Success is getting what you want; happiness is liking what you get

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Busy Weekend at Hastings

It’s been great to be back in sunny Hastings, parked amongst the apple trees at one of our favourite places to stay.

Happy to be back in Hastings again


The fruit trees are laden and the pickers have been busy.

We had another chat to Karen of Travelling K fame (find her link here) and swapped names of favourite blogs to check and see what we think.   Perhaps we will have some new ones to add to our respective lists, which will be great.  

And a trip to Hastings wouldn’t be the same without a visit to the Arataki Honey centre to replenish Robin’s honey supplies.  They fill our empty containers with liquid gold – we refilled a jar both manuka and rewarewa honey, that should last for some time.  Did you know that honey can last forever?  (Unless a honey lover eats it all up)  With an indefinite shelf life, and the properties of processed honey keep it from becoming a hotbed of microbes and other things that may spoil or contaminate it. 

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Arataki Honey

We had two family events to attend here in Hastings.  Friday night was the 50th Birthday Bash of our niece Lisa.   Lisa’s Birthday Bash had a 50’s theme, with the guests dressed in their rock’n’roll inspired clothes, ready for a night of music and fun.  Older ones, like us, had lived through these years, and reminisced about  our dancing days when full skirts and stiff petticoats were all the rage as we rocked the night away.  The juke box pumped out the music, the candles were lit, the birthday cake was cut, and the gifts were opened.  There were even a couple of Pink Ladies on the dance floor – hadn’t we seen them in a movie a while ago?


Lisa’s 50th party

The photo board was particularly interesting, with snaps of Lisa’s life through the years.  And look what I found, a photo of Lisa, her brother, and my two children, perched up high having an elephant ride at Wellington Zoo.  That would never happen these days - no rides allowed.  And who can remember the Chimps Tea Parties at Wellington Zoo?  They were always a favourite with the kids.  But things have moved on, and the animals live a more natural life these days, which is certainly a good thing.

On top of the elephant – my son Michael, Lisa, her brother Shane, and my daughter Nicky

On Sunday we gathered for a family lunch at Breakers, Napier for an anniversary lunch for my sister Kathleen and her hubby Dennis.


Happy Anniversary

Wonder of wonders – West Coast whitebait was on the menu, so there’s no surprise in what I ordered.  The whitebait omelet was quite nice, but I must admit, whitebait fritters would have been better.  But I can’t complain, I’ve been hanging out for whitebait for ages.

Lunch at Breakers, Napier

We took a drive back along beautiful Marine Parade, lined with two rows of Norfolk Pines, planted about 1893 in order to create an English-style ‘noble promenade’. There was a cruise ship in town, so buses and tourists were everywhere.  There was plenty to keep the visitors busy, beautiful gardens, cafes, and the National Aquarium close by.

Marine Parade, Napier

It’s been so nice to catch up with family over the weekend, but it will be time to move on in the morning.  Next stop, Taupo.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

On the road to Hastings

With the packing finally finished, it was time to hit the road – the only thing forgotten, as we discovered later, was Robin’s tomato sauce.  Being a true blue Kiwi who loves his tomato sauce, this was a disaster, and it will have to be added to the shopping list.  Travelling up SH57, we then went up and over the Pahiatua Track, passing through some lovely native bush.

The Pahiatua Track

This brought us out, as would be expected, at Pahiatua.  It’s always nice to cross over the lovely bowstring arch bridge on the way into town.  The reinforced concrete bridge was constructed between 1931 and 1932, built for the Pahiatua County Council in the midst of the Great Depression.

Bowstring arch bridge at Pahiatua

Welcome sign

Not too far up the road is Mangatainoka – almost the Holy Grail as far as Kiwi blokes are concerned.  This is where the world famous Tui beer has been “brewed on the banks of the Mangatainoka since 1889”, as the advert says.   No time to stop, all we had time for was a quick snap out of the window as we sped past.

Tui Brewery at Mangatainoka

We stopped at Dannevirke for lunch, welcomed into the town by the Viking on the sign.  The town was founded by Scandinavian immigrants, who were brought to New Zealand by the government in 1872 to fell the forest that covered much of southern Hawke’s Bay and to farm the cleared land.  But did you know that Dannevirke was also known as “Sleepertown”?  The cost of carting supplies to the frontier town was so high that the settlers could not repay the money owed for their passage.  In the face of revolt, the government offered them work splitting railway sleepers from totara trees growing in the district, at the rate of one shilling per sleeper.  Work progressed so well that the road through Dannevirke was lined for two miles with stacked sleepers up to twelve feet high.  With the settlement largely obscured, it was nicknamed Sleepertown.  

