade Hotel for a few cold ones and afterwards tea at the wharf.

The next day was wedding day and I packed up Rafe and headed off to the venue where we had permission to stay overnight in the carpark as guests.

In the carpark

I spent the day having a really good look around the fort while Fiona was getting her hair done.  There was a soccer game on at the playing field there which was fun to watch. I have no idea who was playing but it was fun to watch and I really enjoyed shooting a few piccies of it. I haven’t photographed any soccer since my days on the Herald and the Auckland Star so it was fun. Soccer is one of the hardest games to photograph as so I was pleased that I got a couple or reasonable piccies from it being as rusty as I am.

One of the better soccer piccies 🙂

The forecast rain held off so the ceremony was held outside looking out on the harbor. It was a bit of a catchup with old friends for us as Gary, Chris, Mark and Tina are all old Boatie mates along with Geoff and Bev who were also there.  We were all put on Table 4! Our friends Gary and Chris were joint MC’s and they did a great job. It was nice to catch up with the extended families and old friends too, many of them had come over from Aussie for the occasion.

The Wedding Service with a view

The wedding went well, the food was great and it was a fun night. We finished the night in Rafe with “Table 4” friends for a nightcap and cups of tea.

Rafe’s Track map

The way home from Fort Takapuna

A little Bedtime reading :-)

Saturday was a big day. Rob and Helen were off to collect their new Autotrail Tracker RB and they were beside themselves with excitement.

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Rob and Helen looking very happy !
Rob and Helen looking very happy !

Their first Tracker RB had taken them and their daughter Chloe. all around NZ over the last 4 years or so.

The new Tracker looking very smart
The new Tracker looking very smart

The new Tracker is a different colour, has Automatic Transmission and has 180 horses. It has more room in the front lounge area, a separate Shower and Toilet area and lots of other little tweaks.

The new beast with Rafe behind
The new beast with Rafe behind

Having Rafe parked right behind, I was amazed with the changes in some of the vents, and other fittings which you see on Dethleffs and other makes.  Even the tyres are different from the older models.. now Michelins.

Rob unpacking the sealed manual packs.
Rob unpacking the sealed manual packs.

We drove down to meet them at Athenree Holiday Park as a meeting point and to help celebrate their first night away in it.

The Bedroom. The bed runs the opposite way to the older one.
The Bedroom. The bed runs the opposite way to the older one.

We hadn’t long checked in when the first glasses of bubbly were consumed. A nice afternoon in the sun with a swim in the hotpools later as well.

Its a lovely Motorhome and they’re over the moon with it.

Its a good thing that Rob is pretty handy and technically minded and likes reading the odd manual.
Its a good thing that Rob is pretty handy and technically minded and likes reading the odd manual.

As the title says.. lots of bedtime reading manuals for Rob!

The Netspeed Speedtest for Athenree Holiday Park
Download: 42.01 Mbps
Upload: 26.18 Mbps
Ping: 54 ms
http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&q=-37.448570,175.966467

Rafe’s Track to Athenree

Rafe’s Track to Athenree.. The Green Dot

The 2017 Covi Motorhome Show

It’s  always an exciting time when  either of the Motorhome and Caravan shows start to see what new knick knacks are available and what’s new. We were staying at the Ellerslie Racecourse NZMCA Rally with 500 or so others and they had put on a shuttle service to make it easy to get to there.

The Rally looks impressive from the entrance.. click on this to enlarge it.

I must have been on one of the first buses to the Showgrounds as the bus driver wasn’t too sure where to drop us off and we circumnavigated the Show grounds a few times before we got there, even a brief tour of Alexander Park too.   🙂

A 4 WD Hymer on the Rocks!

This year was the first year for the new Hymers and also the Cathargo. The Hymer has arrived in force with three or four different models including a 4 wheel drive model which was setup on top of a pile of rocks just to make the point. The Hymer in the piccies is the Starline 690 which is 7.9 metre is length, has a GVM of 5.3 t and has a 3l Mercedes rear wheel drive.

The Cathargo was well publicised at last years Covi show but this year is the first time they’ve got several models here. A very smart looking wagon.

The other interesting story is with the Dethleff Nomad Caravans represented by Central RV. Brett at Central RV sent off his design for a Caravan specially for the local market and this was the first one in. The amount of room in it is amazing and it’s the first caravan I’ve seen with doors on both sides of the bedroom giving complete privacy. The Dethleffs Nomad 650 RQT as it is known is 8.7 meters long, it has a 700kg payload and has a total weight of 2.5 tons so she’s a biggy!  It also has an Alko chassis helping to make it tow nicely.

Jonas and Chris and the team at Frankia have received the first of the 8.4 metre Platin series.  These really are the ultimate in Motorhomes.  The electrical cupboard is a joy in itself having its own external locker with everything very tidily laid out and easy to get at. The inside is amazing as well.. The Platin at the show is 8.5 metres long and has a GVM of 5 tons with a 650kg payload.
Well appointed and is typical of the Frankia range known for its high standards.

Patricia and John with their Lilliput and Plymouth
The interior of John and Patricia’s Lilliput

It’s always nice to see the Lilliput Crew with their lovely old Caravans and usually matched by their amazing, beautifully restored cars.

Patricia and John were here with their  caravan and their 1955 Plymouth Belvedere. It was their 55th Wedding Anniversary.  They were also well colour co-ordinated for St Patrick’s Day 🙂

Peter with others on the NZMCA Stand
The NZMCA stand early in the day

The NZMCA stand was huge. I got there fairly early so it was largely pretty empty given its size but it was nice to see the crew there and great to see most if not all of the Motorhome Friendly Towns all with their own stands promoting their areas.

A lot of the NZMCA regions had their own stands as well and nice to see them too.

I managed to get in and out without parting with too much hard earned loot which Fiona will be pleased about, settling for just a new ground mat for under our awning.

Another great show with lots to see.