Heading North

The day of Ross’s party came around and with permission from the Hotel, we parked Rafe behind the Gate where Ross’s party was. It was a great do and I reckon there must have been a few sore heads the next day.

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Parked behind the Gate in Cromwell

Ross was in his element and was having a great time. I really enjoyed catching up with Ross and his family and some of our old boating friends who flew down for the occasion.

Ross is a great character.. the birthday boy.

The next day we joined the crew down at the Precinct again for a cup of Coffee and then headed back to Rob and Helen’s place at Lowburn for our last night before heading north.

At Helen’s for the last night

In the morning, we went to the recycling centre to drop off the rubbish and while we were there, I asked the nice chap in the little building if he could tell me what Rafe weighed. I had no idea.
With a Tare weight of 3499kg and a GVM of 4400kg, I was hoping it would be somewhere in between. It was 4080kg with full fuel and water and two of us onboard with plenty of food and wine 🙂 Yippee.. After a post on facebook, several suggested I should be carrying more wine !  A nice idea 🙂

We headed up the side of Lake Dunstan towards Geraldine where we were to stop for the night with Sue and David Fisher at Peski’s. We ended up staying for two nights and from there headed on up to Weedons NZMCA park.

The Weedons Park

It has been a few years since we were last here and it has changed quite a bit. It was nice to bump into our old friends Murray and Faye and to see that they now custodians of Weedons.

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Its a huge park with storage fenced off at the back. There is a dump station there for cassettes only (septic tank) but there’s also a good dump station just down the road.

Rafe in line

A nice park and handy to know its there as there aren’t too many options in this area.

Rafes Track North

Settling down at Lowburn

It has been a busy week with huge temperatures for Cromwell with us sitting amongst the trees at Lowburn.

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Our spot at Lowburn

Sunday finally arrived and this was the day Helen and her good friend Glenys were arriving in Queenstown, picking up a rental car and heading to Helen and Robs new house in Lowburn Valley.

The tenant had moved out and Helen was setting it up ready for Christmas.

Rafe in front of the house plugged in. The visitors area on the very left.

They have had a Barn built next to the house for their new Autotrail Tracker and bits and bobs, and on the side of that is a Motorhome Plug for their friends in their Motorhomes.. yippee, thats us !

Rafe in front of the new Barn

While we were waiting for Helen and Glenys to arrive, our friends in Cromwell, Ross and Karen who moved here 15 or so years ago, rang us earlier and said they’d pick us up from Lowburn Harbour to join them down at the Historic Precinct for a cup of coffee.  It was nice to see Ross and Karen at their home  and  after a short while, we walked down the road to the Precinct. It was nice to see all their friends, some we had met before and hadn’t seen for a while.

The Historic Precinct

After a couple of hours, Ross dropped us off back to Lowburn Harbour and while we were there, Helen and Glenys pulled up too ! A chance for Helen and Glenys to meet with Ross which was great.

The shops down at the Historic Precinct

We packed Rafe for a move and headed around to Helen and Robs new house in the valley only a few K’s away and settled Rafe down again. The guest area by the Barn area is still to be concreted so I set Rafe up with blocks to level up with.

Glenys and Fiona after a huge walk over on of the local hills
Helen glued to the phone organising furniture and things.

Over the next few days, we did a few trips around to check out Cromwell and Bannockburn including a trip with Fiona’s niece Jessa, who came over from Queenstown for the afternoon and we went wine tasting at Mt Difficulty. I knew the Mt Difficulty Chardonnay was amazing so just went for a glass rather than the tasting and I wasn’t disappointed!

One of the props at Mt Difficulty

After that we headed back to Lowburn for a late lunch.

Our special lunch after the wine tasting back at home with Jessa

Helen and Glenys only had four days here so on their last day after they had left and we’d said goodbye, Fiona and I decided to bike into Cromwell’s historic precinct from the Lowburn valley, about 18 k’s round trip. A bad call as the heat that day broke all the records and was 33C at 4pm. We were back by then but it was stinking hot!

Fiona on the bike ride on the way back to Lowburn alongside Lake Dunstan

We had a fun week with Helen, Glenys, Jessa and Ross and Karen and their friends. More to come.

The boat club down by the NZMCA park

It is Ross’s birthday at the end of the week and all our old boating friends that we used to spend Christmas with out in the Hauraki Gulf, over many years, are flying down to join in so it should be fun.

