Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Arohena to Mangakino

The road to Arohena DoC camp is quite a beauty. Once you hit Landing Road it is metal and heads off down the hill ….


Even Google maps has a problem with the last part… but still the view at the end was fantastic and a huge campsite.

I unloaded the MiniCat and had a bit of a sail up the river for a while. Quite good sailing but the breeze was very variable and gusty. Fun though.

So then it was washing time again….happens on a regular basis and the sunshine was fantastic so out with the washing machine and clothes line and way I went. There was water on site and I didn’t have to carry water too far as there were taps spread around the campsite.

The side panel for the awning worked well today as the sun was extremely hot and it offered a huge amount of protection.

As you can see from the earlier pictures, there were not a lot of people at the campsite. There was one large caravan and a couple of tents when I arrived but they were all gone by mid afternoon leaving just me and a small van. So very quiet night was had. The sunset lighting on the hills was lovely.


For some reason I didn’t feel right at that campsite, I can’t put my finger on it but it was just a feeling of “I don’t want to be here”. Not a feeling of danger or anything but just quite uncomfortable, so I packed everything up in the evening and was ready for an early head out in the morning.

First thing after breakfast I headed back out up the hill and turned south and headed up the river.

The first stop was Waipapa Dam. A quiet humming in the early morning stillness.

This is a dam the road runs alongside rather than across and on the other side of the road was a fascinating little hole in the rock face….









I tried to take a picture inside but that is all I could manage.

So from there I wandered south again and headed off the main road down to the next dam and power station which was Maraetai Power Station

The photos don’ really tell the story of the size and scale of this but I tried.

The penstocks coming down the hill were quite organic looking as if they were part of the eco system. They are the same colour as the surrounding rock.

From there is was a short trip down to the town of Mangakino and I parked The Fredrock Cafe beside The Bus Stop Cafe.


This reserve is a wonderful quiet area until the Cafe owner set up his little model speed boat that runs on a weed eater petrol motor and goes like the clappers.

I set up the MiniCat and headed out for a sail across the lake. Quite quiet but enough wind to make for a nice sail. I went out again in the afternoon when the wind picked up a bit and it was quite exciting sailing. Unfortunately in the process of setting up for afternoon tea I managed to drop my camera so there will be no pictures for a while. The camera still operates but the LCD screen/viewfinder is a white mess.

I spent a lovely hour or so chatting to a lovely couple who were heading home to Timaru after visiting their daughter in Cambridge. They were retired and had moved from Christchurch to Timaru after the earthquake. It was great to get some tips on South Island places to stay and see. Thanks for that.

In the morning it was beautifully quiet and so I unloaded the kayak and headed back down the river to the power station, a trip of about 2km there and 3km back as I went down one side and back the other and it is about 900m across the lake!

Around lunchtime as I was baking some savoury scones, a small Toyota van pulled in alongside me and a young couple got out and were trying to tighten up their wing mirror with a pocket knife screwdriver. I got out the tool kit and offered them a decent screwdriver and got talking to them. A lovely young couple from the USA who have been teaching English in South Korea for the past few months and are here for a year they hope. They had just come out of the Coromandel and were quite disillusioned about freedom camping in New Zealand! I carefully explained to them that they had hit the worst possible place to start their journey but the best was yet to come. I hauled out my DoC maps and brochures and showed them where the great places were. They are into off-road running and had been running the Waikato River Trail. We talked about how to find some tracks for them to run on and then they got an invite to join me for some scones for lunch. So we spent a very pleasant few hours chatting and solving the woes of the world.

Then a lovely 9m Hino pulled in beside the Toyota and I recognised the name Hino Inn. I had met the lovely couple John and Chris (hope I got that right!) at the Campervan Show at Mystery Creek. We all caught up and John was trying out his latest acquisition. A lovely enamelled cast iron Dutch Oven, and he was going to make a roast of lamb for dinner. From what I can gather it was the first time he had attempted to cook a roast in the bus (or cook anything for that matter). The smells wafting out during Happy Hour were lovely and I hope it turned out well.

So it was yours truly, the young American couple, John and Chris and two lovely ladies from Levin for Happy Hour, which extended through to around 7pm….

So after spending two nights there I left early and headed back through to Hamilton in a bit of a straight run up through Te Kuiti to get some paperwork in order for selling one of the rental properties and low and behold there was strange precipitation falling out of the sky. Hadn’t seen that for a while. Quite refreshing to see the rain finally.

So its a bit of a pause again while I do some minor repairs to the bus, the winding gear on the awning had finally worn down in one spot making it very difficult to wind the awning in so that had to be replaced. Roger and I had already taken it apart and shimmed it out to get some more life out of it but that didn’t last long. I need to replace the seals on the toilet as well as they are starting to not hold water well. I have to wait for them to arrive, but have managed to get the winder and replaced that.

I am taking this opportunity to have a bit of a clean out of the bus to get rid of the accumulated ‘stuff’. I have managed to find a load of more space! Also I am starting to get the winter gears stocked up and ready for use. A good autumnal clean!

I hope to be back on the road as soon as I can get the toilet seals installed, they say about a week to arrive here.