Dannevirke – known as Sleepertown in the early years

Just past Norsewood, another town founded by Scandinavian immigrants, something caught our eye in the rear vision mirror.  It was the spare tire cover being ripped off by the wind and fluttering to the road side.  Oh my goodness, we didn’t want to lose that, but there was no space to pull over.  So up the road we went, did a U turn, drove back, turned again, and parked up on the side of the road with the hazard lights on.   Robin then did the long lonely walk up the highway as cars and trucks roared past, and came back clutching the prize.   Seems it needs some new elastic cord inserted, so a trip to Canvasland for repairs will be on the cards when we return home.

A successful mission

Continuing on our way, the dark clouds rolled over and the heavens opened up, and down came the rain.  Not just ordinary rain, but a downpour so hard the the wipers couldn’t really keep the windscreen clear, and we had trouble seeing clearly.  Luckily everyone had reduced their speed, so we kept trundling on, the wipers going flat out, tires kicking up vast amounts of spray, and the navigator hoped to goodness that we would make it to our destination safely.    Eventually we  drove out of the downpour, so could breath a sigh of relief.

It’s hard to see in this sort of weather

We made it safely to one of our favourite CAPs (charges apply parking) in an apple orchard to be warmly welcomed by Camp Managers  Rose and Ross.  And as luck would have it, we got the last available power site.  Owners Dick and Elly called in to see us once we were settled, and invited us to join in Happy Hour with the campers.  We have been here often over the years, and it is so nice to be welcomed back each time we return. 

Parked up in the apple orchard

Rose brought her new puppy out to Happy Hour and offered me a cuddle.  Isn’t she just gorgeous!

What a beautiful baby

We also met up with Travelling K (Karen) who tells her travel stories in her vlog – a video blog to those who don’t know the term – check out the link here.  It was lovely to meet her, after watching her vlogs, and we hope to get together to swap some travel stories again soon.

Hello to Travelling K

Monday, March 19, 2018

Caravan Duties

A weekend at home gave the man of the house the opportunity to give the caravan a wash down.  After traveling along dusty roads for many miles, the van was badly in need to some TLC.  Calling around to the van storage area to see how he was getting on – what did I find?   Robin sitting down on the job, chatting to a neighbour.  But he did assure me that he had almost finished his caravan duties.

Having a rest after washing the van

Then he blacked the tires, and attached our new caravan club transfers in place.

We are hitting the road again later in the week.  First stop will be Hastings where we have invitations for two family celebrations, back to back.  And from there, we move on to Hamilton to take our caravan back to the Leisureline factory to fix the leak which we discovered while we were away in the South Island.  Let’s hope that will be easy for the crew to find, and get dealt with.

The weather was fine and sunny during the weekend, and our New Zealand flag was fluttering in the breeze.  The lawns are slowly recovering from the months of hot dry weather – so dry that watering the lawn was forbidden and all the grass shriveled up, hence the dry brown patches. 

Home sweet home

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sunset over Levin

Just to show that we don’t have to travel far and wide to see brilliant sunsets, this lovely sight was the beautiful evening finale a day or two ago.  We didn’t even realise just how lovely it was, ensconced as were were in front of the TV, until we became aware of the apricot glow reflected on the walls.  A quick look out the window had me grabbing my camera and heading out the door to capture the colours before they faded into the twilight.

Sunset over Levin

Sunday, March 11, 2018

It’s been a Blue Dome Weekend

It was great to meet up with our caravan buddies for the weekend, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous.  As former TV Weatherman Augie Auer used to say, it’s been a blue dome weekend.  Beautiful clear blue skies, hot sunshine and a relaxing weekend away, what more would we want?  We traveled up “The Country Road” to Pohangina Valley, to stay in the Pohangina School Reserve.  The school was closed in the  early 1980s and the 1.93ha reserve is now a popular community asset. Groups like our caravan club are welcome to come and camp in the lovely grounds, and the school building is available for hire, if required.  Friday evening was spent catching up with members, and in the evening we gathered in the hall for an intelligence test as we tried our best to answer a quiz.


There were horses grazing in the paddock behind our vans and the owners came to tell us they would be moving one on Saturday morning.  This horse was a bit flighty we were told and they owners were a little worried how it would react when walked between the vans.  We offered to move our 4WD well out of the way to give the horse a wider pathway without the feeling of being hemmed in on both sides.  The owners arrived bright and early, and spend some time talking quietly to the horse, feeding him carrots, before finally clipping on the halter rope and leading him away. Luckily it all went to plan, and there were no high jinks with a rearing horse kicking his heels up against any of our vans.

Quietly does it

We had a good turn out for the weekend, with four new prospective members attending, and Debbie and John from the Wairarapa Club joined us as well.  With being away on our South Island trip, this was the first caravan club rally we had attended for three months, so there was a lot of catching up to do.


As happens in these weekends away, the conversations covered a great many topics, including compressors this time.  Dave assembled his bait gun, (which uses a compressor) and that certainly got everyone interested to see how it all worked, and gave us a demonstration.

