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

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Inaugural Leisureline Owners Club Rally

A whole posse of Leisureline caravans rolled into Bowentown Motor Camp on Friday and were assisted to their sites by a couple of keen young men.  Fitting 35 or so big vans onto the sites took a bit of doing.  Several people arrived early,  just because they could, and spent a couple of days enjoying some R&R.  The afternoon was spent catching up with people we knew, and some whom we hadn’t met before.  Everyone was happy and cheery, and as all owners of Leisureline caravans, it was rather like and extended family get-together!

 Leisurelines at Bowentown
Photo courtesy of Karen N Wilson Ratcliffe

Bill had a problem with his pump on arrival – all Val’s fault he said, as she filled the kettle to make him a cup of tea.  As often happens in cases like this, it took several interested campers to crawl under his van with him to see what was happening.

Helping Bill with his water pump problem

The festivities started off with “welcome drinks and nibbles” in the early evening,  provided by Colin Bates and the Leisureline team.  Colin welcomed us to this, the first Leisureline Owners Rally, and mentioned that it was Robin’s urging him to form a club that got it up and running.  He also thanked us all for our patronage, and commented that many of us are repeat customers of his Leisureline caravan brand.  Robin then got up to say a few words and reminded people that he was starting up a Gmail list for owners, as not everyone is a Facebook user.  This way he can pass on any messages when they are posted on the Leisureline Facebook site.

Colin Bates and Liz Gordon

Friday's sunshine didn’t make an appearance on Saturday, and by mid morning the gentle drizzle  changed to a more persistent downpour.  It was laundry day once again for me in the morning, and with no chance of hanging the washing out on the line to dry, popped it into the drier instead.  Many thanks to Andrew who put his coins into my drier as he was attempting to do his own load of laundry in the washer below.  But to be fair – I did send a message to him that there was still money left on the drier that he could use, as his washing was almost done.

People took advantage of the Open Caravan Tour mid morning and were invited to check out the differences between the caravans at the rally.  It was a great way to get ideas of other layouts, see what others had done differently to you.   There was a brand new van on site, so that was well worth a look through too.  There were people sporting blue polo shirts and caps all around the camp – especially produced for the Leisureline owners to purchase if they wished.

The blue shirt and cap brigade

The Questions and Answers Session with Colin and dealers drew a good crowd.  Colin stressed that his vans must be serviced regularly by his factory or his approved agents to keep the warranty valid.  Caravanners then brought up their queries, such as batteries, tyre pressures, water pumps, ovens  and fridges.  Good maintenance is very necessary, as is simple things like cleaning the dust from the back of fridges to keep them in good order.

Question and Answer session with Colin

The courtesy van did a great job of ferrying people from the camp to the Boat Club for our dinner.  And our group did a great job of filling up the many tables in the dining room.
The Bowentown Boat Club

We had a selection of hot ham, roast beef and veggies, with dessert to follow.  The chef told us he had made sticky date pudding especially for the ladies.

Dining at the Boat Club

Friday, 28 April 2017

Otorohanga, Hamilton and on to Bowentown

The Otorohanga NZMCA site is brand spanking new – and has only been opened a short time, so it was the first time here for all our group.


We all parked up in a line, leaving a little room for a couple of other vans who also arrived.  There is a huge open grassed area behind the hard standing, so plenty of room for a large number of vans.   I swapped a few more books in the little shed, and the friendly custodians called around to see us.

Overnighting at Otorohanga

Another misty morning –this time at Otorohanga

The next morning we left to go to the dump station at Te Awamutu at the Mobil petrol station, to find it surrounded by workmen and it appeared to be out of action.  As it turned out, they were replacing the compressed air stanchion and were happy for us pull up along side them and empty out around them.  The chaos continued when a young mum pulled up too and started vacuuming her car out.  But we all got our chores done, and left the workmen continuing with swapping the compressed air units over.  It would be quite a squash with these three services all in a row at the best of times, but add workmen to the mix and it was like Grand Central Station.

Chaos at the petrol station

Our next stop was at the Classic Car Museum at Hamilton, rather a favourite of ours.  We all arrived safe and sound and parked up again in a row.  There is always quite a large number of vans staying here, but this time, everyone was informed that the grounds must be cleared the next morning for a private weekend booking.  Just as well that we had planned to stop for just  one night.

Staying a Hamilton

Part of the fun at staying here is having lunch in the diner.  Decorated in the 50s theme, with a menu to suit, the diner really takes us back to our teeny bopper years.

