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Taranaki Rally Report, 28 - 30 October 2016

by David Buxton

Congratulations to the Taranaki team of Autotrail motorhomers for organising a very successful rally. The team comprised: Lisette & Rudi Benkert, Audrey & Trevor Coleman, Rob & Ann Coutanche, Raewyn & David Lusk and Margaret & Jim Ward.


Held over the weekend of 28-30 October, 2016 at the Taranaki Swiss Club in Kaponga, 48 vans (85 members) arrived, most by Friday evening.  Planned to coincide with the popular Taranaki Garden Festival, several members stayed on after the rally to enjoy a variety of garden visits.


Friday was a time to arrive, park up in the extensive grass area surrounding the c lubrooms, register and meet, greet and socialise.  The long rows of Autotrails parked was impressive.


Swiss entertainment Friday evening set the scene for a very enjoyable rally. Rudi and Lisette Benkert talked about the early arrival of Swiss settlers to Taranaki, the formation of the Swiss Cub (one of five in NZ) and how, with considerable local support, the Clubrooms were built.  The Club keeps many  Swiss traditions alive including music, shooting (very popular),  games (especially 9 pin bowling), cuisine and costumes.  They have two shooting ranges, one at the Club and another further up the mountain – the Swiss Army provides the ammunition!


We were then entertained by the Club’s singing group, backed by three accordion players – a very polished performance.  A large Swiss horn was assembled and played by an accomplished horn blower.  A few others tried with varying degrees of success and one an absolute failure –me!


Saturday morning dawned  with sunshine and a picture postcard view of Mt Taranaki.  After morning tea (delicious home baking provided by the organising team) discussions were held on our website, RV Explorer, a proposal to establish a Facebook group and mobile internet.  Outcomes from the discussions were;


Autotrailusers website:

1.       More subcategories in the forum will be set up to make it easier to look up a particular subject area

2.       A ‘Girl Talk’ category will be added to the forum for helpful  inside the van ideas

3.       Registration problems usually stem from the ‘full Name’ box not being filled in properly and email addresses not being entered or entered correctly

4.       The forum is being well used, however members could make better use by using the search facility and registering to have email notification of new forum postings.


RV Explorer:

1.       Chris Gaelic briefly explained the content and objectives of creating RV Explorer; it differs from other similar RV touring sites in that it identifies places both off and on  the beaten tracks and for all stop overs it gives both positive and negative features, plus photos.

2.       Over 1300 locations are listed – very comprehensive for the North Island.

3.       Its free to use - just need to register.

4.       Next improvement is to have a mobile app.



1.       A Facebook page for NZ Autotrailers  was suggested last year at the Levin Rally however nothing eventuated.  This year, just prior to the rally, Russell Lowther offered to set up a closed group. After much discussion and warnings about privacy breaches etc, members present agreed to accept Russell’s offer with the proviso that it be carefully monitored.

2.       Sandy Dougherty offered to assist with administration.


Mobile Internet:

1.       Les Gibson commented on how good Netspeed was for internet use in motorhomes.

2.       Netspeed offers 120 GB per month (+50 GB offpeak) for $100/month

3.       Download speeds are 40 Mbps  or better

4.       This compares well with the NZMCA option


After lunch, next on the programme was a trip down memory lane with a visit to a nearby vintage car collection owned by Roy King.  Here, tucked away in little Kaponga, is a gem for classic car and unusual vehicle enthusiasts.  Besides a wide range of old vehicles (some quite rare), bikes, motorized wheelchairs and memorabilia is an extensive collection of parts for sale.


A few members finished the afternoon playing ’beetle’ games in the clubrooms while others had ‘nana-naps’ or shared fixes or modifications to their vans.


A short walk to the Kaponga Hotel for happy hour and our Rally Dinner was completed Saturday’s activities. The hotel turned on a superb smorgasbord meal, accommodating us all by closing off the bar area for our event.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the evening – thank you Kaponga Hotel; your hospitality was A+++.  Two prizes (A Glaze cleaners donated by Auckland Motorhomes) were drawn

after the dinner and were won by David and Gale Smith (furthest travelled - they flew back from Melbourne the evening before they left their home, in Kamo to come to the rally) and Alan and Barbara Lupton, Warkworth (lucky van draw). (The raffle draws were left for Sunday.)


Sunday morning began with the ‘Tech Session’ (see separate report) at 9.30 with a break for morning tea and raffle draws.  The raffle was a great success, with 11 donated prize draws plus 6 extra money draws. Thank you Taranaki team, Taranaki RV and Lynda Brown (Nutrimetics) for your generous prize donations. The raffle allowed the committee to cover all additional Club running costs, keep a float for the next rally and make a generous donation to the Taranaki Swiss Club in appreciation for their hospitality and entertainment.


Last on the programme was a Club meeting (see separate report); no issues to discuss other than the next rally venue.  Offers have come from Hawkes Bay for 2018 and Northland for next year.  It was agreed to hold it over the weekend following Labour Weekend ie 27 – 29th October 2017.


The Taranaki organising team were thanked (with loud acclamation) for a most successful, enjoyable, informative and entertaining rally.


Sadly, two days later, on Tuesday 1 November, one of the Taranaki Team, Rob Coutanche, was tragically killed in a road accident.  Our sincere sympathy, love and remembrance go to Ann and her family.  A tragic huge of a kind, generous and fun-loving person, taken from us all too soon.



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