Tag Archives: worth doing

We’re publishing a couple of books!

Great news .. We’re publishing 4 ebooks.!!

This was my lockdown 1 project 🙂

These publications are all based on this Blog.

As a Photojournalist of some 25 plus years and a Commercial Photographer for another 25, these books are all about the images. We went to some amazing places giving me the opportunity to get some great images.

Bugger it we are off to Hit the Trails is about our nearly two month trip in our own Dethleffs Globe 4 around the beautiful South Island of New Zealand which we did just last year.

We had been living in our motorhome for several months between houses and it was time to bust out and explore some of the South Island Rail Trails that we hadn’t finished or completed.

Some beautiful scenery and we meet some magic people along with catching up with some old friends.

Bugger it we are off Around the Mountain follows the famous Forgotten Highway from Taurumanui through to Stratford. We check out remote town of Whangamomona, its pub and its people and then with the help of an old friend, we check out some of the finer parts of New Plymouth and explore Taranaki.

The bright lights of Wellington beckon and then on up for a brief look at the Hawkes Bay.

A really interesting trip exploring some of New Zealand’s more remote towns.

This is a lockdown redo of an earlier book which was in a different format… this is much nicer 🙂

Bugger it we are off to Europe in an Old Hymer is based on our two week trip to the UK to pick up an old Classic Hymer motorhome and then following our motorhome friends through the Chunnel and over 5 weeks, we explore central Europe with bikes.

An absolutely fabulous trip including many cities and towns from Belgium, Netherlands, Germany Czech Republic and back through France. Some amazing places, nice buildings and nice people.

Click on the links below to buy the books!

These are in Kindle format.. Epub’s coming soon.


Bugger it we are off to Napier Art Deco – Buy from Amazon
50 Pages – US$2.99   This is FREE from the 11th – 15th September!

 

Bugger it we are off Around the Mountain – Buy from Amazon76 Pages – US$5.49

 

Bugger it we are off to Europe in an old Hymer – Buy from Amazon
158 Pages – US$5.99


Bugger it we are off to Hit the Trails – Buy from Amazon
234 Pages – US$5.99

The Ipad / Iphone ibooks version is due in a couple of months..

Check out the Art Deco book while its free for a taste of the others.

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

Cricket on the mudflats

Yay .. its the end of lockdown.. we’re away again.. almost !   Here’s a couple more posts from early 2017 until we get away again.

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.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

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

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.

Left right, left right, attention !

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

What a great weekend! The weather was great and we had things to do.

After Fiona had finished work, we headed out to one of our favorite spots, the NZMCA park at Ardmore, a hop skip and a jump from Alex, Sarah and the Grandkids.

As always, remember to click on the images to see Hi Res.

Rob & Helens Autotrail and Rafe
Rob & Helens Autotrail and Rafe

Our friends, Rob & Helen and their daughter Chloe were heading off for a week or so to Napier and Gisborne so it was great we could pop in to Ardmore to see them off. When we arrived at about 7:30pm, they were off on a walk so they were a bit surprised to see us there when they returned as we hadn’t confirmed that we would be there.

Alex, Sarah and the boys came over after their tea and we all caught up in Rafe. Lots of fun.

The Ardmore NZMCA park is in an airfield precinct so a little noise comes with the territory, usually small planes and sometimes Helicopters.

Ardmore Park with Rob & Helens Autotrail and Rafe next door. The Cadet hall behind.
Ardmore Park with Rob & Helens Autotrail and Rafe next door. The Cadet hall behind.

That morning, things were different. At 8am, we heard the repetitive bark of a Sergeant Major type next door in the cadet parade ground teaching St John Juniors how to march. It was quite interesting to watch too as some didn’t know the left from the right so there were some interesting moves happening.
They were all togged up in their black uniforms and looked good, some even wearing their medals. There was one trainer who forgot his black clobber and was doing it all in his Red shorts.

St Johns Juniors marching
St Johns Juniors marching

As Fiona said, good on him for volunteering his time on a Saturday morning but it did sort of spoil the overall look.

About 9:30, we said goodbye to Rob, Helen and Chloe and they headed off to Taupo for their trip to Hawkes Bay and beyond. We left as well and went around to Alex, Sarahs and the Grandkids for the morning and around lunchtime, headed towards one of our other favorite places, Rays Rest at Miranda.  We were  catching up our friends Gary and Chris who were helping other friends Mark and Tina with their first trip out in their new, second hand Motorhome.
Rays Rest is a great spot and the weather was behaving as well.

Rays Rest
Rays Rest

After arriving early in the afternoon, we caught up for cups of tea and later a couple of drinks and then  headed off in Gary’s van down to get the fish and chips for tea from the famous Kaiaua fish and chips shop.  Gary wasn’t drinking so that worked well.  It was nice to see how much progress Mark had made on his motorhome as when he got it, it leaked and had quite a lot of dampness in its linings. .. now all gone.  More on this in another post soon.

We had a great night together and called it quits and hit the hay.

At Rays Rest
At Rays Rest

The next morning was nice in diffused sunshine with little wind. We sat on the foreshore watching people fish and just soaked up the atmosphere.

At Rays Rest, Gary, Fiona, Tina, Chris and Mark
At Rays Rest, Gary, Fiona, Tina, Chris and Mark

Gary, Chris, Tina and Mark were going to carry on to Thames and Coromandel so after lunch, we left them and headed home. A nice weekend.

