Archive for March, 2011

We have the power

March 31, 2011

Thursday 31 March
Today we left Steve and Les’ for good! we went to stay with them for a week or so, and it ended up nearly two months! We cannot thank them enough for their generosity, friendship, laughs, food, oh and the odd wine or two, or three, or four!
Antony took us out to Clevedon to pick up the van, which has had a major power overhaul. We now have two more large solar panels, four new house batteries, new lights, new cabling, new fan/vent, inverters, thingy to make the TV’s work, oh and lots of other bits and pieces. What it all means is that we have loads of power and we can be totally independent. We must also thank Steve & Veronica at Absolute Power for their amazing work, done with such care and attention, we can highly recommend them.
After Antony dropped us off, we headed towards Manukau to get a small chip in the windscreen checked (its all OK), then it was off to the supermarket to stock up the larder before heading to Ambury Park, one of the ARA parks in Manuaku. Here we settled in for the evening, before getting our first visitors. Bill & Estelle came to visit, after a cuppa and a catch up it was time for them to fight the traffic back to their home. Steve was next – he was delivering some of our gear that would not fit in Ants car, then Ants arrived. Steve was soon on his way, before Jacky & Chris arrrived bearing a wonderful beef casserole and a lemon meringue pie. Bill & Linda arrived shortly after, with a few veggies thrown into the pots, and a sharing of our meagre cutlery and plates, a lovely dinner was shared.
Guests left, dishes done, everything tidied and time to relax.
Tomorrow we start our journey south, Hmailton is the first port of call then…….well, we are working on the rest. But watch out, we could be rolling into a town near you soon!


March 28, 2011

We have been back in Auckland for a week now, staying at the “Hotel Coatham” in Torbay and very nice it is too! 

The van is with Absolute Power in Clevedon getting a major electrical overhaul – more solar panels, more and bigger batteries, inverters, wiring, plugs, LED lights, 12v, 240v…….sorry, eyes are glazing over at this point as I do not really know what all of this means except that I will be able to plug stuff in and it will work!! Roy can explain later. What that really means, is that the van will not be ready until this Wednesday 30th March. 

In the meantime we have been trying to catch up with a few friends and get all those little jobs done that we have managed to put off, such as organising and sorting all the photos from our trip….all 18,500 of them! 

We are looking forward to getting back into the van and starting our journey south.  We will try and call in on as many friends and family as we can along the way but I can assure you that we will not be lingering anywhere for long as we are really looking forward to getting to Oamaru.  We are both sick of wearing the same sets of clothes that we have had in our suitcase for the past 8 months!

Sitting here we are trying to think of all the things we have done in the past week;

Steve and Roy went fishing ……and the big one got away

Leslie and Bernice have cooked up a storm and made delicious, different and tasty meals every single day of the week

Steve and Roy spent a day making the most amazing sausages

Bernice spent a day with Jacky cooking, resulting in a wonderful dinner party the following night (at least 2 Michelin stars, I am modest enough not to award us 3 stars!!).

The weather has been very kind to us with only the last couple of days with rain, although it has been incredibly warm and humid, and at times not very pleasant.  Although we are not particularly looking forward to the chilly weather that we hear has already arrived down south.

No pictures this time either, we have become very slack in that dept.

Contact Details

March 21, 2011

We now have some new phone numbers;

Roy: 027 642 9963
Bernice: 021 339 885

Kahawai and Kaiaua

March 17, 2011

Thursday 17th March

Roy went for his usual wander along the beach last evening, only to return with a decent sized Kahawai.  Apparently he had got talking to a couple who had a long line out.  They had launched it using a “torpedo”, an electric tow vehicle that they launched from the beach.  The line was out some 750 metres with 25 hooks. Roy helped bring the line in, and was duly rewarded. 


They had bled the fish, and it did not take long to fillet the fish, mmmmm, fresh fish for dinner (Yes John, we know you only use this fish for bait, but some of us do not have that luxury!!).  It was from the sea and onto our plates in less that 45 minutes.  Oh, and thanx John for introducing us to the Tempura batter mix – made by Milligans from Oamaru no less!!  And yes, it was delicious and there is enough left over for dinner tonight.

breakingDumping surf in the early morning.

