Tuesday, 31 January 2012

As close as that!

Sunset over the South Island as seen from Otaki Beach last evening.Sunset over the South Island as seen from Otaki Beach last evening.

Monday, 30 January 2012


As Geoff had to take his caravan out to to Paremata for repairs we had to move Gypsy Rover. We opted to head down to Otaki beach for the day until we knew the outcome of Geoff’s dilemma. We stopped off at the Otaki dump point to empty our tanks and then call into Countdown for some groceries.

Once in the car park opposite Byron’s Resort campsite we found ourselves among some English travellers over here for up to 3 months. One couple had bought a cheap camper and already had a buyer lined up for it once they reach Christchurch. From there they head off to Norway for 3 months and then back to the UK where they have a 3 axle Swift motorhome. The other couple are Irish but live in the UK and have done a motorhome swap here. We had a long chat with them over what to see and do down south.

Gypsy Rover at Otaki with Kapiti Island in the backgroundGypsy Rover at Otaki Beach with Kapiti Island in the background

After lunch Geoff and Eileen arrived to say that there caravan was fixed and back in the yard so we can return whenever we like. As we have already made an arrangement to meet Jean and Tom here this evening we will probably stay here overnight and return tomorrow. I have surveyed the area with a view to doing some surf casting but there appears to be insufficient depth of water for a long way out so I won’t bother.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Heading north (for a while).

Going back to the previous blog and my joining the PWMC,this came about because I had tried to join the Returned Serviceman's Association having served in the Army in the days of National Military Service. Due to the lack of members probably because of there being no WW I veterans alive and WW II veterans now reaching the 80+ age group, these clubs are dis-appearing at an alarming rate.I have since found that the RSA has amalgamated with the PWMC in Lower Hutt and hold a weekly meeting in the club rooms so joining the PWMC has sort of had the same result.

After a reasonable night’s stay at Ngatitoa Domain where we enjoyed the company of other NZ Motor Caravan Association member’s it was time to travel a bit further North back to Geoff and Eileen’s at Otaki where I was told the gardens required my attention once more.

Having arrived back in Otaki we got ourselves organised and while shuffling around in the cab I twisted around and got a searing pain through my pelvis and up my back. It was excruciatingly painful and it was all I could do to get out of the motorhome. Walking around didn’t help so I dragged myself back into the motorhome and collapsed on my bed where I spent the next 24 hours trying as best I could to relieve the pain and get mobile again.

I have since managed to regain my feet and I am actually better off walking around than sitting. I have managed to do some gardening in the built up gardens so it’s not a total disaster.

Last night we went out to visit an old friend, Jean and partner, Tom. Tom put on a great BBQ and over a few beer’s we caught up with all the news over the last 6 years or more.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Roaming once more.

After our week-end away it was time to head back to the Hutt Valley where appointments were made with our Chiropractor and I had a special meeting to attend at the Petone Club. I had applied for membership and had been accepted and Tuesday night was to be the mass induction of about 100 new members.

The meeting was hosted by the Club President who outlined the club rules and introduced the various members responsible for running various adjuncts within the club. Dancing, Darts, Snooker, Billiards, Soccer, Rugby, Indoor and Outdoor Bowls, Golf, Diving and Cards are all on offer but my interest when we finally cease roaming was fishing. The club owns a bach or lodge in Makara where fisherman can rent it for a week-end. It comes fully equipped with boat, nets and other paraphernalia.

The club which was started in 1878 also boasts the largest private library in the country which came about from early days when members wanted to improve the education of their families. After presentation of membership cards there was an ample supply of supper and drinks for the new members to savour whilst chatting with other members, new and old.

Ngatitoa on a beautiful dayNgatitoa on a beautiful day, view from Gypsy Rover’s window.

Wednesday morning and it was time to hit the road once more. This time via Porirua to visit my mother. As it was such a lovely day we decided to give Ngatitoa Domain another try. Last time we were here it was extremely windy and not a pleasant stay. Time will tell. Arriving on site we found 4 other motorhomes and a caravan already in residence with another 3 arriving later.

4zzzz's at Ngatitoa Domain 9 Motorhomes and 1 caravan4zzzz's at Ngatitoa Domain 9 Motorhomes and 1 caravan

Monday, 23 January 2012

Anniversary Week-end.

