Catch up series - Part 3: Mahia to East Cape

Posted by Angela


Mahia - after the rain

Tolaga Bay Wharf

Tolaga Bay wharf

Fishing off Tolaga Bay wharf

Me and my Dad been fishin'

Anaura Bay after a storm.

Anaura Bay

Anaura Bay

Anaura Bay & Mr 2 years.

Anaura Bay - mid storm

TePuia Springs

St Mary's Church in Tikitiki.

New Zealand's largest and oldest Pohutukawa tree (Te Waha o Rerekohu) at Te Araroa.

Onepoto Bay, near Hicks Bay....beeaauuuttiful.

Waterfalls just beyond Te Araroa. Spot where's Wally.

East Cape Lighthouse. Most easterly lighthouse in the world

We arrived at the peninsula of Mahia and found ourselves a free spot to park. Aware it was forecast to rain I was reluctant to pull too far onto the grass area, therefore, I moved just off the track to allow any other vehicles to enter and exit if they arrived. What we didn't know, was that the forecast to rain, actually meant deluge.  

After enduring the night and majority of the following day, with our power quickly dwindling, we made the decision to exit stage left and go to the campground that we had scouted out in the car earlier. All be it begrudgingly. The only firm spot they could park us on, was flooded, and yet they still chose to charge the earth! The plan to move was sound apart from the part where we had to first drive the very bogged car out, and then the even more bogged bus....

So in the pouring rain Hamish diligently puuuusssshhed the car out only to be repaid with some very well placed tire spun mud from head to foot (I thought he said go fast...... apparently not, oops). Then we inched the bus back one trailer ramp length (about 1/2m) at a time.  It worked but then given the upward rise that we were attempting to reverse up, stopped working.  Being on the slope we resorted to plan B, with the realisation that plan C was to go hunting for a local farmer and tractor and this was becoming more probable by the moment. Plan B was to roll forward and sideways hoping to get enough of the bus onto firmer ground to gun it out of there. It worked. Whewf!!

So we stayed at the campground a couple of nights hoping to wait out the rain. After getting our washing dry we took in some lovely hot pools at Morere then it was onwards to Gisborne.

It was in Gisborne that we heard that our house sale had been finalised. Thus we were free to explore the East Cape (with its intermittent or non existant cell ph coverage). We spent the time preparing for Hamish's first week off work in what felt like some time, and preparing to meander slowly around the cape. Another trip to the mechanics finally ousted the chicken and chicks from the fanbelt, and we filled the bus to brimming with food and water, and emptied the tanks. We schooled up on the spots to visit as much as we could. It would be unfair not to admit I was a little nervous, as I really had no idea what we were headed for in terms of roads, camping spots, facilities etc. But, by the first night, relaxing on the beach at Tolaga Bay, we were smitten. Any doubts erased, replaced by wonder and amazement at what existed in this part of Aotearoa in terms of the flora, fauna and stunning beauty. It was an incredible place with many little moments and gems along the way that we feel may be best said with some photos of what we got to surround ourselves with.

The area was really well documented and mapped on paper.  In reality, there was a serious lack of signage to any spot we were looking for which made for some fun driver/map reader interactions but also added to the charm of the area. Given the time of year we practically had the area to ourselves, which made driving a pleasure as we meandered along at our own pace.  I now have a much greater appreciation and understanding of the legend of Maui and his escapades with carving up the North Island.  Driving a heavy vehicle through the area, up the hills then steeply down the hills, achieved that!  If you ever get the chance to explore this part of Aotearoa/New Zealand then we would highly, highly recommend it.

Because it was raining, and forecast to continue for some time, we left Te Araroa thinking we would stop overnight in Te Kaha.  But upon arriving, because of the weather, decided to push on. We drove for 6 hours through to Ohope.  Our longest stretch yet, by time but not by distance.  We stopped for ice-creams at the movie 'Boy' 'ice cream shop scene' at Waihau Bay - how could we not despite it pouring with rain!  Driving on we drove through what I believe would be THE most beautiful bush that I have ever seen from Te Araroa to Te Kaha.  It was a stark contrast arriving in Ohope from the world we had just been in.  Now it was flash housing, shops, busy people.  We parked up next to the beach and took a few days to absorb our time on the Cape before pushing off again, following the Pacific Coast Highway on up toward Tauranga.

