Thursday, 21 February 2013

Glenfalls, Mohaka

Before leaving Napier we had one more "first" to do; empty the black & grey water tanks at a dump station. There are numerous dump stations located in every city & town around NZ. RVing(recreational vehicle) is a very popular pastime with Kiwis & tourists alike, it pays to be self contained & have the certification to back it up. A "green" sticker allows you to camp both in official sites including council & NZMCA owned parks along with DOC(Dept. of Conservation) reserves amongst others and in some cases freedom camp anywhere within reason, as long as that province or council allows it. Sadly a few people have ruined it for many in some of the most popular holiday spots, leaving behind their rubbish & human waste to pollute the environment and causing councils to ban freedom camping for all.

The empty went better than expected & was really quite simple long as you held your breath for a few seconds on the initial connection.

A dump station with a view on a prime beach front site!

Once emptied  we were back on the road heading to Glenfalls about an hour north of Napier on the Napier-Taupo Road. Glenfalls is a DOC camping ground and very popular over the summer months as it sits beside the mighty Mohaka, a great trout fishing & rafting river. Except it wasn't so mighty due to the drought, it was more of a shallow trickle. Never mind, school holidays were finished and there were only 3 other vans parked up.

We had the pick of sites & after a quick walk around settled on the river bank just a few strides from the water. Perfect!

Once levelled & set up David arranged his 24hr fishing license on line(by driving back up the road to a high point :) ), got his gear organised & was off to catch the evening rise. It was another very hot afternoon and with no breeze in the valley the river looked very inviting. After a leisurely swim to cool off I too crossed the river with my camera and followed the narrow sheep tracks around the point to where David was fishing. With the river being so shallow & clear David did well to catch 6 trout in total, all small or very small & all sent on their way. As any fly fisherman will tell you the thrill is in the hunt, catching dinner is of little significance and not a necessary outcome.
I left my fisherman happily casting away & working on his strategy(in fact I don't think he even noticed I had gone) and climbed to the top of the brow to take some photos of the valley.
As I climbed further up the hill I came across a flock of wild geese (these were of the domesticated type that have obviously moved on from a farm pond), they weren't too keen to see me and took off on foot for the hills, it was rather strange to see them filing up the steep hill one after the other like sheep. Bringing up the rear were two canada geese, one limping badly & his mate helpfully nudging him along. Going by the mess & feathers on the shingle flats, they all must come down to the river at night to roost. Each morning two or three V formations of canada geese flew low up the river past the camp site obviously on their way to a grain field or some such somewhere & then back again in the evening.

Even though it was a scorcher of a day I was determined to carry on to the top of the hill, again following the narrow sheep tracks, so I could take some photos looking down over the camping ground. It was a great view once up there but with quite a steep descent I had to carefully watch my footing on the way down.
Later the next day we took a drive further down the road to check out a another two DOC camp sites, located on the edge of the river too. The road turned to gravel just past Glenfalls & was very badly rutted due to the dozens of logging trucks using it at the moment, there are quite a few large pine plantations inland that are getting felled. David wasn't too pleased with the constant rattling and juddering not to mention the dust that was coating the ute.
At the turn off onto a dirt road that took us down to the camp sites is a large cleared area with a lookout over the river. An amazing view awaited us, the river has formed a perfect horseshoe (called an oxbow) and is overlooked by the remarkable 'Organs', a rocky outcrop sculpted by the elements into what look like a giant set of organ pipes.
The Organs, Mohaka River
Both Everett camp sites were deserted although we could see from the trampled grass and dead patches that both sites had had a busy Christmas/New Year too. There were also signs that hunters frequent the area, using anything handy along with stolen road signs as target practice. After a bit of fun with one of the signs we returned it back up the road to where it belonged.

We decided that we actually liked Glenfalls better, not that we would have been able to tow the fifth-wheeler into the lower Everetts site due to the climb out of the ford & a washout further on.

Back on the "main" road we drove further on, I was hoping to get to Boundary Stream, a "Mainland Island", a bird sanctuary which is protected by a predator free fence. But after driving a further 10 kms or so on the dusty & bone rattling road we decided to turn around and head home. We could tackle Boundary Stream later when we are exploring the East Coast, come in from Tutira which is the more common route. We stopped before turning around so I could take some photos of the farmland which, because of the drought, is tinder dry.

