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

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Out of Jail

Hello – Muffy here, the beautiful blond of the family.  My owners took a holiday again and put me in jail once more.  Not that I have anything against the cattery lady, she looks after me very well.  But fair’s fair – locked up for two weeks and I didn’t even do anything wrong!

DSCF1208 Taking me home from the cattery

And guess what?  They expected me to be all smoochy with them, when they finally came to take me home last weekend. they must have been feeling guilty, I think.  But I made my point -  I’ll be friendly when I feel like it, and not a moment before!

DSCF1209 Let me out of here

I’ve heard them talking, you know, and they have promised to take me away in the caravan with them one weekend.  That sounds like fun, but I’m still waiting.  I’ll let you all know when it finally happens, then hopefully I won’t get put in jail again.

Love from Muffy

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Home again

The holiday is over, and we made it home safe and sound. We towed the caravan a total of 1845kms – then did many more kms sightseeing. We stayed at Takapau, Wairoa, Gisborne, Tolaga Bay, Tokomaru Bay, Te Araroa, Awakere, Katikati, Hamilton and Taupo. We saw some wonderful coastal scenery around the East Cape and many trees with their beautiful autumn colouring.

DSCF1198Beautiful autumn foliage at Taupo

Highlights of the trip were: singing on stage (who would have thought that we would do that!), climbing all those steps to reach the East Cape Lighthouse, (it was hard work but we did it!) and those lovely soothing dips in the thermal hot pools. The National Rally was very enjoyable, as was our trip around the East Cape. It was great fun with good friends, what more could we ask for?

Poor Robin had his fair share of driving drama though. We will never forget our trip over the Mohaka hills on an almost empty fuel tank. We had a tyre blow out on the 4WD driving down to Taupo at Tirau – that was certainly traumatic, to say the least. Then that pesky automatic transmission oil temperature light came on when the vehicle was working hard towing uphill, must get this checked out now we are home. I think his stint in the Blindfold Driving Competition was easy compared with these other dramas.

DSCF1037Seen at Morere Springs. Not ours – but isn’t it a beauty

Now it’s back to reality and back to work tomorrow.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Anzac Day – Lest we Forget

Anzac Day – 25th April – is observed in New Zealand (and Australia) as a day to remember those who died in service of their country, and to honour returned servicemen and women.  25th April is the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand Army Corps at Gallipoli in 1915. 

The tiny settlement of Tinui in the Wairarapa held the very first Anzac Day service in 1916.  The observance is now held at towns and cities throughout the country.   Instead of fading away as the years go by, interest is growing as more and more people become  involved.  The Dawn Service is the most popular of the Anzac Day Services, with many young families attending.

“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning – we will remember them”.

Old Photos with Poppy

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tourists in Taupo

Lake Taupo is the largest lake in New Zealand and was formed about 1800 years ago at the eruption of a huge volcano. The effects in the sky was noticed and documented in China and Rome, and a layer of ash covered the country. The caldera slowly filled with water to become Lake Taupo.

P4233324 View of Lake Taupo

We joined the tourists and visited a couple of attractions while we were staying at Taupo. First up was a trip to “Craters of the Moon”, an eerie thermal area filled with steam vents, fumaroles and craters of boiling mud. The smell of sulphur is in the air and steam escapes from a myriad of vents over the area.

DSCF1197 We walked along the wooden boardwalk towards a huge hole and heard “plop, plop”, the sound of boiling mud coming from deep down. But the huge amount of steam billowing out of the hole made it almost impossible to photograph the boiling mud.

P4243334 Boiling mud seen through the billowing mist

The fumaroles on the hill made a tremendous hissing and whistling sound as the super heated air is forced through tiny holes. Amazingly some plants seem to flourish quite happily in this alien landscape. Because of the large amount of thermal activity the ground is very unstable and care must be taken to keep to the pathways.

DSCF1195 Noisy fumaroles on the hill side

Our next visit was to the spectacular Huka Falls. The Waikato River rushes through a narrow chasm in the volcanic rock, where the white capped blue water tumbles down onto the rocks with a roar. There are plenty of lookout points for photo opportunities. We joined the overseas tourists marvelling at this mighty force of nature. The braver ones join the jet boat operators who take their customers right up to the base of the falls for a thrilling bumpy ride.

