Trains ‘n boats…

Franklin Country is having their fantastically popular Thomas the Tank Engine Weekend this weekend!!

IMG_0271If trains are your thing, this will be the place to be.

The Glenbrook Vintage Railway ‘s annual Thomas day always proves to be a great winner and an added bonus will be the new Glenbrook Morel Railway, which is situated on Morley Road…..a train stop away from the station at Glenbrook.

Bob and his elves have been working intently to make sure that they can get the Model Railway operating to coincide with the Thomas weekend, so if you are in the area……keep an eye out to discover the magic of the miniature train, boats and more!

GMR 6….but wait!!….there IS more.

The Port Waikato Whitebait fritter competition is also on!. Head out to our west coast beach for a taste test of some of the locals recipes for the perfect fritter!!  mmmmmmm….mmm

I can personally vouch for a fantastic taste tingle!

P1000743so why wait??

Head to our patch of country – where Auckland meets the Waikato – and check out what’s on!!

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Franklin’s A – Z continues……

Well………………..I managed to resurrect my post from a few years ago about the A – Z of Franklin Country, and only got up to the letter M which I re – posted onto our facebook page………….

so, now I can make an effort to continue with the alphabet of Franklin, starting this time with the letter N –

letter Nis for  New Zealand Steel who own the Steel mill at Franklin’s Glenbrook.

Although there has been some talk of the Steel mill closing, as there is  and has been off and on for many years,   according to Wikipedia, which was last updated in March of this year – Currently, the mill produces 650 000 tonnes of steel a year which is either domesticity used or exported. Over 90% of New Zealand’s steel requirements are produced at Glenbrook.

Public tours are available by arrangement – and a very interesting tour they do!!

and  thanks to the generous support of New Zealand Steel, the NZ Steel galleries in Franklin: The Centre, Pukekohe, provide a flexible exhibition space with international-standard facilities for art works. Well worth a visit for the likes of the recently held Franklin Arts Festival .

letter Ois for one of our many wonderful places to stay – Orua Bay Beach Motor Camp & Accommodation, which is  nestled in the tranquillity of the countryside on the northern shore of the Awhitu Peninsula, on the shore and in the centre of a beautiful 3km sandy beach, north-facing (for all day sun).

Onewhero Golf Club – one of our many good golf courses which is open dawn to dusk and is a mature course  of 18 holes, set in the fertile Franklin area, with volcanic free draining soil, that means the course is rarely closed. Areas of native bush on the course attracting native pigeons.

Letter-PPort Waikato Holiday Park – another of our regions great holiday parks where you can  enjoy a true kiwi summer holiday  experience – just the way it should be.

The Port Waikato  area of Franklin region, is a well-known surfing and whitebaiting destination and a popular holiday spot as well as being one of the few places dinosaur fossils can be found in New Zealand.

Pukekohe Golf ClubThe best course in Auckland (and it’s here in Franklin)- in our humble opinion! It is normally in such good condition that it deserves the title.

We also have the Pollok Arts & Crafts Co-op where you can purchase original arts and crafts mainly from the Awhitu Peninsula. These range from fine art, glassware, ceramics, jewellery, fabric art, right through to cards and organic foodstuffs.

letter Qis for Quality Caterers – our local catering company, specialising in wedding catering, spit roast catering and so much more.

letter Rfor our wonderful Red Shed Palazzo – a place just off the southern motorway at Drury where you can sit back, relax and enjoy the wonderful food, gardens and let the kids have fun on the swings. You’ll enjoy tasty innovative cuisine in a laid-back environment and also serves delicious coffee. The fully licensed cafe has Steinlager Classic, Macs Gold on tap and a full range of Mount Riley wines.

Our region also boasts some great history links with the like of Rangipo Museum and  the Rangiriri Heritage Centre & Cafe

letter Sthis has GOT to stand for our famous “Spookers” attraction!!! The one and only  scare yourselves silly site, where they will try to scare the yell out of you! and New Zealand’s only haunted attraction theme park.

We also have one of the fine dining locations here at Simunovich Estate’s Bracu Restaurant

plus one of our many wonderful B&B’s – Springcurl Lodge, an affordable luxury B&B and deer park, who are a pet friendly accommodation.

letter Tis for our reserves and parks – Tamakae Reserve in Waiuku with it’s bit of history : Legend has it that two prominent Wai O Hua brothers, Tamakae and Tamakou, vied for the hand of a beautiful high ranking Waikato chieftainess.

and Tapapakanga Regional Park, which has a rich Maori and European history.

For many centuries Täpapakanga was an important dwelling place for the Marutüahu iwi, especially Ngāti Pāoa and Ngāti Whanaunga.

 In those days Tāpapakanga supported several large ka – inga (villages) each with extensive ku – mara and taro cultivation. Archaeological sites on the park,  include three Māori pā, storage pits (rua), terraces (tūāpapa), shell middens (ahu ota ota) and ovens (umu) as well as stone heaps indicating extensive riverside gardens.