Last week-end (21st – 23rd Jan) was Wellington Anniversary and we trotted off over the Rimutaka Hill to Opaki which is just North of Masterton. The reason for this was the Caravan & Camping NZ’s regional rally being held by the Wairarapa club.

Stop for lunch at Henley Lake in MastertonStop for lunch at Henley Lake in Masterton

The venue was the Opaki school which in association with the Miki Miki school date back to 1878. The latter was closed in 2003 and amalgamated with Opaki. The school was suitably equipped with a shower each for the men and ladies and adequate toilet blocks. The school hall was utilised during the evenings and only once had to be used on Sunday afternoon due to inclement weather. The remainder of our time was spent outside in the glorious sunshine.

Popular place for lunch with several other vans in attendancePopular place for lunch with several other vans in attendance

IMG_5355Black and white swans together.

The week-end passed only too quickly with games, quizzes, raffles, a blind auction where bids were placed on unknown objects  and plenty of socialising with friends not seen very often. For those people so disposed, visits to the local wineries were arranged to taste the local fare and purchase some for later consumption. All in all a fun week-end.

Peter and Elaine sitting watching another erection, we were trying out our new awning tiedown strap.Peter and Elaine checking out another erection, we were trying out our new awning tie down strap.

Yep that loks rightYep that looks right!

The next Regional rally will be in 2014 and our club (Heretaunga) is the host so we will have to get our thinking caps on for a venue and organise some entertainment for the week-end.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Geez, I’m Knackered.

I have been busy catching up on many small chores at Kathryn's house and have made a start on repainting window cills.  On Saturday I took a break and Dot and I went up to our own house to swap some gear over in the lock up. I also wanted to find the remainder of my fishing equipment of which there is plenty.

A friendly Tui in our Flax bushes looking for nectar in the flowers.A friendly Tui in our Flax bushes looking for nectar in the flowers.

While there Eagle eye’s Dot spotted a rotted barge board on the back corner of the garage. Later that day I sorted out a piece from the wood store left by Graeme. On Monday I went back to the house toolbox in hand to make a start. Taking the barge board down it was found that the weather board moulding was also passed it’s best so that was going to need replacing. Upon checking the remaining barge board it was also found to have some rot at the bottom so while I was at it I decided to replace the whole lot.

Derek preparing to replace the corner barge board.Derek preparing to replace the corner barge board.

We had to fit a wider board to cover some of the damage to the weather boards.We had to fit a wider board to cover some of the damage to the weather boards.

This meant a trip to Bunning's in Naenae for 3 lengths of timber and other bit’s and bob’s to complete the job. I managed to get all the boards up and a coat of undercoat on Monday. Today we went back with the intention of putting on a couple of top coats. This was completed and between coats I went down the bank at the rear of the house to cut down some Gorse bushes. Now as we all know that in the UK Gorse isn’t too much of a problem as cold weather keeps it under control. Here it’s a different story with very healthy growth’s of over 6 feet high and nearly as much circumference. Luckily it hasn’t started to flower yet.

Two boards up now comes the weatherboard moulding which has to be cut by hand.Two boards up now comes the weatherboard moulding which has to be cut by hand.

I spent the best part of an hour cutting out half a dozen bushes and chopping it up small to slide beneath the healthy top growth of  native bush. Long may it rot. Once the painting was finished I cleaned one brush out in Turpentine and then poured this over the root stumps to hopefully kill off any further regrowth.

The offending Gorse in the centre of the picture.The offending Gorse in the centre of the picture.

Now you see it, now you don't. Farewell Gorse.Now you see it, now you don't. Farewell Gorse.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Electrical modifications.

Today fellow caravan club member,Don, took time out to come and help me modify the electrical wiring between the batteries and control board. The original wiring was to suit the English and European scene where freedom camping is banned and campers use motor camps  with mains power on tap. This cabling was too light and not getting sufficient power from the charger and solar panel through to the batteries. Due to the lightness of the cables the batteries have never been fully charged and the power levels soon dropped rapidly.

Electrical modifications between the batteries and control board.Electrical modifications between the batteries and control board.

