Night of the Lights

Leigh Central hosted part of the Lights at Leigh which was part of the Matakana Light Festival. What was really convenient is that Leigh Central is also our favorite place for Motorhome Parking in this area.

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Getting busy at Leigh Central

We were sitting at Leigh Eats enjoying a nice cup of coffee when we met Michelle and Rose. Rose used to live in Devonport in a past life and Michelle was organising the Leigh Light Festival.

The weather was awful with the rain pelting down but looking at the rain radar it was due to ease off about 3pm, an hour before the start.

Less than an hour later, the Sun came out and we were on 🙂

The Kids are off for the Scavenger Hunt.

The Leigh part of it started at Leigh School where there was a scavenger hunt for the kids. First stop after that was the Fire Brigade a block away for heated Marshmallows on sticks.. Yum !

Removing the Spark plugs

After this they made their way around to the Leigh Garage where they had to remove a spark plug each and an oil filter! Then onto the Tattoo Parlour to get a stick on Tattoo.

By this time, it was dark and the lights were on. Prizes were to given for the best lighting effort on a House or Letterbox.

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Mums and Dads were at the indoor Markets hosted by Leigh Central and then for some like us, it was off to the Leigh Hotel where Hostess Sarah had gone all out and lit up her dress and and her hair which looked fantastic.

Leigh Bar’s Sarah with her lit Hairdo

A great day finished off with a glass of something back in Rafe with the heater on!

Back at the Motorhomes

 

Rafe’s Tracker map to Leigh

Motorhomes and Classic Cars

The week ended with Fiona getting a cold and wanting to blob  and get better so we thought we’d escape the big city and head to Pauanui.

Fiona spent the first day in bed while I went out in between cups of tea for a bike ride around the peninsula.

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The park

There is only ever one place for us to park at Pauanui and that’s the Pauanui Club. I’ve done a few posts about their Motorhome Parking and it is just the best value and easy parking around for miles.

Parking at Pauanui

They’re also really good and easy to deal with. Always a smile and nothing is ever to hard. They’ve now also got their Laundromat up and running and now have a full Dump station. At $10 a night per van including power, water and access to the bar, it is exceptional value.

The Club entrance

Its amazing how many walkways and how easy the biking is. Someone really thought about this when the early Pauanui subdivisions were first planned.

Having your plane tied to your doorknob!

I headed down towards the waterways and met our Motorhome neighbours out on their bikes. They were from Motueka and are checking out the North Island with their friends from Okarito (North of Franz Josef).

The next day, Fiona was feeling much better and we went for a wander into the township which is only 5 minutes walk away through a tunnel under the adjacent airfield.

Perfect

Later that day we went to the Club and watched the Bingo which was fun and then the Rugby on the big TV. One thing I really noticed here was how friendly everyone was.

Our morning sleep in was nicely disturbed by that great sound of some big motors as the Pauanui Classic Car people met in the club car park before heading off in convoy to the Matatoki Cheese Factory for lunch.

Click on the Gallery below to see the Cars

Some of these cars were really rare. John the organiser has a Covette  Cove Convertible. A friend of mine who is a real Corvette buff has always wanted one of these but good ones are normally worth Telephone numbers!

John heading off in his Corvette

There were some really nice vehicles and the locals all came out in the sunshine to see and admire the cars and see them off for their lunch.

Mini Golf next door

A great atmosphere, great people and a nice spot to park.

Rafe’s Tracker map

The future for Takapuna Holiday Park

The final hurdle in the long running saga of the Takapuna Beach Holiday Park has been overcome with a lease for a new operator who will redevelop the land into a new look Holiday Park over the next year or so.

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The Holiday Park

The Devonport – Takapuna board approved a lease at a recent meeting. This means that the ground Holiday Park is on, is effectively in private ownership for the next 30 years.

Rafe at the park

The successful new Lease holder is understood to be involved in at least 4 well known Top 10 Holiday Parks all around the South Island so I think we can assume that the Holiday Park is in a safe pair of hands.

A Google Earth image

It is understood that the park will be completely rebuilt over the next few years.

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I think given the turmoil and angst that the community has been through to save the Holiday Park, it is a great outcome.

We’ve been here for several days a week for a couple of months and it is a great location. Good news all round!

Dusk at the park

Leigh Central Motorhome Park

We popped in here a year or so ago when Ian and his wife Heather had not long been at the helm of this neat little place.

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Looking across to the the parking

It also has quite a large Motel and Wedding reception area as part of it and since we were here last, they’ve added some some nice wee chalets which they call the Boathouses.

