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

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Homeward Bound

Time to start the drive home – leaving Taupo we traveled down SH1 and along the Desert Road.  Mt Ruapehu was looking glorious as we drove past.

Mt Ruapehu

We decided to stop at Waiouru for lunch.  The National Army Museum is a great place to stop with plenty of room in the large carpark for caravans and campers.  With a café and toilets available, as well as the marvelous museum, we often stop here for a break, and sometimes stay overnight.  We had a nice restful lunch in the café, after we were stopped and asked to open my bag as we entered the building.

After lunch I took a wander around the grounds.  The tanks out on the front grounds are a magnet for kids to clamber all over them.

Kids climbing on the tank

A Field of Remembrance was in place, honouring the soldiers who lost their lives in WW1 
Field of Remembrance

Where to stop for the night, we wondered?  And decided on a new to us CAP in Taihape.  This property had a previous life as a Catholic School and now welcome self contained campers.  We camped in the playing field, surrounded by lots of lovely large trees, and enjoyed sitting outside in the late afternoon sunshine.  It was rather chilly overnight with the temperature dropping quite low.

Staying the night at Taihape

After a leisurely breakfast it didn’t take too long to hook up and make our way to the local dump station.  Then on the road again for the last part of the journey arriving home in time for a late lunch.  We had a great time away and towed the caravan 1515kms on our trip.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

On to Hamilton

With the Easter Rally over, it was time to pack up and leave Mt Maunganui College, with some of our fellow campers getting away bright and early.  We left later in the morning, not in too much of a hurry as we had a reasonably short trip to Hamilton.  And as we hadn't traveled along this road before, we took SH29 over the Kaimai Ranges.

We stopped for lunch at Hora Hora Domain, a free camping area.  Such a pretty place, with many large shady trees in a park like setting and overlooking  Lake Karapiro.  An hour or so later, fed, watered and well rested, we continued on our journey again.

Lunch at Lake Karapiro

Our trip to Hamilton was to get a leak checked in the caravan.  Luckily we could stay at the Leisureline factory overnight, so the servicemen can take charge of our van at 7.00am the next morning.  We are very grateful that the service department could fit this job so quickly, especially as we are up on this part of the country this week.

Staying at the Leisureline factory overnight

What shall we have for dinner, we wondered, maybe Chinese?  Robin did a bit of googling, read some reviews, and we drove a few kms to Golden Dragon Restaurant.  The food was great, very reasonably priced, and we were offered the Senior Discount too.  You know it must be very good, when it is packed with local Chinese patrons.  I tried a couple of new things too, pork dumplings, and on the dessert table, tapioca coconut milk to pour over my pudding.  We were chatting to a couple of locals who were at the next table, who commented that although it wasn’t the flashiest restaurant in town, the food and prices more than make up for it.

Plenty of choices

Up bright and early the next morning we left our caravan with the servicemen and took ourselves off for breakfast.  This was certainly  delicious and beautifully presented too.  Salmon and avocado for her, and pancakes for him, followed by a delicious coffee.  Sure beats our usual cereal and toast!

Our delicious breakfasts
The caravan was ready for collection  mid morning so we hooked up and went on our, stopping off at Taupo Airport NZMCA Park for the next two nights.  This is always a busy place to stay, vans arrive and depart,  helicopters come and go, planes arrive and take off at the adjacent airport, and sky divers jump out of planes to land nearby. 

It had been a while since we had witnessed the Aratiatia Rapids change into a turbulent monster.  Several times each day, spill gates from a dam are opened at the top of the rapids and the narrow gorge fills with water surging past at up to 90,000 litres per second.  At Aratiatia the Waikato River falls naturally through 28 metres in the space of one kilometre. This natural drop has been harnessed for environmentally-sustainable hydroelectric power - headwaters are diverted through a tunnel to the power station.

We stood on the bridge by the power station, the siren sounded several times and the water flow changed.

From this

To this

On the other side of the bridge there was a lovely view of a  small rapid dotted with rocks covered in river weed.


As the water came rushing through, the rocks disappeared from view.

Once the spill gates were closed, and the water slowly dropped to normal, we heard voices from the main look out site, and witnessed a canoeist into the water!    And here he comes.

He paddled down under our bridge, climbed out of the river, pulling his boat behind him, then settled down to await his friends to collect him.  Oh dear, highly illegal and so dangerous.

Anzac Day–Lest we Forget

It seems rather appropriate for Anzac Day.  We are currently staying at the Taupo Airport NZMCA Park.  The street address is Anzac Memorial Drive, where a small memorial is situated.

Lest we Forget

Monday, 22 April 2019

Pancakes for Breakfast

It seems to be a tradition to have a pancake breakfast one morning at the National Rallies.  As we joined the queue to collect our pancakes, the Easter Bunny came hopping along and presented us an Easter Egg each.