Catch up series - Part 4: Tauranga to Coromandel - coming soon.

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  1. Vanessa on 30 Sep 3:15 p.m.

    I have had many visits to Tologa Bay. Going to visit the relatives in Gizzy every school holidays meant we did a bit of exploring around the area. Sure is stunning!

Catch up series - Part 2: Hawkes Bay to East Cape

Posted by Angela Fraser

Mr 2 yrs arriving at Haumoana

Our park up at Haumoana Beach

Excavating for fossils at the Napier Aquarium


The Bike Park in Napier

The 5 legged sheep at the Farmyard near Haumoana

And another crazy eyed sheep at the farmyard

The delicious loot from the Hawkes Bay farmers market

Part 2 – Hawkes Bay to East Cape

In search of sun for our solar we drove through torrential rain rolling into some watery sunshine in the Hawkes Bay. Having first explored the option of a freedom park, that we then decided was a little less than desirable, we settled on paying a few dollars to park at a park over property (pop) near Clive where we stayed for 3 nights. The following day we ticky toured around Napier enjoying the art deco sites.  It was then onto the Aquarium where we scored ourselves the deal of the month – an educational entry fee instead of the tourist fee, a saving of $46. Stoked! The kids had a ball given their strong interest in marine life and could have happily spent the rest of the day there! We then checked out the whole-food kitchen café, yum, then went and ate our ‘Nice creams’ at the bike park (have you discovered these yet? Delicious ice-cream made from coconut milk therefore dairy free, found at whole-food stores and New World, yum yum yum! ). This park is yet another sterling effort on the behalf of the Hawkes Bay council.  It is set up to be exactly like a real life road situation complete with fully functioning traffic lights and road signs. It is fully fenced and it even had a separate fenced area for toddlers. The operative is to be able to teach children bike safety. Very, very cool by our standards. So yet another learning situation in an already action packed learning day.

The following day, needing an outlet for some toddler energy, Mr 2 yrs and I visited South City Playcentre in Hastings where we were warmly welcomed.   Mr 2 yrs had a fabulous time and big shouts out to these guys for their fantastic hospitality. There were visits from lambs and puppies and the sun shone brightly as he doused himself in water from the hose and frolicked gleefully in the sandpit. I am never ceased to be grateful for this awesome organisation that exists uniquely to our country. Playcentre has so many virtues and I am so glad we have had the privilege of spending many hours enjoying it. It is great to know that at any time we can all rock up to a centre around the country and we’ll be welcomed.

We then happened upon a beachfront freedom camping spot in Haumoana following a trip out to a farmyard with the kids. This farmyard had a real live five legged sheep – I kid you not, just when you think you have seen it all aye!

We moved out to the beachside spot and let our souls be recharged with the sounds of crashing waves topped off by beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Unfortunately we couldn’t say the same about the recharging of the power system. During the middle of making dinner the whole 12 V system went bung. Gah frantic searching for torches, candles and such likes in the pitch black. Cereal for tea that night! That was tipping point. We had fried one inverter and the other was malfunctioning. We had been holding out from buying an inverter charger until we had sold the house because they cost the earth but that final straw was enough to bring the purchase forward. The order was made and the purchase delivered but this meant a trip to the Electricians was required. Oh and did I mention - an entirely new electrical system for me to grapple with. By now you all know just how good I am at those! Poor, poor Hamish. Oh and while on the subject of electrical systems it seems appropriate to mention the little drone flying experience that could have, and oh so nearly did, go so terribly wrong. Hamish cranked out the drone and took it flying out over the sea at which point, the batteries must have failed in the remote and the drone began flying autopilot….up, up, up, and no, no, not away, not quite.  It actually flew back toward base as is programmed to do but fully by itself. It looped twice lowering with each loop and then on the final loop zoomed over the bus roof missing it by mm’s at which point Hamish frantically (he would say tactfully) grabbed it. Whewf. As a bystander to it all, it was rather humorous to watch. The best part is the footage it caught – couldn’t have done a better job flying it!

The next day we spent our final hour’s at the beach stone throwing and cruising whilst Hamish got us a somewhat working system. Being Farmers Market enthusiasts we visited the Hawkes Bay Farmers Market as I had heard it was one of the best in our country. I was loving it. Massive amounts of incredible produce, and artisan products. Yum, yum and YUM!

