Tag Archives: Special events

Dethleffs Owners Group 2nd Soiree 2022

And it was a goodie too.. Many arrived early on Friday afternoon and were well settled by the time Fiona and I arrived about 12:30!

The day before we found out about the Kaiaua Pub courtesy van. I knew we had about 12 interested so it was all last minute but after two trips of the van, they all managed to get to the table and it all went well.

It was still raining off and on so I was in the pool soon after arriving, my favourite part of Miranda 🙂

Electrical help

As the day went on, it was a great meet and greet. For many of the 46 Motorhomes that arrived, this was their first get together and for me, the biggest turnout of vans ever.

It was funny though as the numbers from the bookings were 46, if you walked around and looked, it didn’t seem too crowded.

As the day wore on. More and more people were making themselves known and introducing themselves to everyone and looking around the Motorhomes.

Click on the Gallery below for an enlarged slide show – Friday

4pm came around and the BBQ area suddenly filled up with laughter and Wine bottles..

Day two was Bike ride day towards Kaiaua. Tony Coupe who put his hand up early encouraging riders to bring their bikes  and had a plan to ride to a neat little Café and Gallery called Stray Dog Café.  It was just up the hill off to the left on the way to Kaiaua. Fantastic place with an amazing Gallery  Thanks Tony.. more on this in another post coming soon.

On the trail to Kaiaua

We arrived back at Miranda a couple of hours later. A great ride and it was time for a coffee and another swim in the pool.

Neil during his talk. Pic by Mary Coupe

At 3pm, we had Neil showing quite a few interested people the basics on Amp hours and how to calculate your battery needs. Very useful and many went away very happy. Great work.. thanks Neil.

Click on the Gallery below for an enlarged Slideshow – Saturday

At 4pm was time for a Team Photo but to make sure everyone was there, we started happy hour and then did the images. Photographer Grant who has the same camera as me, was keen to get me in the photo so we did a quick swap for a fun pic. Thanks Grant.

I was talking to one of the camp senior staff, Gay the next day and she was telling me they were watching us in the CCTV while we were getting organised and starting happy hour then suddenly we all vanished in a nano second.. “where did they go”! That must have been photo time 🙂

Click on this to enlarge for a better look.

John Ogilvie had very kindly brought his amazing projector along for the rugby and with Michelle’s screen, were were all ready for the big game starting later.

Everyone in
Tea time.
The leftovers of the shared meal.. I was too busy eating to get a before shot 🙂

At 6, the food started appearing on the Barbecue area and we all got stuck in. The food was unbelievable. Normally at a shared meal you end up with a lot of snacky stuff but this was top drawer dishes. Well done everyone. Stunning Stuff.

The tidying up and dishes were done in the well equipped kitchen and we were set for the Rugby.

A great atmosphere and we had a few other campers join us on the fringes to watch as well. I found out after talking to Gay in the office that they had quite a few people who wanted to watch in the TV room but there is no drinking or food in there so they were suggesting joining us so that was good. There even some people on the other side of the screen in the BBQ area watching it backwards from the opposite side of the screen 🙂

Click on the Gallery below to Enlarge

Well done and thanks John (the projectionist) and thanks again Michelle for the use of your screen. Although the result wasn’t what we wanted, it was still a fun night.


All in all, a great weekend finished off with a farewell coffee/tea catchup before everyone went off in different directions.

Talking to Gay (Miranda Holiday Park) afterwards, she said it went well for them, no one got up their noses (not from our group anyway) and for them it was easy.

Thanks too to Paul McLuckie who put his drone up to get the amazing drone images.

Click on this image to enlarge.

Thanks everyone for coming, we had a lot of fun and it was nice to see everyone again. Some we haven’t seen for years.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Miranda – Armada GPS

Wild in Papamoa

Glancing through my iPad recently, I came across a rather sad posting of a friend who had been battling a Melanoma for the last 10 years but finally lost the race. They had recently moved out of Auckland to Papamoa to enjoy their retirement by the sea.

