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

Sunday, 29 November 2015

A Weekend at Home

It doesn’t happen often, but we are having a weekend at home.  No where to go in the caravan and two whole days to potter around.  Mind you – it rained for half of yesterday, but then the sun came out, as it is today.  A good time to check how the garden is growing.  The lettuces and broccoli are doing well, the tomato plants are producing flowers and now need to be lightly tied to the stakes.  Our row of beans are starting to climb up the netting, as they reach for the sky.  Excuse the weeds in between the rows of veggies, the gardener hasn’t been home much lately.

PB290047 Our small veggie plot

The rhubarb is going to town in the other raised garden, and we are very pleased with our small lemon tree.  It is simply covered in flowers, which presumably will magically turn into lemons before too long.  The baby lemon in the photo is all of half an inch long!

PB290049 Lemon tree in flower

Robin gave our passion fruit vine a bit of a haircut, but perhaps it was cut back much too severely?  All the excess is seen lying all over the lawn.   Do hope we get another crop of those delicious fruit again this summer.  Time will tell.

PA200024 How to (or not) deal with a passion fruit vine

Even though we are having a caravan free weekend, that’s not to say we haven’t been out and about a little.  Yesterday we took a drive with D&D to check out access for our next caravan rally and a school in Foxton.  We had been warned that the entry was a bit narrow and wanted to be sure we could get the bigger caravans and motor homes safely through the opening without any scratches.    A “piece of cake”, we decided, as long as the drivers take it slow and sensibly.

Then today, we had a little Sunday drive to visit Robin’s brother and his spouse, who live not too far away.  They had recently pulled up some paving stones and had some concrete laid instead, so we went there to show a little interest in their outside renovations.  Looks like we timed it right as freshly baked scones were produced for afternoon tea, and we came away with a big bag of lemons and grapefruit.

So it’s been a lazy kind of weekend, which is always nice every now and again.  Not so next weekend, when we are off for an all day train trip – that should be exciting – we love trains!

Monday, 23 November 2015

Surprise 70th Birthday

Caravan buddy and Birthday Boy Derek was adamant – he didn’t want a party for his 70th birthday.  So all the planning went on behind the scenes and boy, was he surprised when he arrived for a supposedly quite dinner with Don and Sandra at their rural home! 

PB210017 Surprise – Derek and Dot arrive

Guess the game was up when they arrived to see various caravans parked up on the front lawn.  We had just arrived from Napier and hadn’t quite made it home.  Friends and neighbours from our village were also invited, plus a few of Derek’s Menz Shed mates.

PB220030Parked up on the front lawn

There is no doubt that Sandra was the “hostess with the mostest” and all sorts of tasty  hors-d'oeuvres were handed around to the guests.  The main course of roast pork was added to with “pot luck” dishes from the guests, and the long table was soon groaning with food.

PB210020 Meal fit for a 70th Birthday Party

PB210021Just as well he didn't have 70 candles to blow out.

The cake was cut, and various  people reflected on the years which they had known Derek.  Dot and Derek have been members of our caravan club for quite some years now, and took a break from caravanning when they spent 5 years or so following  their dream.  They commissioned their narrow boat Gypsy Rover and cruised around the canals of England, thoroughly enjoying themselves, before selling up and returning home. 
PB210024 Don and Derek worked together many years ago

PB210026 I was reflecting that I hadn’t known Derek when he was a Traffic Officer – always loved a man in uniform

It was a great night, and Derek soon got over his shock of the surprise party and joined in the fun and frolics.  After all – you are only 70 once!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

That Dratted Wind

The Napier wind was so strong on Saturday morning that it was quite a job to open our door.  And once open, it was slammed straight back again.  Our plans were to get on the road bright and early, but the extremely strong wind had us worried.  It’s no fun towing while struggling to keep the caravan on the road, and we had to negotiate the wind swept Takapau Plains.  Our fellow campers at Erikson Road were worried too, on our behalf.  The advice was to sit tight for a couple of hours and perhaps the wind would decrease to an acceptable level.  So we did, joining fellow Forum member Chris and his wife for a cup of freshly brewed coffee from their coffee machine in their new Jayco Silverline van. 

