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

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Wanganui and Home

The last night of our current trip was spent at the Wanganui East Club.  We have stayed here a couple of times before, and the staff are always pleasant and friendly.  At no cost at all to spent the night in their car-park, it is only right and proper to spend a few dollars in their bar, or even better, enjoy a meal in the restaurant.

PA170068 Staying overnight at the Wanganui East Club

We had been told that during the weekend the restaurant was always heavily patronised.  We were there on a Thursday night, and most of the tables were taken.  So that certainly shows how good the food is, we thought.  I was determined to try the Five Spice Pork Belly, which Robin had on our last visit, when he rather grudgingly only gave me a tiny taste from his plate.  We both ordered it this time, and it was delicious, we can really recommend it.  In fact, there was such a big serving of meat, that I couldn’t get through all mine.

PA160063 Ready to enjoy my yummy meal

With the railway line close by, it was interesting to watch the freight trains going by.  This one looks rather like milk tankers going to Fonterra.

PA160061Bulk milk train just behind us

Having a handy dump station on site, disposing of our waste water was so easy.  With the grey water tank empty, and the fresh water tank full, we started the drive back home.  This was an easy run of 100km or so and we were back home in time for lunch.  Better get the first load of laundry into the washing machine, I thought, before I do anything else – the laundry bag was full to the brim!   Unpacking the van and cleaning took a while, then Robin got the hose and brush to wash the outside of the van before putting it away in it’s own space.  All nice and clean again, and we will be away once more before we know it.

Friday, October 17, 2014

New Plymouth to Wanganui via the Cheese Factory

Leaving New Plymouth, we never did get a good view of that elusive Mt Egmont.  The locals say: if you can see the mountain it's going to rain, if you can't see it, it is raining.  This is what it looks like under all that cloud – not my photo, sadly.

Mt Taranaki looms behind dairy cows grazing in a paddock. Photo / Mark MitchellMt Egmont looms behind dairy cows grazing in a paddock. Photo / Mark Mitchell

We drove down SH2, past Inglewood and Stratford, stopping at Eltham, home of the Mainland Cheese Shop.  In fact, last time we called in, we were greeted by a couple of fire engines and the factory staff pouring out of the doors.  This visit was much quieter, thank goodness. The cheese is not a great deal cheaper than the prices you can pay in the supermarkets, so we always look for the specials.  And we found some, a lovely big piece of blue cheese, (love that smelly blue cheese)some parmesan, so nice on pizzas and in cheese sauces, and keeps for ages, plus a big bag of Swiss cheese.  That should last us for a while.

PA170064 Our cheese specials

Since the 1880s dairy farming has been the basis of Taranaki’s economy, and has made a major contribution to the region’s economy.  Due to amalgamation and automation, the many small farms and factories of the 20th century have been replaced by much larger farms and a single massive milk-processing plant, Fonterra.  With a  a moist, temperate climate and deep, free-draining, fertile, volcanic ash soils, the area is particularly well suited to dairy farming.  We drove past many paddocks with grass cut all ready to be packed into silage bags for winter feed.

Our stop for the night was at the Wanganui East Club.  We were joined by a motor-home later in the afternoon, so we weren’t all on  our lonesome this time.

PA160056At Wanganui East Club

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lunch on the Water-front in New Plymouth

Taking the long way home through New Plymouth was to catch up with Robin’s old school mate Gary.  And the fact that these were Robin’s old stomping grounds made the visit even more worthwhile.  We had arranged a lunch date with Gary and Glennis, but before we went, Robin just had to have a good look at Gary’s pride and joy.  It was a classic Chevy, and there was plenty to see and admire under the bonnet.

PA150042   Checking out the Chevy

Then it was off to lunch, down to the harbour to Gusto.  We had a great table looking out over the breakwater.  Our choices were lovely, two big breakfasts, eggs Benedict with salmon, and mushrooms and bacon on toast.  Looking through the windows we could see plenty of seabirds resting on a rocky break-water.

PA158487 Jenny, Robin, Gary and Glennis at Gusto

PA150044Sea birds galore

After lunch we strolled along the water-front, enjoying the sun shine and the fresh sea air.
 PA150046 Sea view looking north

Paratutu beckoned, that large rocky outcrop which fit and active people climb right up to the top.  Not us though, we were content to drive to the base, and look up in wonder.  The track is so steep that you have to haul yourself ever skywards with the help of a wire rope.  Both Robin and Gary had climbed Paratutu in their youthful days, it was no trouble at all, back then.  Paritutu and the Sugar Loaf Islands are remnants of a large volcano that was active nearly two million years ago.

