Sunday 30 October 2011

Oh dear, what have we here?

After two rather damp days at the PWMC we moved on up the Valley to Trentham and the Army Golf Club site where we again permitted a two day stop over. This site wasn’t as good as the PWMC because it backs onto the Police Dog Breeding and Training centre and the noise of barking dogs ran from dawn until dusk with the occasional quiet spell. They not only train Police dogs but drug detection dogs as well so there are German Shepherd and Beagle’s in residence. The one good thing about staying here was hearing a Morepork (native Owl) both night’s calling  to attract a mate but without success in getting a response.


Our main objective while in Trentham was visiting Dot’s Father and a visit to our lock up to retrieve odd and ends for the motorhome so we will be fully self sufficient. Prior to our narrowboat adventure we used to have a caravan which was fully equipped and most of that gear had been stored away in the lock up for future use. Sorting through the bins we came across all sorts of things that we wondered why on earth did we save them in the first place. Last night we attended the fireworks display at Trentham Park with a great show which we found hard to photograph.

IMG_5006The photos don’t do the display justice.


The only sign of damage or deterioration was my Caravan Club rally ribbons. These had been stored along with Dot’s ribbons in the top of the writing bureau but I found mine in the bottom drawer some 2 feet below all chewed up by mice. We came to the conclusion that my Pheromones smelt better than Dot’s and that's why my ribbons got used to make a nest and not hers. After trimmed the chewed ribbons they now look pathetic as there is not much left.  Still if that’s all that got damaged we have not got much to complain about. The moral of the story here is to store everything in sealed plastic containers where vermin cannot access.  Despite rat bait being laid it did not deter the little fellows.

IMG_5019In the drawer side by side and Dot’s were completely untouched by mice.  How fair is that?

Sunday, we left the Golf Club and drove up to Totara Park to visit friends Robin and Jenny and after lunch went for a drive to a beautiful picnic spot above the Hutt River along Akatarawa road. Except for the odd car all we can hear are the birds and the solar panel is pumping out about 4amps so that’s good for the batteries.

IMG_5012Now what are these two cooking up?

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Paremata and Petone.

We departed Otaki on Tuesday morning bound for Ngatitoa Domain at Paremata where we planned to stay for a couple of days and visit my Mum. Well part of the plan worked out in that we reached Ngatitoa Domain in overcast conditions. After lunch I went and picked up Mum to bring her back to the motorhome for afternoon tea. The afternoon passed quickly and I returned Mum to her rest home in time for the evening meal.

Plenty of room at Ngatitoa Domain.Plenty of room at Ngatitoa Domain.

That night the weather conditions deteriorated and gale force winds came pounding in off the Tasman Sea giving us a right old rocking all night. It was so bad that we didn’t even put up the satellite dish for fear of losing it. The roof vents were also giving us cause for concern when the wind was tugging at them and lifting them slightly. Needless to say it was a sleepless night for both of us.

Para surfing at Paremata inlet.Para surfing at Paremata inlet.

Thursday morning it was still blustery and raining heavily. By mid morning there was no sign of any improvement so it was time to move on to our next stop in Petone. The Petone Workingmens Club offers members of the NZMCA (New Zealand Motor Caravan Association) low cost parking for a maximum 2 days. This site is handy to both Wellington and the Hutt Valley.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Holiday week-end.

Here in New Zealand this last week-end has been a public holiday (Labour Week-end), the last long week-end for the year before Christmas. Caravan clubs throughout the country would have been holding rallies with Wellington Caravan Club holding their 60th Birthday rally with a joint rally with Wairarapa, and our club, Heretaunga all joining in the birthday bash. The chosen venue was Bridge Lodge at Otaki just 70km North of Wellington. This camp site used to be a retreat for the Wellington City Mission, an non denominational church group helping those less fortunate.