Finally, we got on our way, and the first stop was the dump station.  Quite a picturesque setting, situated just off the beach at Napier.  There was a queue, with two vans in front of us and two pulled up behind us, and we almost got embroiled in a bit of “dump station rage”.  The last van in the queue pulled out and entered from the alternate side, leaving the driver behind us fuming.  But why she complained to us and not the van concerned is beyond me.

PB210011 First stop, the dump station at Napier

Although the wind had dropped, it was still rather a trying drive.  We met up with our travelling companions Geoff and Eileen for a lunch stop just south of Waipukarau at the 40 degree Parallel Rest Stop.  Latitude 40degrees South passes through three countries, New Zealand, Chile, and Argentina, and surprisingly Waipukarua is the only town in the world which the 40degrees South passes.  And it is the start of the Roaring Forties.  Who would have thought that such a small rural New Zealand town had such a claim to fame!   Last time we stopped here, there were quite a number of resident chickens making this spot their home, but they seem to have all been moved on now – or eaten, perhaps.

PB210014 Lunch stop at Waipukarua

Continuing driving south, we soon came to the Manawatu Gorge, with the wind turbines taking advantage of all that wind.  This is not my favourite road, by any means, as is subject to slips, and I always breath a sigh of relief when we make it safely out the other end.

PB210016 Start of the Manawatu Gorge

Our stop for the afternoon was not too far from our home,  in rural Koputaroa.  We had a surprise 70th Birthday to attend, and guests could bring their caravans, if they wished.  We didn’t need to be told twice, so parked up on our hosts picture perfect lawns, all ready for a night of fun.  Bet the birthday boy gets a surprise to see us all when he turns up for his dinner!

PB220030 Parked at Koputaroa

Friday, 20 November 2015

Next stop - Napier

Mist hung low over the river and surrounding hills at Glenfalls on the banks of the Mohaka River when we awoke.  So pretty – but chilly too.  Out came the camera for a couple of misty morning shots, and I crept around in my dressing gown, hoping no-one was peeping through their windows at me.

 PB190052 Misty morning at the Mohaka River

The mist soon cleared away once the sun came up, and after breakfast, we were soon on our way - next stop, Napier.  It was 8km of winding country road until we reached SH5 and rejoined the Napier-Taupo Road once more, passing by this pretty little weir on the way.

PB190054Weir on Waitara Road

Back on SH5 the road wound up and down hills, eventually entering the Esk Valley.  Road side paddocks were planted with grapes and apples as far as the eye could see.  This is marvelous growing country, Hawkes Bay is known as the Fruit Bowl of New Zealand.

PB190055 Welcome to Hawkes Bay

A quick visit to the dump station, and we were soon pulling into the newly opened NZMCA Park at Erikson Road.  We were spoilt for choice, there was plenty of room for quite a crowd,  with options to either park up on the hard down the far end of the camp, or on grass.  We understand that the official opening will be taking place on Saturday but we will be travelling on by then.  Our only complaint was that the famed Hawkes Bay sunshine seems to have been blown away by rather cold winds.


PB200006 Plenty of room at Erikson Road

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Glenfalls Recreation Reserve

Waking up in paradise again at Lake Karapiro – the lake was picture perfect with swans gliding serenely across the surface.  We were visited again by our two cream coloured ducks.  The POP owner informed us that they were Muscovy ducks, obviously someone’s pets at one stage, but the pair had been dumped at the lake sometime ago.


PB180027 Morning views from our caravan door

After a quick morning tea, it was time to move on.  There was a fair distance to travel to our next destination, approximately 210kms.  It wasn’t long till we passed through Tirau, well known for it’s quirky corrugated iron signs, and the equally quirky corrugated iron Information Centre building made in the shape of a dog.

PB180028 Tirau Info Centre

Travelling through the timber towns of Putaruru and Tokoroa, we then stopped at Wairakei for lunch.  Geothermal steam is used here to make electricity, and the huge pipes conduct the steam from natural underground cauldrons and are easily glimpsed from the road. 

