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

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Hawera and Marton

After a lovely restful few days in New Plymouth it was time to get moving again.  There was no sign of Mt Egmont when we left,  the mountain was completely covered in low cloud, as often happens.  Travelling down  SH3 we made the obligatory stop at Eltham.

P1230311

What is the attraction at this small town?  It’s Fonterra’s Cheese Factory Shop, well worth a stop as you never know what you will find on special.  I was after some Parmesan cheese, some for me and some for my daughter, and also came away with a big bag of Blue Vein offcuts.  You can tell we are cheese lovers.

P1230306P1230315
Goodies from the cheese shop

Our stop for the night was at the NZMCA Park at Hawera.  Work was being done on a new subdivision over the fence so we are not sure how this will impact on the camp.

P1230341
Workmen over the fence

The weather was fine but cool, too nippy to sit outside in the fresh air, unfortunately.

P1230338
Hawera NZMCA Park

P1230346
Just a glimpse of the Hawera side of Mt Egmont

We can’t stop at Hawera without a side trip to Mania – Bread Capitol, to visit Yarrows Factory Shop.

P1230333

This must be the right place.  A few goodies got carried to the van, nice fresh bread, and dare I admit it, a couple of cream filled chocolate eclairs for lunch.  According to the sign outside the door, we’re not in much danger of being kidnapped, so that is good to know!

P1230335
Sign outside Yarrow’s shop

Stopping overnight at Marton, always a favourite with us.  The double gate has been replaced with a large single wire gate, we noticed, and the gardens are looking lovely, with shrubs and trees in blossom.  The camp was fairly empty when we arrived at lunchtime, but vans and campers generally roll in during the afternoon, so we will soon have more neighbours.  The weather is warming up nicely,and we finally got to enjoy some time relaxing outside.

P1230352
At Marton

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Out and About in New Plymouth

It was a morning of nostalgia for Robin, checking out his old family home and the Primary, Intermediate and High Schools he attended back in the day.  New Plymouth has rather steep hills and as boys, groups of them would race their trollies down these slopes, without a care in the world – no thoughts of danger back then.  Then there was the sea water swimming pool – hours of training took place in the mornings before school.  We stopped to have a look at Paritutu Rock which is a volcanic remnant, a part of the nearby Sugar Loaf Islands, all eroded stumps of an ancient volcanic crater.  As a scout, Robin and some mates not only did the challenging climb to the top, but stayed overnight in a tent.

P1230232
Paritutu Rock

Captain Cook named the seven small offshore islands after the lumps of sugar loaf he put in his tea, but the white sugar you can see is actually bird guano.

P1230240
Looking down at a couple of sugar lumps

Close by is the Pioneer Memorial, marking the locality where the pioneer settlers landed in 1841-43, carried across on eight vessels.

P1230243
Pioneer Memorial

Another intriguing memorial we stumbled across was the Fitzroy Pole, “Pou Tutaki”.  The original carved boundary post, known as Fitzroy Pole, was  erected in 1848 by the Te Ātiawa chief Te Waitere Katatore, marking the boundary beyond which no European was to settle.  This replacement Fitzroy pole was erected to mark New Zealand’s centennial in 1940.

P1230257
The Fitzroy Pole

Early mornings are often the best time to catch a glimpse of Mt Egmont without too many clouds obscuring the view.  Also known as Mount Taranaki, it  is New Zealand's most perfectly formed volcano. The mountain is around 120,000 years old and last erupted in 1775 and volcanologists agree that the mountain is 'dormant' rather than extinct.

P1230121
Mt Egmont

We went for a short walk around the beautiful Pukekura Park today.  The park covers 52ha (128 acres) right in the heart of the city and is one of New Zealand's premier botanical garden.  The lake is so beautiful and serene, surrounded by native trees and lush ferns, and with plenty of exotic flowering trees and shrubs too.  We could see people away in the distance crossing over the footbridge, swans were swimming lazily by, a delightful place indeed.