Click on any Image to Enlarge

Hear those waves

When we found out the funeral was on and where, it was time to jump into Rafe and pop down to Papamoa to the funeral. Leaving Auckland early to beat the traffic, I found myself around the back of Hamilton by 9:20 in the morning. By 11:30 I was cruising into Papamoa after crossing the Kaimai’s. What a huge difference that new motorway makes by passing Hamilton.

Wild!

After checking into the Tasman Holiday Park in Papamoa, and settling Rafe down by the sea and after a cup of coffee, I called a Taxi to take me to the venue which was on the other side of Papamoa.

After the funeral, one of our old boating friends who also came down dropped me back at the entrance to the Holiday Park.

Click on the Gallery below to see an enlarged slide show

The camp has a lot of permanent Caravans all with their laid out decks and additions and I’m sure the place absolutely pumps in summer. The area where I was next to the sea was about 1/3rd full but it was pretty windy, cold and miserable with waves crashing in. Very handy to the beach which was probably less than 50 metres away.

I took the camera for a walk and it was wild with the sea absolutely raging.

Fantastic Beach
Some of the new beachfront chalets.

The ablution block looked almost new and was spotless. For the shoppers, its really handy to downtown Papamoa with a huge shopping centre right across the road.

Dusk at Papamoa -cellphone pic

The forecast for the morning was evil with thunderstorms forecast and high winds. When I woke up at 7, I thought I’d get up and get going given it was pretty exposed on grass and the clouds over Tauranga looked positively evil. It rained but I think the worst of it went offshore.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Papamoa – Armada GPS

Auction for Hospice of the best NZ news photos!

One of the saddest things I had to deal with earlier this year was finding out that my old buddy and ex boss, Rob Tucker had  cancer.

Several years ago when I went down his home town of New Plymouth,  Rob went to some trouble to give me a guided tour of New Plymouth. We later adjourned to his house for tea where I caught up with his wife Bonnie and brother Jim who was also an ex boss when I was at the Auckland Star.

While we were in the South Island earlier this year I received a phone call from another old friend Ross Land to tell me that Rob has organised an auction of our 3 best images from our days in newspapers. We were in Plimmerton at the time about to cross on the ferry and as there was plenty of time, we’d find some images for it  when we got back.

Once we got back to Auckland a few weeks later, I sent a selection of 10 or so images to Rob for him to pick what he thought would work and the three images below are what he picked.

Click on any Image to Enlarge

Tina Turner at a press conference under TV lights.

Rob was one of the NZ Heralds youngest ever Picture Editors.  A vacancy came up at the Herald for a junior and I jumped at it. I was 19yrs old, welding and repairing containers at the time biding my time so it came just at the right time. Rob did me a big favour getting me on board at that early stage as the Herald was a fantastic training ground and a great place to work.  Once you were out of the Newspaper industry, it was really hard to get back in.

Ross joined not long after me and later we shared a darkroom together and became good friends.

Ross and Kay have done a spectacular job over the last few years doing up a classic Caravan!

Michael Winslow outside the Regent in Auckland.

Hospice Taranaki have taken really good care of Rob and he felt he wanted to do something to help them fund their financial situation. He came up with the idea of getting as many of NZ Newspaper photographers to provide their best three images to be mounted and auctioned off for Hospice Taranaki.

Here’s a story from the  NZ Herald of Rob  Its an interesting video and well worth watching.

Run for your wife. One of the last shows at His Majesties Theatre in Auckland before it got bulldozed. L to R: Geoffrey Hughes (Coronation Street), Timothy Lea (Confessions of a Windows Cleaner) and Windsor Davies (It aint half hot mum) were staying at the White Heron lodge in Parnell where I met them early one morning.

There is also a coffee table book with all the images in which will be a collectors item in years to come. The proceeds for this are also heading Hospice’s way.