If you would like to see more of Glenfalls & the surrounding area please click here;
 Glenfalls, Mohaka River

After our first trip away we've decided we quite like this lifestyle which is just as well considering all that we've done to get to this point, and after a day at home we're both keen to get back on the road. That will have to wait for a couple of weeks as we still have a few things to sort in Tauranga but already the van is reloaded and waiting.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Napier, Art Deco Capital of the World

One of the reasons for visiting Napier, other than catching up with family, was to attend the 25th annual Napier Art Deco Weekend. Napier celebrates its iconic Art Deco style with a weekend of festivities and fun which now attracts tens of thousands of people from around the world. Over 65% of visitors & locals dress in the Art Deco style of the 1930s. Boas, braces & boaters are de rigueur, in fact if you're not dressed up you feel very much out of place. There are over 200 different events that you can attend during the week leading up to and including the weekend, a lot of them are free; it's one big street party.
Strolling the Promenade
"Far from the world's great population centres and from the European and American cities where 20th Century design evolved lays a small city that is unique. Napier, was rebuilt in the early 1930s following a massive Richter 7.8 Earthquake. Subsequent fires destroyed most of its commercial heart. By the end of the decade, Napier was the newest city on the globe.

Nowhere else can you see such a variety of buildings in the styles of the 1930s - Stripped Classical, Spanish Mission, and above all Art Deco, the style of the 20th Century - in such a concentrated area. Napier's Art Deco is unique, with Maori motifs and the buildings of Louis Hay, admirer of the great Frank Lloyd Wright.

Enhanced by palms and the angular Norfolk Island pines which are its trademark, and surrounded by fertile fruit and grape growing plains, dramatic hills and the shores of the South Pacific, beautiful Napier is the centre of the Hawke's Bay region. In Napier, you can enjoy the legacy of its brave rebuilding and savour the spirit of the optimistic Art Deco era."

One of the main events to start the weekend is the Automobilia Vintage Car Parade, this year led by a stunning display of Bentleys from around the world. Over 300 fabulous vehicles all polished until they shined with most of the drivers & passengers in costume from the era wound their way up Napier's Emerson Street which was lined five deep with people.

After the cars came the motorbikes & cycles.
The parade finished on Marine Parade at the Soundshell where the vehicles were lined up for inspection, what an incredible sight it was.

If you'd like to view more of the vintage cars click on the link below to see my full Flickr set;

Art Deco Vintage Car Parade

David & I headed to town on Saturday evening to watch the street dancing and the catch the entertainment at the Sound Shell. We arrived at Memorial Square just in time to see the "guests' arrive for their Depression Dinner at "Tin Town", they had walked the length of the main street after visiting the "soup kitchen" set up on Marine Parade. Dressed in rags & hand-me-downs, rattling tin cans, some even begging, they played their parts really well.

Lined up for the Depression Dinner
Sunday morning I headed out early, there were two events I wanted to photograph; the Soap Box Derby & the Gatsby Picnic. Both are very popular events and it was great to see fathers helping their sons & daughters prepare their trolleys. This was serious business, they were all walking the course & talking tactics.

The Gatsby Picnic is one of the most popular events of the whole weekend. The long lawns, both top & bottom that stretch along Marine Parade from the Sound Shell to the Floral Clock are a sea of colourful canvas, parasols, sun umbrellas & gazebos. Families & friends, young & old dress up in 1930s style, elegant & stylish, they bring their best china, furniture & knick-knacks from the Art Deco era, set it all up and have a picnic lunch or high tea. There are many fabulous displays and some people go to a whole heap of trouble to have everything looking just right. It's a visual treat wandering amongst the parties going on.

Families, couples and teens walked the promenade along the beach front, slowing to have their photos taken, catching up with friends or checking out other gazebos.

It was another stunning summers day, children played on the pebble beach over looking Cape Kidnappers, a few sat in the shade of their parasols watching the boats & yachts race off shore.

In the shade of the Veronica Sun Bay, people watched the navy band play and couples dance.

And as the hot afternoon wore on eyes turned skyward to watch "Those Magnificent Men"; flying displays by  RNZAF Red Checkers, the Warbirds Display Team & others.

We love you too Napier!
It was another fantastic Art Deco Weekend & it just seems to get better & better with each year.  And even though I left my home town 20 plus years ago I'm still very proud to call Napier home.