After a shopping trip for new 10mm cable and battery fittings we set about running the cable down from the control panel down to the battery box. A couple of extra holes had to be drilled to get the cable into the battery box in the shortest route. At the control board we had to utilise the original connectors as there was no way the thicker cable could  be fitted to suitable connectors. A short length of the old cable and connectors had to be retained  but this shouldn’t cause any problems.

Don fitting new battery terminals.Don fitting new battery terminals.

After testing the system with the volt meter to ensure everything was doing what it’s supposed to do, it was time to reconnect everything. Success and the readings coming from the LCD display panel are encouraging. It may take a day or two for everything to settle down and then we will see how things look then.

The new cables from the batteries. Unfortunately we had to retain the original board connections.The new cables from the batteries. Unfortunately we had to retain the original board connections.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Back to Stokes Valley but not home.

Thursday morning and it was our turn to break camp and head back over the Rimutaka Hill road to the Hutt Valley. Our destination was to be a fellow caravan club members property about 2km away from our own home in Stokes Valley.

We hadn’t been to Kathryn’s house with the motorhome and we were unsure as to how well we would fit on the driveway. Gingerly reversing onto the driveway it turned out to be easier than anticipated until I got close to a low wall.  Here it was a case of inching back and checking the clearance before inching back a bit further. Kathryn then pointed me in the direction of a pair of solid looking ramps which when applied to the right rear wheels lifted me sufficiently to clear the wall and surprisingly level the motorhome to as near as damn it.

Gypsy Rover and Dot's Nissan at Katherine's in Stokes Valley.Gypsy Rover and Dot's Nissan at Kathryn's in Stokes Valley.

On Saturday morning after leaving Carterton there was a terrible ballooning accident very close to our camp with the loss of 11 lives and the town is now in mourning.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families who lost loved ones in this tragedy.


Our main objective for being here is to finish off some small jobs left incomplete when Kathryn’s partner Graeme passed away suddenly a few months ago. Painting, carpentry and wallpapering are the order of the day with other odd jobs thrown in for good measure.

Derek and Robin on BBQ's with a little assistance from Peter. Geoff just look's pensive.Derek and Robin on BBQ's with a little assistance from Peter. Geoff just look's pensive.

Sunday afternoon we had the caravan club around for a BBQ which went very well. Unfortunately fellow members Don and Pamela couldn’t attend as they were away in Hastings visiting a seriously ill friend.We hope to catch up with them later in the week when they return.

The girls awaiting the BBQ at Kathryn's.The girls awaiting the BBQ at Kathryn's.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Off the beaten track.

Speaks for itself.

This morning we said farewell to our camping neighbours as they broke camp to head home to Wanganui. They were a well organised group and had everything packed away with military precision. Unlike us they are still part of the country’s work force and were due back at work tomorrow. Until we meet again dear friend's.

Other than a walk into town for a spot of shopping it was a pretty quiet morning. After lunch Robin suggested a trip up Mount Dick which he had learnt about. As Pamela wasn’t feeling up to it all 5 of us piled into Robin’s 4X4 and set off. It transpired that Pamela remaining behind was a wise decision as the tail end of the trip up the mountain was on a pretty rugged dirt road which was quite bumpy and wouldn’t have been very good for her neck.

When early settlers discovered the Wairarapa this would have all been covered in bush.When early settlers discovered the Wairarapa this would have all been covered in bush.The gang at the Mt Dick lookout shelter.The gang at the Mt Dick lookout shelter, from the left Robin, Don, Derek, Dot and Jenny.Compass guide of the veiw from Mt Dick.Compass guide of the view from Mt Dick.

Once at the top the view was spectacular from Featherston 17km to the South to Masterton 18km to the North.To the East of Featherston was Lake Wairarapa 28km away. We were apparently on Sayers Trig 580m above sea level. 14km behind us was Mt Holdsworth at 1470m. The journey had certainly been worthwhile. There had been a sign with a map and information about the area but some moron had used it for target practice with a rifle and a shot gun and blown it to pieces.

Manuka bush where the very expensive Manuka Honey is derived.Manuka bush where the very expensive Manuka Honey is derived.Foxgloves on Mt Dick.Foxgloves on Mt Dick.YooHoo down here. Hello down here.

How Many Countries?


Looking at our stats we have just had over 100,000 visitors from 153 countries since December 2008 – Amazing!  Thank you all for visiting our blog there are much more of our travels to come.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Wally Award of the Day.