Its a great idea of his to get behind a great cause and we need to support it.  I’m sure once you see some of the images, you will remember seeing them published.

Here’s a few that didn’t make Robs selection that I sent as well to give you an idea of some of the others.

Click on the Gallery below to Enlarge.

The Auction is being held at Plymouth International Hotel in New Plymouth on the 24th September.

Most if not all the photographers involved will be there too so it’ll be quite a reunion 🙂

Check out the Photo Journalism NZ page here.

Heading North

The Ferry’s were chocker and the number of people we’d met while travelling that were having trouble getting bookings made me think, “I’d better make sure we’re in Picton in plenty of time for the ferry”!

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We left Richmond about 8:30am and headed straight for Havelock for morning tea. Our check in time was 1pm at Picton. We arrived in Havelock at 9:30am and had morning tea eventually getting to Picton just after 11 so making it with plenty of time.

We went the long way around the coast past Momorangi Bay where we’d stayed a few years ago in wee Rafe, our wee Caravan.

On arriving in Picton, we found a good park outside a Pub in Picton by the Railway Station. As we walked in, I received a text from Bluebridge saying that they had communication issues and they’re eftpos system was having a moment and could be have cash for anything we wanted on board.

I don’t do cash at all these days so we decided that we’d have lunch where we were at the Sports Bar. What a great decision too as the Seafood Chowder was something else. Washed down with a G&T as you do.. a perfect start for our trip on the ferry!

In the Queue

At 12:30, I thought we’d better head over and check in and although we were early, there were several rows of Motorhomes and Caravans already there.. good call I thought 🙂

Just after 1:15 pm, they starting loading us on the ferry.

Fiona on the Landing pad on the way out the Marlborough sounds

We’d booked a cabin so it was a rush for the shower 🙂 Then we were mostly up on the deck enjoying clear blue sky all the way over.

The Tory Channel
The Tory channel looking south

We arrived just after 6pm and started heading north. We’d decided between us that as the new transmission gulley motorway was open, we’d go as far as we could stopping for tea along the way and maybe get to the brand new NZMCA park at Foxton.

Rafe in the garage. Fiona ready to go!

What great park and although it was just 7:30pm, it was dark but there was plenty of room and keeping the parking simple with plenty of room around us made it easy.

The Foxton NZMCA park
Great parking

There were a few motorhomers parked together in the corner with a small contained fire to keep them warm which was nice, and there were others well spread out so that made it really easy to park.

Easy to see where you are.

In the morning I went for a look around and signed in and once I’d found the “fridge”!. Its a fantastic park and although I’m not sure that we’d do the drive after a ferry trip again, like we had all the way from Nelson, I’m sure its perfect option for Plimmerton with the new Motorway.

The crew in the corner

A really nice park with plenty of room next to the Foxton Racecourse grandstand in a separate area.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Fox / Upper Moutere – Armada GPS

Stars and Hot Pools at Tekapo

And the amazing view from our parking spot in the Holiday Park!

Click on any Image to Enlarge

The view stunning

We arrived early in the afternoon straight from Queenstown and were given an elevated park that looks straight out over the lake.. amazing. The park looks near new and the facilities are spotless.

One of the must do things on this trip was the Mt John Star project at the observatory on top of Mt John.  Fiona wandered along to the office at the campground when we realised that they were in a position to book us in for the Star project too so we were set.

Fiona in the pool overlooking Lake Tekapo
The Pools

We also got tickets to the Hot pools next to the camp and wandered down to have a swim.. again elevated with views over Lake Tekapo.

Great Parking
Lake Tekapo

About 6pm we headed into Tekapo, about a 20 minute walk from the campground and had a cold drink while we waited for the coach up to the Observatory.

The lake

The coach turned up, we all piled in(about 10 of us) and off we went up this murderous road in the dark!! When we arrived at the carpark at the top, we welcomed by our two guides and were told that there was no lights as it upsets the telescopes. Looking down to the east we had a clear view of Tekapo and the sky was amazingly clear.

