Archive for the ‘taupo’ Category

Dam Dam Dam

April 4, 2019

And no, that is not a spelling mistake in the title…as if!! Read on, readers, read on!

We tossed a coin and decided we would head straight to Taupo, and again to try somewhere new to park we thought we would try the Equestrian Centre.

With just one other bus here, we pretty much have the place to ourselves.

The Equestrian Centre is located across the Waikato River over the Aratiatia Dam, our third dam stay in succession. This dam is the first dam on the Waikato river just 13km downstream from Lake Taupo. Before construction of the dam and hydro station, the Aratiatia Rapids were a prominent feature on the Waikato River; a scenic reserve from 1906.  The dam construction meant that no water flowed over the rapids. However, several times a day, the Aratiatia dam gates of the Waikato River are opened, which restores the rapids to their normal output. There are several public lookout points on the high rock bluffs that dominate this turbulent stretch of Aratiatia Rapids.

We do the touristy thing and go and watch the opening of the gates and the turbulent flow of the rapids is restored for a short period of time. We watch from the safety of the bridge over the river. Sirens sound to give plenty of warning of the impending opening of the gates, at 8 minutes, 4 minutes, 2 minutes and then a continuous fluctuating siren once the gates start to be raised.

From one side of the bridge are the gates

the glassy, still waters are gradually disturbed by one gate being opened, soon followed by the second. It does not take long for the waters to become a raging torrent.

On the opposite side of the bridge,the start of the rapids.

again, the glassy waters are still and slowly become churned by the rushing torrent of water. You can see how high the water levels are to rise from the staining on the surrounding rocks.

it’s not long before the basin is flooded and water is rushing down the rapids.

This is the view from the other end of the rapids (thanks a Gary for the pictures)

Enough of being tourists, time to catch up with family and friends.

Over the next three days we caught up with my sister Hilary, my nephew Jason (Sue’s eldest) and his twins Caleb & Greer, and friends Barry & Sandra. And on each of these days I did not take one picture – old habits die hard!! But we did manage to spend time with each of them and catch up on news so that was good.

The weather turned a little damp to say the least so we extended our stay here for another couple of days in the hope that it will clear away, besides we have a few errands to attend to.

The rain only lasted a day and we are back to sunshine,however, it seems as though the temperature has taken a definite drop and a very autumnal feel, the slippers may have to get dusted off and brought out shortly.

Gary & Marg joined us for a couple of nights on their way back northwards to their home in Waipu,

We really enjoyed their company and particularly enjoyed playing Kiwi Quiz with them. It such a shame Gary lost so badly!!! And we did not rub it in at all 😂.

and us? Well, we are on our way toward the Bay of Plenty.

Destination Rangiwahia……..perhaps!

March 7, 2016

Where is Rangiwahia you may ask? just as we did when we decided to head for it.  But first, a bit of backtracking.

Saturday afternoon we spent at Antony’s place doing a bit of cooking to fill up his freezer as well as cooking dinner for us all as Ron & Janet were coming round to join us. We spent a lovely evening quietly catching up on everyone’s news and generally putting the world to rights.

We made the decision to leave Auckland on Sunday and head straight down the middle of the country to Taupo.  After saying hooray to Antony with fingers crossed that he has no more serious painful events, we left Ardmore mid morning heading south with neither of us daring to say anything about leaving the bright lights.  We arrived in Taupo in the late afternoon heading straight to the NZMCA park at the airport.  Barry & Sandra live at the airport so it was a good opportunity to meet up with them and share news.

Monday morning we were up and off, climbing up onto the Central Plateau where we noticed a considerable drop in temperatures.  The mountains were covered in a cloak of cloud and I was so mesmerised by watching the landscape in front of me that I forgot to take any pictures!!!  A stop at the Waiouru Army Museum for a welcome cuppa was in order.  Whilst we were there we made enquiries regarding centennial commemorations of the battles of Paschendaele next year as this was where Roy’s father was injured in 1917.  Gathering the information we sought it as time to get back on the road.  We had programmed the ever helpful GPS to talk us to Rangiwahia, off the beaten track a little and somewhere we had never previously been.

   Rangiwahia is where the red pin is.  

After travelling along State Highway One for some time, the turn off soon appeared.  The road quickly became very narrow, winding and started to steeply climb through some amazing country.  Although the drop off over the edge was, in places, a little breathtakingly too sheer for me to look and Roy was intently concentrating on the road ahead.


We soon arrived at Rangiwahia,obviously a thriving village at some stage but now there is little remaining part from a hall, a playground and a couple of houses.

  The Hall and the parking area.

As we had made reasonable time, we made the decision to continue moving on, we had come up with a few options of where to go, but in the end we ended up at Timona Park in Fielding.  The park is huge with plenty of room for parking and is very pleasant.  I will post pictures in the next entry as it is a little too dark to venture out now .


November 4, 2014

Time to say farewell to Jess & Jarrad in Whangamata as they headed off to continue their holiday.   Alex and Ian took our car and headed for our planned weekend in Kinloch (Lake Taupo) via a touristy stop in Rotorua.

