Saturday, 28 September 2013


I've been doing blogs for some time, some on our overseas trips (which were great to keep family & friends up to date with our travels), one I started on NZ Country Churches which I shifted to Flickr  & then there was a very special one on My Mate Moko, the friendly wild bottle nose dolphin who visited several towns around the East Coast of the North Island of New Zealand. It was a once in a life time experience & a great privilege for me when I swum with Moko over a number of months late one summer three years ago. It was also with great sadness that I attended Moko's memorial service in Whakatane after he went missing and was found washed up on a beach near our city's harbour a few weeks later.

Moko- a dolphin & a boy
It got me thinking about all my writings floating around out there in cyber space & about not having a hard copy to share or pass on if, or should I say when, I'm not around anymore. I had come across this website, Blog2Print, a long while ago & it sowed a seed. I saved it to my favourites and then once I had enough posts in my Tiki Touring blog I decided to have a first volume printed along with Moko's story. I had to carefully (not so it would seem) go through every post checking & correcting any mistakes I found. There were lots of layout options to choose from, hard or soft covered books along with different fonts & colours to choose. It was all very easy to follow & once I hit the submit button it only took two weeks for them to arrive on my doorstep from the States. And that was choosing the slow post option as well. So now I can quite happily say that I'm a published author!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Gateway to the North

We are back in Tauranga once again after a lovely, if somewhat wet, visit to Whangarei. The weather was not great with torrential rain, high winds & some flooding further south but it wasn't that much of a worry for us as we were there to spend some time with my sister & her husband parked up beside their lovely home.

We had a couple of lazy days which suited us fine after our full on days at the show & especially for me, standing on my feet for long periods of time. We had a lovely dinner one evening at Killer Prawn followed by a night cap at McMorrisseys Irish Pub where a weekly "Trad Night" was happening, (traditional Irish music). This brought back great memories of our visit to Doolin, County Clare; the traditional music capital of Ireland & where many famous Irish musicians have cut their teeth including Enya & Clannad (her family band).

The day before we'd driven around the harbour to see the spectacular new bridge which has recently opened, a fantastic piece of sculpture resembling a waka prow or Maori fish-hook. The distinctive fishhook-shaped counterweights allow the bridge to open to let yachts & large boats through to the Town Basin. The bridge was designed by English architect Martin Knight whose previous bridges include the Forth Replacement Bridge, that spans the Forth Estuary in Scotland, the Middle Rhine bridge in Germany and the 2.4km long Mersey Gateway in Northern England.

Named Te Matau a Pohe – translated as 'The fishhook of Pohe' the Maori chief who
 welcomed the first English settlers to Whangarei.

On the way home from dinner we did a little detour past the bridge again so we could see it lit up, what a fabulous sight. Unfortunately I only had my cell phone to take a photo with but at least you'll get the idea.

The next morning we said our good byes, packed up the van & shipped out, squeezing through the gate once again with not so many manoeuvres this time.

One thing we hadn't bargained on parked under the lovely weeping willows was the sticky nectar from the willow flowers that has coated the van & ute, they are both in need of a good clean. Originally we were going to stop off at Ardmore again, about half way, & continue on to Tauranga the next day but once on the road and making good time we decided we'd drive all the way through then we'd have a full day to recover before continuing to pack up the house. We were also both coming down with a heavy cold & feeling miserable, travelling helped keep us focused elsewhere. Then there was THAT race, the final one. We could watch it at home on the big screen.

When we left Tauranga 12 days ago after watching that morning's round of the America's Cup Final little did we know that we'd still be watching it when we got back here! There was the early euphoria of winning race after race which was then replaced with disbelief followed by agony & despair as each day moved us closer & closer to defeat. We watched it in Tauranga, we watched it in Miranda, Ardmore was a rest day, next we watched the first race of the day at Remuera & the second travelling in the car to the showgrounds, we watched quite a few more parked up at the Rally in Alexandra Park where every one of them was going to be the one, the winner. We watched someone's big screen on the stand next door at the Covi show (& were forced to listened to all the "experts" who knew better) & then we watched more agonising races in Whangarei.