Click on the Gallery below for an enlarged Slideshow

We were split into groups to have a look at the Telescopes at different stars exploding and a close up look at the moon.  It was really interesting hearing different basic facts about the stars and what they represent. We found it well worth doing and really enjoyed it.

On our walk into Tekapo

Its a lovely place Tekapo and its always fun staying here. I was really impressed with the park and the pools and as I said, a shame we were only here for the night.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Tekapo – Armada GPS

Our Milford Sound Extravaganza

We were still fizzing from the Stewart Island trip as we headed towards our next stop which was Te Anau.

Click on any Image to enlarge

Lake Te Anau

On the ferry on the way back from Stewart Island, I booked a deal through the NZMCA with Fiordland Tours where they would pick us up from the club park in Te Anau in a small coach, and take us to Milford Sound. We would then get on a boat for a cruise through Milford Sound with guides all the way and back to Te Anau.

Te Anau NZMCA park

The weather was looking fantastic. With the disappointment of not doing the wings over Wanaka, our original reason for coming down to the South, I was a bit reluctant to book too far out in case something came up or the weather wasn’t looking good. It worked !! We had perfect weather.

Fiona at NZMCA park Te Anau

We arrived in Te Anau early in the afternoon and parked on the lakefront for half an hour or so for a look around. Fiona went for a quick look through some of the shops.

Click on the Gallery below for an enlarged Slideshow

We then rocked into the NZMCA park which is about 1k or so out of the town. Its a nice park with rural views.

At 8am the next morning, the coach turned up and we were off towards Milford Sound. It has been years since I was down here so I’d completely forgotten the lie of the land except I remembered this awful road so we were happy being driven by someone who knew the road and it wasn’t any where near as bad as I remembered.

Amazing Eglington Valley

Our first stop was in an amazing valley surrounded by mountains with a little bit of fog. A lovely spot. Don’t forget to click on these images to have a decent look at them!

We then headed off towards the mirrored lakes and had a stroll through the trees on a boardwalk looking at the reflections. Nice !

Cascade Creek walk

Back in the coach and then we stopped at a small walk down to another lake called Cascade Creek which backs onto Lake Gunn. A nice stroll and lovely place.  The next stop  after this was to see the Falls Creek Waterfall and then we went through the Homer Tunnel.

Lake Gunn

We arrived in Milford and boarded a really nice double decker party boat and set off fairly quickly towards Mitre Peak. You feel so small among these huge mountains all around.

We were lucky to see some rare Hector Dolphins just by Mitre peak which were the largest pod the skipper had every seen in Milford.

Mitre Peak looking very majestic… Stunning

We then we headed out further through the sound towards the Tasman sea. The trip took about 90 minutes but was amazing. It is really nice to get to see and feel the size and scale of these huge mountains which you don’t appreciate from the postcards.

Looking back into Milford Sound from the Tasman sea
Mitre Peak

On the way back we spotted a seal having a snooze on a rock and others playing in the water and then came to a massive waterfall. The skipper put the nose of the boat into the falls for those interested in having a shower to get wet 🙂

A happy seal
Huge Waterfall

We were taken for a walk along the waterfront in Milford before getting back on the coach to head back to Te Anau.

The boat we were on

A great trip and well worth doing.. check out the Deals on the NZMCA web site.

An absolutely stunning trip and well worth doing with a great crew.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Te Anau – Armada GPS

A day at Stewart Island

Arriving in Gore, we parked Rafe in the middle of the main st and crossed over to a nice looking Café. As we approached some people who saw us get out of Rafe and cross the road were waving and smiling at us.

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At Craig’s POP
Happy hour.. Peter and Sues Esprit and Ross to the right.

After sitting down with our coffee, we got chatting to the people right next to us Ross and Sally (the wavers and smilers) originally from Picton.  It turns out that they’re in their third year of living in their Jayco Caravan and cruising around the South Island.

