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

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Putaruru, Taupo and on to Marton

Our overnight stay at John’s POP in Putaruru was delightful.  On arrival we were warmly welcomed by our host and guided into place by the large American style barn.  Then we were invited to join John on his patio for Happy Hour.  New Zealand is a small country, and as we chatted, we discovered we shared several caravanning friends in common.

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Overnighting at Putaruru

We awoke to the most glorious sun rise, blazing with beautiful morning hues.  So out I padded into the fresh morning air, camera in hand, to capture this sight before the colours faded away.

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Sun rise over Putaruru

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And looking the other way over the mist shrouded valley

Then it was on the road again, heading to Taupo Airport NZMCA site again, always a handy stop and very popular.  As always, there were plenty of road works to gingerly drive past, there is always something happening on our roads.

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Somewhere on SH1

Our stop in Taupo gave us the chance to replenish our supplies, necessities such as fresh veggies, bread and milk.  And who added those Easter Buns to the trolley, I wonder?  Our thirsty 4WD needed a top up, and on the way back to camp we stopped off at a new sign that I had noticed, which certainly deserved a photo taken.  Once again, I had to wait for the tourists to finish their own snaps.  Seems that some tourists may well have been stepping into the road side to get all of the rather long sign into their shot.

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Lake side at Taupo

Thursday morning dawned wet and drizzly, and our trip today was a little longer at 210km.  Travelling along the Desert Road we were up in the clouds and mist, with the mountains well and truly hidden from sight. 

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Misty weather

The Desert Road had been closed for the previous couple of days to enable a bridge to be replaced.  That job was finished, and  this very busy road was open once again, but still the road works continue.  We pulled into thee car park behind National Army Museum at Waiouru – the large roomy car-park makes it so easy to park the caravan.  Fortified with lunch on the go from the cafe, we continued on our way to Marton.

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And the road works continue

The Marton NZMCA Park is one of the smaller ones around, and very popular with members.  We always enjoy staying here, and can remember it’s former life years ago when it was a Council Motor Camp.  The plan is to stay just one night here, and then move on to Feilding for Easter.

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Staying the night at Marton

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Day out to Raglan

With our caravan being required bright and early in the morning at 6.30am, we left it behind in the careful hands of the two maintenance guys at the Leisureline factory.  Which meant a caravan free day – where could we go?  Checking out the map, we decided to take a trip out to Raglan. 

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A visit to the local museum was very interesting and exceptional value at just $2 each.  Gifted to the museum was a vast collection of over 2000 Maori artifacts dug up from a local farm and donated by the Bird family.  Pieces included adzes, fish hooks, and hammer stones.

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Raglan is a surfing community and Robin was taken back to his youth when he used to be a surfer at Oakura Beach in New Plymouth. He checked out the long surf boards – yes, he had one just like this, and a reel and harness which he used in competition work.

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Surfing memorabilia

A drive around to the local surf beaches didn’t turn up any mighty rollers – the sea was as calm as a millpond. 

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Manu Bay

Overlooking Ngarunui Beach are four sculptures standing guard, relating to the four main points on the compass. 
 
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Sculptures depicting North, South, East and West

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No surf today at Ngarunui Beach

There is something about foot bridges – if we see one we really need to walk over it.  But this one is certainly not what we remembered from our last trip here many years ago.  This new 150m-long Kopua footbridge was designed by Bossley Architects and opened in 2011.  This replaced the dilapidated 50-year-old version over the estuary, linking the Raglan township with the camping ground and facilities to the west of the river mouth.  Along came a surfer  being towed along by by a small boat, and we noticed a school group cooling off in the estuary.

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Kopua Footbridge

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Plenty of boats for hire in Raglan

On the way back to Hamilton we made a short diversion to see the Bridal Veil Falls – we had last been to see them way back in the mists of time, so long ago that we had almost forgotten. 
 
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There are several look out points along the track - wonder how my knees will be tonight after all those steps down, then back up again?  The Bridal Veil Falls drop 55m into a 5m deep pool at the bottom.  So pretty, and we were joined by a steady stream of tourists along the track.