P1230275
Looking over the lake

The Band Rotunda has been a major feature of the park since 1887.  I loved the old photo on the information board showing the Band Rotunda and the nearby monument to Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, with views of the lake and Mt Egmont in the background.

P1230299

Our last evening was spent catching up with Robin’s old school mate Gary and his lovely wife Glennis, who invited us around for a delicious home cooked meal.  Robin and Gary go back a long way, so there was plenty to talk about, even though we had seen them when they stopped off at Levin recently.  It’s always nice to catch up with old friends.  We are moving on tomorrow – next stop Hawera.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Up in the Snow

New Plymouth has a brand new NZMCA Park at Bell Block, opened in July 2018.  Transformed from a gorse covered piece of land, to a site with all weather parking, water, rubbish facilities and a dump station.  Trees have been planted around the outside of the section, and something we hadn't seen before, site boundaries are marked for vans.  There is an area in the middle of the camp to accommodate large buses. A new wooden shed houses the sign-in book, local info, shelves of swap-a-book, and for those who really must keep the laundry up to date while on holiday, a sturdy clothesline in a nice sunny area.   It is all very well done, and a credit to all those involved.

P1230115

P1230109
New NZMCA Park, New Plymouth

Hearing about a recent fall of snow on Mt Egmont, we took a drive to to the North Egmont Visitors Centre.  The road took us through 6 km of dense rainforest, past rimu and rata trees, ferns and mosses, a very pretty drive indeed up a fairly narrow, winding road. 

P1230164
Driving up the mountain

Snow started appearing on the edges of the road, getting thicker the closer we got to our destination, and some cars on the way down had packed snow onto the bonnets.  The car park was full – being a Sunday it seemed everyone was out and about.  Children were having fun playing in the snow, throwing the occasional snowball, and slipping and sliding about.

P1230180
View of Mt Egmont from the car park

We walked carefully up the snow covered walkway to the Look Out, which gave us a rather hazy view over New Plymouth.  And look – someone’s had fun making a snow man family.

P1230187

P1230193

It’s more years ago than we can remember when we were last slipping and sliding about in snow.  Lovely to see up close, and great to see so many people out and about enjoying themselves.  For some children, it would be their very first time in snow, so that is rather special for the families.

P1230199

The Visitors Centre also housed a café, so we carefully negotiated the snow covered steps and deck.  Don’t want to slip and fall and do ourselves a mischief, do we?  A hot drink was in order, which we enjoyed looking out at the view through the large picture windows. 

P1230211
North Egmont Visitors Centre

We noticed a sign in the Visitors Centre prohibiting dogs – “not even in your car” it stated, and with a huge fine of $100,000 to those who flout the law.

P1230207
No dogs allowed

We had a lovely time enjoying the snow on the lower part of the mountain.  In his younger days, Robin has climbed right to the top of Mt Egmont, and has a certificate to prove it, he tells me.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Next Stop, New Plymouth

Our one night stay at Otorohanga was beset with rain and the temperatures dropped low overnight.  Another day of warm  clothes and socks - what’s happened to Spring?  The weather will improve, we are sure of it.  We left mid morning heading south, and it was a slower journey, with lots of climbing involved.  We bypassed the centre of Te Kuiti, and stopped briefly at the pretty little village of Piopio.  Such a lovely place, and we have stayed here twice in the past.  Driving up hill and down dale we admired the interesting rock formations of Mahoenui, they are truly amazing, in my view.

P1230080
Rocks at Mahoenui

You have to admire the guts and determination of the men who chipped away to dig tunnels through  solid rock, and on our trip today we drove through two of these.  The first was at Awakino, a single lane but both high and wide enough to accommodate our caravan, thank goodness.  No doubt trucks can squeeze through these tunnels too, driving very carefully.

P1230093

The second tunnel was at the top of Mt Messenger, double laned this time, but we were pleased we didn’t meet a big truck coming the other way.

