Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The big one got away. Yeah Right!

Christmas day and Boxing day passed very quietly for us with son Brent being our only visitor on Christmas day. With temperatures up in the high twenties and possibly low thirties it was no time for traditional Xmas fare. Instead it was BBQ’s and salad’s with most meals held under Robin’s gazebo away from the hot sun.

Christmas dinner Kiwi styleChristmas dinner Kiwi style

Yesterday being a statutory holiday in lieu of Boxing Day we drove up to Masterton to have a look at the Boxing Day sales. Dot came away with a pair of short’s and some new swimwear to use in any hot pools we come across on our travels. I have now got a surf casting rod, reel and sundries for $91 which was a lot less than I was expecting to pay.

The path from the beach up to the Castle Point lighthouse.The path from the beach up to the Castle Point lighthouse.

Castle Point beach.Looking back over Castle Point beach.

We were also joined in camp by fellow caravan club members Don and Pamela. Pamela has been laid low lately after a serious bone graft operation to her neck but is now on the mend and able to get around more.

Rugged rocks.Rugged rocks.

How did those rock formations get there?How did those rock formations get there?

Today, Wednesday, we all packed a picnic lunch and headed off to Castle Point about an hour and a quarters drive from camp. It was also a good opportunity to try out my new fishing gear. With golden sandy beaches this part of the Wairarapa coastline is a well kept secret.

Castle Point lighthouse.Castle Point lighthouse.

With a rock protected  lagoon that gets refreshed every tide this is a great picnic and swimming hole for kids. I joined about 10 other fishermen on the rocks between the the lagoon and the open sea. Even though it was a relatively calm day there was still a strong swell coming in towards the rocks sometimes over a metre high. It was a case of keeping a close watch on the in coming tide and knowing when to vacate the area.

Rare Daisy found only at Castle Point.Castle Point is the only place in the world where this rare Daisy is found.

With no harbour or safe anchorages for the local fishing boats they had built some monstrous machines to cradle their boats and be able to relaunch them. With driving cabs and engines perched high up on the framework these machines with hydraulic power to all wheels and steering could get into some seriously deep water before getting the boats afloat.

Monstrous trailers carrying local fishing boats.Monstrous trailers carrying local fishing boats.

CastlePoint's rock formation protecting the beach and lagoon.Castle Point's rock formation protecting the beach and lagoon.

While I was fishing the rest of the group walked up the newly rebuilt path to the Castle Point lighthouse for a look around. Upon their return I withdrew from the fishing leaving the fish for others to catch. The only fish caught by others were a Stingray, which got off on the rocks and a Red Gurnard of edible proportions.

Derek fishing from the rocks at Castle point.Derek fishing from the rocks at Castle Point.

View point above the Castle Point lighthouse looking back at the lagoon and boat storage area.View point from above the Castle Point lighthouse looking back at the lagoon and boat storage area.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Last stop until 2012.


We had another peaceful night at Alfredton Domain so this site gets a big tick for ‘our visit again sometime book’. It would be great for a club rally with two or three other couples to make it rather more interesting.

We were on the road by 9am so that we would get to Masterton hopefully before all the last minute shoppers hit the supermarket. Unfortunately, today we got slowed down by 2 mobs of sheep being driven along the road from paddock to paddock. One mob couldn’t decide which way they were supposed to be going and kept changing direction, stupid animals!

Silly sheep didn't know which way they were supposed to be going.Silly sheep didn't know which way they were supposed to be going.

Utter confusion with this mob of sheep.Utter confusion with this mob of sheep.

After fuelling up the motorhome with 61 litre’s of diesel and saving $15 with a 25c/litre off supermarket voucher it was a good start to the day.The supermarket wasn’t as busy as we had expected which was another plus although we did spend a bundle, mostly to see us through Xmas.

Peter at Carterton Motor Camp trimming the tree's on our site. How thoughtful.Peter at Carterton Motor Camp trimming the tree's on our site. How thoughtful.

Arriving at Carterton motor camp we found friends Robin and Jenny had arrived just 5 minutes ahead of us. After lunch we spent the afternoon getting ourselves organised and settled in for the next 2 weeks. One job we had been putting off for weeks was opening the awning canopy. This went well but we will still need to buy a 14 metre tie down strap as added protection in case of strong winds.

The first full unveiling of the awning.The first full unveiling of the awning.

Success. Now fully extended for the first time.Success. Now fully extended for the first time.