Additional to our electrical woes by this stage our bus had taken on board what we fondly referred to as ‘our resident chicken’. It was in fact a very loud chirping sound in the motor, a very loud, annoying, chirping sound. So now a trip to the electrician and the mechanic was in order.

We pulled up at a new contacts, the McMurray's home in the country out the back of Napier expecting to stay one night. The next day we took the bus in to get the new inverter installed and to the mechanics to get the chicken ousted which took up most of the day. Invited to stay another night, we then headed back to our park up at the McMurray's home. Thinking we should give the new system a chance to prove it was going to work we ended up staying with these guys for a week.  Despite work place rumours that these 'dirty smelly hippies' (tongue in cheek) were never going to move on we managed to haul ourselves onwards and upwards having had a very fun time with these guys sharing business ideas, playing pool, chatting and sharing a glass of wine or 2 or 3 or oh really, whose counting!

With a stable electrical system (we now have a system that charges after about 2 hrs when plugged in whahoooo!!) and thinking the chirping was better we moved on (unfortunately the chicken had chicks on the way and they chirped all the way to Mahia). We had planned a stop at Lake Tutira but overshot the turn-off and there was just no going back. So we asked the kids to settle in for the long haul and tripped our way over to the peninsula of Mahia.

Part 3 – Mahia and East Cape coming soon.

Posted by Angela Fraser


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Catch up Series - Part 1: Wellington to Manawatu

Posted by Angela Fraser

Tug of war with a bus (not ours) at the Home Ed camp Foxton Beach

Easter weekend spent enjoying nature and eating hot cross buns with friends

The lush Manawatu

The Heidelberg printing press arrives

Maneuvering it into the office space was a slow and calculated task.

So Ange you just set it like this, says Dan for the 500 millionth time...

Pretty little printing type

Placing the type into the printer

Inspecting the placement of the type

A team effort choosing the type

Figuring out how to work the guillotine.

All in a days work in the bus....a touch of sewing. Some trousers for the little fella.

A delectable treat made by usinabus crew and enjoyed at the Fyles Mid Winter Christmas Party

Another delectable treat for the Christmas Party

And another......

The Manawatu gorge. To the right is the slip that occured in 2011 and took 13 months to fix. We walked the Tawa track to view the slip from the top.

We set sail from the South to the North in pursuit of accumulating a wealth of experiences, travelling through unknown land for many hours and km’s and having the privilege of developing friendships with incredible people from all walks of life. We sure haven’ t been disappointed. Here is Part 1 of the catch up series.

Part 1 - Wellington to Manawatu
Back in February we sailed over the Cook Straight to attend our first North Island Home Educators Life Learners camp at Foxton Beach. ‘Home Educators Life…’ what, you ask? Well basically a bunch of refreshingly ‘outside the box’ thinking people, all with the commonality of educating their kids out of the school system utilising everyday life experiences, getting together for a weekends hang out, making connections, camping, activities and story swapping.

We extolled our greetings from the deep south and promptly pleaded for any unsuspecting souls there to take us under their wings and show us life in the north. Our call was headed – turns out they’re a great bunch these North Islanders. Through a series of events we teamed up with the Sebasta/Edwards family and post camp they become our new home away from home in Raumati South. It turned out our bus quite liked their driveway, and the kids happened to quite like theirs.   Thus we ended up parking up with them for months, inter-mixed with several weeks of parking up around Wellington and a trip back to Timaru for 5 weeks over which time they very kindly babysat our bus for us. Had they had their HT license I may have suspected the bus to explore the north by itself with new occupants in our absence such was their desire to try this lifestyle. But alas, no, it sat quietly and awaited our return ready to fire up and head onto new adventures. And the potential new occupants – well they are the cream of the crop up here as far as we are concerned, easy going, gracious, fun and thoughtful – we are hugely indebted to their kindness and loved hanging out with ‘em.