IMG_4971Taken at the 60th birthday celebration. Don't often see a photo of us both together

The weather wasn’t that great but it is only early Spring. This didn’t dampen the proceedings especially meeting up with old friends from other clubs who we hadn’t seen for 6 or 7 years. Saturday night was the celebratory birthday dinner where the Wellington Club supplied an ample quantity of beer and wine. Sunday night was of course the big game that bought New Zealand to a stand still with everybody focusing on a TV set somewhere or other. We were no different with most of us assembled in the hall in front of a large TV to watch the All Blacks triumph over the French.

IMG_4975Another camp? No not really, just our friends Geoff and Eileen’s home in Otaki

Monday morning came around all too fast and after morning tea it was time to say our farewells with some members having to travel 1 or 2 hundred kilometre’s to get home. We only travelled about 2km’s to the other side of Otaki to friends Geoff and Eileen’s property where we stayed the night along with club members Robin and Jenny. Rather than travel in the heavy home bound traffic our plan is to travel back to Wellington today (Tuesday) in more relaxed conditions.

Sunday 23 October 2011

We are the Champions!

William-Webb-EllisThe Webb Ellis Trophy for the winners,

New Zealand wins the Rugby World Cup 2011. Well done the boys in black.  We are proud of you, I now have no finger nails left.


Tonight’s the night!

Rugby World Cup 2011 Logo 1024Rugby World Cup. All Blacks versus France. Our fingers are crossed.

Friday 21 October 2011

Sunny Otaki (Well not at the moment!)

Now parked at Bridge Lodge.

Time spent at Don and Sandra’s farmlet is always a pleasure. Among their many interests they have been raising calves and beef cattle for quite a few years. Now in retirement they are just running 20 head of cattle on their small holding. Instead of the time consuming business of raising month old calves to yearlings they are buying in yearlings, fattening them up until they are 2 year olds and then off to the meat works. Having worked on a farm at Hoon Hey Valley near Christchurch I love getting out in the country again.

IMG_4965Parked up together at Don and Sandra’s farmlet at Levin.

The last 2 days have been no exception. Don and I were out repairing an electric fence prior to shifting the cattle onto fresh pasture. Before that we had to round them up into the stock yard to cull out 6 animals ready for transportation to the meat works on Thursday morning. Here we had a problem in that one Simmental heifer goes ballistic when held in the yard causing all sorts of damage. We managed to segregate her and leave her out in the paddock until we had culled the others. The remainder were then put on the fresh pasture where the connecting gates were left open. Eventually the Simmental realised what had happened and came charging up the paddock onto the fresh pasture bellowing like mad. There is no way this animal will get to the meat works so arrangements have been made with the local Home Kill Butcher to come and shoot her in the paddock and take her away for processing. The safest method for all concerned.

IMG_4966Sandra keeps a beautiful garden up to a real professional standard.

After 2 days of bliss it was time to hit the road again. We weren’t going far; just down the road to Otaki where Caravan Club friends Eileen and Geoff live. They have set up power points so that any of the club can come and stay in comfort of their own caravans. As we had a Caravan Club rally in Otaki this long holiday week-end we were invited to stay the night so we didn’t have far to travel tomorrow.

IMG_4969The garden is a real credit to her. (where does she find the time?)

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Foxton and Levin.

Now parked in Koputuroa Road, Levin

Snow capped Ruahine ranges.Snow capped Ruahine ranges.

After a couple of relaxing days at Takapau we decided to head South to Foxton. Due to the Manawatu Gorge still being closed by a massive slip we took the Pahiatua Track road bypassing Palmerston North back to SH1. This took us cross country via Linton on SH 57 and Opiki on SH56. Travelling cross country was interesting seeing places not normally seen travelling the main highways.

House moving Kiwi style on SH2 near Dannevirke.House moving Kiwi style on SH2 near Dannevirke.

At Foxton we caught up with old friends,Dave and Angela who used to be our neighbours in Stokes Valley. After a pleasant afternoon together we headed on down to the beach at the BP Surf Lifesaving. Here there is a large car park right on the beach front.  Dot’s son Brent arrived from Wellington on a flying visit with mail which he considered needed dealing with. We eventually settled in for the night along with some surfers living rough in a station wagon and a van. The sound of the sea was enough to send me off to sleep but during the night the wind got up keeping Dot awake.