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Bridal Veil Falls

We were almost back in Hamilton when we got a phone call to say that our van was ready to collect.  Leisureline have just started building campervans and we stopped to have a look at this new venture, with the big boss Colin happy to show us inside.

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New Leisureline Campervan

While Robin was talking to the maintenance guys about the work done on our caravan, I stopped to chat to a couple of friendly faces I recognized.  It was Bruce, Robyn, and Caspar the dog who produce the RV Travel Lifestyle and NZ Today magazines, both of which we subscribe to. 

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Bruce, Robyn and Caspar

Then it was time to hook up our van, and get on our way out of Hamilton.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Hamilton - here we come

We woke to find the Taupo Airport NZMCA Park enveloped in mist.  The airport buildings were not too far away and we could hardly make them out at all, so presumably the run way was also rather misty too.  But then while we were eating our breakfast, the sun broke through, and chased the misty conditions away.

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Misty morning at Taupo Airport

Lake Taupo looked as pretty as a picture with several craft bobbing about in the lake as we drove past on our way out of town.  No sign of the mountains though, they were hiding under the cloud cover.

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Lake Taupo

There were roadside steam warnings as we drove past the Wairaki Geothermal power pipes (read about this here), but today there was hardly any steam to blow across the road and obscure motorist’s views.  The amount of steam escaping does seem to be weather dependent, with the steam becoming more evident in colder temperatures.

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Wairaki Geothermal Power Station

You know you are in the country when you spot a herd of cows patiently walking along their cattle race.  It was well past morning milking time, so we presume they were being moved from one paddock to another.  There was a farmer on a quad bike at the end of the long queue of cows, guiding them gently on their way.

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We stopped at the Truck Stop at Tokoroa for fuel and saw this huge yellow machine doing the same.  Not sure what it is, but it was certainly a monster.

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Fuel stop at Tokoroa

Eventually we arrived at Hamilton and called into the Jukebox Diner for a late lunch.  Then it was off to the Leisureline factory when we are staying the night.  The caravan repairs will be started bright and early on Tuesday morning – we will need to be ready to vacate the caravan by 6.30am, we were told.  No worries, the sooner the job is started, the sooner it will be completed, and we can get on our way again.

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Staying outside the Leisureline factory tonight

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Napier-Taupo Road

After three nights staying in the apple orchard, it was time to pack up and move on.  There was a fuel stop at Napier, then we drove around the estuary and past the airport.

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Estuary at Napier

Turning on to The Napier-Taupo Road, (SH5) the start of our trip took us through the very pretty Esk Valley.  This is a very fertile area and heavily planted in grape vines and fruit trees.

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Esk Valley

The Napier-Taupo Road goes over one hill after another, is full of twists and turns, passing through many forestry blocks.  Some of these blocks have been clear felled, leaving the landscape looking bare and forlorn.  But there has been plenty of new planting to replenish this sustainable crop.

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Pinus radiata trees

Some of the hills very very steep, and our 4WD slowly chugged up the steepest, valiantly towing our heavy van behind.  Luckily there were plenty of passing lanes to allow the traffic behind us to get safely on it’s way.  Up and over yet another hill we looked down on a beautiful view across some farm land.

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It was interesting to find several signs along this piece of road for drivers of electric cars to stop and recharge.  Who would have thought!  As the electric cars have a limited range, these charging points must be a necessity.

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Electric cars pull in here

Our trip today was 170km and took us over quite high mountain ranges -  I was certainly glad to finally arrive in Taupo.  Being warm and sunny we had no weather issues with this trip, but in winter the road is sometimes covered with snow and ice.   We caught a glimpse of Lake Taupo as we drove through the gates of the Taupo Airport NZMCA Park.   Arriving in time for a rather late lunch, we settled down to some R&R as we watched all the other caravans, campers and buses roll in during the afternoon.  This is a really popular site, and very well utilised.  We are staying for one night only, leaving in the morning for Hamilton.

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Plenty more arrivals filled the gaps by evening

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.

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Happy to be back in Hastings again

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.