Then with one final race to sail, we watched it back in Tauranga. Sadly it was not to be. It was not for the want of trying or the lack of support, Emirates Team New Zealand had the backing of a nation behind them, a grandstand of four & half million cheering them on. Team New Zealand can hold their heads high, they might not have brought home the Cup but they rallied a nation & made us proud to be Kiwis. We salute  you Team New Zealand.

This cartoon just about summed up yesterday's race-

But these were my favourites- 


Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Farewell Tour

After the Covi Show we headed north to Whangarei to say goodbye to my sister & family before we head south in a few weeks. It could be at least a couple of years before we are back up this way again although with a nephew at Otago Uni we’re likely to meet up down there at some stage.
On the way up I managed to get a couple of church photos to add to my collection. It’s a pity that we have the van on the back as it’s much harder to do little side trips to find the churches. These two were only just off the main road with reasonable places outside to turn around in.

The iconic Puhoi Church, St Peter & Paul built in 1881. Puhoi was New Zealand's first Bohemian settlement.
Kaiwaka St Pauls. It’s a pity there are so many overhead cables & power poles around the churches sometimes, they make it hard to get a clean shot. I’ll have to do some photo-shopping! 
We made good time to Whangarei, visited the public dump station to offload the last weeks waste & arrived up the family’s drive around 5:30pm. Luckily there was a bit of light left in the day as it took a fair bit of manoeuvring to get “Out There” over there including rearranging  the edge of the rock garden somewhat!
Jerry helped out with directions
Either the van had grown or the yard had shrunk but we’re sure it was a lot bigger last time we visited. We are tucked up under the willows & beside the cherry blossom with a little babbling brook passing by the rear of the van. Unfortunately it is once again raining & the brook is growing in size. I think a water rat has just been de-homed as I saw him scuttling off, away from the van, he tried to climb a tree but fell off. Hmm……I hope he continues upstream.

Monday, 23 September 2013

A Succesful Show

The Covi Caravan & Motorhome Show is well & truly over now & we have headed north. The whole weekend was a very busy one not only inside the showground halls but also outside in the huge car park where as you can see there were hundreds of motorhomes, buses, caravans & fifth-wheelers parked up for the weekend rally. Parked up in straight & tidy rows, every available space was taken with the overflow filling up another smaller car park next door. Here in our park I counted  10 rows of vehicles stretching back probably at least 500 metres to the main gates.

Unfortunately the weather wasn’t that wonderful on any of the 3 days & on Saturday night around 2am a horrendous thunder & lightning storm raged directly overhead for an hour or so. The rain was torrential & the noise on the roof deafening & every time there was a flash of lighting it lit up the whole van through the skylights and the thunder claps actually shook the van.  As I lay there listening, I wondered how many vehicles might have sprung a leak and also whether the vehicles laid out there like they were, might attract lightning bolts. The morning dawned fine & clear & it looked like no one had suffered too much although our friends told us they de-camped to their car in the middle of the storm, feeling much safer there.

We were at the show for two reasons; as happy owners,  & clients, we were helping out “On the Road RV” on their Ultima Stand and secondly we had a number of items to purchase.
Over the last 25 years we have regularly attended shows with numerous products from most of our business; Fieldays, Home Shows, A&P Shows, Boat Shows & Bike Shows, we have done dozens here in NZ & in Europe, UK & the States, & now we can add Motorhome Show to the list. But it was very different when you don’t own the business there's none of that "sale, sale, sale" pressure there. We had a great time although we were both tired by the end, we’d forgotten how hard standing on your feet all day, smiling nicely & talking constantly can be. As owners with a lot of experience now of living in the van for both long & short periods we were able to answer many questions accurately & truthfully and offer a load  of advice to people that were contemplating buying a fifth-wheeler either for holidays or for permanent  living. There are a surprising amount of people  who are making the decision, like us, to become permanent gypsies.
Two couples who had made the decision to buy Ultimas came back to our van after the show one evening to check on how we had set up the interior.  One couple brought a bottle of bubbly to celebrate their purchase which was shared around.  (Excuse the out of focus photos they were taken with my cell phone)
We had Sunday off as we needed to follow up on a couple of items we were looking at buying, have a look around the stands & then head off to Whangarei in the early afternoon.
And here are our new purchases, a 3.4 Takacat inflatable dinghy & a 2kw Honda generator which should help out with my power hungry computer amongst other things.  Now we just need to rearrange the ute & fifth-wheeler again to fit everything in & still allow room for the outboard which will be the next purchase. It is becoming a real juggling act & I know we will be off-loading a few smaller things for good once we get back to Tauranga.