PA158492 Paratutu

Saddleback and Motoroa  islands are eroded remnants of the volcanic activity.  Upthrusts from the volcanic layers formed the landscape both above and below the sea.

PA150049Saddleback and Motoroa
Returning Gary and Glennis back to their home, they showed is some holiday snaps of their last overseas trip to Los Vegas, a side trip to the Grand Canyon, and back to Hawaii.  What a great trip, something we would like to do too – must get our Passports renewed.  Then it was back to camp, where we are still “Nigel No Mates”, with not a single caravan or camper to keep us company.  Mt Egmont was playing hide and seek under the cloud cover, hopefully we will get a better view tomorrow.

PA150050 The mountain is here somewhere
Time to move on - next stop Wanganui.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pirongia to New Plymouth

It was goodbye  to the Clydesdales and our charming hosts and we set of down SH39 to skirt around the southern end of Otorohanga, and joined up with SH3.  Driving through the Awakino Gorge, we came across what our road atlas quaintly calls a “road tunnel” – another feat of engineering hewn out of solid rock many years ago.

PA140026 Driving through a road tunnel

Stopping for lunch at Mokau, we briefly flirted with the idea of whitebait fritters for lunch from the famous whitebait cafe.  But no, we saved our money and parked down by the edge of the river, making do with a sandwich and cuppa in the caravan instead, watching all the traffic hurtle across the curved bridge.


PA140033 Lunch at Mokau

Driving along the coast for a while, the road then took us up and over Mt Messenger.  Another road tunnel – this one complete with a workman standing guard. Maybe he knew we were coming and was a one man welcoming committee?

PA140035Mt Messenger road tunnel

Along the coast some more and we soon reached New Plymouth.  Coming to New Plymouth  is always a bit of a home-coming to Robin, as his family moved here from the Hutt Valley when he was 8 years old.  Consequently he did most of his schooling here, and as a teenager spent summers surfing and life saving at the beach.  We are staying at the new NZMCA park  at Huatoki Domain for two nights.  No other campers here so we are in splendid isolation.

PA140039 All alone in camp

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pirongia Clydesdales

We really enjoyed our time in the rural surroundings at Pirongia Clydesdales – just a shame that we had the time for one night only at this interesting POP.  Sadly the cafe wouldn’t be opening till later in the week, so I missed out on a nice latte.
 PA140004 On site at Pirongia

Parked up in front of the barn we could see the horses in the paddock, black and white fluffy chickens scratching around, the aviary full of birds, and the family dogs wandering around.  One of the cockatiels took quite a liking to Robin, and flew over to make his acquaintance.

PA140007 Hello, Cocky

I rushed out with my camera as the manager, Nick van der Sande, brought the first two of a team of four out from the paddock,  to place in the stables, ready to hitch up to wagon.  He stopped and chatted with us as we admired these beautiful animals.

PA140010 Nick with two of his horses

PA140016Waiting for the other two team mates

The Tack Room was packed full of all sorts of necessary items to run a horse business. Harnesses, bridles, collars, and a large assortment of horse shoes, as well of a collections of ribbons awarded at shows.
 PA140005 Tack Room

PA140008Red Cart

PA140020Ready to move on 

The settlement was founded in 1864 when, at the end of the Waikato Land War, Maori land was confiscated forcing the local Maori  to retreat to the King Country.  Pirongia, or Alexandra as it was called then, was one of a number of military settlements set up to defend the confiscation line.   The extinct volcano Mount Pirongia looks down over the town.  At 959 metres it is the highest peak in the Waikato region, and is popular with hunters and trampers.  We will definitely have to have a return trip to this town, and plan a visit for when the on-site cafe is open.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jukebox Diner and on to Pirongia

First on the agenda this morning was to deliver our caravan back to the Leisureline factory for a few small things to be corrected under warranty, plus a service.  It is always such a busy place at the factory, new caravans are rolling off the assembly line, and other caravans come in for repairs.  Our caravan was quickly unhooked from the car, and moved under cover so that the work could be done.  Robin had a list of things to be checked, and Andrew methodically worked through it during the day.