Happy hour outside.

As we chatted away, we worked out that we are all going to Stewart Island on the same ferry in the morning. They gave us the name of the place they were staying at and that the coach was picking them up from there, so I rang both the POP and the coach company and booked both. Easy peasy.

Craig with his amazing collection in the shed.

The Lineham Layover is owned by Craig Lineham and Shelley Peters and is in the northern end of the main street of Invercargill. A nice spot with a big parking area on gravel.

We went from Gore directly to Craig and Shelley’s POP and caught up with Ross and Sally again. Craig is an amazing collector of all sorts.. Matchbox cars, Matches, you name it.

Right opposite them at the Pop was Peter and Sue with their Esprit from Taupo.  We met them at Mapua several years ago… small world. Later we all caught up for a glass of something and a catchup.

The Ferry in the fog at Bluff

We woke up early in the morning and as we made our way out to the end of the driveway, I received a phone call from the driver. He was early! But so were we 🙂

After picking up several other people from around Invercargill, we were off to Bluff to catch the ferry to Stewart Island.  It was a foggy day so they were sound the horn every few minutes for the first part of the journey until the fog lifted. It was going to be a great day and there was hardly any wind so it was a nice smooth sailing.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

45 minutes or so later we were on the wharf at Oban, the capital if you like of Stewart Island.

Oban and the wharf

The ferry was running late so we were quickly hustled onto a coach for a tour of Oban and the surrounding area.

With the Coach group looking out towards Paterson Inlet and the National Park area of Stewart Island beyond.Looking in towards Oban
Looking out Paterson Inlet and beyond.

We found out that power on the island is provided by a Diesel generator or provide your own with solar and generator. The populated part of Stewart Island around Oban, is only a small fraction of the island with the rest of it being National Park. We were taken to a lookout that showed the sheer size of the Island and its inlets and other islands.. amazing when you see it like that.

Fiona checking out the anchor with the coach group

We were shown the Anchor chain which keeps Stewart Island tethered to the mainland or the other way around 🙂

After getting back to Oban, we caught another slightly smaller ferry to Ulva Island with our guide. On the way over to Ulva Island, an Albatross swooped in and landed right next to the ferry which had stopped. Amazing birds.

Ulva Island is park space administered by Doc completely free of most predators giving the birds and trees free run. The birds come right up to your feet and look you up and down.. its amazing. I’ve never been into trees and birds but this is completely different to what you see everywhere else and once you know what’s going on behind the scenes, it pretty cool.. well worth it if you’re heading that way.

The guide leading the way at Ulva Island

We walked back to the ferry to be transferred back to our mainland ferry in Oban, to go back to Bluff.

Farewell Oban
Getting on the ferry back to Bluff

A fantastic day checking it all out at Stewart Island. You can stay the night there too but we did it all in a day to keep the lid on costs but a great day. On the way back on the ferry, I booked our next extravaganza!

Rafe’s Tracker map to Invercargill – Armada GPS

A day in the sun in Dunedin

We seem to get the short straw when it comes to getting great weather in Dunedin but we struck the jackpot this time. It was perfect.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

Ross, Fiona and Karen at St Clair for tea.

Before we left Geraldine, I rang our old friends from Devonport, Ross and Karen who have recently moved after a long time in Cromwell to Dunedin. We hadn’t seen them since Ross’s birthday party a few years ago so we were looking forward to catching up.

Nice parking

We made a beeline for Dunedin Holiday Park which was doing a off peak discounted deal and was right next to St Kilda beach. It was also not far to Ross and Karen in Dunedin South.

From the top of the sandhill between the camp and the beach. City in background left.

After settling down, Ross and Karen arrived with their son Cam, and we enjoyed a catchup reunion drink on the picnic table outside Rafe. Wonderful to see them all.