And here's one for the road...

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Alexandra Park- Auckland Covi Rally

Throughout the day RVs of every shape, size, make & model have been pouring into the carpark- I'll add to these photos as the weekend progresses. This carpark & another through the fence will be full by tomorrow night.  It's now 5:30, the rain has started & still vehicles are arriving. (click on the photos to see a larger size)


Hi Chris :)



"Lean with Us"- 8am Friday morning & all satellite dishes are pointed north in anticipation of NZ winning the America's Cup. We didn't & had to wait until Saturday morning to bring the cup home.

Packed in tight; outside our Fifth-Wheeler, Friday evening
Our neighbours
Friday night
Thru the fence behind our van, Alexandra Park Trots

Camping in the City

Last night found us in a very tight little spot at a camping ground right in the middle of Remuera. It was surrounded by houses & tucked down a narrow tree lined driveway at the bottom of a hill. David's driving & backing were outstanding both getting into the place & back out of it this morning.
Five styles of camping

We were up early so we could get everything ready to go as soon as we'd watched the first America's Cup race. We had been asked to get to the park early as there was going to be a lot of vans arriving & the bigger vehicles had to move right down the back of the carpark. Once ship-shape all we had to do was hitch up & pull out, the ute stuck out across the driveway otherwise we'd have hitched before the racing began too.

We were hoping to get to Alexandra Park, which was only a few kilometres away, by the time the second race was due to start. And then David had the brilliant idea of live streaming it on his iPad which we attach to the dash (when we're using it to navigate), & that way we wouldn't miss any of the action. Of course we forgot about the huge data use live streaming uses & quickly used up all his allocation and then some! Another lesson learned, although we both said it was well worth the expense (over $100) and we wouldn't have missed the sailing for the world. Thankfully the second race was postponed otherwise we may have been looking at another couple of hundred dollars!

Once we were parked up at Alexandra Park, David phoned Telecom to check & see why it was still showing his data was being used even though he had everything switched off after we got the notification he was over his limit. And once again David's charm worked wonders, the very helpful telecom guy said we were such good customers that he'd pass a credit for all the excess usage! Sweet!

We've had a quiet day inside the fifth-wheeler backed up to the race course fence watching all the comings & goings as dozens of vehicles(and people) in all shapes & sizes arrive and are directed to their parks. It's a blustery overcast day, a good day to catch up on chores inside.

As you can see & as is typical of us we were first to arrive......... our area of the park

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


We are now parked up at the very new NZMCA Park located within the Ardmore Airfield. One of the benefits of belonging to the NZ Motorhome & Caravan Association are the number of park over properties located around NZ. These provide safe & secure parks for members to stay at minimal cost. And by minimal it really is, $2 a night per person.  

The parks usually have water available, some have rubbish collection & dump stations. Inside the small kiosk where you register & read any notices there is often a book exchange and outside usually a small herb garden, which I was very grateful for last night, I used some of the parsley when I made dinner.  