Christening the BBQ.Christening the BBQ. A day of firsts.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

An interesting safari.


After a very peaceful night alongside the Mangatainoka river it was time to move on. We had several options of which route to take to get to our next stop over.  The route we chose was the Pahiatua – Pongoroa road halfway between Mangatainoka and Pahiatua.

A turf roof spotted on the Pahiatua - Pongoroa RoadA turf roof spotted on the Pahiatua - Pongoroa Road

Funny place for an armchair. Note the steps up to it.Funny place for an armchair. Note the steps up to it.

The scenery was spectacular as we climbed up over the Puketoi Ranges passing through the Makuri Gorge scenic reserve  and the Puketoi Conservation area. The only down side was two ignorant truck drivers who had no idea what slow down means. They were both towing trailers and felt that it was their God given right to charge on flat out forcing me off the road to avoid a collision.

Views along the Pahiatua - Pongoroa Road. Quite a high elevation.Views along the Pahiatua - Pongoroa Road. Quite a high elevation.

Cute little school bus shelter at the farm gate.Cute little school bus shelter at the farm gate.

Once we reached Pongaroa we turned onto SH52 which we assumed would be a better road. Wrong! For much of it’s length the road was narrower than the road we had just travelled over and with no road markings except in a few places where road improvements had taken place. Still we were in no hurry so we just took it quietly and thankfully didn’t meet any more trucks except one when we were all stopped by a farmer moving a mob of lambs across the road.

Held up by a mob of lambs being moved.Held up by a mob of lambs being moved.

I don't think this phone box is operational!I don't think this phone box is operational!

We arrived at Alfredton Domain in time for lunch in glorious sunshine which is good for the solar panel and the batteries. The only facilities here are toilets and water.

Alfredton founded 1873.Alfredton founded 1873.

Alfredton Domain.Alfredton Domain all on our lonesome.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Tuiwood akaTui Breweries

Now at Mangatainoka

Tuiwood, Mangatainoka aka Tui Breweries.Tuiwood, Mangatainoka aka Tui Breweries.

Our stay at the Dannevirke Golf Club was very peaceful and despite the ablutions block being fairly rudimentary we did have nice showers. Dot had to use the men’s showers as the ladies was locked despite being told otherwise but as we were the only campers there it was no problem.

Gypsy Rover under the TUIWOOD sign on the hillside opposite the brewery.Gypsy Rover under the TUIWOOD sign on the hillside opposite the brewery.

This morning we went into Dannevirke to get a few groceries and pay Kiwibank a visit to deposit a cheque. We had received the cheque from the English Insurance company who had originally insured the motorhome. We cancelled the policy once the motorhome had been covered by the marine insurance for the shipment to New Zealand as it is illegal to have more than one policy active at any one time. The refund was supposed to have been paid back into the credit card account from which it had been paid but some nincompoop had other idea’s. Gee’s Wayne!

Tui Breweries landmark tower.Tui Breweries landmark tower.

I wouldn't want by beer dispensed this way.I wouldn't want by beer dispensed this way.

After lunch we cruised down to Tui Breweries where we were of the understanding that we could overnight in their yard. Upon arrival we spoke to a lady in the shop who agreed that we could stay but suggested somewhere much nicer. Just before the bridge over the river outside the brewery is a lane which leads to a picnic area on the river bank. There is a gate which advises that cattle may be grazing there so please close the gate behind you. However today there were no cattle and we are far enough away from the road not to be annoyed by traffic noise. What a beauty.

A bit tongue in cheek. Typical Tui humour.A bit tongue in cheek. Typical Tui humour.

We did sample the wares at the brewery and receive our official Tui beer mug for me and Tui coffee mug for Dot before leaving but opted not to take the guided tour which is now $20 a head. We had done the tour on a previous visit many moons ago.

This beautiful bird is where the brand name comes from.This beautiful native New Zealand bird is where the brand name comes from.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Back on the road again.

Makotuku Domain.

We have now finished our term of office as Caretakers at NZMCA Takapau and have thoroughly enjoyed it. We had visitors every day peaking at 6 in one night.This last 2 days have been quite chilly so we have all congregated in the hall in the evenings in front of a lovely warm fire.Last night we gave our guests a slide show of our time aboard Narrowboat “Gypsy Rover” which they all enjoyed.