We left Otamarakau by 9am this morning and headed first to Tauranga to the airport, where we knew that they had a good dump station.  Duly emptied all the tanks, topped up the fresh water and continued on our way to Kaiaua.

Stopped for a break, and a trip to McDonalds for internet, at Paeroa.  Also got a couple of pies for lunch from a very good source called Roast, we have hankered for a pie since returning from overseas!  We carried on to the bridge just north of Paeroa and relaxed beside the river.

There was an interesting stage built at the side of the river giving boat access.  It looked very well built and on closer inspection it was not only well built but also well protected.

stageThe stage

Obviously the builders did not want their efforts dismantled as every stainless steel bolt used to secure the stage has had the nut spot welded to the bolt. No one will take away any of the timber in a hurry!


Having arrived in Kaiaua we have parked along the shore (with another 21 vans and more arriving!) with the sea washing up only a mere 3-4 metres from our door.  A very stark difference in beaches.  We left a long sandy surf beach with dunes and dumping surf and have arrived at a very tidal, shell beach with minimal waves.  There is a marked contrast in fishing with Torpedos and surf casting at Otamarakau, compared with set nets put out at low tide and dragged in after high tide here in the Firth of Thames.

kaiauaParked on the edge

outlookView from the windowlooking backLooking back.

Some people pay millions of dollars for real estate like this!  Bliss.

A week of it

March 16, 2011

Tuesday 8th March

Off to get a quote on the electrics plus much more this morning, then it was back to Sulphur Point and in with the other campervans for the day.  After spending some time trying to find the necessary bits and pieces we need for everyday living, it was time for more visitors. 

First Jenna (niece) and her partner Chris arrived, followed not long after by Keith (Jenna’s dad).  After lots of catching up Keith and Roy went off to the Fish Market to get fresh fish and chips for dinner.  MMmmm, fresh snapper, it was delicious.

Just as we were finishing dinner Rachel (niece), husband Deon and children Jaime and Josh arrived, so it was a good family catch up.

SulphurMotorhome at Sulphur Point

 liner Liner tied up at Mount Maunganui opposite Sulphur Point

Wednesday 9th March

Jenna lent us her car for the day so we could go and get more jobs done.  That somewhat achieved, we spent some time chatting to fellow “full timers”.  These motorhome people are terribly friendly and helpful, we had a visit from another couple who were checking out the parking facilities, they will join us all tomorrow.  We ended the day having dinner with David and Sharman, the couple we had met previously.  A lovely evening was spent.

Thursday 10th March

More shopping, or realistically spending most of the day trouping from one shop to another trying to find the one elusive thing that we had left on our shopping list.  Brian and Marjorie moved in today, more full timers and we were quickly invited in to have a look at their bus.  Hmmm, lots of ideas and food for thought as to what we could do with our vehicle.

Jenna and Chris came for a BBQ dinner… try out the new BBQ.  delicious!

first bbq

Friday 11th March

More wandering around in ever decreasing circles, very kindly chauffeured around Tauranga by Jenna.  Back to get the quote for the work on the vehicle and a final decision was quickly made.  We are going with Absolute Power from Clevedon, their customer service sold it to us.  The van is now booked in for the week of the 21st March.

We have been endowed with much knowledge from fellow motorhomers, one important piece of information was the fact that Happy Hour was every afternoon at 4.30, rules being; you must take your own drinks and glasses, take your own chair and leave at 5.30pm!!   Today we hosted our first Happy Hour, with much discussion and laughter and information given.


  first happy hourHappy hour at the Vannini’s

The excitement for the day, if you can call it that, was the news of the earthquake in Japan and the ensuing tsunami.  After a few phone calls from concerned family members and a visit from Jenna and Rebekka, we decided to move to higher ground and get a good nights sleep.  So it was off to the dump station, fill up with water, empty the waste tanks and off to safe parking at the Greerton RSA and get a good nights sleep.  A few of our fellow motorhomers also debunked.