If you would like to see more of the Art Deco Weekend click on the links below;

Art Deco; Out & About Saturday

Art Deco; Sunday- Gatsby Picnic & Soap Box Derby


That's short for glamour camping; parked up in suburbia with access to a shower & lovely home cooked meals.
We arrived in Napier to a typically hot summer's day that Hawkes Bay is famous for. With all the measurements done well before we arrived, we knew we'd be able to squeeze the van in down the side of Mum & Dads' house. We easily removed the carport canopy & steel poles on the side which Dad had allowed for when he orginally laid the concrete pad. The van fitted like a glove with the rear comfortably overhanging the vege garden without doing any damage.

We even had our own little flower garden out to the side and could pick Dad's runner beans out the side window.

Dad fancied his car could pull the van. Not likely!
Mum & Dad held a BBQ in honour of our new lifestyle; mainly for extended family & friends who have been following the news and updates since we made the decision to "hit the road" A lot of these families also camp out in various modes of accommodation; caravans, tents & motorhomes, and they were of course very keen to check out the towing vehicle & the interior of the van only having seen brochures up to this point.
They were also all very keen to offer all manner of helpful information & tips. It's great to get "inside information" as it can take years to gain this sort of experience. Not only information about living in the van but great tips on camping sites, fishing, walks, where to see what & what to buy where. Although we're not entirely "greenhorns", having spent many years boating and living for a few weeks at a time on the boat. Many of same principles apply; weight is critical, use minimal water, dump stations for waste water, no power(in most cases), gas cooking, fishing, etc, etc. It was great to catch up with everybody & we gave the van a makeover just to look the part (you can see by the presentation we used to sell boats; photo shoots for magazines were the norm)

Dining & Lounge

Forward Cabin- And in case you're wondering; we have a base board insert & zip-together matteresses for
 when we want to get cosy :)
The toilet cubicle is to my left and the shower to my right.
And yes, there is plenty of headroom.

This is with the "slide-out" out, a nice sized area. The slide-out contains the dining area & sofa.
 It's also possible to walk down the aisle to the sink if the slide-out is in.

The Galley- plenty of cupboard space & a nice big fridge.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Maiden Voyage

Well finally the day has come, we are off on our first adventure. Just for a week and part of it will parked up beside Mum & Dads' house in Napier.

Our first night was spent at the NZMCA (NZ Motorhome & Caravan Association) Park in Taupo, just over half way to Napier. NZMCA Parks are properties set aside to provide inexpensive sites(usually $2 per person per night) for members to stay over on. Some parks provide basic facilities e.g. a dump station, fresh water, rubbish and recycling bins, while others simply provide a safe place to park overnight.

Winding down after a successful first journey

Sunrise on our first morning
We had an uneventful night & awoke to birdsong & the sound of a helicopter taking off. Very close. The park is right beside Taupo Airport, thankfully not that big. After a leisurely breakfast we de-camped and headed off to Napier, a short 90 minutes drive away. We are starting to like these short journeys.

Travelling across the Rangitaiki Plains was a dream, the ute hardly felt like it had the Fifth-Wheeler on behind & David had to keep the speed in check; it's 90kph for towing vehicles. It was the same once we moved into the hills, both vehicles handling really well. In due course the hills became ranges and we slowed up considerably although we still managed 65kph up the long hauls. Thank God for passing lanes as cars continued to whizz pass us. We encountered a couple of loaded logging trucks and were able to pull out and pass them which helped us keep momentum. All in all we were very impressed with the Ford's performance & very happy with our choice.

We stopped at the top of the the highest  point on the Taupo-Napier road, on the Turangakumu Range(910 metres) for a quick drink & stretch of legs. Still in the middle of a long hot & glorious summer, Hawkes Bay, like a lot of the North Island, is in the grips of a serious drought. This is the view out over the Mohaka Valley and onto the Titiokura Range.

The Big Dry

Friday, 1 February 2013

A Son's Son

We welcomed our fourth grandchild & the main reason why we are still parked up at home, into this world at 9am this morning. Baby Joel Evans arrived 2 weeks early weighing in at a hefty 8lb 3oz. Mother & baby are doing well.

Joel Evans
Big sister Maddie was keen to meet her baby brother but would have liked him him to move a bit more or at least make a sound. I'm sure she will be wanting him to be quiet before too long. Poppa David thinks he's the bee's knees and is proud as punch as is Joel's Daddy.

"Hello Baby"