Be warned: it is a l-o-n-g post with lots of photos - it covers several days of our travels between Manukau City south of Auckland, and getting home to Waikanae.
We are successfully back home now after collecting the motorhome on Thursday 23 November from the shipping agent's yard in Manukau City near Auckland.
It wasn't what would be described as a baptism of fire by any means - no close shaves, no impacts and no disturbed nights. But certainly not boring, and very much a learning experience as we made our way south.
Originally our plan was to convoy with certain motorhoming friends who shall remain nameless but their motorhome is known as Doris the Glampervan. However, they bailed on us (admittedly for quite good reasons), and we had thought that we may have to stay in motels, given we had no capacity for cooking or hot showers - there are changes required to the gas fittings, earthing for the electrics and non-return valves for the sink, vanity and shower to have the UK-constructed motorhome comply with NZ regs and standards. But when we realised that we could eat out when hot food was required, and shower in motorcamps and, most importantly, make early morning cups of tea there, we decided that we should use the motorhome as it was designed for, apart from non-essentials like power/hot water/cooking, etc. It still proved cheaper than motelling our way home.
We had thought from what we had previously been told by VTNZ (Vehicle Testing NZ) that the first inspection and compliance check would take the whole day. But no, when we arrived with the motorhome fresh from the shipping agents, we were told it was only to be a couple of hours. That entailed a plan change as we had decided to stay overnight quite close to Manukau City, as departing the Auckland region in or around rush hour is an activity to be avoided for short and long term health outcomes based on the actions of stress on the body ...
So being able to leave by noon was a bonus. And because the wait for VTNZ was to be two hours we only did a small amount of shopping after finding breakfast.
The first things on the list were a couple of plates, bowls and glasses - melamine was our preference based on what we had been advised by others. Melamine was sourced in Briscoes which has a sale every weekend and most weekdays - honest injun, guv, it does! But I needed a lie down when I saw the prices. Two plates, bowls and glasses would have set us back about $80, for goodness sake! So after purchasing some non-slip drawer liner stuff, we headed for the cut price Xmas shop next door. Out we came with:
- 8 milkshake waxed paper cups at $2 the lot
- 8 waxed paper tea cups at $1.50 the lot
- 2 packs of 8 waxed paper dinner plates at $1.50 a pack
- Total expenditure: $6.50
|This photo is for my brother in law, Murray - fortunately this bear won't fit in their 5th wheeler, but he does pack down to a small parcel ...|
|Mel in Manukau, ready for travel home - he went to Auckland in a suitcase with no complaints. Didn't need to be vacuum-packed for that journey. You can see that so far, the bed hasn't been made up.|
Inspection passed and off we went southwards to Otorohanga, taking the bypass on SH39 from Ngaruawahia, with me driving quite tentatively, and once off the motorway, pulling over to let traffic behind me pass. In the Auckland and Waikato, almost no-one tooted or signalled thanks, b*stards.
|Do I look relaxed?|
|Nibbles for dinner, using paper plates and measuring spoons to serve hummus ... It's a luxurious lifestyle we have!|
The next day we headed down to stay with Jim and Judy at Onaero in North Taranaki. Our route took us down State Highway 3 through Piopio where we stopped for a nice breakfast at the Fat Pigeon Cafe. I did need fortifying sustenance as we had recently passed a property with two signs:
- one stated PRO TRUMP
- the other stated MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN
- and the stars and stripes was flying.
We had decided that one of the things we wanted to do with the motorhome was explore all brown signs - you know the ones I mean - for tourists. Well, we didn't quite do that but we did stop off and re-visit a few places that were part of my past:
- at Awakino we pulled in a had a look around the one or two streets, looking unsuccessfully for a friend's bach (must have been in the one street we didn't check out)
- at Mokau we didn't go down to the river or to the sea but we did stop off at the Tainui-Wetere Domain to the south of the village. Once there we stopped and chatted with a couple who have lived in their 5th wheeler for a fair number of years and then had a cup of tea with them. Diane and Wayne are lovely people we will keep an eye out for as we travel about. Diane has persuaded me by example that a selfie stick would be a useful acquisition ...
|Diane and Wayne with us outside their 5th wheeler at Tainui-Wetere Domain just south of Mokau and close to the river mouth|
|That's SH3 beneath the hills and all that clear space for camping!|
- at Tongaporutu we:
- briefly pulled in to the lookout (fabulous view along the river and out across the bar at the river mouth)
- drove down to look at our old bach on Hills Road - not a twinge of nostalgia was felt - it's a part of my life that was lovely while it lasted but outlived its loveliness and its accessibility
Then back to Onaero to Jim and Judy's for lots of catching up, great dinner, and an early night for me. We slept in the motorhome and it was great to wake up to the birds and the sound of the sea.