 

Good value Motohome parking with Pools.

After a great lunch at a Cafe in Ngongotaha shopping centre (the one closest to the NZMCA park) we had to start thinking about where we were going to stay for the night. It was 36C and I was sweaty already. It was also time to wash the linen.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

Rafe between the Hedgerows

Rotorua Family Holiday Park came up on the NZMCA app as being reasonably priced and they also had a laundry and a pool!  Perfection at $34 a night with a powered site and they were just around the corner in Ngongotaha.

Kids Playground

Motorhomers Reece and Diane, have been working on this park for the last 13 years and it looks fantastic. I was really impressed with the Motorhome sites being big, between hedgerows and easy to get in and out off.

The Tourist Flats .. neat

After buying their new Motorhome about 18 months ago, their only regret was having been too busy to get away in it.. the downside of self employment but they’ve done an excellent job of doing up the park and I’m sure they’ll get time to get away eventually !

Art Deco Loos

The Tourist flats and Toilets are in an Art Deco style and have all been done up and they look great.

How are those Flats

They’ve just finished doing up the Kitchen, Laundry and BBQ area and it looks good.

The Barbeque area.. neat and tidy

Fiona stripped the bed and headed off to the Laundry while I walked around and got some piccies. After that, we both headed straight for the pool and were there most of the afternoon. It was heavenly. We did have momentary thoughts about biking in on the trail to Rotorua which is literally just outside the gate but it was just too hot!

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

We hadn’t long been in the pool when we met some German tourists who lived in southern Germany near Isny where the Dethleffs Motorhomes are made. Nice people and they were really interesting to talk to given Brexit and other things that are happening at the moment.

Nicely setup

It was nice to find a really nice clean campground, with great hosts at a really sensible price, in what is normally quite an expensive place to stay.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Cruise ideas for the new year – Northland

Where to this year?  Here’s some other ideas..

Click on this link to see some trips we’ve  done around Northland

The outside of the Hundertwasser Toilets

The latest post will come first so scroll down to the bottom to get a chronological order.

Enjoy

Rafe’s new Landscaped Park

One of the challenges we all have as Motorhome owners is where to park our Motorhomes.  Over the last month or so, we’ve been progressively been making space for ours.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

Boxing on. you can see the original bit
Boxing
The ready mix going in. Ryan floating off the slab

In the last two weeks, one of the bigger changes we’ve made to our new place in Devonport is hard landscaping of our front yard. It includes a flash new raised Garden which Fiona has always wanted. A parking area for our visitors as parking is a premium around here and a few green things around Rafe’s park and making it easier to get Rafe in and out of the park.

Rafe’s first day
Some of that fence has gone

A very good friend of my son Andrew, Ryan and his wife Jordan have done an amazing job. Ryan’s speciality is concrete but he has done a lot in the landscaping area too so we’re really chuffed with what we’ve got on a small difficult site. Ray helped too with redoing the fence and the raised gardens. A great job folks.

The Digger off to pull out the clothesline

We’ve only been here a couple of months. In that time, the concrete parking pad has been extended for Rafe, Hot water cylinder replaced and moved outside, a heat pump installed, the Laundry shifted around to be more functional, and now this amazing Garden.

While the Garden was being done, the fence had to be rebuilt as all the railings were knackered. The posts and palings were reused into an arty random fence.. We like it, the neighbours like it but quite a few don’t 🙂  we can always trim it later !

We also left a few bits at the front off to make it easier to get Rafe in and out 🙂

Ryan supervising the first scraping off the grass

 

Click on the Gallery below to see the progress!

A big thanks to Ryan, Jordan and Ray for their fantastic efforts.

Easy parking

Thats it for now for a while on the house so we’re back in Rafe on the road for summer.

Rotating Tyres

During my travels through the last NZMCA Motorhome show in Auckland, I bumped into Phil Jackson at Carters. He made a point of reminding me to make sure I rotated my tyres to get the best out of them but at that stage they had only done 5000k’s odd, but now that they’ve done 10000 k’s, I thought I’d better get on with it 🙂

Click on any Image for Hi Res

All ready at Carters

So I duly made an appointment with Carters Tyres in Highbrook, where I had my tyres fitted and they were happy to rotate them for me. Carters are a big supporter of the NZMCA and if you’re looking for tyres, they give NZMCA members a pretty good discount. They saved me a fortune.

The Tyre Technician for the day was Mohit who was ready to get stuck in as I rolled in.

On the way up

One of the traps with the Dethleffs wheel covers is they have some Alun nuts as a decoration and a couple that are actually functional. Sometimes its a bit of a mission to pick the real ones. The plastic ones have to glued back on if you get them by accident !

Spot the decorations

Mohit successfully navigated his way around that and whipped all the wheels off one at a time and rebalanced the wheels for the front as he refitted them.

Off with the first tyre
All done !

While they were off, its amazing seeing them side by side to see the wear. On their own it was hard to see but definitely the wear can be seen next to each other. In the pictures, the front tyre is on the left.

Mohit with a front (left) and rear tyre (right) .. not a lot of difference

As Rafe is a front wheel drive vehicle, the back wheels are just being dragged along behind for the ride so there is minimal wear until they’re on the front so tyre rotation is really important if you want to get even wear from your tyres.

Front tyres being balanced

An hour later, we all ready to go again. .. for another 10 k’s until the next rotation 🙂

Ready to go for another 10k