P1230099P1230103
Mt Messenger tunnel

P1230084
The scenery around this area is fabulous

The whitebait fishermen were out in force along the river banks we noticed, but well out of our price range.   Fresh whitebait was for sale at Mokau, and there is nothing nicer than whitebait fritters.  We can dream, can’t we, and will make do with lamb chops tonight.

Driving along the coast, we passed through Urenui and Waitara, eventually arriving at New Plymouth.  This is Robin’s old stomping ground where he did most of his schooling (from 7 years onwards) and spent many happy summers at the surf beaches.  We are staying several days, always a bonus not to have to pack up and move each day.  The plan is to catch up with his old school mate Gary while we are here, and perhaps do a little sightseeing.  Wonder if we will see Mt Egmont in all it's glory, without it’s cloud cover, as it is today?  I’ll keep my camera handy, just in case.

Gemma has settled down well with this traveling business, snoozes the whole trip and doesn’t get too upset.  It’s even better, she thinks, if she can sleep on my lap.  Her harness and lead are attached to the back seat car belt so she is quite secure but has just enough lead to move from the back seat to the front, and to keep her from being flung against the front window.

P1230106

Friday, 12 October 2018

Morrinsville and Back

It was a matter of getting up bright and early, a quick cup of tea, make the bed, and do the dishes.  Mustn’t forget to pack the kitten and her requirements in the car, rather like the days of going out with toddlers and packing a baby bag.  Our van was then towed around the back into the Leisureline factory, ready for the annual service, plus a few other small jobs as discussed and written on the work sheet which needed attention.  The tradesmen will take care of everything while we are out and about.

P1220945
Ready for the tradesmen

With no time for breakfast yet, that was the first requirement for the morning.  A nice cooked breakfast was ordered, scrambled eggs for her, and French Toast for him, with coffee.  It was a great start to the day before we started exploring.

P1220951 
This will set us up for the morning

Although the weather was wet and miserable we had already decided to take a drive out to Morrinsville, another  small town which has developed a theme.  As dairying developed, the district became one of the most intensively farmed in the Waikato. Morrinsville grew into a prosperous farming town, with large sale yards, farm machinery outlets, agricultural services and engineering firms.  So it is no surprise that Morrinsville has a collection of life-size cow sculptures throughout the town.  With more than 40 decorated cows gracing the town, we couldn’t track them all down  - here are some we saw in the main shopping street.

P1220962 P1220966

P1220984P1220987

The sculptures have been sponsored by businesses and individuals, and really make a statement through the town.  This one below is supporting the Waikato Rugby Team, known as the Mooloos.

P1220995
Mooloo, the rugby cow

Next stop was the old dairy factory at Waharoa, now the Kaimai Cheese Factory and a trendy café.  It was doing great business inside, cheese for sale, and delicious cabinet food.  We were still full from our big breakfast, so just had a drink while we waited for the showers to stop.  There were a whole series of interesting historic photos on the walls, showing how the cheese making process was done in the old days.

P1230009
Kaimai Cheese factory and Café
P1230016
Old photos line the wall

By mid afternoon our van was ready for collection, we hooked up ready to go on our journey again.  But not before Liz from the Leisureline office and her young daughter came out to ooh and aah over Gemma in the car.  It was time to go, and we drove past imposing church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at Temple View.  The church is currently closed to visitors with scaffolding around, repairs being made it seems.

 P1230039
Temple View

We are spending the night at the NZMCA Park at Otorohanga, a fairly new park bordered by a stream on one side, and cows on the other.  It’s certainly not crowded, with eight vans staying overnight.

P1230041

P1230046
Staying at Otorohanga tonight

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Horo Hora and Hamilton

As we departed Tokoroa in the morning, we spotted three (new to us since our last visit) talking poles (pou) on the outskirts of town.  Tokoroa’s Talking Poles were first suggested in 1996 as a feature for the town’s retail area, and now the town boasts 50 or so of these sculptures, dotted mainly in the CBD area.