PB180030Part of the  Wairakei power project

Leaving SH1, we turned onto SH5, the Napier-Taupo Road.  It didn’t matter that we were travelling from Taupo to Napier, it is still called the Napier-Taupo Road whichever way it is tackled.  Motorists with long memories can recall when this road was unsealed and had a bit of a reputation.  It can still be difficult to traverse in the winter months, and care must be taken with ice and snow.  It took us up and down through pine plantations, farmland, areas of native bush, and still more pines.  Our destination was Glenfalls Recreation Reserve, about two thirds of the way along the Napier-Taupo Road. 

PB180041 We made it to Glenfalls

This “basic” campsite is situated beside the Mohaka River.  There was plenty of space, with a few campers already on site.  The cattle were friendly and not in the least afraid of people or cars, and lounged around, perfectly at ease with the campers.
PB180037 Cattle close by the campers

They finally wandered away to check out the loud music coming from the speaker placed on top of a nearby car.  While the car owner was happily trying his luck fishing in the river, the cattle were engrossed in the music.

PB180044Musical appreciation group

This Department of Conservation Camp is certainly a magical spot, we are back to nature with a long drop toilet, no taps, and only river water available, and no radio or internet coverage here.  Which means the blog will not be posted until we move back to civilisation.  But by the magic of the satellite, we can receive a TV signal, so can catch up with the news. We are only staying one night, and on Thursday we are moving on to Napier.

PB180042Camped at Glenfalls, on the Mohaka River 

The cattle came back and surrounded our vehicle, sniffing and licking, perhaps they even wanted to chew on the rubber as well.  Possibly they were after the insects that get plastered to a car after a long journey – who knows?  It’s just as well that they are not wild cattle, as we would be trapped inside.

PB180047 Help – we are trapped by a mob of cattle!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Hamilton back to lake-side

Things were certainly busy at our Hamilton POP, with vans arriving overnight, leaving early the next morning, and some staying quite a bit longer.  Two brightly painted buses arrived and parked up for a couple of days.  They are part of the Gypsy Fair which is coming to town for the weekend, we were told.

PB160013 Our neighbours in the car park

There was a bit of too-ing and fro-ing taking our respective caravans back to the Leisureline factory to get a few jobs done.  We had booked them in on different days so that we had somewhere to hang out otherwise both couples would have been “homeless” for most of the day.  The various jobs were attended to, our caravan got a full service plus our water heater needed checking, and everything was attended to satisfactorily.

It was rather like stepping into rock’n’roll heaven when we visited the Jukebox Diner.  I was very keen to try the American Hot Dog for lunch, and Robin enjoyed his Chilli Dog.  With a Coco Cola Soda to complete our meal, we were very happy campers indeed.  Mind you, we call these beverages “Spiders” down here in New Zealand.

PB160012Enjoying our lunchtime Spiders
The Diner was always busy.  Yesterday a whole bunch of classic car enthusiasts came calling, all dressed in their black club uniforms.  They went through the museum, then settled down to enjoy hearty lunches.  And today there was a very different type of clientele.  The Red Hat Hamilton ladies arrived, dressed in shades of purple, and sporting red hats, long red gloves, and lots of sparkling bling!  I asked if I could take their photo, and they told me they meet for lunch monthly, and for morning tea every two weeks.  Sounds like a fun group to join – and I know there is a local branch back home.

PB170015 The Red Hat Ladies of Hamilton

We never did find the time to visit the Classic Car Museum, but I’m sure we will be staying here again, so we will have to do it later.  A visit to the laundrette took a while, the clothes went into the washer, then into the drier, then we folded everything up neatly and placed them back into the laundry bag.  (Happiness is clean washing, don’t you know!)  But I was well prepared, and took my book with me to while away the time.  Our caravan service didn’t take as long as we expected, so on the way back to the factory to collect it (and pay the bill) we stopped off at a truck stop to top up with fuel for our return journey.

PB170017 Topping up the fuel tank

Then we we on the road again, heading south towards Lake Karapiro.  IT was good to get away from the hustle and bustle of Hamilton, it it always such a busy place.  We arrived back at the lake, and the lovely surroundings soon had us feeling relaxed once more. 

