Tag Archives: worth doing

Pukekura Park

One of the things I’ve wanted to visit but either ran out of time or was too far away, is the amazing Pukekura Park.

Click on any Image to EnlargeIt was started in the late 1800’s and started as 54 Acres. It is now 128 acres, significantly bigger and is just beautiful. They also have an amazing nighttime display with Lighting which I’ve yet to see.  One day soon.

The old band Rotunda
Through the Ferns

I got a cab up from Fitzroy Motor camp and went for a walk through. There’s a neat Waterfall just as you get in by the lake, a Kiosk which sells everything next to the lake and an old Band Rotunda.

The Waterfall

I walked down around the lake to cross the old wooden bridge and back the other side. With Ferns everywhere you look, it’s a fantastic place to see. It is just stunning!

The Fountain
The small electric Bus

There is a small electric bus which does the rounds for $5 if you don’t feel like walking.

Click on the Gallery below for an enlarged Slideshow

As I walked out, I discovered another lake with a fountain in the middle of it next to another playground and skatepark. New Plymouth has it all!

The Kiosk

What impressed me most was the planting and the scale of it. Well worth the visit.

Looking back from the bridge

Auction for Hospice of the best NZ news photos!

One of the saddest things I had to deal with earlier this year was finding out that my old buddy and ex boss, Rob Tucker had  cancer.

Several years ago when I went down his home town of New Plymouth,  Rob went to some trouble to give me a guided tour of New Plymouth. We later adjourned to his house for tea where I caught up with his wife Bonnie and brother Jim who was also an ex boss when I was at the Auckland Star.

While we were in the South Island earlier this year I received a phone call from another old friend Ross Land to tell me that Rob has organised an auction of our 3 best images from our days in newspapers. We were in Plimmerton at the time about to cross on the ferry and as there was plenty of time, we’d find some images for it  when we got back.

Once we got back to Auckland a few weeks later, I sent a selection of 10 or so images to Rob for him to pick what he thought would work and the three images below are what he picked.

Click on any Image to Enlarge

Tina Turner at a press conference under TV lights.

Rob was one of the NZ Heralds youngest ever Picture Editors.  A vacancy came up at the Herald for a junior and I jumped at it. I was 19yrs old, welding and repairing containers at the time biding my time so it came just at the right time. Rob did me a big favour getting me on board at that early stage as the Herald was a fantastic training ground and a great place to work.  Once you were out of the Newspaper industry, it was really hard to get back in.

Ross joined not long after me and later we shared a darkroom together and became good friends.

Ross and Kay have done a spectacular job over the last few years doing up a classic Caravan!

Michael Winslow outside the Regent in Auckland.

Hospice Taranaki have taken really good care of Rob and he felt he wanted to do something to help them fund their financial situation. He came up with the idea of getting as many of NZ Newspaper photographers to provide their best three images to be mounted and auctioned off for Hospice Taranaki.

Here’s a story from the  NZ Herald of Rob  Its an interesting video and well worth watching.

Run for your wife. One of the last shows at His Majesties Theatre in Auckland before it got bulldozed. L to R: Geoffrey Hughes (Coronation Street), Timothy Lea (Confessions of a Windows Cleaner) and Windsor Davies (It aint half hot mum) were staying at the White Heron lodge in Parnell where I met them early one morning.

There is also a coffee table book with all the images in which will be a collectors item in years to come. The proceeds for this are also heading Hospice’s way.

Its a great idea of his to get behind a great cause and we need to support it.  I’m sure once you see some of the images, you will remember seeing them published.

Here’s a few that didn’t make Robs selection that I sent as well to give you an idea of some of the others.

Click on the Gallery below to Enlarge.

The Auction is being held at Plymouth International Hotel in New Plymouth on the 24th September.

Most if not all the photographers involved will be there too so it’ll be quite a reunion 🙂

Check out the Photo Journalism NZ page here.

Our Milford Sound Extravaganza

We were still fizzing from the Stewart Island trip as we headed towards our next stop which was Te Anau.

Click on any Image to enlarge

Lake Te Anau

On the ferry on the way back from Stewart Island, I booked a deal through the NZMCA with Fiordland Tours where they would pick us up from the club park in Te Anau in a small coach, and take us to Milford Sound. We would then get on a boat for a cruise through Milford Sound with guides all the way and back to Te Anau.