We arrived fairly early yesterday as we only had 70kms to travel from Miranda and there were't any other vans in the park. We parked up in the corner with a good view of the planes coming & going on the runway just a few hundred metres away. Auckland has had a fair bit of rain recently & we could see that the ground was a bit boggy in the centre as we walked across the field to check out the access, so we drove in around the edge to our spot.  
Unfortunately the large bus towing a car on an A-frame that arrived next, drove in and across and promptly got stuck! The air was blue for a while and the wife got all the blame. Another motorhome arrived shortly afterwards and luckily he knew the contractor that mowed the park and whose tractor was still parked down the back. Half an hour later he arrived and with abit of manoeuvring and advice from the 'helpful' bystanders (David included) the bus came free.  They moved it onto more solid ground and when we came back after a drive later on, there were two more buses parked  beside them. The message had obviously been passed on. 
We were up early and ready to watch the America's Cup racing this morning & were disappointed (as likely the rest of NZ were) when it was postponed. So I cooked up a 'big breakfast' to drown our sorrows and just before it was ready there was a knock at the door & I got to meet "Smillie" a lovely lady who belongs to a forum that I contribute to. She got to meet David & I in our PJs & dressing gowns! And just in case you're wondering she was not in the bus that got stuck.

We are shifting into the city later this morning as we have some shopping to do- Katmandu @ Silvia Park :) and we're hoping to catch up with David's sister tonight. We'll also be handy to Alexandra Park where we will head tomorrow morning. Alexandra Park is next to the show grounds and where we'll be parked up for the duration of the show and the rally which is happening there at the same time.

As I type, David is getting everything ready for us to move on out and I have the feeling that this is going to be a very busy place tonight, four buses & vans have arrived just in the last half hour. A lot of these people will be heading to Alexandra Park tomorrow too.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Hob Nail Boots & Fish For Dinner

This morning we were woken at the crack of dawn by the clean-up crew; a whole load of starlings wearing hob nail boots having a breakfast banquet on the roof two feet above our heads. I think they were feasting on the bugs & moths that were stuck to the nose of the fifth-wheeler. Whatever they were doing they were enjoying it & they were quite happy to let every other starling within a five mile radius know that there was a free breakfast at Rays as well!

Luckily we needed to be up & ready to watch the America's Cup anyway. And what a couple of races; despair at the loss & nail biting tension & screams of encouragement at the win. It felt kind of strange watching the America's Cup parked up in the middle of nowhere with the sea just out the door.

Once we got the racing out of the way I packed up lunch & we took a drive up the coast towards Clevedon to check out a couple of the Auckland Regional Parks. There are over 25 parks around the greater Auckland area & they are in some beautiful locations. Camping is allowed at a small fee & you can buy a pass that allows you to use any of them at most times of the year. I doubt very much whether a lot of Aucklanders realise that they have these wonderful facilities right on their door step.

Unfortunately with me not being able to walk too far at the moment we couldn't do any of the dozens of walks available but we had a little wander around the Ashby Homestead in Tapapakanga Park. James Ashby and his wife Rebecca settled on the land in 1899 & built the homestead beside the beach in 1900. They raised 14 children on the property, which remained in family ownership until 1990. The only way into the farm was by boat or horseback (no wonder there were 14 children, & poor Rebecca died at age 61, worn out no doubt, her husband at 88) The front room of the homestead was both a school room & the church.

Ashby Homestead
But what a beautiful view from the house up & down the coastline & across the water to the Coromandel Peninsula.

From the beach with a huge pohutukawa beside the house.
We carried onto Orere Point and had lunch near the water, it felt like summer it was such a lovely warm day. On the way home we did a bit of bird spotting & managed to see more non-natives than natives; a hawk stalking a turkey (who we think had chicks), a bald Eastern Rosella & two beautiful ring neck doves. All a little too far away to get any decent shots but still lovely to see.

Back home a few more vans & buses had arrived for the evening & David wandered down the beach to check on a guy putting a Seahorse kontiki out. After watching the guy bait it up and send it on it's way 3 kms out into the Firth of Thames he was invited back in half an hour to see what was pulled in. And pulled in were 9 good sized snapper, 2 of which were nicely filleted & handed over to David for our dinner! David & his charm wins again, maybe we don't need that dinghy after all! :)