DSCF1202 Huka Falls

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tyre Blow-out!!

Collecting our caravan after the small problems had been rectified, we left Hamilton to drive on down to Taupo, where we would spend a couple of days before heading home and returning to work.  Just south of Tirau we heard a funny noise.  “Why are you driving on the rumble-strip”, I asked Robin.  “I’m not”, he replied.  We were exiting the round-about and the car was handling badly, shaking and shuddering.  Robin managed to pull over onto the hard shoulder of the road and we jumped out to see what on earth was wrong.

DSCF1154 The Damage – Not Again!

No wonder we had heard those strange noises – the left rear tyre was shredded and almost off the rim.  Oh dear.  Robin fossicked in the back of the 4WD to find his bottle jack.  This didn’t do the job terribly well and I suggested that we phone the AA for help.  Just then a car stopped, and a young man came to see if he could help.  Assessing the situation he told us he would return home to collect his trolley jack and come back to lend us a hand.

DSCF1155 Jacking Up The Vehicle

Sure enough he returned promptly and using his much stronger trolley jack the car was soon jacked up, the ruined tyre taken off and replaced with the spare.  He told us his name was Kyle, and he had stopped as he was also enjoys using his campervan, so was happy to help fellow enthusiasts.  We sent him home with a couple of Robin’s bottles of beer as a thank you.

DSCF1158 Removing the Rear Tyres

It was too risky continuing our trip without a spare so we stopped at Putararu, the next town, to replace our tyre.  Our vehicle still had the original directional pattern tyres. So that we would have the same type of tyre on the same axle we had to purchase two tyres, oh the expense!  The young men at Firestone made it all look so easy fitting, balancing and replacing two tyres using their specialist equipment.  Thanks guys, great friendly service.

P4223312   Inflating the new Tyres

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Good on you, Leisureline

The reason for our trip to Hamilton was to take our caravan back to the Leisureline factory to get a couple of small niggardly problems sorted out. We were met by the boss man himself, Colin, who was there to meet us personally to hear our concerns. So then we unhitched the caravan to leave it in the tender care of Leisureline - a bit like leaving your little one on their first day at school.

DSCF1148The Leisureline Factory

We returned several hours later to find that everything had been fixed, plus more. The door had been sticking – now fixed. The gas water heater kept going out – so the gas fitter serviced and adjusted the unit. He also replaced the outer cover. The vinyl covers on the ceiling panels had “crept”and puckered at the edges – so the beading was removed, the vinyl re-glued and the beading then replaced. The ceilings look as good as new. Lastly the spare wheel mounting was fixed.DSCF1150

As well as attending to these jobs, the foreman installed a mains water reduction valve, and resealed around the microwave. These jobs were not on our list, but shows that the caravan was inspected thoroughly and the foreman decided that they needed doing to bring the caravan up to their good standard.

DSCF1152 Wall Fabrication

We were both very impressed with the service we got today at the Leisureline factory. The staff we dealt with were professional and helpful, and nothing was too much trouble. We were especially impressed that the owner of this company makes a point of meeting up with the owners of caravans returned for repair. Good on you, Leisureline. Thank you Colin, Kelly and your team for such great and pleasant service.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Katikati to Hamilton

We spent last evening catching up with my cousin Brian and his wife Bev, in Katikati.  “Big Brian”, he was always known in my family, and my brother was known as “Little Brian”. It rained, and rained, then rained some more in the town where kiwifruit and avocados are grown in orchards everywhere.

DSCF1134 Bev & Brian

The rain hadn’t stopped this morning so it was a matter of packing up in all that wet stuff.  Then we were on the road again, with our first stop at Paeroa.  Way back in 1904, the fizzy drink known as Lemon and Paeroa (or L & P for short) was created here, using water from a local spring.  The spring water was well known for it’s therapeutic properties, and the soft drink became a hit. The Big Bottle was erected in 1969 to celebrate L & P,  advertised as “World Famous in New Zealand”.

DSCF1140 Next stop was at Morrinsville so that I could check out the local quilt shop which specializes in Batik fabrics.  I was in fabric heaven as I picked up bolt after bolt of quilting fabric, trying to decide which ones I really couldn’t live without.