The Easter Bunny found us

The blokes from the Wairoa Caravan Club are old hands at pancake duty and took over this task to feed the masses.  The BBQs were fired up, bacon was sizzling, and a multitude of pancaked were flipped over on the hot plates.  Bananas and maple syrup completed our pancake breakfasts, and there was so much food that most of us went back for seconds.

Pancakes, bacon and banana for breakfast

The local Dog Agility Club brought their clever canines along to entertain us is the afternoon.  We all took our folding chairs up to the end of the playing field to sit in the sunshine and see what the dogs could do.  My goodness, those dogs are fast, and not easy to photograph as they are put through their paces.  Except for a trio of toy poodles, who daintily went up and over the jumps, through the tunnels and weaving poles – they did things very well but wouldn’t have won points on the time trials.  The border collies in particular put their heart and soul into the exhibition.

Look at those dogs go!

I wandered up to the other end of the park and got some snaps of the dogs who were waiting their turn.  They were all such well trained dogs.

More competitors

After the exhibition was over, the owners brought their dogs along for a meet and greet with the campers.  I got to cuddle one of those pretty little poodles.  Wonder what Gemma thought when I returned to the van smelling a bit doggy?

Holding one of the toy poodles

The rain came pouring down later in the afternoon and continued throughout the night and next morning.  But that didn’t dampen our spirits as we gathered in the hall on Sunday evening as we were entertained by a one man band.  The music was of our era and had many up and dancing the night away.  As we found out later, the entertainer was also the school caretaker.  This came in very happy during the evening when the hall alarm started ringing and no one knew how to turn it off!

Singing caretaker

The raffle numbers were drawn during the evening and we were delighted to win a gift basket filled with all sorts of goodies.

Our raffle prize

The National Rally was officially closed on Monday morning – yes it was still raining.  Some vans got away smartly while others, including us, will stay another night and join in the casual BBQ meal tonight.  Then we will depart on Tuesday morning.  The rally was most enjoyable, and it is always so nice to meet up with members from other clubs throughout the country who we only get to see at these sorts of get-togethers.

We were given a special memento to take home.  Street names were produced for each row of caravans on site, acknowledging the years which Past Presidents served on CCNZ.  Many of them have since passed away, so it is good to know that we are “Still Vanning”.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Easter at Mt Maunganui

We took the scenic route from Rotorua, driving along a new to us road which took us through pine plantations and farming country.  Through Te Puke, the “Kiwifruit Capitol of the World”  where these luscious fruit are grown behind huge hedges (for protection from the wind, we expect) and we finally arrived at our destination.  After being warmly welcomed, we were given a goodie bag and showed where to park up.  About 50 caravans and campers arrived for the weekend rally.

Easter Rally at Mt Maunganui

We were gathered at Mt Maunganui College for the 25th CCNZ National Rally.  A double celebration as it turns out – with the National Rallies held every two years, we are also celebrating 50 years of the Association.

There was plenty of memorabilia laid out in the hall, including this selection of Out and About magazines.  Robin spent 10 years on the Executive committee and was President of CCNZ from 2000 to 2002.  He was also heavily involved in the production of the Out and About magazine for the life of the magazine.

Old Out and About magazines

There is always a banner parade at the beginning of the Opening Ceremony, and the banner holders are usually piped in by a local bag piper.  Sadly the bag piper did not turn up at the allocated time, for whatever reason, so we clapped the banner holders into the hall instead.  The Deputy Mayor of Tauranga did the honours of welcoming our group of happy campers into his fair city.

This lovely cake was then cut by the current President, Alan Dale, and a long standing member who has been camping well before CCNZ (formerly ACC) was started.

Rally Cake

Then it was time for the various clubs attending to get their photo shoot done.  After a bit of arranging, we were finally in place, resplendent in our club colour of orange hats and tops, and handed our cameras over to a helpful lady of photographer duties.

The Heretaunga Caravan Club attendees

Bill and Val invited us to join them for lunch at Bobby’s on Fisherman’s Wharf for fish and chips – highly recommended.  Our meals were delicious, and we devoured our fish, chips and mussel fritters s we sat in the sunshine on the wharf.  There was hardly a breath of wind and we looked out at the boats, occasional water skier and plenty of seagulls.

Fisherman’s Wharf

It seemed a good idea to take a gentle walk along the waterfront  after that delicious meal.  We came across a collection of sculptures showing Hairy Maclary and friends, characters from Lynley Dodd much loved children's books.  Lynley Dodds was a resident of Tauranga for many years, and the sculptures were created by Bridgette Weust.

Hairy Maclary and friend chasing Scarface Claws

The sculpture park was a hive of activity with children clambering all over the statues.  I’m sure that all the little ones knew the name of each and everyone of these animals.  Author Dame Lynley Dodd said she was humbled and overwhelmed when statues of her world famous story book characters were opened on Tauranga's downtown waterfront.

Tauranga Waterfront Sculpture Park

So far the weather has been marvelous here, so we are hoping that it remains so over Easter.  And could you tell the Easter Bunny we have gone camping so he will know where to find us?