That's us enjoying our “spiders”, with Val, Bill and his sister who came to visit

Another morning – covered in mist once again.  Obviously that’s what happens in this part of the country.  We headed off for the final part of our safari trip.  And passed through the town of Paeroa, stopping merely to snap a picture of the famous Lemon and Paeroa bottle on the edge of town.

World famous in New Zealand, L & P

We continued driving through the Karangahape Gorge, stopping for road works along the way.  It looked like there had been several slips lately which needed cleaning up.


There was no time to stop as we whizzed past the historic pub, closely followed by the lovely old station, offering train rides along the old track.  We will have to come back again for another look without the caravan hooked on behind.  Through the bustling town of Waihi we drove, and down along the coast to Bowentown.  Arriving at last for the first ever Leisureline Owners Rally, it’s sure to be a great weekend.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

On to Otorohanga

It was just a short 25km trip up our next overnight stop at Otorohanga, a new NZMCA camp.  There was a sandy area in the front, a clothesline (always handy), a shed with info and book exchange, and a huge grass area at the back of the camp.  We set up our caravan on site, then departed to deal with a big bag of laundry a little further north at Kihikihi.  We had been to this laundromat before so knew it was a good one with plenty of large machines.


It’s laundry time in Kihikihi

Just down from the laundry is the Viands bakery, famous for their delicious pies.  With a lamb and mint pie  for him, and prawn and scallop pie for her, we were happy campers indeed, eating our lunch time pies as the laundry did it’s thing in the big machine.  There was a steady stream of customers all calling in for their lunch, so that shows how good their baking is.

Lunch time

Then it was back to Otorohanga to settle down for the afternoon, passing this colourful iridescent Kiwi on the way into town.  Otorohanga is known as Kiwi Town and has been very successful in breeding our national bird in the Kiwi House and National Bird Centre.

Welcome to Otorohanga

Barry and Dianne joined our safari trip at Otorohanga – just in time for 4zees.  It’s good to have them along.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Mangaokewa Scenic Reserve

There’s certainly something in the air – yet more swirling mist greeted us early in the morning at Piriaka Park – originally the site of the former Kaiticke  Co-op Dairy Co.  The sun soon chased the mist away, and all the chickens from next door came calling.  I had a bunch of grapes which were looking rather sad, but the chickens didn’t mind.  They swarmed around, happily pecking at the soft and overripe grapes and in no time at all, they disappeared.

Who knew chickens liked grapes?

It was an uneventful trip north and we scouted around the edge of Te Kuiti to arrive at the delightful Mangaokewa Reserve.  Recommended by Bill and Val, this was a new venue to the rest of us.  Up the long drive we went, surrounded on all sides by beautiful native bush, and dropped under an exceedingly tall rail bridge.


The park was humming,with day trippers, families with dogs, and lots of tourists staying overnight in those tiny cramped cars.  We just managed to find room for our five vans, backing up to the river.


Mangaokewa is known as “The Stones of Kewa” and this portion of magnificent native forest is reminiscent of what New Zealand looked like in the dawn of time.  Before settlers arrived and felled the mighty trees, cleared the forests for farms and introduced pests like possums and rats which devastated  the birdlife.

Cliffs across the river from the camp

There was a interesting little one person swing bridge which I carefully crossed.  But I didn’t take advantage of the bush walk through the dark forest – who knows what I might find in there?

Swing bridge over the river

Geoff and Eileen left us on Wednesday morning, and we will be catching up wit them again of Friday afternoon when we arrive at the inaugural Leisureline Owners Group Rally at Bowentown.

Off they go

Our next stop is not too far away at Otorohanga.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Ohakune to Piriaka

Peeping outside the caravan at 7.00am rewarded me with a wonderful view of Mt Ruhapehu in the early morning light.

Mt Ruhapehu in the early morning

And then the mist came down, which was just as pretty, with the sun trying to peep through.

Then the mist came down

With the morning chores done of emptying the waste water and topping up the fresh water, we were on our way.  Some decided to stop of at Horopito Motor Wreckers to see the thousands of cars in various stages of being wrecked.   The NZ films Goodbye Pork Pie, Smash Palace, and more recently Hunt for the Wilderpeople  have had scenes filmed there.
Our first stop of the morning was to view the place where the final railway spike was driven into the Main Truck Line at Pokaka.  We had seen this fleetingly out the window on various train trips, but never actually visited the memorial by road.


Then a little further up the road was the lookout for the magnificent Makatote Viaduct.  Last time we passed this way the viaduct was covered in plastic sheeting as it was undergoing repairs and painting.  The new paint looked great in the sunshine.  The viaduct was completed in 1908 and is 77m high and 262m in length.