P4213303 Jenny in her Element

We drove on to Hamilton and stopped down at the very pretty Lake Rotoroa to stretch our legs.  A posse of ducks and pukekos came waddling over looking ever hopeful for a free meal.  The lake bed is ringed with reeds which offer plenty of nesting spaces for the water birds to safety raise their chicks.  This lovely park is an asset to the city and the grounds are planted with native trees  such as totara, rimu, kowhai and kahikatea.

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Pukeko at Lake Rotoroa, Hamilton

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Awakere Hot Pools.

It was time to move on and we left Te Araroa to continue our journey around the East Cape.   The road took us up through the hills covered in pine forests, through stands of native trees, and back along the coastline where the coastal pohutukawa trees grow.  We called in to check out a couple of motor camps along the way, but were not impressed by them at all, so decided to keep driving.  Parts of the East Cape had no cell phone coverage, and radio and TV reception was also difficult. The closer we got to our destination, the traffic increased considerably, and our cell phones started working again. 

Hawai Bay 2Travelling past Hawai Bay

We duly arrived at the Awakeri Hot Springs Motor Camp .  The hot thermal pools are a real attraction and  another bonus was the free Wi-Fi connection at the camp store.  We were finally able to upload the blogs we had written previously on our travels around the East Cape.

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The pools are very popular with both locals and campers.  Luckily as campers we get to have a dip or two, actually as many as we like,  free of charge.  What are the magic minerals contained in this water?  We are not sure but this sign in the office spells it out!!

DSCF1131 After a hard day’s sightseeing or just lazing about, a dip before bedtime is certainly very soothing.  There are two pools, the large one plus a smaller toddlers pool.  Private pools are also available for hire for those wanting a romantic rendevous. 

DSCF1132The main pool

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pig Alert

We had a tap on the window this morning to alert us to the fact that there was a pig in camp.  There she was, obviously a Mummy Pig (we pig lovers know these things) and she was snuffling around amongst the fallen leaves.  She must have come from the farm next door looking for a little extra breakfast.

P4183286 Mummy Pig comes calling

Peter came out with a crust of bread.  “Here, piggy”, he called.  Quick as a wink the pig trotted over and gulped down the crust.  Perhaps she wants more – I went inside to get another crust.  Gobble, gobble, down that went too (frozen as well).  Then a lady from a camper-van came out with an apple.  Yum, that took a bit of chewing but the pig really really seemed to enjoy her apple.  Not to be outdone, I went back to our caravan and offered a feijoa.  Down the hatch that went too.  Our pig was not a fussy eater and she had obviously worked out that coming to visit the campers guaranteed her a little extra breakfast. After she had done the rounds we saw her later over her own side of the fence.

P4183294 Here, piggy, piggy

Friday, April 17, 2009

739 Steps to the Top

We travelled 20km along the rough gravel road from Te Araroa to reach our destination, the East Cape Lighthouse.  There it sat, shining white in the sunshine, way up on top of a hill.  The lighthouse is the most easterly in the world, and is reached by climbing 739 steps.  Robin, Peter and myself started the long climb up.  Can we do it – yes we can.  “It takes about 20 minutes”, we were told by some young, fit looking tourists. 

P4173278 Some of the 739 Steps

It took us longer than that, and we huffed and we puffed while climbing ever higher up the steps.  We reached the 150 step sign, then one that said 301 steps to go.  Finally we were there.  The views were magnificent; sea views to one side and pastoral scenes on the other.  The cameras came out and we posed in front of the lighthouse to prove that we had made the climb up.  Originally built in 1900 on nearby East Island, the lighthouse was dogged with problems as the island was considered tapu (sacred) by the local Maori.  It was later dismantled and moved in 1922.

DSCF1125 Peter, Robin & Jenny at the Lighthouse

Travelling back to Te Araroa we went in search of an ancient Pohutukawa tree , situated in the school grounds.  This huge tree is reputed to be over 350 years old and is the largest of it’s species in the world.  Some of the branches are now so heavy that they lie along the ground.  Imagine what a sight this tree must be in Summer when it is covered in blossom.