Foxton Beach.Foxton Beach with a storm brewing.

This morning the car park was a hive of activity with early morning joggers and the local racing stables bringing horses down to the beach for exercise. The beach is part of a local reserve where motor vehicles and horses are allowed on the beach but there is a 30kmh speed limit. The first horse was a trotter which was exercised in harness with a sulky but the next four were loosely tethered to a frame across the back of a utility which was driven along the beach at a modest speed exercising them simultaneously. About an hour later these 5 horses were loaded back on the horse float and taken away only to be replaced by another 5 horses a short time later. We even got a visit from the local constabulary who gave us a friendly wave and left.

Foxton Beach.Foxton Beach.

We were kept amused by the surfers who cooked up breakfast on a little camping stove and then set about dish washing in the toilet block underneath the surf club building. One of them decided it was shower time so he stripped to his swimming togs and lathered up under one of the cold showers on the side of the building which are supplied for swimmers to wash off the salt after a swim. It must have been freezing as the outside temperature was only about 13degC with a strong on shore wind blowing in off the Tasman Sea.

Exercise over it's back to the stables for these 5.Exercise over it's back to the stables for these 5.

We eventually got ourselves organised and drove into Foxton to post some mail and then carried on to Levin. We had phoned some old friends of ours, Don and Sandra Webb in Levin, but there was no reply. Not to be deterred we drove to their address just in case they had changed their phone number since we last saw them. We had only been there a few minutes when Don returned home after mowing a neighbours lawn. He invited us in to await Sandra’s return from a shopping spree in Palmerston North with her 2 granddaughters, Ashley and Kelsey alias Brat. 

How to exercise 4 horses simultaneously.How to exercise 4 horses simultaneously.

When Sandra arrived home Dot and I hid because we knew that Sandra wouldn’t recognise the motorhome or our car. We heard her come into the house saying “who’s here?”. She got a big surprise when we emerged. Being typical Kiwi country folk they invited us for dinner and to stay for a day or two which we graciously accepted. Needless to say there has and will be a lot of catching up  to do (7 years worth).

Saturday 15 October 2011

Takapau, Hawkes Bay.

Now parked at NZMCA Camp Takapau, Hawkes Bay.

Takapau NZMCA's first club camp in New Zealand, purchased in 2005Takapau NZMCA's first club camp in New Zealand, purchased in 2005

Despite the site at the “Tarawera Cafe” being secluded it wasn’t far enough away from the road to lose the traffic noise. With heavy articulated trucks grinding their way up hill working through the gears and using their exhaust brakes coming down the noise never stopped. I think I heard the last truck pass by about 4am and resume again about 6am or 7am. So much for a good nights sleep.

NZ native bush on the Napier - Taupo highway.NZ native bush on the Napier - Taupo Highway.

Yesterday we were unable to run the fridge on gas (the manufacturer claims the fridge won’t operate on gas above 1000M altitude and we were about 1050-1100m) so I had to get the generator out. Luckily we had bought some petrol for it at Taupo. Overnight I had stored the generator away due to inclement weather being forecast.This morning we awoke to heavy showers and I had the problem of how to use the generator again without it getting wet (water and electricity don’t mix). After some thought I found 3 fence posts laying around with which I made a cover using the ladder on the back of the motorhome. One post holding the ladder at 90degs; to the van and the other 2 supporting a tarpaulin across the ladder it made a great little tent in which I could run the generator without it getting wet or overheating. This arrangement was used for a couple of hours to get the fridge down to temperature before we set off again. Kiwi ingenuity.

The view at the top of the Napier Taupo highway.The view at the top of the Napier Taupo Highway.

After about 25km we started the descent into Hawkes Bay and with improving weather the view was magnificent, all the way from the Kaweka Forest Park out to the coast. By the time we reached Napier there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and this was the status quo until we reached Waipukurau when cloud started to roll in off the Ruahine ranges where there is still a lot of snow on the peaks. Since arriving at the NZMCA camp at Takapau we have had a few showers but the weather is slowly improving.

The view at the top of the Napier Taupo highway.

