Tag Archives: worth doing

Redwood Forest Treewalk and Ride

This was the main reason why we wanted to come to Rotorua. We moved Rafe to Cozy Cottage Holiday Park as it’s a bit less to bike! We’ve stayed here before some time ago and as they were doing a deal and because I’m a sucker for Hot Pools which they have, yippee, we’re in!

Click on an Image to Enlarge

Walking through Redwood Forest

Its also closer to the Redwood Park area. As it was Easter, the park was chocker but mostly with tents and a few Caravans.

The Tree walk

After checking in, we got the bikes ready and headed off to the Redwoods Forest area. Although we had a brochure with a map on the back of the Trail to get there was as clear as mud and we found ourselves having to stop and get directions a few times but got there and its a great ride just getting there once you know where you’re going 🙂

Fiona checking in

I waited with the bikes and got some pictures around it while Fiona did the walk. It looks great with platforms on the bigger trees with suspension bridges between. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour. There is also a night time walk you can do with the trees all lit up which comes free with the daytime walk.

Into the forest

After Fiona got back, we got on the bikes and opted to do the “Mokopuna” trail which takes you around an easy route through the trees and about 2/3rds of the way around there is an exit chute from the forest where you can head back into town for lunch which is exactly what we did.

Magical

On the way back we rode past the Racecourse where there were 600 odd plus mostly white Motorhomes enjoying the NZMCA Annual AGM. An awesome sight seeing so many parked in one spot.

After the walk and onto the ride.

After lunch we headed back to the Park for a hot swim after our 16 odd K’s ride.

Checking out the Kiwis

Kiwi North which is about 5k’s out of Whangarei on the road from Dargaville is also the home of the Whangarei Museum and many of the local clubs with an amazing collection of things that clubs have.. Stationery Engines, Medical Museum, Radio operators, Cars and Tractors, Railway enthusiasts and the list goes on.

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One of the Kiwis  – pic supplied

The big attraction though is the Kiwi house where you can get up close with them. This is the first time Fiona and I had ever seen one this close and with one of the volunteers close by telling us all about them was amazing.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

They are actively involved with a Kiwi breeding program to try and stop the decline in their numbers and their modern Kiwi House makes it so easy to see them right up close. We were inches away from them!

A Nugget in the museum found in Hukerenui

The park is also currently refurbishing the Clark Homestead along with an amazing Octagonal shaped Chapel and other outbuildings.

See images inside the house from my last visit.

Clark Homestead being done up

There is the old Kauri Train station and the old Whangarei Woman’s Gaol there too.

Whangarei Woman’s Gaol

To make it easier for NZMCA’rs who would like to check it out, they also have parking for up to 4 vans with power, toilets and showers for just $15. There is also a discount for access to the Kiwis and the Museum for NZMCA’rs too!

The parking for Motorhomes

I’ve popped in here before but this was Fiona’s first time and its a great place with plenty to see and do.

Every Kiwi should do this and with international visitors being hard to come by due to Covid, make sure you pop in next time you’re up that way 🙂

Rafe’s Tracker map to Kiwi North – Armada GPS

Quad bikes to Poutu Lighthouse

Over the years there was a service run locally in Poutu by a chap called Jock who by all accounts was a real character and one of those really nice people who couldn’t do enough for you. Jocks operation used to run visitors along the 7 km beach to see the historic Lighthouse.

The lighthouse up the top

Sadly Jock passed away and the service stopped so the Poutu Marine Campground managers, John and Janine carried it on and it is not to be missed.

John popped over to Rafe the day before and had worked out the tides so we could get there and back with no issues along the beach the next day… wow we were fizzing..

Odd looking Dunes on the way

I was to drive one quad bike with Fiona on the back and John would lead on the other. I was given a brief driving lesson on the front lawn and we were off to the boat ramp down the road and off down the beach.

Parts of a shipwreck appearing.

The sun was shining but there was a good 20 knot westerly which we were driving into but it added to the fun. We stopped along the way to see a wreck which had just appeared out of sand dune.

Apparently every day is different when the wind is blowing where the beach completely changes and sand dunes appear and disappear. Its amazing.. This has the effect where all the historic wrecks along this coast do the same and when they’re uncovered, they’ll disappear just as quickly !