We had brunch in Waitara at the new Wayfinders Cafe in the old Masonic Hotel. Yummy food and good service. Then back to the Waitara Marine Motorcamp and some lessons in waste water disposal - we need a hose to attach to the outlet pipe as the dumpstations do not have a drive-over drain but are offset. I need to ask Dee again what the coupling is called as we have both forgotten ... Doh!
|Dee and Murray with the Dodge and the 5th wheeler that has been their home for about 11 years. Makes our motorhome look small!|
We had thought of spending that night at Oakura, not far west of New Plymouth, but realised we needed to be back in Waikanae by today (Monday) so only had two more nights of adventures this time. So we needed to go a bit further.
We did stop off at Tim's place in Opunake where we are to spend Xmas and determined we could happily park up outside his fence - very level, quite sheltered, and if we need power, I am sure we will be able to send the cable inside the house.
Then on to Kaupokonui Motorcamp for the night. A plain, no frills place beside the river and close to the sea. We don't have any levelers for under the wheels to make sure we are not sleeping/dining/sitting up- or down-hill. So I crossed the river on the footbridge and collected a few suitably-shaped rocks and positioned them in front of the driver's side wheels and moved the motorhome carefully on to them. Better, but not totally level. Survivable though, so no princess and the pea moments ensued.
|Love that black sand!|
|The strata and the effects of the wind, river and sea. Mt Taranaki is not far away and I am pretty sure the strata here reflect the eruptions centuries ago.|
|It was warm but a bit breezy, as it generally is on the beaches, so the cardigan was necessary in the early morning. However jandals are required wear on the beach!|
Some interesting finds on the beach: the animal bone (the sign on the bridge says to watch out for wild cattle in the sand dunes ...), the portuguese men of war (bluebottles with very painful stinging on contact - hence the need for jandals), the huge range of different stones/rocks which I guess indicate the volcanic nature of the area
|The riverbank a couple of hundred metres away from the rivermouth. Most people swim there as the sea is rough, has undertows and the summer crop of bluebottles to make it unpleasant and not very safe ...|
The next day (yesterday) we decided it was time for two things:
- staying at either a POP (Park Over Property) or a CAP (Charge Applies Property). Both are private homes with space for motorhomes/caravans and a range of facilities, the former generally doesn't charge.
- to Ohawe Beach to see the soldiers' memorial (British troops only, nothing for the Maori who also died defending their land)
|The memorial at Ohawe Beach. We thought that any memorial for the Maori who fell in these Land Wars was likely to be at the marae, so we will ask our friend Autry who grew up at Ohawe Beach.|
- into Hawera for brunch (OK quality food, with yummy gelato for afters)
- down to the coast at Patea
- inland at Waverley looking for a former battle site (not found),
- a stop at Waverley at two shops:
- the Glass and Art Gallery - some absolutely beautiful stuff there - do stop if heading through there as it is wonderful. And also stop at:
- the Book Bank - this is owned by Patrick who is formerly of Masterton and who came to collect David's dad's books when David's mum died. I had a look around and saw a book that looked familiar. I pulled it off the shelf, opened it to the flyleaf and there it was:
- John McDonald, 68 Cole St, Masterton - such a lovely feeling to know his legacy continues.
- then a drive from Waverley down to the beach to freedom campsites that Patrick had told us about. Well, we will be staying at one of them for certain sure! Just superb, looking out over the cliffs to the sea.
And then on to Whangaehu where we stayed overnight at a CAP belonging to Phil and Diane. A lovely peaceful place and very nice people. A cup of tea by the outside fire, followed by wine by the outside fire, followed not much later by bedtime ...
|David and Phil, with the motorhome in this lovely rural place.|
|Phil restored this Morris 8 and they take it out to all sorts of rallies - driving it there, not getting it transported. Apparently if it doesn't go, it doesn't travel!|
|Isn't it beautiful?|
We had breakfast in Bulls at The Mothered Goose - we would not go back there as it was the poorest breakfast we had all trip. Their homemade bread was tasteless and stale.
The drive down to Otaki Beach to visit Derek and Ted on the way home, was littered with stops:
- a couple of them to remedy rattles, and
- one toilet stop - it is SO decadent to be able to pull off the road, stop the engine**, and go and use the loo on board! ** The engine has to be turned off so the waterpump will work. A safety device, we think, so no one will use the facilities/kitchen while the motorhome is underway.
Once in Rata St, I parked without any hassle on the impeccably constructed pad (thanks, Luke), and immediately filled a bucket to clean off the Taranaki cow poo we'd driven through there.
Only one bottle of bubbles was consumed, which was quite abstemious of us all, but as we only had one available it was pretty inevitable really.
OK, I think that brings us up to date to Monday a week ago. Quite a lot has occurred since then, but those events have to be the subject of another post - to be done later! I have Christmas stuff I am on a mission to complete!