Tag Archives: Waikato

On the banks of the mighty Waikato

Just past Tuakau is a lovely new Campground on the banks of the river.

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Glorious spot

It is run by the good folk at the Tuakau Hotel on land that used to be where the sand was loaded up and shipped off and its in a beautiful spot.

All weather parking

The campground has been constructed from scratch with about 8 dead flat gravelled sites with power and a barbeque table overlooking the river. It couldn’t be in a better spot and well thought out.

Perfect seating

We popped in to the Tuakau Hotel which is just a few k’s away and spoke to Tash at the Hotels Accomodation office where we were given the full rundown on what was where and in case we forgot, there was also a sheet of everything we needed to know along with a key for the water and the codes for the automated gate and shower block. The cost is $20 per site for two with power which I reckon is extremely good value.

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After settling down and opening some vents, I went for a bit of a look around.

Looking down the river

There are three quite large self contained cabins too which can be rented which look out over the river too.

Looking across from the cabins

In the morning I went for a walk along the rivers edge to see the whitebaiters in full swing where I met Anthony who drives down here from Mt Wellington to do his whitebaiting. He was doing well and showed me piccies of his catch from the day before.

Whitebaiter Anthony from Mt Wellington

A lovely spot not far from the Tuakau Bridge on the way to Port Waikato.

The Netspeed Speedtest (Not great here)
Download : 2.68 mbps
Upload : 0.85 mbps
Ping : 48 ms

Rafes Tracker Map


One of the main reasons for my trip to Coromandel was to be part of this amazing event. The Thames Coromandel District Council had arranged along with locals, to run this annual event on two nights. It has become an annual event but this year by all accounts, is much bigger.

IllumeThe theme was “light” where people wore lights, the buildings were lit up, some of the trees, vehicles, the local kids and there was also live music in a marquee set up in the middle of the town. The whole community was involved.

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A great scene. retailers had market stalls setup outside their shops. There were people with lit hula hoops, juggling and later there was a parade of lights led by the local Fire Brigade. 

IllumeThe local preschool kids were all lit up along with bike riders and dancers.

IllumeThe event finale was a huge fireworks display which you could see and hear from everywhere. Spectacular and I’m pleased I didn’t miss it.

Well done Coromandel.

Character, Soul and Scones

After meeting my new friends from Christchurch, Rory and Henny and their friends Dave and Karen, I made a point of making sure that at some stage during the day, I should pop down to the NZMCA park and have a cup of tea with them and a catch up. 

The Coromandel Pub, you can also stay behind this for $10 including power
The Coromandel Pub, apparently you can also stay behind this for $20 including power

I set off reasonably early on my bike with my camera tucked down inside my coat and made my way down to the other end of Coromandel town.

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CoromandelThe shops and buildings are fascinating and you can feel a real vibe about the place. They were getting really for the Illume parade and event that night so it was even more buzzy than normal.

After getting some nice piccies and talking to a couple of the locals, I biked around to the wharf and then back to the NZMCA park where I caught up Rory and Henny and with typical South Island hospitality was just in time for some of Henny’s lovely homemade scones and a cup of coffee. We had a great hour or two talking about everything and they’re great fun and good company.

Its easy to tell where the Laundromat is !

I biked back, checked out the campground and blobbed out with the stereo before  hittting the sack early to get ready for another big day. 

Looking back towards Coromandel .. my bike on the right
Looking back towards Coromandel .. my bike on the right

A neat place to visit, some great places to stay and despite the weather, plenty to do and see.

Motorhome Friends at Paeroa

The weather forecast for the whole weekend was a shocker but we knew we’d be safely tucked up once we got to Paeroa.

We left early on Friday night after Fiona finished work and headed down to Ardmore to stay in my son Alex’s driveway so we could see  Ayden playing rugby in the morning. He had a really good day and after scoring a few tries, he got Player of the Day so that was special and good to see.

Grandson Ayden with the ball. The expressions on their faces are priceless.
Grandson Ayden with the ball. The expressions on their faces are priceless.

After a cup of coffee, we left Ardmore and headed for Paeroa where we were meeting up with other Motorhomers who are part of a really active Facebook group called Motorhome Friends NZ.  North Island Admins, Steve and  Karen did a great job organising the get together at Paeroa RV Centre.