This camp was originally one of 2 factories owned and operated by Norsewear Woollens, this one producing socks and gloves and all other garments at the Norsewood plant. Norsewear was the brain child of Norwegian Ola Rian who started the business with his wife as a cottage industry in his own home. In 1960 he opened a small factory in Johnsonville, Wellington. In 1968 he expanded the business by buying the old Ruahine dairy factory at Norsewood and later building on his own property here at Takapau. Due to his early demise at the age of 58 the company was restructured and in1985 the Takapau branch was closed. The property changed hands twice over the next 20 years until in 2005 the NZMCA purchased it as a club camp site.

View out to the front boundaryView out to the front boundary

Friday 14 October 2011

Taupo and Beyond.

Somebodies home many years ago. Near the Tarawera Cafe on the Napier Taupo highway.Somebodies home many years ago. Near the Tarawera Cafe on the Napier Taupo highway.

After an all too short stay at Mangakino we set off for Taupo. Before leaving town we visited the local Rugby Clubrooms to take advantage of the water and dump station as we both had tanks requiring some attention. From here we passed through Whakamaru onto SH32  and then branching off onto Poihipi Road which bought us through to the North end of Taupo on SH1. Nearing Wairakei Thermal power station we found kilometres of shiny new pipework where another thermal bore had been tapped into and the high pressure steam carried away to the power station below.

Gypsy Rover hidden in the Macrocarpa's at the Tarawera Cafe, Napier Taupo highway.Gypsy Rover hidden in the Macrocarpa's at the Tarawera Cafe, Napier Taupo highway.

We spent a couple of hours sight seeing to see what changes had taken place since our last visit some 6 or 7 years ago. We were mainly interested in motorhome parking and freedom camping. Robin and Jenny then guided us to the local museum where we spent an hour or so reading up on the history of Taupo. One interesting fact to come to light was that in the early 1900’s Trout fisherman were allowed to take all they could catch which included some monsters in the 15lb – 25lb range. In 1920 in was deemed necessary to impose a limit of 3 fish per day at a minimum 40cm length. These days a fisherman who lands a 10lb-12lb fish can consider himself very lucky even though Lake Taupo is probably one of the best Trout fisheries in the world.

Native bush abounds near the Tarawera Cafe on the Napier Taupo highway.Native bush abounds near the Tarawera Cafe on the Napier Taupo highway.

About mid afternoon we all ventured off to the local Shell service station for diesel and petrol. It was here we said our farewells as Robin & Jenny were heading down SH1 to the Army Museum at Waiouru while our plans were to travel across SH 5 to Hastings. We have overnighted at the Tarawera Cafe halfway across the Napier Taupo Highway. This used to be a motor camp but was closed down. Nearby is the Tarawera Hot Springs which also used to be an attraction but for safety reasons the Department of Conservation have closed them. I went for a walk just to see what was involved with these Springs and found that the track was well worn and had been visited quite recently so perhaps the locals still take advantage of free hot baths.

Tarawera Hotpools now deemed unsafe by the Dept; of Conservation. Nice and clean and hot so somebody looks after them.Tarawera Hotpools now deemed unsafe by the Dept; of Conservation. Nice and clean and hot so somebody looks after them.

Waipunga river running behind the Tarawera Cafe, Napier Taupo highway.Waipunga river running behind the Tarawera Cafe, Napier Taupo highway.

Whakamaru Dam

After lunch the weather improved slightly so we took a drive to view the Whakamaru Dam which is just one of 9 hydro power stations on the river. We no sooner arrived when the skies opened up with a torrential down pour.

Whakamaru dam power station near Mangakino. It was raining heavily at the time.Whakamaru Dam power station near Mangakino. It was raining heavily at the time.

Looking down from the top of the dam onto the Whakamaru power station.Looking down from the top of the dam onto the Whakamaru power station.

Whakamaru Power station.Whakamaru Power station.

We sat in the car for about 15 minutes waiting for the rain to stop. Eventually it eased enough to allow us to have a quick look down from the road on the top of the dam. We spotted a viewing platform down a side road below the dam where we got a better view but as luck would have it we copped another downpour while down on the viewing platform and got somewhat damp.