We are now going to take a leisurely trip down to Carterton over the next four days with our first stop being somewhere friends Robin and Jenny recommended, Makotuku Domain. On the way we stopped at Ormondville railway station. This sleepy little hollow was once a busy railway junction.

No Vacancy but all the old workers huts were empty.No Vacancy but all the old workers huts were empty.

Not many station buildings like this around any more.Not many station buildings like this around any more.

When the railway first arrived in 1887 the prime freight was Rimu and Totara timber as this area was all forest. As the forestry diminished farming took over on the cleared land and the railway became even busier with live stock, wool, milk, fertiliser and of course meat from the freezing works for export. At it’s peak in the 1950’s there were 22 trains a day through the town and railway families made up a large percentage of the towns population. These days with containerisation there are probably no more than 3 or 4 trains a day between inland Palmerston North and the Port of Napier, none of which stop here any more.

One of several viaducts on the Palmerston North to Napier railway.One of several viaducts on the Palmerston North to Napier railway.

Makotuku viaduct.Makotuku viaduct.

There is a preservation group working out of the old goods shed which was all locked up and the goods sidings but there were only goods wagons on show outside. You can go and stay at the station in one of the old railway workers huts but we didn’t consider them very cheap at $75 per night for a single and $105 for a double, all self cater. They might get more customers if they dropped their prices.

All set up at Makotuku Domain.All set up at Makotuku Domain.

We actually missed the Domain when we first passed through Makotuku but after a lunch stop we back tracked and found it. The grandstand, a reminder of days gone by when every small town had a social Rugby and Cricket team and the sports ground was a major centre for social activities. Television was the death knell of most of these places as the goal posts and the well manicured cricket grounds have all disappeared. The majority of the grounds here are knee deep in clover and grass which I suspect will get cut for hay some time soon.

A couple of our neighbours at Makotuku Domain.A couple of our neighbours at Makotuku Domain.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Can I have one of those?

NZMCA clock at Takapau.

NZMCA clock at Takapau presented to them by the Wellington Branch of the NZMCA on the opening of the park in 2005 .

Friday, 16 December 2011

Latitude 40 South

Waipukurau's claim to fame being the only town on the 40deg South parallel line.Waipukurau's claim to fame being the only town on the 40deg South parallel line.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

How we miss the internet?

Us at Takapau.A nice sheltered spot at Takapau NZMCA Camp.

A trip into Waipukerau again to access the internet, must do something about this Vodafone and look at Telecom.  Not much good with our monthly contract if I can’t use it, especially with our extended travel down south in the new year.  Now how do I cancel the contract legally without penalty?

Our thoughts are with all the people affected with the unseasonably heavy rainfall throughout the country, we have been lucky here. So far that is!

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Interesting visitors.

Other than calling in the mower man to cut the grass on site it’s been a case of same old, same old. However last night a real Gypsy style wooden bodied motorhome pulled into camp which immediately bought to mind hippies with waist length dread locks. How wrong we were, because we were about to meet world class chef Michael Daly, his wife Louelle and their 2 sons. Michael, who hails from Ireland, has just completed a book on freedom food recipes using ingredients that can be found in the wild and safely eaten. This should be on book sellers shelves in April.

They have opted to take 2 years out of their normally busy lifestyle to travel New Zealand in a motorhome before deciding on what’s next in life. After showing them pictures of our adventures aboard Narrowboat Gypsy Rover I’m guessing that a narrowboat adventure of their own could well be on the cards. Well you have to live the dream. Good luck guys.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Never a dull moment here.

Just as well you can't see the gateway. It's even narrower.Just as well you can't see the gateway. It's even narrower.

We have had an interesting couple of days here at the NZMCA camp. I have been giving the toilet block a thorough Spring clean as previous wardens obviously have not had the cleaning expertise required. All the necessary chemicals are available but it’s a case of knowing which one to use for each task.

Mind the water trough.Mind the water trough.

Today we had something quite different in the form of a 20 foot empty container being delivered. Being an empty container I expected it to arrive on a small truck normally used for this purpose but no Mainfreight sent it on one of their the biggest rig’s capable of carrying 2 x 20 foot containers or 1 x 40 footer.

So far, so good.So far, so good.

Luckily the driver was up to the job because we only had centimetre's to spare negotiating along a fence line with a water trough just in the wrong place. Of course we couldn’t shift the trough but the driver manoeuvred within a few centimetre’s giving him just enough room to offload the container exactly where we wanted it. 