The lookout at the Makatote Viaduct

The sleepy little village of Raurimu was next on our list of places to stop and visit. We remember posing in front of the tiny station on our last steam train trip up to the spiral.

Raurimu at the foot of the spiral

We had heard tell of a horse sculpture made entirely of horse shoes tucked away in a tiny place in the middle of nowhere – certainly well worth a visit.   Off we went, along a steep, windy, narrow country road for 18km to finally arrive at Kaitieke.  Sponsored by the Wheeler Family and the local community, the sculpture was erected in 2015, the Year of the Horse.  It commemorates the horse history in Kaitieke and the ANZAC Centenary, acknowledging the contribution by horses to mankind in earlier times of war and agriculture.

Wonderful horse sculpture made of horse shoes

Bill and Val had arrived shortly before us, and we decided to have a picnic lunch in the sunshine.  But the wasps were so pleased to see us and share in our lunch, that we quickly moved back inside our caravan.

Lunch at Kaitieke

Our stop for the night was the NZMCA site, Piriaka Park.  The entrance was a bit tricky, and necessitated a sharp turn off SH4 and along a dusty track.  Our other travelling companions had arrived before us.  But there was no time to spare, once we were settled on site, the gas and the fridge turned on, we jumped into Bill’s car and drove back to Owhango Park.  There was no way we could have visited earlier with both caravans in tow. 

Pillars of bridge at Owhango Park built into huge rocks

Two happy campers on the bridge

The four of us had intended walking along the lagoon boardwalk, but we weren’t quite sure where that particular  track started.  So we had a pleasant walk in the bush instead, admiring the tall native trees, and the abundant ferns everywhere.  On the way back to camp we stopped at the Piriaka Lookout – great views down the river valley.

View from the lookout

Arriving back in camp just in time for 4zees, we settled down with the others and related our day’s travelling and different adventures.  Piriaka Park covers quite a large area and the several chickens came to visit us from the adjacent house.

Piriaka Park

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Marton to Ohakune

We awoke to another beautiful sunny morning, so our intrepid group of enjoyed morning tea in the sunshine, plus a short drivers briefing of the drive ahead.  Friendly NZMCA members arrived bearing gifts of garden produce for all campers to enjoy – there were carrots and feijoas, following on from the grapes of yesterday.  Then off we went on our day’s travel, agreeing to meet at the Tangiwai Disaster Memorial for lunch.  We passed a road marking truck, spurting out just enough white paint to renew the white line on the side of the road – the first time we had seen one of these in action.

Road marking

It was all happening at the Memorial site when we arrived, where work was being done to tidy up the surrounding area.  We all pulled up one behind the other and ate our lunch out in the sunshine.

Lunch at Tangiwai

There were new memorials (under wraps) which were due to be officially opened shortly, and we had a chat to this young man from Stone Creations NZ who had a lot to do with them.  His Dad was only 15 when he was on the ill fated train in 1953, when a rupture in the wall of the crater lake on Mt Ruapehu sent a torrent of water down the Whangaehu River damaging the rail bridge.  The bridge collapsed as the Wellington to Auckland Express crossed shortly after, sending 11 carriages into the raging waters below, with a loss of 151 lives.

The names of all who perished have now been added to the original memorial

We took a walk up the track to the lookout and passed a section of chassis from car number 3 on the train, which was ripped away and washed 80m down stream.  This was recovered in 2014, and the second photo shows how the metal has been twisted with the force of the accident. 

Recovered piece of chassis

View from the lookout

Looking at the peaceful Whangaehu River today it is hard to image a torrent of water so fierce that it could damage a rail bridge so severely and the carnage which happened when the train started it’s journey across.  Tangiwai remains the worst rail accident to happen in New Zealand.

Whangaehu River

A family visiting the memorial arrived in their Cadillac Eldorado.  Such a magnificent car, and not many of them here in this country, we were told.  Our blokes were happy to admire it and talk cars to the proud owner.

Every man’s dream, a grunty American gas guzzler

It wasn’t too far from here for our stop for the night, the Ohakune Club, passing the Big Carrot on the way.

Welcome to Ohakune

We were soon on site at the club, five cans all arranged neatly down the side of the car park.

Five Leisurelines in a row at Ohakune

Bill went off on a 12km bike ride

And Sandra cooked up whitebait fritters for 4zees

The temperatures soon dropped, the skies darkened, and everyone went inside to start cooking their evening meals.  It was a very interesting day.

Sunset at Ohakune