Somebody struck lucky and shot this Red Deer Hind and left the skin on the fence.Somebody struck lucky and shot this Red Deer Hind and left the skin on the fence.

Back at the camping grounds we were treated to a most unusual rainbow which was flat across the top of the forest on the opposite side of the lake.

A strange rainbow over the forest behind Lake Maraetai.A strange rainbow over the forest behind Lake Maraetai.

Thursday 13 October 2011

Lake Maraetai.

Lake Maraetai camp site at Mangakino overlooking Lake Maraetai.Lake Maraetai camp site at Mangakino overlooking the Lake.

Thursday morning arrived wet and miserable as we set off for our next destination, Mangakino which is an old town originally set up to house workers on the Waikato River Hydro Power scheme. When the hydro scheme was completed the population of the town dropped from 6000 to 2000 but the town refused to die and forty odd years later is making a comeback. Houses and sections are very cheap, under $100K for an old Ministry of Works house, not big but well built.

A pause in a torrential rain storm.A pause in a torrential rain storm.

We arrived amid showers and grey skies. A small parking area alongside the lake is set aside for motorhome/caravan parking with a toilet block. For those not wishing to cook, they can take advantage of the “Bus Stop Cafe” which is right alongside.  A very nice campsite well worth a return visit.

Parked up on the opposite side of the park was an old Paddle steamer which was built in London by Yarrow & Co in 1907. These days it’s powered by a modern diesel.  Having been hauled out of the water on 2 Heath Robinson trailers hitched together the owner had planned to paint the hull but the weather was against him. As he had a booking for the boat the next day he had to return it to the water untouched and naturally the event drew a crowd.

Launching the paddle boat Launching the paddle boat "Otunui" onto Lake Maraetai.

Paddle boat Paddle boat "Otunui" Built by Yarrow of London in 1907. Was probably a steam boat originally.

Gently does it. It only weighs 16 tonnes but it's a Heath Robinson sort of trailer.Gently does it. It only weighs 16 tonnes but it's a Heath Robinson sort of trailer.

Paddle Boat "Otunui" at anchor on Lake Maraetai.Paddle Boat "Otunui" at anchor on Lake Maraetai.

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Lake Karapiro

Robin and Jenny togther with us at Moana Roa Reserve at Lake KarapiroRobin and Jenny togther with us at Moana Roa Reserve at Lake Karapiro

Our return to Auckland was primarily to collect excess baggage we left with Dot’s sister, Mary,once this was back on board Gypsy Rover we were ready to head back down South. Wednesday morning we left Auckland, destination Lake Karapiro South of Cambridge. Using the extended airport motorway  we avoided a lot of traffic and this took us out onto the main SH1 motorway Just north of Hamilton at Taupiri we turned off to avoid Hamilton city along what has been designated SH1B. This took us cross country through to Cambridge which was just 15 minutes from our final destination.

Our view of Lake Karapiro for the night, beautifulOur view of Lake Karapiro for the night, beautiful

At the Moana Roa Reserve we found caravan club buddies Robin and Jenny who had travelled down from Hamilton where they had just had a new hot water tank fitted to their caravan. We found suitable parks and set up camp for the night. Scenically it’s a lovely spot but it is noisy due to SH1 passing by within a couple of hundred yards.Needless to say we didn’t sleep too well.

Champas for the GypsyChampas for the Gypsy

Monday 10 October 2011

Heading for Auckland.

Overnight the region had suffered a deluge of rain leaving quite a lot of surface flooding around the park area on which we were parked. Our first thoughts were that we were going to get bogged down but luckily the ground was still reasonably firm and we got off very easily. After a chat with the manager of the Goldfields Railway about long term parking later next year we set off for Auckland.

The journey was uneventful but once back out on SH1 we found that the road had changed quite considerably since the last time we travelled this route. The road now completely bypasses towns like Mercer and Pokeno and the notorious Bombay Hills. Sure there are still some hills but nothing like the old road.