We returned from Timmars, having put the house on the market, straight into clocking up our second COF for the bus and then headed for our second Home Educators camp. This time at Rangi Woods, Pohangina Forest, near Ashhurst, (Palmerston North). It felt good to fire up and stretch the legs on the ole girl once again, even though it took a little getting used to being back in the driver’s seat. We greeted many familiar faces from the first camp, sat around the fire chewing the fat and then, it happened. The Norovirus struck…. the entire camp. Woweee what an experience. In summary, one massive spew fest. In our whaanau 5 were struck down and one stood strong, defiant, guess who! I got the job of nursing the rest of ‘em. Gah! There was something incredibly bonding about sharing such an experience with so many other families. I think it was the fact that usually when things such as this strike, you go into isolation and lock down, sometimes for weeks, until it passes. This time it seemed no family was exempt. A resignation settled in and a hardy few stayed on and shared an evening’s communing despite the sounds of heaving stomachs surrounding!

Having chalked that one up to experience we self-invited, I mean, were invited to park up at our new friends the Fyles’ home in Ashhurst. (Actually I believe our shared friend nominated them to host us…. we’ll go with that). Also experiencing the symptoms of norovirus we were able to commiserate together, and we were mighty grateful for a park up so close to the camp. Even the short distance to travel had those who were ill turn an interesting shade of green! A week of recovery then we started to explore the beautiful lush Manawatu and its mighty wind turbines. Hamish and Mr 5yrs set off for 5 days back to Timaru to tie up some loose ends with work and house while the rest of us happily stayed and played in Ashhurst/Palmy….well mostly happily….having installed new house batteries Hamish then happily flew away leaving me, the most electrically illiterate person on this earth to manage the system…..gahhhh needless to say it didn’t work, we froooooozzee, and there was some short sharp phone calls to hubby to lament. An electrician and a few phone calls later to suppliers and we had ourselves a functioning system once again, whewf!

Whilst parked up with these guys we had the privilege of experiencing a very exciting new venture that Daniel had undertaken. A 1950’s Printing Heidelberg printing press. We witnessed the delivery and installation of it, and the inaugural print run. What a cool and unique opportunity. We even had a chance to play with making our very own usinthebus cards. I have discovered not only am I electrically illiterate, I am also very printing press setting illiterate….Daniel was so long suffering! Unfortunately after 3 weeks, in the 11th hour, the Press spat the dummy, threw in a challenge that was going to take more time to solve and didn’t let us finish our project. Gutted.  However, we have since heard Daniel has been tinkering ferociously since our departure and achieved great things.  Now we just need an address to have the goods of those trickier issues with life on the road!  We’ll definitely be back to Ashhurst though, for more time to be spent with these beautiful people and tinkering time.  Meanwhile if you require any classy work designed then printed on this amazing piece of engineering by an absolute top class of a guy make sure you get in touch with Daniel - you'll be glad you did.

Our self-imposed time to move on had arisen and we fired up our ole girl for new horizons, our hearts set on reaching the sea once again. Thus, we strapped the kiddies in and drove on through the stunning Manawatu Gorge and off up State Highway 2 to The Hawkes Bay.

Part 2 - Hawkes Bay to East Cape........coming shortly.

Posted by Angela Fraser


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  1. Jess on 24 Aug 9:03 a.m.

    Lol very impressed at your concise description of the jam packed adventures of the last few months! Bring on Part 2. Pictures are awesome!

  2. Jo Taylor on 24 Aug 9:25 a.m.

    Wow how exciting an what a great time you are all having. This was a great read on a Sunday morning - beats the press anytime. Looking forward to part 2.
    Keep healthy and take care.
    Jo xx

  3. Lulastic on 24 Aug 4:48 p.m.

    Such a great catch up! So are you still on the cape?

  4. Angela Fraser on 24 Aug 10:32 p.m.

    Hi Lucy. No, we have moved on again, back to the land of cell phone range! Sadly!
    Currently in Tauranga, about to move on again for the green pastures of that mighty Coromandel!

  5. Andy on 27 Aug 9:12 p.m.

    I think you mean 'definitely' not 'defiantly' (I'm an English teacher now)

    And the chicken is likely to be a squeaky fan belt. A piece of chalk rubbed lightly on the belt should take care of it.

    Happy travels!

  6. Angela Fraser on 28 Aug 9:37 a.m.

    Ah-ha to the top of the class you go young sir. Indeed you are right and the correction has been made. It must just be this rebellious lifestyle coming out in my writing!
    Fanbelt all fixed. Piece of chalk would have been cheaper though. Will be coming to you with my next bus noise complaint first next time!.