Te Anau NZMCA park

The weather was looking fantastic. With the disappointment of not doing the wings over Wanaka, our original reason for coming down to the South, I was a bit reluctant to book too far out in case something came up or the weather wasn’t looking good. It worked !! We had perfect weather.

Fiona at NZMCA park Te Anau

We arrived in Te Anau early in the afternoon and parked on the lakefront for half an hour or so for a look around. Fiona went for a quick look through some of the shops.

Click on the Gallery below for an enlarged Slideshow

We then rocked into the NZMCA park which is about 1k or so out of the town. Its a nice park with rural views.

At 8am the next morning, the coach turned up and we were off towards Milford Sound. It has been years since I was down here so I’d completely forgotten the lie of the land except I remembered this awful road so we were happy being driven by someone who knew the road and it wasn’t any where near as bad as I remembered.

Amazing Eglington Valley

Our first stop was in an amazing valley surrounded by mountains with a little bit of fog. A lovely spot. Don’t forget to click on these images to have a decent look at them!

We then headed off towards the mirrored lakes and had a stroll through the trees on a boardwalk looking at the reflections. Nice !

Cascade Creek walk

Back in the coach and then we stopped at a small walk down to another lake called Cascade Creek which backs onto Lake Gunn. A nice stroll and lovely place.  The next stop  after this was to see the Falls Creek Waterfall and then we went through the Homer Tunnel.

Lake Gunn

We arrived in Milford and boarded a really nice double decker party boat and set off fairly quickly towards Mitre Peak. You feel so small among these huge mountains all around.

We were lucky to see some rare Hector Dolphins just by Mitre peak which were the largest pod the skipper had every seen in Milford.

Mitre Peak looking very majestic… Stunning

We then we headed out further through the sound towards the Tasman sea. The trip took about 90 minutes but was amazing. It is really nice to get to see and feel the size and scale of these huge mountains which you don’t appreciate from the postcards.

Looking back into Milford Sound from the Tasman sea
Mitre Peak

On the way back we spotted a seal having a snooze on a rock and others playing in the water and then came to a massive waterfall. The skipper put the nose of the boat into the falls for those interested in having a shower to get wet 🙂

A happy seal
Huge Waterfall

We were taken for a walk along the waterfront in Milford before getting back on the coach to head back to Te Anau.

The boat we were on

A great trip and well worth doing.. check out the Deals on the NZMCA web site.

An absolutely stunning trip and well worth doing with a great crew.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Te Anau – Armada GPS

A day at Stewart Island

Arriving in Gore, we parked Rafe in the middle of the main st and crossed over to a nice looking Café. As we approached some people who saw us get out of Rafe and cross the road were waving and smiling at us.

Click on any Image to Enlarge

At Craig’s POP
Happy hour.. Peter and Sues Esprit and Ross to the right.

After sitting down with our coffee, we got chatting to the people right next to us Ross and Sally (the wavers and smilers) originally from Picton.  It turns out that they’re in their third year of living in their Jayco Caravan and cruising around the South Island.

Happy hour outside.

As we chatted away, we worked out that we are all going to Stewart Island on the same ferry in the morning. They gave us the name of the place they were staying at and that the coach was picking them up from there, so I rang both the POP and the coach company and booked both. Easy peasy.

Craig with his amazing collection in the shed.

The Lineham Layover is owned by Craig Lineham and Shelley Peters and is in the northern end of the main street of Invercargill. A nice spot with a big parking area on gravel.

We went from Gore directly to Craig and Shelley’s POP and caught up with Ross and Sally again. Craig is an amazing collector of all sorts.. Matchbox cars, Matches, you name it.

Right opposite them at the Pop was Peter and Sue with their Esprit from Taupo.  We met them at Mapua several years ago… small world. Later we all caught up for a glass of something and a catchup.

The Ferry in the fog at Bluff

We woke up early in the morning and as we made our way out to the end of the driveway, I received a phone call from the driver. He was early! But so were we 🙂

After picking up several other people from around Invercargill, we were off to Bluff to catch the ferry to Stewart Island.  It was a foggy day so they were sound the horn every few minutes for the first part of the journey until the fog lifted. It was going to be a great day and there was hardly any wind so it was a nice smooth sailing.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

45 minutes or so later we were on the wharf at Oban, the capital if you like of Stewart Island.

