Tag Archives: worth doing

Great Parking right in the town

A couple of years ago, I popped into the Pukekohe A & P to see how their Motorhome Parking was going as they had just started it and it looked great. Since then they have had some big groups of Motorhome parties through and most nights, there is somebody there.

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Looking back to the Motorhome Parking area across the Kart track

At only $20 a night including power with access to their brand new ablutions block with showers and toilets, it is ceratinly great value. The only downside over the last year or so has been the wet weather.

Rafe on the hard with the new ablutions block.

Fiona and I stopped in to stay a night and have a look around. After talking to Gina, who runs the office, she introduced me to Ian, the volunteer Camp organiser who was telling me  that the wet weather issue is about to be solved with the addition of rolled out gravel to all of the sites in stages.

Volunteer Parking Organiser/Creator Ian, at the parking area

I could tell while talking to Ian that he was really excited by the way the Motorhome Parking has developed and where it was going. He has done a wonderful job and I’m looking forward to seeing it when we come back in a few months.

A break in the rain

As the rain was almost horizontal and the wind with it, we decided to stay on the gravel by the new loos.

This must be the judges box

The site is huge with more than 50 acres odd to walk around. Dogs are welcome on leads and it is only a stones throw from the centre of Pukekohe so good for shopping too.

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The train station is only 500 metres away and although the trains didn’t worry us, Ian tells me that it has been a problem for some. I love the sound of those big Diesels pulling a couple of hundred metres of train!

Pukekohe station

The next morning, we dodged the showers and went for a walk through the own to check out the shops and have lunch. Just over the road and along from the camp is a huge Mall with a Warehouse and all the shops you’d ever want. Very handy.

Fiona with a Statue of Possum Bourne in the main street
One of the Malls just around the corner

I used to have to come out to the Pukekohe races when I was a wee fella in short pants (about 5-6 ) as my Dad was involved with Shell Racing, and I remember Pukekohe then as a small village with big racetrack. It has definitely changed from those days.

I’m looking forward to going back soon to check out the new all weather parking setup. Well done Ian and team for a great setup.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Pukekohe. You can see we missed the turnoff 🙂

Fairlie, the home of great pies and Campground!

Our aim after leaving Lowburn was to stay at Fairlie after getting a freezer full of one of the best pies in the South Island. They’re known as “Fairlie good pies” around the south but I reckon they’re Fairlie Amazing pies. Pork Belly with crackling, Chicken and Salmon and some other amazing options.

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Taken under a light in the Rafe – Pork Belly with the Crackling all ready eaten 🙂

 

After stopping at Lake Pukaki for lunch we hurtled on to Fairlie.

The place to stay in Fairlie is the Fairlie Holiday Park which is also taking part in the NZMCA’s Camp Saver program.

Nice parking

$20 a night for a powered site with everything else available. There is a dump station, great Toilets and showers in several places and a huge council playground right next door for the little ones.
They also have Dogs on leashes.

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This motorcamp up until about 6 years ago was part of the Top Ten network but closed. Mary Jane and her partner Dutchie have taken it from there and it looks fantastic.

Kitchen and Laundry

It is also only 5 minutes walk into the main shopping area one way and is next to a lovely huge river on the other side.

Looking through to the playground

Being able to park for the night in sites like this on the Camp Saver program is just fabulous and long may it continue and grow.

The Big Mine

Macraes is famous for its size and as it was on the way to Middlemarch, we stopped at the lookout for a look at this amazing mine. Friends of ours had shown us this several years ago but it looked even bigger this time than I remember it.

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The BIG Hole – To the left of the car on the road you’ll see the diggers in the pic below
Looking down in the BIG Hole

From the top the diggers and trucks were just little specks and you really have to look hard to see them doing their thing in the mine. Its massive!

The mine was opened in 1990 and since then has produced more than 5.7 tonnes of Gold.

The Boot Makers

After this we checked out the town ship which was basically the pub and a few historic old buildings.