Final touch down with just a little juggling of the chains.Final touch down with just a little juggling of the chains.

We have had 2 visitors each day so far and tonight a late arrival made it 3 for today. She had just driven down from north of Gisborne where she had been freedom camping. She was looking forward to a long shower and a good nights sleep.

A mega truck for a miniscule task.A mega truck for a miniscule task.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Happy Birthday to me!

Thanks to all the kind messages from friends that I am unable to reply to.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

We’re in charge.

We certainly had a busy week-end at Jenny and Robin’s home. Friday and Saturday were both 10 hour days taking advantage of the long days and good weather due to the long range forecast for Sunday being unfavourable for painting. As it turned out, it rained in Wellington but stayed away from Upper Hutt giving Robin and I another opportunity  for further painting. By the time we knocked off at about 4pm 3 walls had been completed and the back of the house only needed 2 top coats. Quite an achievement in any bodies books. Robin just has to finish off any last minute touch ups.

Monday we returned to Geoff and Eileen’s in Otaki after visiting my Mother at Porirua. At 95 she can still run rings around others 10 years her junior although she does have memory lapses at times. Back at Otaki I gave the grounds a quick once over with the ride on mower and then found that Geoff had picked up another trailer load of bark chip over the week-end. This was quickly unloaded along the driveway garden. Robin had found some old  packets of Pea and Bean seeds and donated these to Eileen as he no longer has a vegetable garden. These were sown in the hope that they might grow despite the date on the packets.

Tuesday morning it was time for us to leave Otaki and head North to Takapau where we have a booking as Camp Wardens at the NZ Motor Caravan Association camp until the 19th. When we left Otaki the weather was fine but we could see the imminent bad weather rolling in around us. Everything went well until we started to climb across the Tararua Ranges via the Pahiatua Track. Despite the name this is a 2 way sealed highway which is undergoing major improvements. At the highest point we were virtually up in the clouds with visibility reduced to about 200 yards. Luckily this didn’t last long as we descended down into Hawkes Bay. At Pahiatua we turned left onto SH2 heading towards Hastings and our final destination.

At the camp we met Les the warden we were relieving and went through a hand over procedure and he was soon on his way home to Wanganui. We hadn’t even got ourselves set up on site before our first client arrived with another arriving a couple of hours later. We have finally got ourselves organised and hopefully worked our way through our duties list, so lets see what the next 2 weeks brings forth.

Very poor internet, so no pictures I’m sorry.  Took me nearly an hour to upload this.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Change of Profession.

As Dot’s sister Mary had flown in from Auckland on Monday a family get together had been arranged for Tuesday. As for me, I was dropped off at Robin and Jenny’s residence in Totara Park to give Robin a hand with some very long overdue house painting. It was a perfect day for it with just the right temperatures and not too much sun.

Derek in disguise - ready for paintingDerek in disguise - ready for painting

Over about 6 hours we had 2 walls underway with Etch Primer and undercoat but there is a lot more to go with a total of 5 coats per wall. An arrangement has now been made for us to go and stay there for a long week-end starting on Friday. The long range weather forecast is OK except for Sunday but hopefully, that day we may be able to work on the front wall under the overhanging eaves. Just depends on wind direction. Read Jenny’s blog about it here.

Robin hard at workRobin hard at work

Today has been lawn mowing day which took all of 4 hours but it’s looking good. Another trailer load of bark chip was organised this afternoon which we put straight on the driveway garden. There is still some work to be done along the driveway but it’s looking pretty good.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Trials and Tribulations.

Yesterday, after another busy day around the Estate where the vegetable garden was the main priority, Eileen put on a lovely roast dinner with a surprise chocolate birthday cake for yours truly as dessert. Very much appreciated by all concerned.

PB270012Happy Birthday Derek. Even the number of candles don’t give it away.Winking smile Birthday cake

Today, prior to lunch a few hours were spent in the garden before “Rain stopped Play”. A good excuse to watch a DVD about the Cheshire railway routes between Chester and Manchester. A mixture of new and old with some black and white photography thrown in. Scenes around Northwich and the River Weaver bought memories flooding back as did views of Castlefield Basin, Manchester where we spent quite some time on narrowboat “Gypsy Rover”.

In the kitchen Dot got to grips with her new Magic Cooker thermal insulated cooking pot with a Chicken casserole. The end result was very nice but could have been slightly hotter. A lesson learned for next time.