We located the Tui Glen Domain with no problems and since our last visit found a lot of work had been carried out in what used to be a camp site. The old cabins are all boarded up but nicely painted and the grounds improved. The NZMCA site is actually what we thought was an old council yard within the grounds. Fully fenced and gated so quite secure but with all the tree’s around the site satellite reception is very limited. This is not an issue with us on this visit as we will be away visiting relatives most of the time but there is a curfew in that the park gates are locked at 9pm so we have to be back before then.

Sunday 9 October 2011


Goldfields Railway, Waihi.

Goldfields Railway, Waihi. 1931 rolling stock.Goldfields Railway, Waihi. 1931 rolling stock.

Gypsy Rover at Waihi. Goldfields Railway.Gypsy Rover at Waihi Goldfields Railway.

Last night the local hoons decided to come down to the park and make a nuisance of themselves by yelling and screaming and then banging on the sides of the other 2 motorhomes before running off. Other than that it was a quiet night again.

Goods yard crane at Goldfields Railway, Waihi.Goods yard crane at Goldfields Railway, Waihi.

Waiting for another train.Waiting for another train.

This morning we tried out our new waste tank disposal gear and filled the water tank before heading off to Waihi. Our destination was to be the Goldfields (preserved) Railway between Waihi and Waikino on the edge of the Karangahake Gorge. It was only a 45 minute journey even with a refuelling stop. Upon arrival we checked in with the booking clerk in the station booking office as this is a new NZ Motorhome Association site. We even have the use of mains power.

Waihi station.Waihi Station.

Diesel power at the Goldfield Railway Waihi.Diesel power at the Goldfield Railway Waihi.

Being a Sunday the railway was operating so after lunch we took the last return trip to Waikino and back behind an 0-4-0 diesel shunter through some beautiful scenic countryside. The line was originally the main line between Auckland and Tauranga before closure when this section was saved by a preservation group as a tourism venture.

A Railway always makes me smileA Railway always makes me smile

Saturday 8 October 2011

This is the life.

Now safely parked at Omokoroa Domain  Boat Club Park

Omokoroa Domain.Omokoroa Domain.

We had a peaceful first night at the Castle European premises and after breakfast completed our inspection to ensure everything was operational and to see what gear had gone missing, (if any). It turned out that the rechargeable vacuum cleaner that came with the motorhome had vanished along with a sleeping bag and a duvet. May the perpetrator suffer a host of unmentionable nasty's.

Nice overnight stop off.

After morning tea with Paul and Diane it was time to take our leave and hit the open road. Paul had given us directions to 2 local facilities where we could spend a couple of days getting ourselves sorted out. We decided to try for the Omokoroa Domain which under NZMCA rules allows 3 motorhomes to stay for a maximum of 2 nights. Luck was on our side as the parking area was empty except for many 4x4’s with boat trailers for which the parking area is primarily designed.

Tauranga harbour with Mt Maunganui in the background.Tauranga harbour with Mt Maunganui in the background.

The view around us is of Tauranga Harbour  with many yachts anchored along the main channel across to Matakana Island. At this mornings low tide the main navigable channel became more obvious with huge mud flats exposed. At this end of the harbour the majority of it wouldn't’ be much more than 3 or 4 feet deep at high tide. During the afternoon we were joined by another motorhome and late last night another one joined us.

Tauranga harbour from the walkway around the bays. Abundant native bush.Tauranga Harbour from the walkway around the bays. Abundant native bush.

Beautiful Clivia in full bloom along the walkwayBeautiful Clivia in full bloom along the walkway

During the evening we went for a walk along the beach and came across the Gerald Crapp Memorial Park which was established by his ancestor the Reverend Joseph Gellibrand. The Rev came over from Tasmania in 1877 and started farming the peninsular along with family friend Elizabeth Winspear who changed her name to Gellibrand She later married Captain Arthur Algernon Crapp and had 5 sons and 3 daughters. The Captain eventually took over the running of “Omokoroa” and set about planting many exotic seeds that Joseph had collected over the years in his travels. In 1975 the youngest son (Gerald) of Elizabeth and Arthur gifted the land to the country for all to enjoy.