P1220884
Talking Poles of Tokoroa

After a quick visit to the dump station, we were on our way heading northwards on SH1 passing through Tirau.  Like Tokoroa, this town has made a name for itself, with a large variety of quirky signs made from corrugated iron and several interesting buildings.  A big sheep and a big ram, herded by a big dog, look out at the visitors and traffic on the highway as it passes through the town.  The Big Dog houses the I-SITE Visitor Centre, while the Big Sheep hosts a wool and craft shop in its stomach. Both were constructed in 1990s, but the sheep came first and when it came time for the visitor center to be constructed, it was designed to match. Local artisan Steven Clothier created its head.  The most recently added member of the corrugated iron clan is the big ram, which was completed in 2016.

P1220901
Passing through Tirau

We had plenty of time to get to Hamilton so stopped of at the delightful Hora Horo Domain for lunch.  The Domain looks over Lake Karapiro - a man-made lake on the Waikato River and is renowned as a world-class rowing venue. A number of water sports events are held at the lake including yachting, powerboating, canoeing and water skiing.  It was a lovely place for a leisurely lunch, relaxing and enjoying the views, and the domain is very popular with boaties, day trippers and self contained campers.

P1220924

P1220907

At the pretty little beach well away from the boat launching area, we saw families paddling in the water, enjoying themselves in the sunshine.

P1220919
Lunch stop at Hora Hora Domain

And then, as promised on the weather report, the rain came down.  It was time to get on with the last part of our journey, and drive on to Hamilton to the Leisureline Factory.  It’s time for the annual caravan service, and we had arranged to stay overnight outside the factory.  As soon as the factory workers had departed for the day and there was room in the car park, we were ushered onto the site and plugged into power.

P1220942
Spending the night at the factory

It will be an early start to the day tomorrow, we must be up and ready to leave as the service technicians will be moving the van to the factory at 7.00am to start working on it.   We will be out for the day, taking the car, and Gemma, returning back later in the afternoon for the van when the service is completed.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Taupo and Tokoroa

With our annual caravan service due it was time to head off to the Leisureline factory at Hamilton.  Driving up SH1 we were making such good time that we decided not to stop where we had originally planned but kept driving on to Waiouru Army Museum for our first night away. 

P1220824

P1220812

Campers are permitted to stay overnight  at the back of the museum for a donation, and we have the added bonus of regular security checks during the night.  After a busy day on the road, Robin and Gemma were both worn out and needed an afternoon nap!  (Don’t tell him I’ve taken this photo.)

P1220823
Two sleeping beauties

The National Army Museum is a great place to visit while passing through.  With a nice café, extra clean toilets, security staff, and plenty of parking for day trippers and overnighters, it can’t be beaten.  The only downside is that the  high altitude (2600 ft) and close proximity to Mt Ruapehu keeps Waiouru’s climate cool throughout the year and rather chilly overnight.  We were eventually joined by about a dozen other campers for the evening. 

P1220839
National Army Museum at Waiouru

I noticed a new statue in the grounds, the New Zealand War Animal Memorial,  honouring all animals used by the army in conflict.

P1220832P1220830

Mt Ruapehu was blanketed in clouds when we arrived, but was beautifully clear the following morning when we set off, driving along the Desert Road. 

P1220847
Mt Ruapehu

We bypassed Taupo and stopped at Wairakei Truck Stop for a lunch break.  With home made corned beef sandwiches, supplemented with buying a coffee fix from the café, we enjoyed a nice quiet lunch in the caravan.  Poor Gemma was rather bothered with all the huge noisy trucks driving in and out – she is still very young for this traveling lark and gets frightened with loud noises.  Traveling along after lunch we noticed a large herd of cows walking up the race, making their way to the milking shed.

P1220879
Follow the leader to the milking shed

Tonight we are staying at the Tokoroa Club, excellent value at $10 night for a powered site.  We are here on our own, so far.

P1220887

Later in the evening we went to have a meal in the club restaurant - fish for her and steak for him.  We joined another couple in the dining room, who as it happens, own a camper.  So there was plenty to chat about, places visited, and trips we wish to make in the future, a very pleasant interlude indeed.