Saturday 12th March

This morning we returned to Sulphur Point and were waiting for Keith and the girls when Roy looked out the window to see on of the small tsunami waves making its way up the harbour.

small tsunami waveAll of 10cm high, pushing a brown scum in front of it.

Today we were taking our van to Keith’s farm near Matata to leave for a couple of nights whilst we borrowed Jenna’s car and head back to Auckland for a meet up with Sue and Martin.

Having dropped off the motorhome we drove back to Auckland to stay with Steve and Les.

Sunday 13th March

Happy Anniversary – Yes, its our 29th wedding Anniversary.

typical new zealand beachTypical beach cliff scene Browns Bay

Roy took off early this morning for a walk along Browns Bay.  Got some good photos and had walked the length of the beach and return, then it was time to go back.  Got to car and found that the car keys had slipped out of a hole in his pocket at some stage in the past hour and a half.  Much consternation and then a retracing of steps at a much faster pace.  Finally found them within ten metres of the car, buried in the sand where dogs and people had walked onto the beach, all that was evident was a blue tag Bernice had attached to them the night before just showing above the sand.  Phew!!! Crisis averted.

mushroomsLeslie’s mushrooms among the sprouts

Off to the markets this morning, and a day spent putting together some lovely food ready for a BBQ  tonight as cousin Sue & Martin from the UK were coming to visit.

sue and martinSue and Martin (not sure what happened to the lighting)

CoathamsThe Coathams Sue, Steve and Bernice


Monday 14th March

Roy had a hearing check this morning, then it was back on the road to Tauranga.  Arrived back to find that Rebekka had had a car accident, so she was not feeling too well.  Luckily, apart from some whiplash, she is fine.  Bernice’s sister Hilary was there as was sister-in-law Trish.  More family catch up time.

Off to Keith’s to pick up the van and then on down the road to brother John’s for the night and more family catch up with Trish, Jenny & Julie.

A lovely night. Great to see them all especially the girls who have grown into young ladies since we had last seen them.

Tuesday 15th March

Another catch up, this time  with Brian and Robin Boocock (friends from a few years ago) then off back down the road to a lovely park up spot along from Matata at Otamarakau.  Tonight we hosted a family BBQ.  And damn good it was too. 

otamarakauPOP entrance

matataSet up and relaxing

matata northThe beach to the North …

matata south… and to the South

Notice the crowds? Nope, nor did we!

Wednesday 16th March

A day spent at Otamarakau resting and relaxing, oh and also catching up with the blog! 

sunriseSunrise at Otamarakau

Ahhh the Serenity!

March 8, 2011


Saturday 26th February, Sunday 27th February

Spent the weekend with Steve and Leslie at Whangamata.  Very relaxing and enjoyable company and dinner.

sunrise whangamataSunrise at Whangamata

roy washingCleaning cars

dinner at whangamataDining in style

gourmet delightand how


Thursday 3rd March

Picked up the motorhome this afternoon after spending the morning at the Hamilton Motorhome Show.  Spent some time with Hayden going over the ins and outs of the motorhome – hope we remember it all!  Then it was back to the motorhome show as we wanted/needed to get our “self containment certification”.  This took a good couple of hours as they check everything.  Three, four or more NZCMA officers inspecting all aspects of our capacity to store our waste, capacity of our water supply and our ability to be self sufficient.   Self containment is a requirement to stay in ARA and DOC parks as well as many other facilities so it was a good opportunity to get this done and out of the way. We passed so now have a green sticker on our back end . Then it was off to Miranda/Kaiaua to spend the night, Roy driving the motorhome with Bernice nervously following behind.

first nightFirst night

Friday 4th March

On the road we found the ideal spot we should have spent the night

where we should ahve stayed


Drove to Auckland, Bernice following Roy and could not figure out why he was not listening to her yelling at him!  It was during this drive that Bernice worked out that the brake lights were not working which meant she followed Roy closely all the way to ensure that following traffic saw some brake lights.  Arrived at Long Bay not too far from Steve & Leslie’s home.

