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

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Powerhouse Road

It was just a one night stop at Taupo this time, we are making our way slowly towards Auckland.  We stopped at the Wairakei BP to use the public dump station, and purchase a nice hot coffee to take with us on our trip.  Close by was the Wairakei Geothermal Power Station, and we could see some of the many pipes and hissing steam beside the road.  When the first generator was commissioned at Wairakei in 1958, it was only the second geothermal plant in the world to begin large-scale commercial operation and the first to exploit a wet (rather than dry steam) geothermal resource. 
Roadside pipes in the Wairakei Geothermal Power project

Our drive today took us along SH1 and through Tokoroa, Putaruru to Arapuni, turning into Powerhouse Road, for our stop for the night.  With power available, together with toilet facilities, and all for a very reasonable cost, our two vans were soon settled in this peaceful rural setting.

Powerhouse Road CAP (Cost applicable site)

And staying as we were on Powerhouse Road, we soon went exploring to find it.  We knew about the power house, but were unaware of the swing bridge – that sounded like fun. 

Our first glimpse of the power station and the swing (foot) bridge was  from the road bridge, and the public could  go no further.  The Arapuni Power Station is the oldest currently generating, the first government-built, and the largest single hydroelectric power station on the Waikato River.  At 80 years old, continuous improvement and refurbishment of the station's generation equipment ensures Arapuni remains efficient.

Powerhouse and swing bridge

Back in the car we went to find the entrance to the swing bridge – of course we wanted to walk across it.  And there it was – luckily some other visitors showed us the path to reach it.  The bridge was built in 1925 for construction workers to reach the power station site.  And we were pleased to read that motorcycles and horses are not permitted on the bridge.


Robin and Geoff looking down at the river

And one of us

The powerhouse and dam at Arapuni are under protection of the Historic Places Trust, becoming Category I Historic Places. It is one of the few generating power stations in New Zealand to be listed on the register.  During WW11 the Powerhouse was camouflaged to prevent it being bombed by possible Japanese airstrikes, foliage was placed on top, and the building was painted in camouflage colours.  Japan did not invade New Zealand so the powerhouse remained unscathed – but it certainly is an interesting story, and one we knew nothing about.

Story of the dam that disappeared during the war

After all this interesting history, we took a bit of a tiki tour and went to check out a couple of local free parking sites for future reference.  The best of these was Jones Landing on Lake Arapuni, and what a pretty place it was.  Jones Landing is named after Gordon Jones father who had a boat shed there. Locals and tourists can come for the day to enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, and picnics, or freedom camp for a couple of nights.  We may well do that on some future trip.


At Jones Landing

The huge rocky outcrops were most intriguing.  And we learned later that these impressive geological features were formed by ignimbrite blocks which are vertically fissured by cooling stresses.  How about that!  It was a great afternoon exploring an area we didn't know much about.

Interesting cliffs

Monday, 30 October 2017

Awastone to Taupo

The caravan sites at Awastone Camp had dried out considerably overnight – most of the puddles had disappeared.  With the Rangitikei River racing along, and the towering cliffs as a backdrop, this is a very scenic spot indeed.

View from our camp site

There was time for a walk around the campgrounds in the morning, taking a few extra photos, and disposing of the rubbish.  The side view of the bridge makes it look much higher than when we drove over it the previous day.


And here are our vans – must be almost time to start packing up, winding up the steadies, hitching up, and on our way again.


Back over the bridge we drove, and turned back on to SH1.  We hadn’t traveled very far at all when we spotted a train in the distance.  The engine was pulling just a few freight wagons, followed by a long, long line of empty wagons.

Freight train at Mangaweka

There seemed to be an awful lot of road works being done along the very busy Desert Road.  Men with Stop signs held up long lines of traffic, while workmen were busily attending to their business on the side of the road.  Would I see the mountain clearly today, I wondered?  No - coming into Waiouru Mt Ruapehu was well hidden under the low clouds.

Mt Ruapehu is under the clouds

After a drive of 160km we arrived at our destination for the night, thee NZMCA site at Taupo Airport.  We have stayed here many times, and it is a handy stop on the way north.  There is water available, and some of those very important rubbish bins, plus a swap-a-book shelf for keen readers like me.  Geoff and Eileen arrived not too long after us.  And who should we find in residence, none other than Harry and Lorraine from the Wairarapa Caravan Club – so of course we had a catch up with them. 

Arrived safe and sound at Taupo

After a late lunch we drove down town to buy a few necessary items.  And top of the list was to take our new NZMCA Travel Directory into a stationery shop to get it spiral bound and a clear plastic cover front and back.  What a difference this makes to such a well used book as we travel around the country.