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

To Taupo and Rotorua

Leaving the Leisureline Rally behind, we drove along the 150km Napier-Taupo Road.  Plenty of up and down hills along the way, and Robin was very pleased with how his Jeep performed.  He has already mentioned several times on this trip that our old Landcruiser used to struggle up some of these hills.  The Napier-Taupo Road is reasonably high altitude and can often be closed in winter due to snow. 

We arrived at the Taupo Airport NZMCA Park in time for lunch, unfortunately the resident wasps wanted to join in our meal too.  We spent the afternoon enjoying the warm sunny weather and watching the sky divers jumping out of aeroplanes and come drifting, seemingly effortlessly down.  Only stayed the one night at Taupo, and caught this glorious view from the lookout over Lake Taupo as we left the next morning.

Looking over Lake Taupo

Our stop for the next two nights was Ngongotaha NZMCA Park, in Rotorua.  You know you have arrived in Rotorua when you get the whiff of rotten eggs (sulphur) in the breeze.  Rotorua is a very active thermal area.  Four vans from our caravan club are traveling up to the CCNZ Easter Rally and we lined up together at the back of the park.

Club vans:  Turnbull, Solomon, Benton, Fisk

The weather remained fine and sunny, but definitely much cooler overnight, but it is Autumn, after all.  After doing a little shopping, we stopped off at Kuirau Park and joined the many tourists walking around admiring the hissing, steaming, bubbling vents.  Back in 2001 there was a hydrothermal eruption in Kuirau Park with mud and rocks the size of rugby balls flying in all directions. The rocks snapped branches off nearby trees like they were mere twigs and the nearby road and cars were covered in mud. Keep to the paths, the signs say.

Boiling water under this steam

We will be spending Easter at Mt Maungaui, so do hope that the Easter Bunny comes calling.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Leisureline 2019 Get Together

It was a great gathering of the Leisureline Owners Club.  48 of these caravans met at Eskdale School at Napier.  What a great sight to look out from the school hall balcony and see all those caravans lined up.

As far as the eye can see

Leisureline is a family run business by the Bates family, and they came along to support our weekend, and join in the fun too.  They also brought down a couple a new vans for us to see.

Colin, Liz and Merilyn

Arrivals on Friday from 4.00pm as it was a school day, and after settling in, meeting and greeting our neighbours and old friends, we met in the school hall at 6.00pm.  “Open Home” visiting took place on Saturday morning, and most took the opportunity to check out the new vans brought down from the factory.  Owners of near new vans were quite happy to welcome people to look through their pride and joy so there was a lot of visiting taking place.   It’s amazing how many tips and new ideas you pick up from other owners and their vans.  Then in the afternoon those who had booked went on a winery or brewery tour.  We saw some of them stagger back to site carrying their acquisitions with them after a happy afternoon of sampling.

Dinner that evening was at the Bay View Hotel for a Pig on a Spit meal.   The pork was delicious, and there was a great selection of vegetables too, plus dessert.

Dinner at Bay View Hotel

Then it was back to the school hall where we were enjoyed a musical evening, got to love these sing-along songs which we all know.  Some of the happy campers did a turn or two around the dance floor.

Musical entertainment in the hall

It seems to be a given at these Leisureline Get togethers we share a bacon and egg breakfast on Sunday morning, cooked by the  Leisureline family and the organizing committee.  The kitchen was a hive of activity with bacon, eggs and hash browns cooking away, a huge pot of baked beans simmering away, plus mountains of toast.  Hungry campers were queuing up, plates and cutlery in hand waiting for their breakfasts, and sat down happily to enjoy their generous plates of food. 

Sunday morning breakfast

This was followed by Colin’s Q & A session.  He told us he was about to step back from his company with his son and daughter stepping up to the helm.  The company will be introducing a few new ideas, and he spoke about tyre pressures, fridges, and other items which often cause a little bother to van owner.   Colin then took questions from the floor and the conversations flew around the hall. 

Sunday  morning and the school grounds started to empty out as people headed off home
Sunday morning

We had also intended to pack up and get on our way on Sunday, but changed our minds with the opportunity to dine out again.  Colin and his family had previously had lunch at the Linden Estate Winery and was so impressed he talked the restaurant into opening up especially for our group on Sunday evening.  And because we were a large group of 68, we got a generous discount off the meal price.  The food was delightful, with choices of steak, lamb or salmon, plus dessert.

Dinner at Linden Estate Winery

Finally, on Monday, our Leisureline weekend had come to an end, and we said goodbye to our fellow campers.   It’s great to know that some members have put up their hand to arrange the Leisureline Owners Club get together for next year, and it will be in Mokau.  No dilly dallying around in the morning, we had to leave the school grounds reasonably early as the playing field we were camped on was about to get dug over.  And here’s the digger which arrived to do the job.

Many thanks to the organizing committee for a wonderful weekend, and to Leisureline for supporting the Leisureline Owners Club.  It was a great weekend, and so nice to catch up with people we had met before at previous Leisureline get togethers.