Parked at Long Bay with the sound of the ocean crashing onto the beach, Cicadas, Bellbirds and Tuis providing the background music, this is serenity.  I think we could get used to this.  Those of you not aware of the classic Aussie movie The Castle will not get the serenity joke, along with all the other classic quotes from this movies.  Watch the DVD – then it can “go straight to the Pewl Room”.

sun rise long baySunrise Long bay

First night of Freedom camping and just a few hiccups along the way.  First and foremost was running short of power overnight which means the house batteries are just not large enough and also the electrics need work done on them.  Which is why we went to see some experts at Clevedon on the way yesterday to get a quote on some major work to be done including more solar power, larger battery bank and numerous other bits.  Bernice admits that the eyes glazed over at all the talk of amp hours, batteries, chargers, inverters et al.  All she wants to know is that everything works when we need it to!

Saturday 5th March

After a few phone calls, we finally got the generator to work (its easy once you know which button to press) and thus we have power.  Next it was a general tidy up and sorting out of cupboards and storage spaces.  A shopping list was duly made out and Roy went off shopping to buy containers, only possible with the lend of a car from Leslie, just as well they only live 5 minutes away.  Containers purchased and sorted, now who was it that had a labelling machine?

Lots of visitors this weekend too. First was Simon and Anita, then came Leslie with her grandchildren Ben & Asher.  We all managed to quite comfortably sit together inside our new home without too many hassles.  Bernice took advantage of the use of Leslie’s washing machine and managed to jury rig a drying space in the van.  By early evening heavy rain and strong winds had set in, on top of this we had run out of water so a trip along the road meant we could get some water on board.  Next problem though, we did not have the right connection for the hose to get the water in, so after spending some time in the pouring rain, holding onto hoses, we managed to get the tank 1/3 full before we decided that that would be enough for the next day.

Sunday 6th March

After breakfast it was off to Leslie’s again for a shower this time, after which we headed to the shops to get a few more supplies (more containers), and also the right hose connector.  Then back to the van to get everything sorted and tidied.  We had no sooner finished when Colin & Edwina and family came for a visit.   Not long after, Jackie and her sister Judy arrived, so here we were, 8 adults and 2 children in our van, all comfortably seated too 

Soon they were all off, with plans made to all meet up and go camping sometime soon utilising our van as the home base and guess who as Camp Mother!

It has turned out to be a sunny afternoon, although much milder temperatures than we have recently been experiencing which is somewhat a relief.  Off to Leslie’s for dinner tonight then tomorrow we head to Tauranga to get another quote for electrics et al.

Monday 7th March

Early morning walk to the far end of Long Bay and a start on the track at the end of the bay.

  giving an old fellow a hand Old fellas need support

Had a lovely dinner last night with Les, Erin & Laurie before we headed back to base.  Up this morning, first thing was to sort out the brake light problem, so off Roy drove round and round the car park whilst Bernice ran along behind checking our the lights.  In between Roy gets the vehicle stuck on a corner and manages the first scrape. Called out an auto electrician but unfortunately everyone we called was very busy and just could not make it, so with a bit of Kiwi ingenuity, it was quickly sorted with a bit of sellotape and some cable ties (loose connection!!).  Next it was off to fill up with water, of course as soon as we started filling up other people wanted to get through and could not get past so, we flagged that after a while and took off to a waste water dump to get rid of all the black and grey waste water.  Ahhh, finally, something done with a little ease.

We stopped for a break at a petrol station at the end of the southern motorway and met up with another couple who are also living in a  large motorhome.  They told us of a good place to park in Tauranga so we agreed to rendezvous at Sulphur Point later tonight.

We arrived at Sulphur Point to find a great park over spot,  rang our niece Jenna and she and her partner Chris came for a visit.  As well, our new motorhome friends David and Sharman also arrived and came to join us with a bottle of wine …….. a very nice start to the evening.

Tomorrow we will get another quote for work to be done on the van, once we have that we will be able to schedule in the work and make some plans to head south soon…..its just not the same drinking wine form plastic glasses!!

New Home

March 3, 2011

We are off to pick up our new home today which is all rather exciting.  Tonight we will be camping at Kaiaua with the few posessions we have with us so it will be the famous Kaiaua Fish & Chips for dinner tonight.  Then we head to Clevedon tomorrow to sort out more power…..its a bloke thing!

Keep watching this space.