All ready for many kms of travel

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Marton to Awastone

During our time “shemozzling” over the weekend we stayed at the Scottish Hall, Marton, for a Combined Caravan Rally, hosted by the Wellington Caravan Club.  We had the use of the hall, kitchen, and toilets for the weekend.

Staying at Marton

There was a farm across the river and it looked very peaceful indeed.  I bravely stepped onto the private bridge bristling with Private Property signs so that I could take a couple of photos of the lovely view.  Then quickly stepped off again before the owners noticed and set the farm dogs on me.

So pretty and peaceful

The weather was mostly sunny and warm, although it did rain quite hard on Saturday evening while we were safely tucked up in the hall. A “Pot Luck” meal was on the agenda, and as always happens, the table was groaning as everyone carried their contributions into the hall,  with plenty of choices for everyone.  Then we ate our way through a large array of desserts, very nice indeed.  Followed by an evening of Housie, (or Bingo, depending where you were brought up).  No money changed hands, but the winners were rewarded with chocolate bars.

After morning tea on Sunday, people packed up and drove on home, with a small group staying on for lunch, which we enjoyed outside, dodging the occasional spits of rain.  We waved most of the others off, but  we, together with Geoff and Eileen, are heading northwards to attend a Leisureline Owners Rally in Auckland next weekend.  Yes, I know, we are hardly ever home.  We had booked into Awastone Riverside Haven for the first night of this trip.  But first we had to cross over the old steel bridge spanning the Rangitikei River.


Arriving at Awastone

The recent rain had turned the camp sites into a bit of a mud bath but with a bit of tooing and froing we were soon in place, legs wound down and power cords plugged in.  And just look at that view behind us.  Several kayaks went paddling by.

On site at Awastone
Paddling down the Rangitikei River

This is a fairly new camp, with an excellent ablution block.  Beverages are available in the bar, and meals are provided for group bookings.  Never mind, we will be cooking our own meals tonight.

Settling the bill

Panoramic view from the river  bank

Saturday, 28 October 2017

The Hunterville Shemozzle

What is a shemozzle, you may well ask?  Shemozzle – noun - a state of chaos and confusion; a muddle.

The town of Hunterville, a small community on SH1, in the Rangitikei district of the North Island of New Zealand, and is located half way between Taupo and Wellington.  It has been running the shemozzle for 20 years (goodness, has it been that long?) so we jumped at the chance to finally go along and see what it all about.  The town is well known for its statue of the huntaway, a specialized herding dog that uses its voice to drive the sheep. The town festival and market held on the first Saturday after Labour Day has a "Shepherds Shemozzle" - a race with man and dog with shepherds travelling from all over New Zealand to compete for the top prize.

Map of Hunterville New Zealand

Sheepdogs need sheep to work and sculptures of Romney sheep (by Robin Coleman) commemorate sheep farming in the area.  Over the past century a huge number of Romney sheep have been driven through town on their way to the Main Street sale yards.

Romany sheep sculptures by Robin Coleman

We parked our car on the outskirts and walked down where all the action was, passing some pretty young “Tooth Fairies” on the way.  Come and get a new toothbrush, they invited us, so we did.  Behind them is a travelling dental van, which calls into smaller rural communities, complete with a dentist’s chair peeping through the door.

Tooth Fairies

Preparations were underway for the first race – helpers were setting out obstacles for the Family Shemozzle.  Luckily we found a seat on a handy pint sizes grand-stand, and sat down to watch developments, joining several from our caravan club.

Some of our Heretaunga Caravan Club members waiting for the action to start

It started with a sack race, swung over hay bales, and face dipping for onions

Parents were blindfolded, led under the net, through the cage

And a wheelbarrow race to the finish line

We noticed a strange phenomena in the sky – the sun was very hazy and had a ring right around it.  Very strange, but there is sure to be a reasonable explanation from someone in the know.

What’s happened to the sun?

With the first race over we took ourselves off to find some lunch amongst the take-away vans.  There were hay bales dotted around so we claimed one to sit in the sunshine and eat our lunch.

Lunch in the sunshine

Another race was underway and we watched as kids slipped and slid over a stretch of soapy plastic while the crowd lobbed water balloons at them.  Then they took off and ran up a steep hill, then headed down town to the finish line.  Oh – to be so young and active!

Kids race

Our energy levels were waning so we didn’t stay to watch the premier race due to start at 3.00pm, shepherds and their dogs.  But we had a great time at the Shemozzle, and so pleased we finally enjoyed the experience.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Seen in the Country

Saw this sign while out and about today – but didn’t see any of that outdoors carrying on!