PB170021 Back at the lake again, this time with friends in tow

As it was 3.00pm, it must be time for afternoon tea, we reasoned.  The kettle was soon whistling away, coffees were made, and biscuits shared.  Two friendly ducks climbed out of the lake and waddled up the grass towards us, looking for a hand-out.  But we don’t feed ducks around the caravan, they only leave their calling cards behind!

PB170019 Hello, duckies

Then before we knew it, 4zzees time arrived.  This is the life, Robin and Geoff think.  It’s great to be back in this little part of paradise again, even if it is just for one night again before moving on.  The property is up for sale, so we must enjoy it while we can.


Monday, 16 November 2015

Staying at Classics Museum, Hamilton

Leaving the trumpeting swans calling to each other as they paddled around the waters of Lake Karapiro in the still morning, we headed off to Hamilton.  It was raining gently in the morning, but progressively the rainfall became more and more heavy.  Our destination for the next two nights was the Classics Museum, a 50s style Diner with a museum full of classic cars attached.  We had arranged to meet up with Geoff and Eileen, and they arrived just a little before us.  Our trip to Hamilton is so that we can both take our respective caravans back to the manufacturer for an their annual service over the next couple of days.

PB150002 Parked by Classics Museum – note the car on the pole!

The Diner is a delight, full of bright red  Formica, shiny chrome, black and white lino flooring, Betty Boop, Coco Cola, and the waitresses are suitably attired in their 50s style hair and make-up.  It’s just like stepping back in time, and travelling over to the good old USA for an episode of “Happy Days”.

PB160010 Betty Boop and our friendly waitress

PB150004Elvis is in the building too

The huge car park  has plenty of room and as well as our two caravans, several large camper vans are parked up here as well.  We are repaying the favour of free parking by visiting the diner, and plan to take a tour around the vintage car museum tomorrow.  Robin is a classic car nut, so that won’t be too hard for him to do, at all.  Plus, we qualify for Senior rates, which makes it even better.  More about this in the next blog.

PB150006 Jukebox Diner

PB150003 Dead car cemetery

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Marvellous Maungatautari

Brrr – the night was freezing cold at Taupo, and we could see why when we peeped through the curtains.  No wonder, Jack Frost had come calling.  Muffy spent the evening cuddled up close to us on the bed, and we kept nice and cosy tucked up in our lovely fluffy Arctic sheets – I knew I hadn’t changed just yet to summer cotton sheets for just this reason.  The gas heater soon warmed the van, and a hot cup of tea and poached eggs for breakfast soon put everything else right in our world.  Once the sun had made an appearance, the frost soon disappeared.  It promised to be a cracker of a day!

PB140052 Plenty of space at NZMCA Park at Taupo Airport

PB140055 Is there a man-eater running loose in the park?  Check out these bones picked clean.

Campers are usually very friendly at these sort of places.  One lady came over for a chat to say she was a full time resident of the Manawatu Caravan Club grounds and recognised us from our previous visits – that was nice of her.  Waving goodbye, we set off on our day’s journey, first stop was the dump station.  Time for a little rant here – we came across a young couple from overseas in one of those “Wicked” vans undo their waste hose and let the grey water drop all over the road as they slowly drove away.  We soon caught up with them and told them that such behaviour was unacceptable in our country as it causes disease, and it was obvious they had stayed overnight at the dump station!  Don’t know if they really understood what we were getting at, but they nodded and smiled, and we hate to think how they had disposed of their toilet tank.

After our blood pressure had returned to normal, we travelled up SH1 passing by Tokoroa, Putaruru and the funky little town of Tirau – that one in particular needs to be thoroughly explored, I feel.  Next time, perhaps.  The traffic was flowing well, except for one incident with a tractor travelling along at an impossibly slow speed for ages, before he finally pulled over.  The truck driver just behind the tractor with a heavy load of logs must have been pleased to finally get some speed up, as the rest of the long tail of traffic was, ourselves included. 