Oban and the wharf

The ferry was running late so we were quickly hustled onto a coach for a tour of Oban and the surrounding area.

With the Coach group looking out towards Paterson Inlet and the National Park area of Stewart Island beyond.Looking in towards Oban
Looking out Paterson Inlet and beyond.

We found out that power on the island is provided by a Diesel generator or provide your own with solar and generator. The populated part of Stewart Island around Oban, is only a small fraction of the island with the rest of it being National Park. We were taken to a lookout that showed the sheer size of the Island and its inlets and other islands.. amazing when you see it like that.

Fiona checking out the anchor with the coach group

We were shown the Anchor chain which keeps Stewart Island tethered to the mainland or the other way around 🙂

After getting back to Oban, we caught another slightly smaller ferry to Ulva Island with our guide. On the way over to Ulva Island, an Albatross swooped in and landed right next to the ferry which had stopped. Amazing birds.

Ulva Island is park space administered by Doc completely free of most predators giving the birds and trees free run. The birds come right up to your feet and look you up and down.. its amazing. I’ve never been into trees and birds but this is completely different to what you see everywhere else and once you know what’s going on behind the scenes, it pretty cool.. well worth it if you’re heading that way.

The guide leading the way at Ulva Island

We walked back to the ferry to be transferred back to our mainland ferry in Oban, to go back to Bluff.

Farewell Oban
Getting on the ferry back to Bluff

A fantastic day checking it all out at Stewart Island. You can stay the night there too but we did it all in a day to keep the lid on costs but a great day. On the way back on the ferry, I booked our next extravaganza!

Rafe’s Tracker map to Invercargill – Armada GPS

Step out to the Water

Its the silly season and we were looking for somewhere to go.. many places jack up their prices in the hot spots, think $70-80 a night for two and good on them but we would rather go somewhere off the track than pay that and often its just as nice.

Click on any Image to Enlarge

Hot, Wet and just good fun!

We settled on Bledisloe Holiday Park at Little Waihi right on the water.. Just a magic spot and the prices were very reasonable .. 5 nights for just under $200 with power, beachfront parking, fantastic showers(free) and loos of course.

Plenty of Jandals

The camp was busy and slightly chaotic being New Year holiday period but what a spot!.

Fishing at the entrance to the Estuary

On our first day we took Rafe down the road to check out Papamoa. We were parked up on the hill in a Freedom camping spot looking over the beach next to the campground. Fiona was getting ready to go for a swim. I noticed some people all standing on the sand checking something out and there it was.. about a 3 metre shark swimming through the 2 nd breaker along the beach.

The view from Maketu Café towards the Mount.

There was a woman with her 2 yr old toddler just in the water running to grab him.. she also went down the beach further to alert other swimmers and I’ve never seen them get out of the water so fast. Needless to say, Fiona never made it into the water.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slide Show

After the excitement there, we headed to Maketu where the famous pies come from but the shop was shut. We headed for the Café on the water which does an amazing Seafood Basket for lunch looking along the beach towards the Mount.

The Beach in front of us

After a great lunch we headed back to the camp and settled in for the next few days. We met some great people and I have to say, I really enjoyed the change for us of sitting in one spot for a few days and swimming, reading and just taking it all in.

Fiona reading her Ipad

A wonderful park in a superb spot. You can walk over the estuary at low tide to Pukehina Peninsular for somewhere else to explore.

Happy New Year !!

Rafe’s Tracker map to Little Waihi – Armada GPS

 

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.

Click on an image for Hi Res

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.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

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 🙂

All the Stone Chips have gone!

One of the things we should have done when we first got our Motorhome 7 odd years ago was to put some protection on the bonnet against stone chips. I remember Fiona mentioning it at the time but I was too eager to use the new toy!

Years later after progressively touching up the stone chips on the bonnet leaving pimples of touch up paint, it was time to either repaint the bonnet or tidy things up.

Click on any Image to enlarge

Masking out the design

Having just had the bumper done up after it dropped all its paint, I needed to have the decals that Dethleffs originally put on replaced on the newly painted bumper.

Jeremy applies the white base.

My son Drew was involved in Drift Car racing and met Jeremy years ago who is a sign writer extraordinaire who is also a dab hand at wrapping cars and anything else. Drew introduced us by phone so off I went to Jeremy’s workshop get the new decals.

Jay doing the other side with the white base.