Locals are NOT happy – Auckland may need to rethink.??…….


cropped-p1000303.jpgGenerally, Franklin is a great place to be……Kaye Maxwells Golf
cute calf

We have so much that is great here.

The  chance for a very good lifestyle, towns and rural regions conveniently located, lovely shopping, cafes, accommodation, beaches and so much more……………….

but……………………the locals are once again, feeling the effects of big brother – Auckland.

One of our local papers has some unhappy letters to the editor in response to  the train service that isn’t……..

Let’s just hope that someone can take notice of the local ratepayers and constituents!

Letters to Ed FCN July 2015


Franklin letter to ed July 2015

Be Careful out there………

In light of the recent tragedies on our roads throughout New Zealand, and also here in Franklin, I think that we all need to be aware that none of us are “bullet-proof”
Franklin SH1Some time ago, I was asked if we could put some info onto our website to help overseas tourists understand about the driving requirements in our region and New Zealand as a whole, which we have been very happy to do –

If you’re visiting the Franklin region from overseas you’ll find our beautiful countryside and sinuous roads excellent to drive on. You’ll need to know a few rules so you don’t inadvertently break the law and get a fine, or worse, cause an accident.

The main things you need to know are:

· We drive on the left

· Using a hand-held mobile phone to call, text or access services while driving or stationary at traffic lights is illegal.

· Our speeds and distances are posted in kilometres per hour and kilometres. 100km/h is around 60mph and is our open road speed limit. The urban limit is 50km/h.

· If your licence is in English you can drive in New Zealand for up to a year. However, if your licence is not in English you will need to get an International Driving Permit or an authorised translation to English to accompany your licence.

· Children up to age 7 must be in an approved child seat and all occupants must wear seat belts.

· The blood alcohol limit is 0.05%, but we recommend that you don’t drink at all if you drive.

There are quite a few differences in road signs and road markings. You can take a free Road Code quiz at this website, and NZTA produces a booklet called What’s Different About Driving in New Zealand, which you can download here.

If you are not used to driving on the left hand side of the road you will need to pay special attention to give way (yield) rules, lane markings, indication rules and particularly what to do on roundabouts where you will be going clockwise, not anticlockwise.

We hope you enjoy your stay in the Franklin region, and whether you’re taking a scenic drive to the lighthouse or Port Waikato, heading off bird watching at Miranda, or visiting one of the many historic regional towns, stay safe and alert on the roads.

We all need to understand our driving habits and make sure that we do so safely. It is a tragedy to lose family and/or friends through lack of understanding, over confidence or just plain stupidity.
Now that the weather is getting cooler and there is more rain, it becomes increasingly apparent that we need to watch the conditions in which we drive.
NZ has winding roads, many of which are narrow, and although locals become confident in knowing the road, there is always the chance that an unexpected vehicle/bike/person/animal/road slip, will be where there was nothing previously.

Take your time and enjoy being able to stop safely to look at the view, have a break or a quiet cuppa.
So ” be careful out there” as they used to say on the tv show Hill Street Blues, many years ago 🙂

Oh NO!! A potato shortage!!

Goodness me! Franklin is making sure that there are potatoes out there (as we usually do)…..
One of Franklin’s local papers has the (short) story of the potato shortage hitting home.

potatoes Puke grown

If it were not for Pukekohe, there would be no potatoes or carrots in New Zealand at the moment after weather conditions have resulted in a shortage of new seasons crops, according to a member of the Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association.
…crop yields have been below average because of the rough spring we have been experiencing. The below average temperatures and constant high winds have affected crops. Also the old season potatoes have run out, forcing the chip and crisps processors to use al the new season potatoes from the Franklin District. They are also not getting enough supply.Balle Bros chips
The situation highlights the need to preserve Franklin Districts frost free horticultural land.
“We are the first district in New Zealand to start planting and harvesting new seasons potatoes. Hence we are currently supplying New Zealand with fresh new season potatoes and carrots. If it were not for us, there would be no potatoes or carrots in New Zealand”!

The rich productive soils and the temperate climate favours the growing and horticulture industries. The name Pukekohe means “Hill of the Kohekohe”, New Zealand’s native mahogany. Pukekohe lies between the Auckland and Waikato regions (52 kms from Auckland and 97 kms from Hamilton). The town developed as a service town for the horticultural and agricultural industries and has now broadened into a thriving and modern community – a destination for shopping and recreation.

Pukekohe has been called the food basket of New Zealand.

Annual rainfall for Auckland is around 1142mm and annual sunshine hours are approximately 2149 hours. Parts of Pukekohe are frost-free – giving an early advantage over the rest of the country.

The local vegetable growing industry is acclaimed for its innovative growing methods. The Franklin Sustainability Project for environmental care won the prestigious Ministry for the Environment Green Ribbon Award in 2000. The project was initiated by the Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association to champion and promote best practice guidelines amongst the commercial vegetable growers of the area for the sustainable management of the natural and physical resources of the district.