We moved on to see some really unusual sand dunes that had popped up and a ti tree grove that had been completely covered by sand. A bit further we veered off through the dunes to see a freedom camping spot with about 4 carloads of people enjoying a private little spot in the dunes. After a friendly wave, we carried on.

John about to head up to the Lighthouse

Up came some BIG sand dunes and it was time for another driving lesson to get familiar with the loose sand. These were massive and its huge amounts of fun.. Fiona stayed on the back so I think I passed the test 🙂

On a bit further and it was time to climb up the 80 odd metres to the famous Lighthouse. John was saying that DOC have just replaced the door broken by vandals and given it some paint but it needs much more. The lighthouse was built in the 1840’s as by then there had been nearly 100 shipwrecks with boats trying to cross the bar and sinking in the channel.

Fiona nd John with Lighthouse behind

At the top there is more evidence of attempts to plant some trees covered by sand. The sand up around the back of the lighthouse is all quite new.

The Quad with sand covered trees.

After a trip further around to another vantage point for a piccy, we set off back to the Poutu Camp.

A person we saw clamber up the sand dune to take a pic.

The whole trip took about 3 hours and was just fantastic.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

A day or so later in the afternoon, John popped over and offered to show us up the inner harbour which has a completely different look to it. That was great too and its amazing how much of the beach and cliffs have eroded up there. There was a pipe of a bore right at the water line where a village once stood but had to be abandoned.

Fiona nd John on the inside of the Harbour looking back to Poutu

Another great trip and well worth doing.

As far as we could go.. close to Kelly’s Bay

Cleaning those MPK vents

As time marches on, things in a motorhome and caravan need to be cleaned and one of the trickier things to clean is the little MPK roof vents normally found in most showers and bathrooms in your motorhome.

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Yuk… grubby vent

While you’re taking these out to clean, its a good idea while they are out to replace and broken catches that have lost their tabs like two of mine had.

I had the good fortune to have a friend Bruce who had replaced his so he knew exactly where to get some replacements. Moutere Caravans have packets of 4 for $30 plus a courier so well worth getting before you start.

The torx screws on the arms

I also went to Bunnings to invest in a Torx screwdriver kit which is like an Alun key set which was very useful to get in the tight spots on the vent.

Getting underway….. After starting on the inside by undoing the 4 Torx screws holding the arms to the motorhome and then gently lifting the vent off the roof, I moved the whole assembly to the kitchen table.

Dirty vent on its back ready for dismantling.

Out came a bucket of Sunlight dishwashing liquid in a bucket and a soft cloth.

With the vent on its back facing up on the table, I could easily get the Torx screwdriver down through the handle at each end to remove the screws holding the handle onto the perspex. It also holds the plastic inner to the perspex outer cover so expect it to all come apart at that point.

The Torx screwdriver to get at the handle screws

It makes it really easy though at this point to gently prise out the catches for replacement and give the whole thing a good clean. I got some replacement springs too so replaced those as well.

I replaced all the catches as the ones that weren’t broken were so brittle with the sun that the tabs broke anyway as soon as I tried to remove them.

Tab missing and catch!
One with a tab still!

Be careful with the perspex outer cover as it can scratch really easily.

The new catch ready to go
Sliding in a new catch

As you re assemble it, be careful not to over tighten the screws as you will strip them in the plastic.

All clean ready to reassemble.

The whole process took me about 2 hours from start to finish and it makes a really big difference and the look when its all back together… there’s also something nice about doing it yourself too!

All done and clean.

After 7 years of neglect on our roof, my whole vent was a different colour and as a result, lets in a lot more light.

Nice and clean and back together.
Its a beautiful thing !

Big Motors, Big Sounds, Retro Caravans, Motorhomes at the Beach Hop!

One of those BIG events of the year which I reckon we should all do at least once. The 2020 Beach Hop was postponed from earlier in the year but it was just as popular as it always is.  Its a fun event and the fine people at Whangamata did well accommodating everyone as the place was literally jumping with people 🙂

One of our neighbours towed his Rolls Royce behind his Motorhome
Complete with a machine gun!