Looking down to St Clair

They had arranged for us to go to tea at a nice Beachfront Café in St Clair which is basically the other end of a long beach from where we were.  After a couple of very nice pizzas, they took us around to show us their house.  A nicely renovated villa with all the mod cons.. perfect for them. Their two adult kids and grandchildren live not far away.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slide show

The next day, we were heading to Gore and we decided to stay at the Town and Country club.

Early morning at Gore

They have an amazing setup with a brick toilet, shower and laundry setup with separate secure parking with plenty of powered sites around the perimeter of a graveled all weather parking area… all for $20. If you are a Clubs NZ member, they also do meals and have a well setup bar area. Fantastic.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Dunedin- Armada GPS

Cruising to Picton

We left Plimmerton really early as we had heard that both ferry companies were under the pump.

Arriving almost 45 minutes early, the queues were already established so everyone else had the same idea 🙂 Just as well Bluebridge were letting people in early.

Click on any image to enlarge

In the queue

I sort of look forward to the ferry crossing but always with some nervousness of getting Rafe on and getting across to Picton without damage but so far, there’s never been an issue.

Getting a cabin was an exceptional idea as as soon as we got on board and got our cabin, we were off to a shower and a tidy up before getting something to eat and drink.

About to leave Wellington

The weather was looking good and we were looking forward to an easy sailing.

Oriental Bay

We spent quite a bit of time up on deck taking it all in. I was amazed by the number of windmills on the hills along the coast.

Coming into the sounds, The Interislander
Rafe in the garage below

We arrived in Picton on time and headed for a Road Café just south of Blenheim for a cuppa and something to eat before we cruised on to Kaikoura.  A very pleasant crossing.

The 2022 Dethleffs Karapiro Rally

The venue was the Mighty River Domain at Karapiro which was fantastic.  Given that the  last Dethleffs do a few years ago was here and was a big success and after talking to the camp manager Liz who couldn’t do enough to help me, it was a done deal!

Click on any Image to Enlarge

Just before kick off, we had nearly 50 people coming (limit of 100 red light) but by the weekend, we’d lost quite a few so that was a bit disappointing.  A couple caught Covid and others were hunkering down.  We’ll try for one next year. So we had about 25 people which worked well.

On the Friday everyone started arriving from the middle of the day onwards.

My GPS sent us to cross the Dam but when I got there, there were limits on both weight and length due to the curve in the dam. We were at the front of the one way queue but managed to back out of the way when the light went green. There was one hardy Dethleffs soul who went across anyway.. he was later presented the bravery award !

Later in the day, Jonas and Irene arrived.. (Mr and Mrs Dethleff of NZ) and Jonas started to cut up a whole lot of meat he’d got from the Pokeno Butchery for everyone.. one of the best around. Just about everyone provided a salad .. a great communal effort and the variety was amazing.

Irene and Jonas with the meat.

I was a bit reluctant to take on this fantastic quality meat and burn it or undercook it so Jonas took on the cooking role which he did to perfection helped by John O on his BBQ.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow/Enlarge images

After tea, the campfire seating plan was retained for a social session and later outside various Motorhomes.

The next day, those who brought their bikes hit the bike trail into Cambridge to a café which was about 7 k’s away.

Fiona and I were joined by a few at the park Café overlooking the lake for a couple of hours until the cyclists returned.

The afternoon was spent with everyone sussing out each others Motorhomes and a good catchup.

For many this was their first Rally or Motorhome get together and the feedback was fantastic.. “when is the next one?” was a common question!

Later we reassembled the circle of chairs and all enjoyed a meal and a few drinks together and more fun times outside some ones Motorhome.

One the following morning, we all caught up at the Café and a group pic to celebrate the occasion.

The Team pic

A good result. Although I’ve been involved in helping previous Dethleffs and NZMCA rallies with parking (one with over 400 motorhomes!) this was something quite different.. especially with the germ floating around.

Rafe’s Tracker Map – Armada GPS