PA130024 Our caravan back for a service

After hearing about the Jukebox Diner recently from another caravanner, we decided to go there for lunch.  There is also a classic car museum on site, but left that for another visit.  Through the doors it was just like stepping into the TV show “Happy Days”.  Cosy booths, Formica and chrome tables, red chairs, black and white tiles on the floor, and the walls adorned with posters, it was certainly a blast from the past.

PA130038 Inside the Jukebox Diner

What shall we choose?  There were several variations of the Big Breakfast, but we bypassed those and decided on a Chicken Burger and Corn Fritters with Bacon.  And as we were really getting into the swing of the 50s, we ordered a coco-cola soda each to drink.  Tunes from our youthful days filled the diner, and we listened to the likes of Elvis and the Everley Brothers.  Eating here was fun, and made a nice change.  We will have to come back on another trip to try the hot dogs and waffles,  and soak up some more of the atmosphere.

PA130041Here comes lunch

The caravan repairs took longer to complete than originally anticipated, and we spent a bit of time just hanging around and waiting.  Things were tightened, or adjusted, our back window was resealed, the braking system was checked, and it was finally ready for us to hook up and get on our way. Driving down SH39, we passed the large Temple View Mormon Church, and through lush green farmlands.  Our stop for the night is at Pirongia – originally called Alexandra.  The name was changed in 1896 to avoid postal confusion with the South Island town of the same name.


We arrived much later at our POP,  Pirongia Clydesdales and Cafe,  than we expected, after having a long day waiting around.  Luckily we did see a couple of these lovely gentle horses harnessed up, and the owners invited us to have a good look around the grounds in the morning.

PA130025 Two of the Pirongia Clydesdales

This is a completely new Pop for us, and thanks to our caravan friends Geoff and Eileen for letting us in on the secret after they stayed here recently.  It’s always so nice to stay somewhere different, and this one is a beauty, with an aviary to check out, stables, and a forge.  I’ll be outside bright and early with my camera looking for some good snaps before we head off on the road again.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A knock on the door brought……trout for dinner

There was a tap on the door early in the morning.  It was our next door neighbor.  Did we know we had left the outside light on all night?  And would we care for a freshly caught trout? It had been gutted, cleaned and de-headed, he assured me.    I even had advice on how to cook it.  Place some chopped herbs, onion and lemon in the cavity, wrap in tin foil and bake in a hot oven about 20-30 minutes.  When I admitted I didn’t have a lemon, he went back to his van to get me one.  Wow – what a nice friendly neighbour.

PA120004 Care for a trout?

There are several little well stocked gardens at the Taupo camp so I went looking for some fresh herbs.  And harvested some parsley, chives, and a spring onion.  That should do nicely to put inside the trout.  And how about some of this brightly coloured silver beet too, for our evening meal.  Must be a gourmet selection,  just look at those stems – red, yellow, orange, pink, and the more usual white!  That’s dinner sorted, we’ll save the sausages we were going to have for another night.

PA120020 Fresh silver beet from the garden

Hooking up the caravan, we started on our way.  But didn’t get very far before we stopped for a photo shoot at the top of the hill.  The clear blue morning skies display a great view of the mountains across from the lake.

PA120007 Lake Taupo with a mountain backdrop

Our trip today took us through pine forests, and we travelled through the timber towns of Tokoroa and Putaruru, through the leafy green town of Cambridge, and onto Hamilton. 

PA120010 Pinus radiata trees growing

We are staying the night on a powered site at the Glenview Club, where we have been several times before.  It wasn’t long till we were set up, and had our “el fresco”  lunch under the pull out awning.

PA120012 On site at the Glenview Club

Winnie, our neighbour in front came to introduce herself, and brought her 5 year old Rag Doll cat outside to meet us, kept safe with her harness and lead.

PA120017 Rag Doll

When Muffy finally woke up from her beauty sleep, we brought her outside too.  Muffy wasn't too sure what to make of the tiny little Chihuahua dog.  Maybe it will go away if she ignores it.  All this excitement was soon too much for her, and she really wanted to go back inside, away from these pesky animals.

PA120018Muffy and the Chihuahua

We will be up and away bright and early tomorrow, as we have to drop the caravan off at the factory by 8.00am for it’s service.