1Farewells in Whangamata

We headed off in the opposite direction to get to Kinloch via Paeroa and Matamata, with Antony in his car.  Now we know a few people have those smelly air freshener things that hang from the rear view mirror of their car to make it smell nice, however most of these tend to be of the usual pine scent and shape, but not Antony – his is bacon scented!!     

3Bacon scented car freshener!

Along the way we passed through Paeroa and passed the giant L&P Bottle, the quintessential NZ soft drink.


From there it was a fairly straight forward drive into Kinloch.  We were heading to Kinloch as this is where Bernice’s family holidayed in boats for many many years and then her parents retired here for some time before they moved south.  It was time to spread her parents ashes and with Alex out from the UK, it seemed like a good opportunity for as many of the family to get together as possible. 

But first a look around Kinloch itself to see how it has changed over the years.  We of course had to revisit the house Mum & Dad built in Kinloch.


Whilst in Kinloch we noticed the proliferation of rhododendrons and azaleas in bloom.  We had not realised how much we missed seeing these colder climate blooms. Following is a selection of the lovely blooms 


And we even spotted this cat on the prowl, stalking a rabbit along a pathway.

Saturday dawned brilliantly sunny and clear with excellent view across the Lake to Mount Ruapehu,


and the view across the Lake to the Raupo, a safe anchorage place where Mum & Dad spent quite a bit of time socialising with friends.


We walked along the waterfront to a small stream which feeds into the Lake where we let Mum & Dad’s ashes disperse.  Everyone had their turn with children,  grandchildren and great grandchildren all taking part. 


13Farewell Mum & Dad

Then it was back to the Bach we had rented and onto the large deck where we shared a BBQ. We did get a couple of photos of us all…..just a shame the photographer (Roy) did not manage to get back in time to take his place in the pictures!


17Yes John, we did see where you had your hands!

And Happy Birthday Steve, a memorable birthday in more ways than one, we hope the pain subsides and the bruises mend quickly!

Auckland to Taupo to Whakatane

January 18, 2013

Ok, so we have started the year off very slowly in keeping up blog entries.  Now we are back on the road, we should get ourselves back into some semblance of routine and ‘normality’.  Dont hold your breath though!

We finally left Auckland on Monday 14th January, Jacky & Chris arrived home from the UK late on Wednesday evening, they had Thursday at home before they left again Friday morning for a weekend with friends on Waiheke Island.  Brother Mike arrived back on Friday as he was flying back to Dunedin on the Saturday completing his sojourn in the north.   We spent the last few days in Auckland trying to remember if we had done everything we had wanted to achieve before we left the city.  We had a quick trip over the the English food shop to pick up a few bits and pieces, including some bits for James at Pen-y-bryn. Whilst there, we took the opportunity to purchase a few goodies for ourselves! 

We also went to a few Asian markets, including a Korean mart and a Chinese Supermarket.  Earlier in the week, we had been out for a Chinese meal along Dominion Road, Balmoral, where we chose one of the restaurants to eat at.  We were the only European faces in the place, the staff spoke limited English,  the menu was pictorial with some interesting English translations of menu items. We duly chose a couple of dishes, helped along by the waitress and proceeded to wait.  Whilst waiting we were given a pot of green tea, it was delicious and refreshing, we polished off the whole pot in a very short time.  Our meal duly arrived, and we are still unsure of what we actually ate, but it was all delicious.  One dish was a pork belly dish with chillies (read that as at least 2 handfuls of dried chillies in the dish), on crispy rice.  Another dish was a spicy lamb dish served with what they called pie, it turned out they were very soft dough-like pockets which you filled with the lamb….and of course I had to have some dumplings.  It was all a bit too much for us so we ended up taking enough home for another meal.  Which brings me back to the Chinese supermarket, we tried to find some green tea like we had had and even after ringing James to try and assist, Roy ended up back at the restaurant to try and find out what sort of tea it was.  Through translations and hand gestures, it turns out that they import their own tea from China so we were unable to buy any in NZ, however, the kind lady packaged up a container full for us and gave it to us, free no less.  Now we have our own supply.

Whilst in Auckland ,we have also managed to see a couple of movies, the first was when Mike was with us when we went to see The Intouchables.  A fantastic movie that we can all highly recommend, it is a French movie (subtitled) based on a true story.  It is very, very funny and one I could happily watch again.  The next movie was The Quartet which Bernice went to see last weekend by herself.  It was a ‘nice’ movie, I would not rave about it however it was a nice way to spend a very hot afternoon in an air-conditioned theatre!!

Monday morning, we left Auckland and headed to Putaruru, staying with sister Sue for the night.  It was nice to get to sleep with cooler temperatures and half the humidity that we had been experiencing in Auckland. Roy’s cousin Robert called in for a catch up and we arranged to meet up with him again in a day or so.   Tuesday and we headed off to Taupo and to our home which was safely parked up at Barry & Sandra’s base at Taupo airport.  It was so nice to get back to our own bit of space and put away all our belongings. We called in to say hi to Jeff and Jason in Taupo before they headed off up to Putaruru. Tuesday afternoon and evening we spent at sister Hilary’s place, she had picked a few bags of plums so I helped her make plum jam and plum sauce.  Wednesday and we spent the day with Robert, assisting him with his recent purchase of an iPad.  Hilary and Rebekka came round in the evening for a final catch up before we left town.