A Happy crew
A Happy crew

After settling down Rafe in a little corner of the park, we headed into the 3pm meeting in the Hall. There was a pot belly stove stacked up nicely belting out the heat so it was nice and cosy despite the showers outside. We were really lucky to be able to get a powered site as there was a dire shortage of them so thanks Paeroa RV for helping us out there.

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It was really nice to catch up with people and put faces to names. I’m a relative newcomer to the group but Fiona and I felt right at home with them all.

Steve getting the Karaoke gear organised
Steve getting the Karaoke gear organised

There was a Kareoke night  which we didn’t get to but I gather it was a huge success and everyone had lots of fun. We had two lots of Motorhomers around for drinks in Rafe. Nick and Karen who have just bought a Autotrail Comanche which they are living in full time. The Comanche is a biggie with dual axles at the back and is 8.4 metres long.  A nice van.
We also had Gaylene and Les from Huntly with us and it was nice catching up with them too.

The view in the yard
The view in the yard

In the morning, there was a 10am coffee meeting to farewell each other. The rain was pretty steady by then and not a good time to be trying to photograph people with their vans but I managed to get a few.

The Hot pool at Miranda
The Hot pool at Miranda

Given the weather was like it was with squalls of heavy rain, we decided to head to Miranda Holiday park and hunker down in the hot pools and not long after we arrived met some others from Paeroa there too. Isn’t it funny how great minds think alike !

At Miranda. Given the weather, it was nice to be plugged in and sheltered.
At Miranda. Given the weather, it was nice to be plugged in and sheltered.

A nice weekend with some nice people.

Firth Tower Museum

The Firth Tower and House. The original was burnt down in 1902
The Firth Tower and House. The original was burnt down in 1902

3k’s or so outside of Matamata is the Firth Tower Museum.
Its an amazing collection of original buildings in the grounds of what used to be a farm for the Firth family in Auckland to feed the flour mill.  It later became the base for a well known Waikato family to farm.
The original farmhouse was built with the tower in the later 1800’s but the farmhouse burnt down in 1902 and was replaced  then by the current house. It was then owned by the McCaw family.
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In each of the buildings there is a theme of history, Agriculture, Transport, Medical, local war involvement, and there is even two carriages with the History of the Kaimai tunnel as well.
The volunteers who staff it were all wearing historical gear to add to the feel of the place.  When  we visited, there was school trip of local primary school kids and they all got dressed up in historical clothing to add to the occasion.

Dusk, Glass of Red in one hand, camera in the other!
Dusk with The Tower

For $10 you can stay the night with power or free parking without power. One of the nice things about being on the road is discovering new places to stay and how nice they can be and often it is the least expensive that are the nicest places to stay… this was one of those times.   A great way to spend the day and it really is a well setup museum.

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The Ardmore haircut & Te Aroha

Saturday was a big day… starting with launching my old ex Whalechaser now being looked after by my sons after they’ve literally repainted the whole thing.
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Rorqual being launched
Rorqual being launched

After parking her in the berth, we were off in Rafe to the Grandkids in Ardmore to babysit. I’m always very careful going up their 1/2 k odd long driveway as the trees and shrubs at the gateway lining it grow like weeds and reach out to try and scratch Rafe. Alex and Sarah had given them a good haircut so all good.

Our spot in the corner
Our spot in the corner
The Tree Haircut
The Tree Haircut

After a good night parked in the corner,  we woke up to the family tradition on Fathers Day of chocolate fish.. yum first thing in the morning 🙂
After a cup of coffee and breakfast,  we both felt that a hot swim might be the order of the day and neither of us being ready to go home,  so we thought a decent drive, Te Aroha hot pools, 120 odd K away.

Rather than go the way we always go, via Maugataroto, we thought we’d try down State Highway 1 on the motorway and turn off at Ohinewai through to Tahuna. What a great run too apart from taking a wrong turn and adding 15 minutes or so to the trip.. no harm done.
Checking in to the Te Aroha Holiday Park, just on the South Side of the Town itself was easy. $34 for the two of us with the NZMCA discount.. what a classic place. All the cabins are ex workingmens huts. In really good nick too.

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Reading through Rankers and Wikicamps, some of the comments are awful and the place didn’t deserve the bad rap that it had. One of the comments was that the hot pools didn’t have any water in them, .. my first question when I checked in .. after that it was all good.
There was a really nice pool complex too. The pools weren’t ready until after 6 and it was dark by then so no photos.
Huge parking spaces and nicely separated off by hedges and plants. Well placed and easy to get to Dump Station too. A nice place to stay.