There were 1700 registered (for the show) vehicles plus they think about that again of unregistered owners of vehicles who turned up just to enjoy the fun.

Rafe in line

I parked on the Whangamata School footy field along with nearly 300 other Motorhomers and a whole lot of Retro Caravans. At $75 for three nights each van, it makes a great donation to the school of about $14k which replaces a lot of cake stalls 🙂

The Retro Caravans – Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

I managed to get to see some old friends who I haven’t seen for a long time. They’re both ex newspaper Photographers who have retired here now and love it.

Another neighbour with his Ford
Heading out

I met John who used to work at the Christchurch Press and Star, and his wife Cheryl at their favorite coffee shop in the centre of town. Very hard to hear anything with the big V8’s running past but it was really nice to see them. I also caught up with Paul who I used to work at the Herald with. We met at the Whangamata Club which is a neat place and just down the road from the school.. Paul is a Caravanner now so great to see him too.

Just Cruising – Click on the Gallery below to enlarge

Without a doubt the Grand Parade was one of the big events of the weekend and it went forever width the sheer numbers of cars. Quite a few woman made the most of the occasion and were dressed up in their bebop skirts and looked amazing.

Grand Parade and later – Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

Amongst the cars popped out a Morris 1000 with a half done paint job which got a few smiles. Most of us some where in our histories have had one of those or knew someone with one.

The Morris 1000

After enjoying a good lunch in a town café with an elevated deck for a view of the street, I wandered back and listened to one of the many bands playing.

There was one called Boom Boom Deluxe appropriately singing Rockabilly music and doing it really well. The female lead singer / double bass player, Hettie La Bomb, could really belt out the sound and looked the part too.

Hettie La Bomb on her Bass
Hettie La Bomb

One of the things I enjoyed this time was watching people reactions to the cars and the event.

Specialist French vintage Models, Dollykitten and Marion

A lot of fun and after several years of trying to get here but other things getting it the way, I’m pleased I came. Neat place, I met some nice people and lots of action.

The big picture – Rafe’s Tracker map to Whangamata – Armada GPS
Rafe’s Tracker map to the school – Armada GPS

Rugby, Hot Pools and a nice place to stay.

The sky was a bit murky and we had a day left before having to head home so it was Rotorua for the night, and the search was on for a hot pool.

The Bledisloe Cup game was on that afternoon so we had a choice of finding a pub or staying somewhere with the rugby and Fiona likes to be near some shops 🙂 The Top 10 was the answer plus it had some hot pools.. a big bonus.

Click on an Image to enlarge

The entrance to Rotorua Top 10

As we drove in, I met Caroline who couldn’t have been more helpful. We were very fortunate to get a park right next to the pools and close to the showers and loos and not far from the rugby 🙂

Plenty of room

They have two thermal pools and a swimming pool. The two thermal pools run at 38C and 40C, plenty hot enough for us…

Proper thermal water.!

It was interesting looking at the comments on the app which said the pools weren’t hot enough and the parks were squeezed in. All the parks I saw allowed for an easy 3m gap. Most had a table set between each park.(much more than 3m!) .. and the pools were great.

The Thermal pools

After a quick splash in the pools, were set off into the Rotorua shopping area, about 10 minutes walk. We had a packed program 🙂 Lunch, a quick look around the shops and then the Rugby at 4!

Downtown Rotovegas

After the rugby we met some people who had hired 5 Dethleffs Trend Motorhomes and were on route to the Hawkes Bay, just staying one night. They were having a ball.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

We had another swim when we got back and met some people also from Auckland with a small caravan not unlike our Wee Rafe that we started with. They were looking for a Motorhome so it was interesting talking to them.

The Dethleffs Trends off to the Hawkes Bay

The sky was strange.. one minute it was and quite threatening and then clear and then back to overcast again…

Rafe near the big pillow

A nice spot in Rotorua and once of the better campgrounds I’ve stayed in.  It is also within walking distance from pretty much everywhere and with the facilities, its a winner. I’ve got it marked down as a GPS favorite for our next visit.

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Top 10 in Rotorua – Armada GPS

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.