The Pukekohe Vegetable Growers Association is affiliated to Horticulture New Zealand – the National Industry Body.

potatoes redcarrots

Franklin Country – from garden to table………

Our region of Franklin, is a garden paradise – the area is surrounded with market gardens which supply fresh produce to all manner of places.
Balle Bros chips

Franklin market gardensSome of our very own market gardeners are taking things a step further in the potato growing industry by growing specific potatoes for potato chips. The newcomers to the chip market, the Balle family, planted their first crop last week.
Eamon and Tim Balle, from Chip off the old Block potato chips say it is a real buzz seeing the family’s new product on the shelves of the supermarkets.
These guys are third generation vegetable growers and potato growing is “in the blood”.
The focus on their chips is to keep things as natural as possible, and so far the flavours that they are producing include sea salt, smoked paprika and sea salt with cracked pepper.

One of our local papers has the story.

The Balle family have really done their homework and over the generations have certainly come to know their stuff. There is information on the vegetables that they grow on their site, and even the humble red onion should not be overlooked for health benefits!
…and did you know “Potatoes are surprisingly rich in vitamin C. They help the body absorb minerals when eaten with other iron-rich foods. Potatoes are also excellent for satisfying hungry appetites, the sugar carbohydrates releasing energy gradually, allowing you to go longer between meals.”

One of our other local growers, Allan Fong, has also been in the news over time with his fresh take on cooking with some of the Asian greens that he grows. Allan has been on telly with Al Brown ( I may have already mentioned that in a previous blog!) and also appeared in a Country Calender episode a few years back.

So – not only can you come check out WHERE your food is grown, you can ALSO head to one of the cafes and restaurants. or even the local supermarkets, and try the local produce 🙂
We had a story about a lady who came from France, who was visiting Pukekohe especially to find out where the potatoes were grown that she had tried in one of the restaurants overseas!! Now THAT is getting international recognition of our wee patch!!

Tuakau – Franklin or not?

Tuakau PO and musuemWhen I was a wee sprocket, my family and I moved to the Franklin district – Tuakau to be exact, for my dad’s work.
Tuakau was a “borough” with it’s own Borough Council, within the Franklin District. It became a Borough in 1955 until 1989, when the whole Franklin region became part of the (then) new District Council and Franklin stretched as far south as, at least, Pokeno. So you see, we still consider what is now known as the Northern Waikato, to be part of Franklin, the way it has been for so many years.THE_BRIDGEWhen I moved to the area, Tuakau was quite a thriving country town (from what I can recall).
There was a (what seemed to me in my childhood) large store – Wallace Supplies, I think it was called – that had everything; from a hairdresser to the local mercantile for farming goods and feed; umbrellas, you name it, they stocked it! It was on the site of the current hotel carpark – the hotel has been completely overhauled tremendously by it’s current owners, and does great meals. The hotel was originally established in 1882 and had 21 rooms. William James Priest was the proprietor at that time.
There were also a number of local dairies – one up beside the Town hall and a couple further down the street and I’m sure they were called “milk bars”. The one closest to the railway end of town, had booths where you could sit and have your milkshake (although we weren’t allowed to go into that one – but grandad used to buy us icecreams from that one when he came to visit and pick us up from school!)
The Dairy factory was still in operation and was one of the earliest “creameries” established – erected in 1888, but now long since closed in it’s original form.
We had a taxi stand. The “pictures” (cinema) were shown in the town hall – I can remember going to see the movies “Papillon” and “Love Story” !!
The Heartland TVsome years ago, replayed a programme that was filmed in Tuakau. It showed the “bikies” parked outside one of the milk bars and some of the locals working at the chook farm up Browns Road……I wouldn’t mind getting a copy of that one, even though it was filmed before I can remember, to watch again!
and the train stopped in Tuakau!!!- well for a while anyway, until “progress” put a stop to that. The station was originally opened in 1875 and had, at that time a “ladies waiting room” as well as a Postal and Telegraph office and a ticket office. I can still remember the uproar when the station was to be demolished! Also, the bus service was slightly more regular than it is now, but like all progress, Tuakau soon started to go backward, and many of the shops and businesses closed.
The Tuakau Museum was once the Post office (opened in 1912 until 1983), in my young days, where you took your savings book and money to have the teller hand write your deposit and new balance.
Now though, Tuakau is once again beginning to grow with lifestyle blocks, cheaper(or should that read more affordable) housing, new businesses and on the river (beside where the original township was planned to be, way back when) is the Discovery Rivercruises Houseboat.
Ian and Judy have a great houseboat that they have put such a lot of time, effort and money into, that takes discerning clientele on a river cruise. Ian has discovered such a lot of the history of the river and enjoys telling it to whoever he can.
It is a great way to spend a weekend while taking time out from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The houseboat has luxurious bedrooms with their own ensuites, a spa pool and more! and from the Alexandra Redoubt, above the river, you can get a great view, much as the British soldiers did in the early days of the Land Wars.
Many of the old family names are still around the area, the original settlers such as the Madills, Lapwoods, Bookers
Tuakau has also produced a number of people who have become famous around the world in varying industries(I’ll go into that in another blog, so keep an eye out!)
If anyone has any other memories of Tuakau, in the Franklin region!! let me know 🙂