DSCF1126 The Largest Pohutukawa Tree

On our way to Te Araroa today we stopped at St Mary’s Church in Tikitiki.  The inside of the church is decorated with wonderful Maori carvings and Tukutuku woven panels.  These were created by the local Ngati Porou craftspeople and the striking pulpit was a gift from the Te Arawa people. 

P4173267 St Mary’s Church at TikiTiki

The many brightly coloured patchwork and appliquéd cushions on every pew added a touch of whimsy.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Pub with no Beer

We travelled from Tolaga Bay to Tokomaru Bay, 40km up the coast road, and pulled in to the Tokomaru Bay Motor Camp .  The six of us were looking forward to a soak in the thermal hot pools at Te Puia Springs, so we set off after lunch.  Driving in to the tiny settlement we looked around for the signs advertising the pools, but where were they?  Surely in a place this small it shouldn’t be so hard to find?  We came across a small information centre and two of the fellows went in to enquire.  The hotel running the hot pools closed down two months ago, they were told.  So as well as the hot pools not operating, so no soothing dip in the mineral waters for us, the pub has no beer!  Isn’t there a song about that somewhere?

Te  Puia Springs Hotel 2 The Pub with no Beer – and no Hot Pools either

We then travelled down to hill to explore Waipiro Bay.  The bay was beautiful, with a group of local children frolicking in the waves.  It was here that Robert Kerridge opened his first picture theatre in 1923.  The public buildings ranged from a well kept Maori meeting house, a pretty little church in need of some TLC, and the long abandoned Waipiro Trading Company.

Waipiro Bay Waipiro Bay

Then it was back to Tokomaru Bay to check out our second old crumbling wharf in two days.  The wharf served the Tokomaru Bay Freezing Works and the remains of the associated buildings are dotted along the shoreline.  Tokomaru Bay was a thriving town many years ago in the days of coastal shipping.  Like so many along the East Cape is now falling into decay.

Tokomaru Wharf 5 Tokomaru Bay Wharf

NZ Shipping Co Building NZ Shipping Co Building

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tolaga Bay

We continued our trip along the Pacific Coast Highway today and travelled from Gisborne to Tolaga Bay.  We drove past several surf beaches with keen young board riders enjoying the good conditions. 

DSCF1079 Tolaga Bay Wharf

After we had set up the caravans at the Motor Camp we went for a walk along the wharf.  Tolaga Bay boasts the longest concrete wharf in New Zealand, stretching out 600 metres, and has a railway track running it’s length .  The wharf was built in 1929 and was used when transport was done by coastal shipping.  A restoration project is in place to preserve this historical structure.

DSCF1082 What’s Down There?

Taking a drive around the small settlement we were amused to see a couple of local lads riding their horses down the main street.  Does this make Tolaga Bay a “two horse town”?  The streets are named after Captain Cook’s ships, gentlemen on board and ships officers.  I noticed Forster Street, my maiden name.  Perhaps one of my ancestors sailed out with Captain Cook all those years ago?

P4153248 Back at camp Geoff was having trouble with his waste pipe.  Robin and Peter helped him re-fix the bracket to the caravan to hold the waste pipe in place.

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Many Hands Make light Work!

First to see the Sun

After the completion of the National Caravan Rally we travelled on to Gisborne – dubbed as the first place in New Zealand to see the sun rise. We were last here in 1999/2000 for the Millennium Celebrations. We spent a night on the beach waiting for the dawning of the new Millennium.

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We took a trip out to Gisborne Airport which is the only one in New Zealand to have working railway line that cuts across the runway. The air traffic must give way to trains. We saw a small plane taxiing around but but no sign of any trains.

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Gisborne is forever linked with Captain James Cook and he made landfall here in 1769. Models of HMS Endeavour greet visitors as they enter the city. But there is a little story behind that contentious bronze statue of James Cook up on Kaiti Hill, which was cast from a marble statue purchased in Italy. Then it was discovered that the facial features are nothing like Captain Cook’s and in fact the naval figure is wearing an Italian uniform. But the statue stays in place. The question is – who is this imposter?