The Boathouses

The trees have grown, the loo and shower complex which they were installing last time are up and running and it is all looking really good.

Great view out across Omaha Bay

Being part of the NZMCA Camp saver program for off season parking is a bonus too.

Plenty of room

As we arrived, Ian and Heather were out wielding their tools adding baseboards to their accomodation at one end of the complex and although they were ovbiously busy, they couldn’t have more accomodating helping us to get setup.

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It’s nice to hear that they’ve been so busy as it really is a top place and very handy to a good Cafe and the pub is just around the corner.

The Reception area

The view out to Tawharanui Peninsular is spectacular.

View out to Tawaharanui

We really enjoyed coming back here and will be back more often. A lovely spot.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Motorhomes and Ferrys

It doesn’t seem to matter how early and organised you are but taking a large Motorhome across the strait always seems to be stressful. I have to say though this was one of the easier crossings.

It was perfect weather for a crossing. No wind forecast and not a cloud in the sky.

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Parked in Picton

We lined up early and were boarded pretty quickly. Easy peasy turning around and lining up behind a huge truck in front of us.

The InterIsland left about 20 minutes before us and we basically followed that all the way over.

It was really nice to see Arapawa Island all lit up by the late afternoon sun. This is where the Perano Whaling family based our old Whale Chaser called Rorqual.

Arapawa Island. The whalechasers were kept in the bay in the middle.

They chased in threes and all worked to a larger Mother ship which was a steamer called the Tuatea. Unfortunately it was later destroyed by fire. Rorqual like its other chasers were all powered by 600HP V12 petrol engines.

Rorquals one was a Kermath Sea Raider but others had different varieties, some even having old aero engines. They could honk though.. most did around 35 knots plus which was going for a 12 metre boat.

The trip was nice but as we got closer to Wellington, the wind got up so when we arrived, it was actually quite cold.

Wellington

It was easy as ever getting off and we were headed up to Plimmerton NZMCA park where we were meeting Fiona’s cousins for a night of Fish and Chips, nice wine and lots of laughs. A great end to a nice day.

About to leave the ferry

The Vineyard bike ride

A couple of years ago we stayed here at Spring Creek and Managers, Andy and Christine had recently arrived from the  Orere Point Top 10 and were just getting started.

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Parked at Spring Creek

On our way to the ferry and wanting to check out the vineyards around Blenheim on the bikes, we thought this would be a perfect spot to stay. It was also good to catch up with Andy and Christine and see the changes they’ve made to their campground.

The Eel Park

We rocked in fresh from the Kaikoura Coast so it was nice to be able switch off, plug in and open a bottle of wine.

Nice Parking

The next day we were up earlyish and got the bikes ready for the loop around Blenheim.

The Bike trail to Blenheim on State Highway 1

Our first stop was at the Ritual Cafe in the centre of Blenheim and the food was amazing. We’ve been here before and the Coffee and food never fails!

Click on the Gallery below for the bike ride

After having lunch there we set off westward towards Allan Scotts Vineyard. I’m not sure of the distance biut probably an easy 10k’s or so, so the Chardy in their open Veranda was very well received. From there we headed to the Raukaura Shops and then back to the camp after a quick stop at the Chocolate factory.

Arriving!

The round trip was about 32k’s and I felt like I’d done some riding too.

Fiona in the open Veranda area

Last time we did much the same ride two or so years ago on Huff and Puff bikes, it took a whole morning. This time on Electric bikes, it took less than 1.5 hours. A big difference but I still felt the 32k’s !!

The Pine trees on the beach

While we were at Fairlie, I met our neighbours Peter and Val who were heading to Amberley to see their daughter. She just happened to live near the Campground at Amberley Beach. This was to be our next destination too.

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Rafe in the Park

After leaving Fairlie, we checked with old friends Ray and Margaret who have settled now in Geraldine. We met them at Peskis and they later showed us around Lake McGregor when we were with them at Tekapo. We had lots of fun together and it was neat to catch up with them again and see their house.

From here it was a quick stop at Christchurch to get some chemicals for the loo and then off to Amberley Beach.

The Non Dog area

We arrived there about 4pm and the shadows were already starting to get long. The camp is split into two bits. On the right is an area for Dogs and on the left is an area without Dogs. We went to the left and signed up and put our money in the “wooden maiden”. The cost is $5pp plus $5 for power.. very good value with some new loos nearby and the beach just through the sandhills.

Crossing to the pines

We went for a walk down to the beach just for a look and it looks fantastic with Pines on the foreshore in the sandhills.