Life on the Farm

Monday, 23 October 2017

Lunch at the Country Club

That sounds rather grand, doesn’t it?  But it was a special occasion, after all.  There were three family birthdays to celebrate – my own, plus the two grand-daughters.  The three of us have birthdays very close together, and we met at the Orlando Country Club for lunch,  in Palmerston North.


The café was exceptionally busy for a Monday, with large groups arriving to enjoy their lunches.  Today was Labour Day, a public holiday and we can thank carpenter Samuel Parnell who declared, way back in 1840, that he would only work for eight hours a day.  The first Labour Day celebrated the struggle for an eight-hour working day, and parades were held  in the main centres, attended by several thousand trade union members and supporters  In 1899 Parliament legislated to make Labour Day a public holiday. Predating both Anzac Day and Waitangi Day, it was the first public holiday in New Zealand not associated with religion, royal birthdays or anniversaries of provincial settlement. Since 1910 Labour Day has been held on the fourth Monday in October.

Sadly, grand-daughter Megan was unwell and couldn’t join us.  But the rest of us perused the menu and made our choices, and plates of fish, burgers, and pasta were delivered to our table.  It was all delicious.

Fish and chips for him, and smoked salmon pasta for her

Gifts were exchanged, and it was nice to meet grand-daughter Emma’s boyfriend Shimon at last.  A very pleasant young man, he did very well with meeting the grand-parents for the first time.  And there was also another family birthday to celebrate, Emma reminded us.  Her foal Firedancer shares the same birthday as me and is two years old today!

Enjoying our family birthday lunch

On our return trip home we drove by to check out how the work on the replacement of the Whirokino Trestle Bridge as coming along.  All the big yellow machines were nicely lined up together, so it looks like the workers had the day off for Labour Day.


A temporary staging bridge has been constructed to provide access across the Manawatū River, although it was hard to spot as we whizzed over the old bridge. There was no chance to slow down and peer over the bridge to the river.  The staging bridge is designed to carry the weight of the 100 tonne crane to be used for construction, concrete trucks and trucks carrying sand, fill and other materials, without impacting SH1 road users. Once the new River Bridge opens, the temporary staging bridge will be removed. It all seems to be going well, and we will be interested to watch developments as the the work progresses.

Friday, 20 October 2017

Welcome to Horowhenua

Standing at the southern entrance of Levin is a huge blue rugby ball, welcoming one and all to Horowhenua, and promoting the Horowhenua-Kapiti Rugby Football Union.  The union was established in 1893 as the Horowhenua Rugby Football Union and was changed to its current name of Horowhenua-Kapiti in 1997, in order to reflect the full extent of the union's districts.


Here in Levin we are in central Horowhenua.  The district stretches from north of the town of Otaki in the south to just south of Himatangi in the north, and from the coast to the summit of the Tararua Ranges.  The main town and seat of the district council is Levin, and other towns in the district include Foxton, Shannon, and Tokomaru.   And living as we do in earthquake prone New Zealand, it is interesting to discover that the name means shaking or rippling earth. 

Map of Horowhenua

The Horowhenua region is renowned for its fertile soil and temperate climate. This allows for production of a large range of quality green vegetables all year round.  And not just veggies, all sorts of berries, including the ever popular strawberries, roses, potatoes, pumpkins, onions, even grapes.  As well as farming free range eggs, and free range pork.  We are happily living in our own little piece of paradise.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Ultra Fast Broadband in our Village

There has been a posse of workmen from Chorus busy in our village starting to lay Ultra Fast Broadband.  As we live in a village situation, the majority of residents had to agree to this work.  When it was explained that having broadband available to each property was an important point for those selling their properties in the future, residents readily agreed.  This current work is to lay the fibre around the village, and it is up to the individual owners whether they get the connection to their homes through their own internet service providers.  Chorus provided the Body Corporate with a detailed plan showing how this work would be achieved.

Narrow trenches have been dug, as required

The whine of concrete cutters has been heard throughout the village

And the dinky little digger has made a big hole in front of our home

Into the hole went a very big junction box

Cones and rails now in place to stop us falling in the hole

Not all of the work has been so disruptive, in some places only a mere narrow slot needed to be cut through the concrete path and across the road.  The cables end in the the pale green boxes in front of each villa, and from there will go into each household when required.

Neat and tidy, and the slots will be covered over shortly

There is still more work to be done, but no doubt the recurring wet weather stops progress.  The workmen have assured us time and time again that everything will be put back as it should.  We can’t complain, as all this work is being done at no cost.