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Geoff and Eileen were keen to visit the “The Cidery” for a little tasting. This establishment proudly shows off their “Queen’s Award for Export Achievement” which is signed by Queen Elizabeth and Tony Blair. Their cider is excellent too.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Singing Sensations

The evening entertainment on our last evening at the National Rally was a Maori family group headed by the very pleasant patriarch, Charlie. They played all the good songs from the 50s and 60s that we grew up with. We danced away in the marquee on the grass – anything from the fox-trot to rock’n’roll.

DSCF1040The Musicians

As the evening wore on the band asked for requests. Then people were asked if they would like to come and have a turn. Our two blindfold driving winners Peter and Robin jumped up on stage. “Do you know Rule Britannia?”, Peter asked the keyboard player. The look on his face was priceless. Robin and Peter burst into song, first singing their version of Rule Britannia. This was closely followed by the Woodpeckers Song.

DSCF1047 Robin and Peter singing

As the evening was coming to an end we were once again asked if anyone wanted a turn. So the “Heretaunga Quartet” featuring Jenny and Robin, Peter and Elaine stepped up on stage for their debut performance. It just had to be that wonderful song that has become a New Zealand classic, Ten Guitars. We knew all the words, and sang every verse. Were we in tune? Who knows, but it sounded pretty good to us. What a pity I hadn’t passed my camera on to someone to take a few snaps. Now we will just wait for the call from talent scouts!!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

20th National Rally

The skirl of the pipes set the scene as the flag bearers marched in carrying their club banners. Representatives from clubs throughout the North Island attended plus one couple from Australia, our friends Steve and Elaine. These two keen caravaners have attended the last eight National Rallies in New Zealand – great going, you two!!

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The Heretaunga Representatives

The weather couldn’t have been better and Wairoa was bathed in the hot Hawkes Bay sun for the Easter weekend. Admittedly the temperatures dropped dramatically overnight, but once the sun came up again things soon warmed up again.

One of the highlights of the weekend was the “Blind Driving Contest”. The driver is blindfolded and the navigator has to give instructions. No way was I going to put myself through that, I told Robin in no uncertain terms. So we sat in our camp chairs and watched the proceedings. Cars and motor homes lined up ready to take the challenge. Ooops, why are Ann and George driving up that rise, that’s not the right way!! Then Andy and Bev from our club had a go. Bev was the blind driver while Andy gave instructions. She commented later that when Andy told her to “drive two metres”, she had no idea how far to go.

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The Winning Team - "Heretaunga Redheads"

Not to be outdone by their scaredy-cat wives, Robin and Peter teamed up. They donned red wigs and called themselves the “Heretaunga Redheads”. Peter bravely drove his Ford Fairmont blindfolded while Robin navigated around the cones. At the end of the competition the judges decision was final. The winners were the “Heretaunga Redheads”.

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Navigating the Course

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Wing and a Prayer

We left Hastings with half a tank of fuel yesterday to continue on our journey up to Wairoa.  Robin commented that he would top up at Napier.  But we by-passed the city and continued on past Bay View.  The next service station flashed past before we realised it as we continued along SH2.  “Never mind”, said Robin, “we still have half a tank so we should be OK for Wairoa”.

He hadn’t countered on the steep hills that made up the next part of the journey.  Our 4WD Toyota laboured up one hill after another and the fuel gauge dropped dramatically.  We coasted past the scenic Lake Tutira, now a bird reserve, before attacking the next lot of hills.  The  tiny villages of Kahika, Putorino, Kotemaori and Raupanga flashed by.  We didn’t really expect to find fuel at these places but were ever hopeful.

“You had better start praying we find fuel soon”, said Robin, anxiously keeping an eye on the fuel gauge which was hovering very near to empty.  My helpful reply was, “Pull over and we’ll phone the AA to bring us some diesel”.  But we were in the middle of nowhere and there was no cell phone coverage!!

With 15km to go there was nothing for it but to just keep going.  The atmosphere in the car was tense, to say the least.   Robin was driving up the last hill on the journey and coasted down, trying to be economical with the precious fuel.  I just sat there and worried what would happen when 4WD and caravan came to stop on on of those treacherous curves on the road.

At last we arrived at Wairoa and there was a choice of 3 petrol stations.  We eased our way into the Shell forecourt and started the expensive business of re-fuelling an empty tank.  We really did make the journey on a wing and a prayer!!

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Fuel at last!!