Fabulous beach

It reminded me of when I was growing up in Christchurch, we used to have family holidays somewhere up this coast and I remember the pine trees that you had to run through to get to the beach and there were lots of old Cribs.. ahh the good old days !

Late Colours

It looked a bit bleak this time but this was only because it was getting late.

In the morning we left there and headed through to Kaikoura. Coming down from Wellington poured with rain all the way so we didnt get to see much but this time it was brilliant sunshine.

Its amazing what has been done here by the roading and railway people fixing things up after the earthquake. We saw some of the brave abseiling workers fixing back wire barriers to stop rocks falling. Amazing

The Pier Hotel

Arriving at Kaikoura for lunch, our first stop was to the Pier Hotel where we’ve eaten before. Looking across from there its amazing to see all the rocks that have been pushed up by the earthquake.

Looking across Kaikoura with all the new Rocks

One of the things still noticeable is the state of the roads around the area but Kaikoura is looking great and its great to see the good folk of Kaikoura bouncing back after such massive damage.

The Netspeed Speedtest Amberley
Download : 42.05 mbps
Upload : 12.16 mbps
Ping : 50 ms

Rafe’s Track North

Fairlie, the home of great pies and Campground!

Our aim after leaving Lowburn was to stay at Fairlie after getting a freezer full of one of the best pies in the South Island. They’re known as “Fairlie good pies” around the south but I reckon they’re Fairlie Amazing pies. Pork Belly with crackling, Chicken and Salmon and some other amazing options.

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Taken under a light in the Rafe – Pork Belly with the Crackling all ready eaten 🙂

 

After stopping at Lake Pukaki for lunch we hurtled on to Fairlie.

The place to stay in Fairlie is the Fairlie Holiday Park which is also taking part in the NZMCA’s Camp Saver program.

Nice parking

$20 a night for a powered site with everything else available. There is a dump station, great Toilets and showers in several places and a huge council playground right next door for the little ones.
They also have Dogs on leashes.

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This motorcamp up until about 6 years ago was part of the Top Ten network but closed. Mary Jane and her partner Dutchie have taken it from there and it looks fantastic.

Kitchen and Laundry

It is also only 5 minutes walk into the main shopping area one way and is next to a lovely huge river on the other side.

Looking through to the playground

Being able to park for the night in sites like this on the Camp Saver program is just fabulous and long may it continue and grow.

The Mackenzie Country Treasure Trove

Driving past this for about the 6th time without getting some piccies was not an option 🙂

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The Service Station

The Three Creeks Trading is created from over 25 years of collecting memorabilia by Dave Taylor and it is all for sale !

Everthing you could imagine

With all sorts of Bric a Brac from days gone by, old washing machines, beautifully made Macrocarpa outdoor furniture, you name it, Dave’s got it.

Great Radio

Although most of what you see here has been brought together by Dave, more and more has been added from the Us over the last 10 years. You can easily forget the time and get lost in it. Its a wonderful spot.

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They also have an on site Coffee Caravan if you simply just want a break for Coffee.

Yes, you can buy Coffee here

Burkes Pass is half way between Geraldine and Tekapo and is well worth checking out. There is easy Motorhome parking in front too.

An airstreamy Motorhome

Biking to Lowburn

Moving from the Queenstown Holiday Park after my job was complete, we were looking forward to catching up with Rob and see Helen who had arrived in Lowburn from Auckland the day before.

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Motorhomes and caravans down at one of my favourite parking spots

We were at Rob and Helen’s place for the weekend and Sunday was planned for a quick bike ride down to the lake by Lowburn Inlet.

Rob had some chores he wanted to deal with and was going to walk down later so we all set off.

The bikes ready to go

Fantastic sunshiney day and warm as toast as long as you kept out of the shadows!

Fiona and Helen heading to Lowburn

We ended up down by the inlet where we’ve stayed in Rafe right by the lake. Its interesting to see that the absolute lakeside has been fenced off but it is still a wonderful place to stay. I believe the loos have had a bit of a makeover too.

Lowburn lake

We didn’t stay long and we biked back up the Lowburn Valley to check out some of the newly built houses. The real estate scene down here is cruising along nicely and I’m not surprised looking at some of the fantastic homes being built here.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

When we arrived back at the house in time for friends Ross and Karen afternoon drinks, Rob was just arriving back from a walk. He didn’t say where he’d been but Rob doesn’t do small walks 🙂

Fiona getting back to Rob and Helen’s

A great day out in the sun.

Fiona & Chris, two empty nesters put their dreams of doing something different into reality… Living in their Motorhome, come along for the ride.

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