Tag Archives: worth doing

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

Boiling Mud and Geysers

Grandsons, Ayden and Liam were both really looking forward to seeing some boiling mud for the first time and if we could, the famous Pohutu Geyser.

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Fiona, Ayden and Liam on the way to the Geysers

We left early and walked about 100 metres to Te Puia all well connected by tunnels under the roadway. The family pass which was normally $150 odd seemed appropriate and because there was a NZ special discount, we were able to show our drivers licenses and get nearly $50 off !  A big saving.

The base of the Geysers

There  just enough time to get the boys an ice cream and us a coffee before the next tour was due to head off with Guide Kiri.

Kiri with the Tour group

She was fantastic and as the Geysers were still building up a head of steam, after teaching the group of about 60 in the tour how to pronounce the full name of Whakarewarewa(and a lot more), she took us first to see the craft academy. Whakarewarewa is the abbreviated form !

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I didn’t realise but they have a full Academy for training craftsmen from Bone or Stone carving to Wood Carving, Jewellery and many other skills. They work on show for the tourists behind and below a walkway and you finally end up in a Gallery where the work is available to buy. The trainees have uniforms and have a full apprenticeship/graduation ceremony. It is an amazing setup. Very entrepreneurial and all done very nicely. I was impressed.

The base of the Geysers

The steam was building up so Kiri took us down to the Mud Pools then onto the Geysers. Unfortunately there was a grey sky and the steam and the clouds all merged so it was impossible to really see the water let alone photograph it. The boys enjoyed it and also got to sit on some warm concrete which was nice as it was only 10C!

Boiling Mud

We spent about 4 hours there all up and we decided it was time to head back to Rafe and go and warm up in the Hot Pool.

Pohutu Geyser is in there somewhere

As I say, I was very impressed with the way it was all setup. Paths and bridges are a long way from what I remember from the old Whaka village with them all being well engineered and maintained.
A fun day for young and old 🙂

Fun in the Sun

The Port Hills and Akaroa.. a neat place!

The view as you come over the hill
The view as you come over the hill

I’d forgotten what a windy old road it is to get to Akaroa but after Arthur’s Pass, it was easy. There were a lot of camper vans coming out of Akaroa so I’m pleased we didn’t do it at night.

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Lunch with a view
Lunch with a view
Enjoying the view
Enjoying the view
Fun in the water
Fun in the water
Eager Seagulls hanging about for scraps
Eager Seagulls hanging about for scraps

The weather continues to be kind to us with another great day. Water like glass and the cafes and eateries were chocker. Parking was awkward but we parked in trailer parking by the boat ramp as you first enter Akaroa. I believe this is also a place where you can overnight for free.
People were just our there enjoying themselves. It was neat to see and the locals seem very genuine with their wish to help you. Very like the west coasters.

French colour
French colour
The Bistro
The Bistro

We checked into the Top Ten campground up on the hill with a park overlooking Akaroa .. Possibly French Bay vineyards and cheese places on the way back to  Christchurch.

Majestic Mountains

A stunning part of the South Island, Arthurs Pass .. a repost

The view from our park at Jacksons Retreat
The view from our park at Jacksons Retreat

After lunch in Hokitika, we walked back over the bridge to the SouthPark NZMCA park and got ready to leave for Arthur’s pass. We were going to stay at Jacksons retreat which has won several awards as campsite of the year. They had something I’d never seen before which was 4-5 bay open side barn like structures set up for Motorhomes. While we were there, there were three tents and a Motorhome in one of them. The weather must be that rough that they have to shelter in these structures! All the Motorhome parks are set up on terraces, all getting a view of the bridge to Lake Brunner and the river. It is well setup with new clean toilets and showers and a laundry. A nice spot.
It the only place to stay on that road until Arthur’s Pass and then you’re at the mercy of the Keas!

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The old pub at Otira
The old pub at Otira

We stopped briefly at Otira and Arthur’s Pass but cruised on to Klondyke for lunch, a nicely setup stop by the river.

When's lunch!
When’s lunch!.. At Klondyke
At Klondyke in the Arthur's Pass National Park
At Klondyke in the Arthur’s Pass National Park
Klondyke in the Arthur's pass national park
Klondyke in the Arthur’s pass national park
Arthur's Pass
Arthur’s Pass
Another Arthur's Pass pic
Another Arthur’s Pass pic
Lake Pearson
Lake Pearson

I remember Arthur’s pass being a pig to get through but even with a nearly 8m Motorhome found it relatively easy.

Over the mountains on the road from Darfield to Christchurch
Over the mountains on the road from Darfield to Christchurch

We stopped regularly for piccies and eventually at Darfield for a cup of tea before we arrived at one of NZMCA ‘s larger parks at Weedons, just out of Christchurch.

Tree Tops

Another oldie but a goodie repost from the South Island..enjoy

South of Hokitika off the main road is Tree Tops. It’s an amazing set of elevated walkways in the trees supported by poles. They’re about 20-30 metres off the ground set up as bridges between platforms.

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Chris and Madam on the tour
Chris and Fiona on the tour
Chris and Madam on the walkways
Chris and Fiona on the walkways
The view of the lake
The view of the lake
The two in red on the walkways
The two in red on the walkways

There is also a tower with is about 60 odd metres up which look out over a lake and the sea.

The huge tower with Madam in the red
The huge tower with Fiona in the red

All the trees and bird life have little explanation boards at each stop and it’s all very well thought out. There is quite a big cafe there and plenty of parking for Motorhomes.

After years of climbing high things and going to stupid places to get pictures as a newspaper photographer, even up to the top of fuel silos, I couldn’t do the high tower at tree tops. Just the thought of that little bit if metal and a few bolts for each step gave me the willys.  I’m sure it’s quite safe, just me! Funny how you don’t think about these things when you’re young and silly😃

We left there and parked in the NZMCA’s park by the Hokitika bridge.

Another great night with some unusually great west coast weather!