Jeremy is an old school sign writer who can still do signs with a brush.. sounds to me like a photographer who still knows how to process a roll of film 🙂 I liked the sound of that.. nothing like experience!

He immediately looked at the images I had of the original decals and said “I can do much better than that” ! Jeremys right hand man Jay was there on one side while Jeremy was on the other.

On goes the blue
Applying the blue over the white.
Jeremy trimming the blue shape

Jeremy’s version of the Decals were quite a lot bigger but followed the contours of the bumper much more closely and also met up with the pattern on the sides of the van much better so it all looked a lot more streamlined than the original Dethleffs effort. I was over the moon.

Click on the Gallery below for blow by blow slideshow

Next came the bonnet which I was only going to get Jeremy to tackle if it wasn’t a huge job. Jeremy took one look at it and after a comment like “easy peasy”, we were off.

Jeremy sanding the “pimples” on the bonnet.

Jeremy got some very fine wet and dry sandpaper and with some water, gently hand sanded all the little pimples of touch up paint that I had applied down so the bonnet was smooth. There was also a Globe 4 decal on the bonnet which had to go too.

Applying the protective bonnet cover.

The bonnet then looked like a bluey grey colour which looked awful. I think Jeremy could tell I was a bit nervous so he cut off a tiny bit of bonnet protector and after wetting it, stuck it in the middle of all the horrible grey and immediately, it took on the lovely deep blue I was used to! It was a WOW moment.. I was amazed and it was a high gloss too.

Squeezing out the water.

Jay appeared with a sheet of the protector big enough for our bonnet and between them, they wet it and the bonnet and on it went. The next 30 minutes or so were spent squeezing out the water but it looked absolutely amazing. The best part was that out of the 40 or so original stone chips on the bonnet, the sanded paint filled up the holes left like a filler so you could really only see a handful of them afterwards.. A HUGE improvement.. Its like a new bonnet.

Jay tidying up at the end

Watching the process was awesome too.. with the new technology products now it really was something to see.

Wow all finished

If you’re looking to do a stone chip tidy up or do something with your Motorhome or Caravan, you can find Jeremy and Jay at Big Brown Industries in the Wairau Valley.  www.bigbrown.co.nz

Jeremy and Jay with the end result

On the way home

After dropping of Ralph to Hireahymer in Milton Keynes, we caught a bus down to Heathrow directly and another local bus around to the Ibis at Heathrow for our last night. All very easy.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

In the morning we caught a cab to the Terminal and we were off.

The Singapore Skyline

In an effort to break up the long flights, we decided to stop off in Singapore for two days. We haven’t been here without just transiting for a long time so I was blown away by the changes.
Singapore was hot.. 32 C plus and it was only early in the day so the air conditioning was wonderful.

The Architecture was something else

The architecture is stunning. Trees in little pockets of glass 10 or more stories up and better. The most impressive of course is the Marina Sands Hotel area with the rooftop garden and pool.

One of the old famous Hotels

We got a ferry from Clarke Quay and cruised down the river to where they dropped us off at the Marina Sands shopping centre.

Marina Sands

We spent a couple of hours cruising around the shops and having a good look around. There is part of the shopping complex where there is a internal river with bridges over it for access to the shops. Locals will take you for a Gondola ride down this Pool/River as you can see from the photo.

We eventually made our way up to the Observation Deck on the 51st floor and had a drink at the cafe at the top. You’d only have one drink as it was expensive! .. A glass of wine was S$24!!

A panorama from the Observation platform.

We spent a good hour or so up there and then made our way down to the train station and back to the hotel.

The Marina Sands Hotel

The train system is fantastic. Unlike most places in Europe where the train pulls in to the platform, there is no platform. The train pulls in to the walkway area which is closed of to the track until the train comes in. The doors in the station line up and open with the doors on the train. Clever as there is no requirement for the platform.

The old and the new

As our hotel was on the edge of Chinatown, we spent the next day having a good look around there. The atmosphere was great and the people were fantastic.

Fiona at Marina Sands. The shopping centre on the left.

I came away feeling that we could have done with a couple more days there to have a better look around.

Overlooked by History

This is probably the best campsite that we’ve stayed at the whole time we’ve been away for both position and facilities. It was however probably the most expensive camp but as Fiona would say “Hey ho!”.