121kms later the Sat Nav told us we were at our destination.  But were we?  We had arrived at Horahora Domain, on the banks of Lake Karapiro.  This is a freedom camping area, and cars, boats, caravans and campers were everywhere.  It looked a very popular spot.

PB140059 Horahora Domain

But we were looking for AJ’s Park at Maungatautari, a low cost park over property.  And there was the gateway, at the end of the domain, just by the Ski Club grounds.

PB140057 This is the place

The owners were busy sitting on their ride-on mowers whizzing around their 5 acres of paradise right on the waterfront.  Alan and Joanne were very friendly and invited us to “park anywhere”.  Perhaps just here?  We had the place to ourselves,  but others could well be staying overnight as well.  With water, shower and toilet available, plus that fabulous view, we were set for a lovely relaxing stay.

PB140064You have been warned!

PB140060 What a marvellous camp site

We enjoyed a late lunch, then spent the rest of the afternoon sitting outside just relaxing.  Boats whizzed by on the lake, pulling people on water skies, and noisy groups of youngsters hooping and hollering as they skimmed across the water sitting in their rubber “biscuits”.  Ducks and swans paddled serenely about in the lake, and birds chirped and sang in the surrounding large trees.  I think we are in paradise!
PB140066 Fun on the lake

Friday, 13 November 2015

Waiouru for lunch, Taupo for dinner

It was time for another road trip – this time to Hamilton to take our Leisureline caravan for it’s annual service.   By the time we were packed up, hitched up, and locked up, it was mid morning.  But we don’t have to travel there in just one day, and have planned a couple of stops before we finally make it to Hamilton.  There were plenty of heavy trucks on the road, but the professional drivers are not usually any problem – it’s the little old ladies who tootle along, slowing down at each corner, then speeding up again, who really upset Robin.  And after we had noticed several convertibles driving south, we wondered if there was going to be a convertible car rally somewhere this weekend.

We got our first glimpse of the mountains as we approached Waiouru, although the tops were covered in clouds.  The Waiouru Army Museum is a good place to stop for lunch – plenty of room at the back for caravans, plus the bonus of nice clean restrooms too.  We have overnighted in the car park several times previously, but the temperatures can drop dramatically in the wee small hours at this higher altitude.

PB130030 Approaching Waiuoru

PB130032Lunch stop at Waiouru with the mountains in the distance

Lunch over, we joined the streams of traffic heading north, and carried on over the Desert Road, past Rangipo and Turangi, and through the many small settlements along the lake side.   The sight of bright neon yellow flowers contrasted against dark green trees as the road continued down the hill by Waitahanui.  Was it gorse in flower, we wondered, or broom?  Whatever it was, the yellow was quite startling.  (We later found out it was broom bushes in flower).

PB130039 Bright yellow broom bushes were flowering profusely

Pulling into the NZMCA Park at Taupo Airport we picked a spot, backed up, unhitched, wound the legs down, turned on the gas for the fridge, and set up the TV signal.  There, all done.  Meanwhile, the welcoming committee of one came calling.

PB130043Taupo NZMCA welcoming committee

We left the camp to attend to a few important things down in the town centre,  such as getting the gas bottle refilled – Robin particularly likes to get this done in Taupo as he can get propane enriched gas here, it is not available down our way.   Then we dropped our NZMCA Travel Directory off at a copy shop to get it spiral bound and finished with a laminate cover sheet.  This change makes it much easier to open up and read, as the directory is classified as “The Bible” for those who like to travel near and far, and is chock full of information for members of places to stay.

PB130050 Our new directory is now spiral bound

On the way back to camp we stopped off at the lookout over Lake Taupo, and lo and behold most of the clouds had finally lifted away from the mountains.  And there is some more of that bright yellow broom in flower, it’s everywhere.

PB130048Looking across Mt Taupo to Mt Ruapehu and Mt Ngauruhoe

Our friendly neighbours, Dick and Louise from Taumarunui, joined us outside in the sunshine for 4zees and we swapped travelling stories, as you do.  They went off for a meal out to celebrate the end of their trip before returning home tomorrow, and we returned inside our van for a home cooked meal.  We are travelling on to stay somewhere new tomorrow, so that will be exciting..