That’s a big one, Dave

There was a new caravan in the club, and we all went to check out Lorraine’s new acquisition over the weekend.  It is a lovely little caravan indeed, and will suit her and Snowflake wonderfully.

Lorraine’s new van

Sunday is not the same without bacon and eggs for breakfast, and Robin did the honours on our Baby Q Weber.  The smell of bacon wafting in the fresh air drew some appreciative sniffs, and hints to be invited to join us.  There was only enough for us two, and the bacon, eggs, tomatoes and toast were delicious!

Breakfast Al Fresco

The two of us had a family function to attend, so missed out on some of the planned activities.  But we were back in time in the early evening to join in a game of Card Bingo.  Prizes were awarded at Morning Tea on Sunday, and several of us were awarded a silver cup for our efforts.  In fact, one of our visitors scooped the pool with being awarded both a gold cup and a silver!


Many thanks to Dennis and Glenys.for organizing such a fun rally, and special thanks to Barry And Dianne for bringing along their freshly picked apples to share with us all.  Some left after morning tea, while others stayed on  to make the most of the glorious weather and have lunch in the sunshine.  We wished Dot and Derek safe travels as they started on a holiday to the Far North.  As the last ones to depart, I had the responsibility  to be gate monitor, closing the reserve up as we left for home

Farewell to Pohangina

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Looking Back

What’s not to love about a South Island holiday?
  • We were away for 81 nights, not 80 as first thought.
  • Towed the caravan 3343km.
  • Extra sightseeing another 3334km.
  • Stayed at 10 NZMCA Camps.
  • Stayed at 4 Race-courses, 2 A&P Showgrounds,  1 Domain and 1 Motor Camp, behind 2 Hotels
  • Plus at various POPs and CAPs
  • Checked out 6 pubs from our Great Kiwi Pub Crawl Book
  • Met up with bloggers Paws Awhile, The Circumforaneous Gibbs for the first time, and friends Waka Huia.
  • Enjoyed Akaroa Harbour Cruise and Pelorous Mail Cruise.
  • Akaroa Mail Bus Run.
  • Rode on the Christchurch Gondola and Tuapeka River Punt.
  • Visited Orana Wildlife Park.
  • And so much more.
Highlight for Robin was exploring Bill Richardson’s Transport World.

And mine,  lunch at Fleurs Restaurant, Moeraki – finally ticked off my Bucket List.

Now – when can we go away again?


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Homeward Bound

After 80 days away on our South Island Odyssey, it was finally time to return back home on Saturday.  With just a short 8km drive to the ferry from Koromiko to Picton, we arrived in plenty of time and were directed into the front of the queue for lane five.  It didn’t take too long for plenty of other travelers to queue up alongside and behind us.

Queued up and waiting

I walked up to the terminal and was happy to see that, according to the sign on the wall,  we should be having an easy trip across Cook Strait.


We had plenty of time waiting in the queue to prepare and eat our lunch time sandwiches, and then finally, we were directed to start our engines and proceed to board the Kaitaki.  Two staff members had already checked at different times that our caravan gas bottle had been turned off, can’t really be too careful, wouldn’t want a fire on board.

Driving on board, and slotted into place

Our journey from Picton to Wellington

Finding ourselves a table aboard, we settled down to the journey, whiling away the time with our tablets, a book, and various cups of coffee.  Things got interesting when the Captain announced that a drill was taking place.  After several blasts of the siren, staff members came with life jackets to show how to put them on, and answer any questions.  Other scenarios took place, a life boat drill, and a (supposed) fire in the engine room,  reminding us on the loudspeaker that this was only a drill for staff training taking place.

Life jackets to the ready

After all that excitement, I took a wander around the ship to stretch my legs and check out the sights.  There were plenty of people on the open decks, enjoying the warm sea breezes as we continued on our crossing


Views of the decks

The journey takes some time to gently glide through the Sounds. Turning past these jagged rocks took us out into the open sea.


Nearing Wellington,  look what’s coming towards us – another from the Interislander fleet, the Kaiarahi.


We arrived in Wellington about 5.30pm, disembarked, and were soon on our way.  But we weren’t quite ready to go straight home, so stayed the night at the NZMCA park in Plimmerton, our first time staying here.  The park was fairly full, but we had no trouble finding a spot to slot into.  It was a lovely warm night, and we sat outside after our evening meal, chatting to our neighbours and watching the sky change colour as the sunset started to fade.


NZMCA site at Plimmerton

After a leisurely breakfast on Sunday morning we started the last part of our journey home, driving past Kapiti Island which was looking a little hazy.

Kapiti Island

Arriving back home, we found that the windows had been opened up to air the house (thank you Dot), and there was a huge pile of mail waiting for us.  With the caravan needing to be unpacked, the caravan cleaned, the car unpacked, neighbours to chat to, there would be plenty to keep us busy on our first day back home.