Our happy camper neighbours from Wanganui have some club rules, some funny, some serious. A serious rule is that under wet weather conditions they are not allowed to abandon their tents in favour of a nice warm, dry cabin or motel. That is automatic exclusion from the group. On the funny side is a trophy for “Wally of the Day”. Yesterday this was awarded to Dot for setting off the motorhome alarm not once but twice last evening around 9.30pm.

IMG_4681‘Wally of the Day’ award

The weather today has been an improvement until mid afternoon when the temperature started to drop and a few light showers arrived. While it was dry this morning Don came over and had a look at our electrical system which, although greatly improved is still not right. His conclusion, which confirmed our thoughts on the matter is that the electrical wiring between the batteries, solar panel, charger and master control panel is too light and needs heavier gauge wire. This is causing the batteries to not getting a full charge and not holding their charge long enough. We have made an arrangement for Don to help us modify the system next week.

The problem stems from the fact that freedom camping in the UK and Europe is banned or frowned upon and manufacturers build the motorhomes accordingly. Therefore campers are always in camps with mains power available and heavier wiring is therefore not necessary. Don has already modified another friends European motorhome for exactly the same problem.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The Rare White Kiwi’s!

After a quiet New Years Eve with Robin, Jenny, Pam and Don, (must be showing our age) it was decided as the rain we have been enduring over the past 2 days had finally eased we would make a trip up to Pukaha, Mt Bruce. Pukaha is the National Wildlife Centre where endangered native New Zealand bird species are hopefully being bought back from near extinction.

Rare white kiwi at Pukaha, Mt Bruce's National Wildlife Centre is only 15 days old.One of the two rare white kiwis at Pukaha, Mt Bruce's National Wildlife Centre is only 15 days old.

Closeup of a prehistoric TuataraCloseup of a prehistoric Tuatara

The main attraction is actually 2 rare white Kiwi’s which have been born at the centre. The first was hatched in May and the second was just fifteen days ago. Being white they wouldn’t stand a chance in the wild as they have no camouflage. Eggs laid in the bush are bought into the centre where they are hatched in incubators and raised by hand until they are big enough to be released.

Thes Kaka's are large forest parrots and are endangered.These Kaka's are large forest parrots and are endangered.

These Kaka's are quite comical and dive bombed us from above.These Kaka's are quite comical and were dive bombing us from above.

Thirty Kiwi’s were caught on Little Barrier island which is a predator free Island. They were bought back to Mt Bruce and released into the reserve to increase the numbers of birds in the breeding programme. With 2 white birds hatched so close together the rangers feel that one of the introduced males is responsible as reports of a white Kiwi back on Little Barrier had been noted.

Eel's and Rainbow Trout at Mount Bruce congregating for feed time.Eel's and Rainbow Trout at Mount Bruce congregating for feed time.

Hard to spot Kakariki amongst the leaves are at risk of extinction now.The Hard to spot Kakariki amongst the leaves is at risk of extinction also.

Besides the Kiwi’s are endangered Stitchbird (Hihi), Kaka, and Tuatara which is a prehistoric ancient creature found only on predator free islands run by the Deptartment of Conservation. Another flightless bird which is on the critical list is the Takahe which was thought to be extinct until they were rediscovered in 1948. With less than 250 birds they are high on the conservation list. The parrot like Kokako is listed as vulnerable so steps are already in place to help the beautiful birds.

Colin at the controls of Middleton Railway, Masterton.Colin at the controls of Middleton Railway, Masterton.

Freight yard at  Middleton Railway, Masterton.Freight yard at  Middleton Railway, Masterton.

After a very enjoyable visit the guys headed off to Middleton Railway and Cwmglyn cheese factory while the girls headed back to camp. The railway is a very large “00” gauge layout the pride and joy of Colin Fraser-Davies. Based on British outline depicting era’s of steam, diesel and electric it is open to the public while his wife operates a cottage cheese factory from half a dozen Jersey cows. We all tried the cheese and Robin and I bought some for Dot and Jenny to try.

Miniature version of Shipley Railway station UK at  Middleton Railway, Masterton.Miniature version of Shipley Railway station UK at  Middleton Railway, Masterton.

Is this boater down the weed hatch or sun bathing?Is this boater down the weed hatch or sun bathing?