The Pub at Macraes

Its amazing seeing all these places and this was one town that I had never seen.

Rafe’s Tracker Map to Macraes

The Big Ride to the Horeke Pub

After a great night of catching up with Helen, Chloe and Jessica along with Dianne and Gary, it was time to get some sleep for the big 30k ride the next day.

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Getting the bikes ready

The next morning, Helen and the the girls set off to check out the Bay of Islands and we got organised and set off towards Horeke.

The top part of the Trail

We simply crossed the road and headed off down the trail. The first part of the trail is downhill..some of it so steep that you are advised to walk it! The first third is pretty much downhill but then it flattens out and its up and down the rest of the way through to Horeke but the trail is pretty easy and nicely set out.

Riding beside the stream

The middle part of the ride go’s through Snows Farm and past a Lily pond and the track is set in some really nice easy bush and along side a river. The scenery and countryside is amazing.

Dianne and Fiona

Eventually the track comes out to a road and then cross’s over to a huge wooden track built up over the Mangroves on the upper reaches of the Hokianga. From there it is only a few K’s to the pub.

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We were well and truly ready for a G&T and a sit down lunch and the lunch didn’t disappoint!  The Seafood Chowder was recommended to us by Noeline at the Rail Stay so 4 Seafood Chowders later, everyone was happy.

Peter the Publican came over to say Hi and it was interesting talking to him. He has owned the Horeke Tavern for more than 25 years so has seen some big changes.

Horeke Pub

Peter runs a shuttle for bikes and gave a us a ride back to the Rail Stay. Gary being a bit of sucker for some more punishment, decided to ride back on his electric bike and did it in really good time too, despite it being mostly uphill on the way back.

Back for a cold one with Rafe later.. Dianne, Jessica, Helen and Gary.

The Coastal Walkway

It was going to be a scorcher so we got the bikes sorted and headed from the Bell Block park down towards the Waterfront to join up to the Walkway.

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Fiona screaming down the hill to the walkway.

From the Bell Block park to the Wind Wand is about 20k’s round trip so its a good ride and you know you’ve used some muscles when you return 🙂

Coming up to the Te Rewa Rewa bridge
The Te Rewarewa ridge

The trip is mostly downhill to the Te Rewa Rewa bridge but its a fantastic pathway. Some of its boardwalk but most of it is a wide concrete path which eventually goes through the side of the Fitzroy Holiday Park. We stopped at the Kiosk for a cuppa and something to eat and then rode on to the Wind Wand. Great fun.

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There we left the waterfront to have a quick look at some shops and then headed back along one of the shopping streets and back down to rejoin the Waterfront.

Fitzroy beach

Just fantastic. A great outlook and apart from the uphill bit at the end going up through the houses was pretty easy. .. Well worth doing!!

Heading home

A couple of glasses of wine later with some neighbours in the park and that was us for the day 🙂

Cricket on the mudflats

Another nice contender for Summer 2018

Fiona had left Bland Bay and was heading back to town to do other things .. and work so she suggested that I spend another night out on the way back. We stopped in Waipu and had lunch and then Fiona went on to Auckland.

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The cricket pitch with the campground behind
The cricket pitch with the campground behind

I rang the good folk at one of my favorite spots when the weathers good, Whangateau by Matakana. A great campground run by Auckland City.

In the Grandstand
In the Grandstand

Today was a bit different as when I arrived, the tide was out and there was a friendly game of cricket with two families involved. One was from Whangaparoa and the other from the UK visiting. They were having a ball. I had to get some piccies.

It is a fascinating place to watch as the tide comes in really quickly covering hundreds of metres of exposed mud in just under an hour… Amazing to watch.

The water is coming in
The water is coming in

A nice campground if you’re looking for somewhere not to far from Auckland. See my earlier Whangateau post here.

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Rafes Track to Whangateau Holiday park

Rafes Tracker Map
Rafes Tracker Map

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.

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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

The Lost Spring in Whitianga

This is as good as it gets without going to a tropical island and includes all the nice things that go with it.