Click on the Images for Hi Res or a Slideshow

Ralph and Harry

There were probably over 200 sites and it is on the side of the river at Koblenz, overlooked from the other side on the hill by an old castle. You can reach the castle by Gondola’s which run most of the day and are reasonably priced with access to the castle for only 12 Euros.

Harry holding up the washing

We weren’t sure about whether we would get in to the campsite and when Gary rang the night before, we opted for the “comfort sites” rather than standard which would have added to the price but the sites were great as well as huge 🙂

On the ferry about to head to Koblenz in the background

On our first morning, we set off to the edge of the camp where a small ferry would take us over to the Old Town and from there we could catch the Gondola up to the Castle. The Castle dates back to Roman times and with its attached fort has seen battles all the way through to WW2.

From the Gondola looking down on Koblenz

After an hour or so of having a good look around and checking out the view, we had lunch up there and made our way back down to the Old Town. The views from up there are stunning.

A Panorama from the Castle

Walking through the Old Town was really interesting although much of it has been rebuilt after being bombed during the war. It is still a very charming and interesting town with lots of history.

Koblenz square

After an Ice cream in the square, we made our way back to the ferry and to the camp.

William the 1st Monument in Koblenz

We were sitting down outside Ralph having a cold drink when some new neighbours arrived. They were Danish and really nice people. After they’d spent 15 minutes or so discussing where they would pitch their huge tent, they started spreading it out and standing it up with what seemed to be hundreds of pegs. It was a thing of beauty and well set up.

About an hour went by when we noticed that they had set it up about 2 metres into the next park which was only quite small but given the sterling effort that had been made,  no one wanted to break the bad news to them.

About another ½ hour went by and the Danish Chap came around our side and started pulling the hundred or so pegs out saying that they’d sat down for a beer and realised what they’d done.
After they’d pulled all the pegs out, we worked out a way if we gave them a hand, where all of us could drag it a meter or so along the ground without them completely starting from scratch so they were pretty happy at that.

A zoom in piccie of the campground from the castle

A fantastic park in a great position in a lovely town. Although pricey but well worth doing for its position and a nice setup.

The Chunnel Crossing

After checking out the new Niesmann and Bichoff at Telford, we all piled into Gary and Diannes, Harry the Hymer and headed to Milton Keynes through the traffic to collect Ralph the rental Hymer. We arrived just before 5pm and Peter the proprietor, gave me a run down on Ralph. Where the hoses were, the camp chairs etc and how everything worked.

Click on the images for Hi Res or a slideshow

Ralph is a real hard case machine. Its a 1992 Hymer with a 5 cylinder 2.9 litre Mercedes with automatic trans. It starts first pop everytime despite its 250000 miles on the clock. Its a fun wagon.

The Hymers in the carpark at Bearsted

We stopped at a Caravan park in Bearsted after battling the M1 traffic for a couple of hours and we arrived 3 minutes late at 8.03pm. The sign said no admittance after 8pm so we spent the night out in the carpark but still had to pay what I thought were extortionate fees of 34GPB (NZ$70!) without power and not much else. What a welcome .. Dianne rang and we were basically told “Rules are Rules !” .. not a nice welcome…no wonder the other Caravan Association calls themselves “the friendly group”.

We were close to the Channel Tunnel for the next morning and that was all that mattered.

We were away at 8:30 to get on the Chunnel Train. We arrived quite early and clocked in through both borders and parked our car in the C lane and went to get a cup of tea and look at the duty free stuff.

Fiona and Dianne with the Hymers waiting to board the train.

Gary and I stumbled on this amazing deal for internet for roaming all over Europe with a prepaid card from 3.  All the Truckies use it apparently but its great.

After an hour of cups of coffee we were asked to line up Harry and Ralph Hymers and get ready for the train. Its was amazing how quiet and how easy it was.. very streamlined. Dianne even got a wink from the French immigration man with his “lovely accent”!

Dianne and Fiona at the Duty free terminal waiting for the boarding signal.

About 10 minutes early, we were asked to move the Hymers onto the train.

Our view of Harry on the crossing

We drove up over a small bridge and then straight down a ramp and the sideways onto the train. You drive through the carriages until you get as far forward as you can then they chock your wheels.

20 minutes later with what was a very easy smooth ride and we were in France. It only took about 10 minutes and we were cruising up the carriageway to Belgium.

The Chunnel station in France with Harry on the ramp

Fantastic service and so easy.