Thursday morning and pack everything up and get ready to move on, we go through our pre travel checklist to make sure everything is complete.

 Mirarda PreflightMirarda on the Move

hitching up the car,  ready to go, NB: nicely polished thanx  to Barry

 Mirarda Crewand the crew ready to leave.  

Now it is a few years since we headed through this part of country and it is interesting to see how the landscape has changed over the years. 


on the road past Wairaki, all of this land was covered in pine forest the last time we were through here. 

55 54

Seeing this cooling tower on the horizon reminded us of being in Britain, however, this is just out of Reporoa, and no it is not a nuclear power station but a geothermal power plant.

We stopped in Rotorua to empty the waste tanks, then to fuel up the van as we noticed that petrol was 13c/litre cheaper in Rotorua than it was in Taupo and Auckland.  Then it was off through past the Lakes to Whakatane. Along the way we drive through what is known as Hongi’s Track.


Driving through Hongi’s Track.

Legend has it that the track was used by  Hinehopu. She travelled regularly between her two homes, one at each end of the track. It was also halfway along this track that she met her future husband Pikiao II; the precise spot is marked by Hinehopu’s magic tree. Hinehopu planted the tree as a sapling to mark the spot. The tree is today more generally spoken of as the Wishing Tree. It was over this same track that Hongi Hika and his Ngapuhi army hauled their canoes in order to attack Mokoia Island at Rotorua. Much later, and probably as a result of a blossoming tourist industry, the roadway became known as Hongi’s Track.  Today the highway follows the track and is serene and beautiful native bush.

61We stopped along side Lake Rotoiti for a bite to eat and a cuppa before heading to brother Johns place just outside Whakatane.

Over the past week Bernice has managed to meet up with 4 of her siblings, next week we will also catch up with Steve.  It has been fantastic to catch up with everyone.  We are in the midst of planning a bit of a family get together in April as it will be 50 years since we emigrated to NZ from the UK, more on that in a later edition.

Here we are parked up for the next few days with the hope that we will be able to get in a bit of fishing. Last night and John has some smoked fish which Bernice turned into a tasty smoked fish pie for dinner before she and his girls, Julie and Jenny, went off to the movies to see Les Miserables. Wow, I have been to three movies already this year, more than I have been to in the past 3 or 4 years!!!

Paragliders and birthday

November 27, 2012

Firstly, in response to a comment on a previous entry asking how we found driving through the Forgotten Highway in large vehicle towing a small vehicle… was absolutely fine, no problems, worries or woes. Either that means we are becoming more used to driving over narrow, twisty roads, or the anxiety levels are reducing!

Friday and it is get ourselves sorted day. Bernice needed a haircut and something done to her hair to cover up the sudden arrival of a multitude of just the one shade of gray! Off to town and suitable appointments were made for later in the afternoon. Meanwhile Roy had business to attend to.

parkingVan safely parked up in front of the spare hangar, viewed from Barry & Sandra’s base above their hangar. The now unused control tower is in the background

Right next door to the Payne’s is the Taupo Tandem Skydiving venture. Watching the activities consumed a fair bit of time over the weekend.

briefing tandem plane

First is the briefing Plane ready to take passengers

tandem 2Loading up

para 1para 3

and down they come


First down is the photographer then the rest arrive

All these photos were taken from our vantage point from Barry & Sandra’s apartment.

Sunday, and someone has a birthday. They seem to roll around with monotonous regularity and the numbers keep getting larger. Lunch was had out at the French Cafe and Hilary joined us along with some friends of the Payne’s. Then it was back to their place to have the wonderful coffee chocolate layer cake Hilary had made for me.

cake the delicious cake, complete with random number of candles.

Now, a couple of challenges have been set today, more on both of these will be progressively announced in the next weeks, with regular updates occurring over the coming months. Watch this space!

Later in the afternoon, Roy & Bernice headed around the corner to the NZMCA park to visit a couple we had met on the road over a year ago and to also make new acquaintances, over the usual afternoon happy hour. Happy hour extended to a few hours before we left and then headed round to Hilary’s to spend our last evening in Taupo with her.

Monday morning, we packed the RAV4 with what we think we may need over the next 6 weeks, bade our farewells and left Taupo

Tongariroparting view of Tongariro and Ngauruhoe

and headed to Putaruru where we will be staying with sister Sue and husband Jeff. An uneventful trip through some very familiar countryside. However, it was interesting to see the changes in the familiar landscape we once knew so well from our days of living in the region. What were once forests of pine plantations are now cleared land for dairying.

We arrived in Putaruru by lunch time and settled in for the evening of catching up.

mosaic Mosaic on wall in Putaruru

Tuesday morning and we arrange to meet up with Roy’s cousin Robert before heading to Hamilton to stay with friends Wade & Lindsay. We are friends from just a few years ago (hmmm, is it really 30+ years) when we all lived in Tokoroa.