Fiona and I first came here about 8 years or so ago when there was an accommodation deal with an apartment block next door where we could walk through a hole in the fence. It was just magic and we have often talked about when we could go again.

The swing bridge

There is something seriously nice about sitting in the pool having cocktails and beautiful sea food chowder while you’re enjoying the heat from the thermal waters.

In December this year, they’re celebrating their 10th Anniversary so we might have to pop back in then too 🙂

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Just over 10 years or so ago, longtime Whitianga entrepreneur Alan found out he had some thermal water under his property but it was just a case of finding it.  After sinking 4 bores down at huge expense, he struck gold and the Lost Spring was found. Over the course of a few years, he then set out to create what we see now as the Lost Spring Hot Pools and Restaurant.

A Cave that you can swim into

The detail in the Caves and Volcanos with waterfalls and the Gardens are amazing and its something else to swim in and out of them.

You’ve probably gathered by now that I’m a real sucker for some nice Hot Pools but these really do take the cake!

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Alan now runs it with his daughter Allana and it just gets better and better with the addition of a Day Spa and some elevated Massage Therapy  rooms overlooking the pools.

Allana and Alan

One of the neat things here is the old Whitianga Schoolhouse was moved and restored and is now the Restaurant, Reception  and changing room area.

Enjoying the Heat

The whole experience is a real treat and trust me, you will feel very spoiled!

One of the New Elevated Massage therapy rooms.

If you’re in the area, this is an experience you won’t forget and remember you can park your Motorhome there if you’ve had a swim.

Update 1/1/2019:  Motorhome overnight parking is no longer available.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Weights and Tyres

At the recent NZMCA Motorhome show at Mystery Creek, I caught up with Phil from Carters Tyres.   After 59000 k’s, Rafes tyres were down to 2mm and I needed to replace them before my next COF so I was keen to find out the ins and outs of tyres.

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Phil from Carters

One of the things I wasn’t aware of that Phil highlighted was that many Motorhomers and Caravanners weren’t really aware of the weight limits on the tyres themselves. While we are all very aware of GVM’s and Axle weights, as that is what you get fined for if you get them wrong, many of us overlook the per wheel weights on our tyres.

Checking the rear wheels

As Carters were weighing vehicles the next morning, I moved to where the scales were and Rafe was weighed.

The scales

Both the back wheels were 1100kg’s or within a few kg’s either side (without the bikes) and the front wheels were 970kg and 1020kgs.  The Michelin Agilis tyres that I had on have a weight limit of 1250kgs per tyre so no worries there.

While I was pleased with the Michelins and how they had worn, they were expensive to replace with prices from nearly $1800 – $2000 for four, depending on who you got at the counter 🙂

The Michelin Agelis after 59000k’s

Phil was telling me that the Giti company produced a truck tyre with specs similar to the Michelin for almost half the price.. the GT Radial. It has a per tyre limit of 1460kgs, has more belts in the tread to help it track really well and 10 ply on the sides which is plenty. Yippee!!

The new Gt radials

So I booked into Carters in Highbrook in Auckland and Patrick was the man weilding the tools to change my tyres.

Patrick putting one of the new tyres on

I couldn’t get over the technology now used to change tyres. I remember when I was 17 years old odd, I worked in a service station in between photographic jobs and for a while was in the tyre bay.  I remember a steel pole concreted in the ground with a circular seat half way up that held the tyre while you wrestled with a long steel pole to lever off the tyre. Lots of fun ! These days, its all pneumatics.

A Tyre Changer of days gone by 🙂

Back to Rafes new tyres.. Each wheel was balanced and filled up with Nitrogen and refitted to Rafe.

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Patrick did a great job on the tyres and driving home felt very different. You could really feel the extra rubber and it seemed to track better at speed on the motorway too. They also seem quieter on the road as well.

Rafe in the Tyre Bay

They’re definitely the place to get your tyres and NZMCA members get a really good discount too!

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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Rafe’s Tracker map