The Hoedown

Country music isn’t really our thing but I was really keen to check out the Hoedown so we decided to spend a night there and see what it was all about.

After spending a few days at Lowburn, we went into Cromwell town for supplies and while Fiona went for a walk, I popped in to see my old friend Ross who’s celebrating his 70th at the end of the week.
I haven’t seen Ross for several years so it was nice to see him and he had lots to talk about. He’s a writer and had some deadlines so after 20 minutes or so, I headed for the Hoedown.

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Parking was easy. There were two chaps with Hi Vis vests on directing the traffic into parks very efficiently and I slipped into a park where I could easily get out in case I had to pick up Fiona. She was walking to the racecourse from Cromwell, about 2k.

Inside the tent

We were aware that old Caravanning friends, Henny and Rory from Christchurch were going to the Hoedown and we thought this would be a great opportunity to catch up them as we had missed them a couple of times.

Under the mountains

The official statistic for the Motorhomes and Caravans was 140 on the Friday when we were there.

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A lot of Motorhomers and Caravanners and there was plenty of room for more!

The Bus corner

It was a very festive scene and everyone seemed to be enjoying the moment  I went for a walk around the park on the first day and it was a great scene.

The big Marquee

Later in the day, Rory called and we joined both Rory and Henny in their Leisureline Caravan for a few cups of coffee and a catchup. It was nice to see them again.

Keeping Cool

After a cuppa in the morning with them both, we headed back to the side of the lake at Lowburn.

Rafe’s track to the Hoedown

The Kawerau Gorge Gold Diggings

We’ve always wanted to check out the Gold Diggings Museum on the side of the Kawerau Gorge.

Rafe in the carpark in Kawerau Gorge

After parking Rafe in their huge carpark, Fiona and I crossed their bridge across the Kawerau river and checked in for a guided tour of the Gold mining area there.

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The bank

The whole gorge was a really intensive gold mining area. The cost is $25 per person whether you go guided or unguided. Why would you not take the tour thought I for the same price ?

One of the old traction engines in the field

The tour guide Bruce was great. A fantastic sense of humour and knew everything there was to know about the area and Goldmining. There were 8 on our tour and after explaining the history and some interesting facts on the geology and seeing some nice pieces of Gold, we were off.

On the way to the Stamper Battery

The first thing we were to see was a full working water powered stamper battery. Amazing that water has that much power and these were put togthether with some pretty rudimentary tools.

The Water powered Stamper Battery

Bruce also showed us the sluicer in action again from gravity fed water. Amazing the power and pressure.

Bruce showing us the sluicer

After this, we could have a go at panning for Gold. No nuggets were found by us this day 🙂 but it was fun having a go !

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

After this, we headed off on the track to look at the Chinese mining village up on the hill. Amazing that they lived in these conditions for months at a time and it must have been cold in winter.

Chinese miners huts

We also saw some tunnels, some mines and a water powered air compressor for breaking up rocks.

The Chinese village

As we walked back down towards the carpark we saw a building all set up as a bank for the Goldminers.

A great setup and we really enjoyed learning about the Gold and the history of the area.

Rafe’s track to the Gold Diggings

On the edge of the lake

There aren’t too many motorhomers who don’t know about Lowburn Reserve on the side of Lake Dunstan and how nice it is. It is just north of Cromwell on the main road through to Wanaka.

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Our View

Leaving Omakau, Fiona decided she hadn’t had enough riding so she started off on the bike towards Alexandra while I went to the Omakau dump station and did the filling and emptying and then headed off to Alex.

About an hour or so later, I met Fiona at the old Station carpark on the bike trail and we had lunch.

Jeff and Sheryl’s Bus
In front of Jeff and Sheryl

With the sun shining and the forecast for fine weather well into the distance, we thought Lowburn would get be a good spot to stay. We had about 3 days before Helen and Glenys arrived from Auckland to get Helen and Rob’s house ready for their retirement sometime late next year.

Nice !

On our first night here, I bumped into Jeff and Sheryl who I had met in Kaiteriteri who was waiting for the Hoedown to start at the racecourse.

Mountains behind

Every night we met someone new which was great. Mostly friendly South Islanders.

Rafe tucked in

We have stayed here years ago when we had our little caravan wee Rafe.

Clean loos too

Its a great spot and its free. A fantastic place to stay.

Rafe’s track to Lowburn

The dusty track from Lauder

While we were in Tekapo with our neighbours, Ray and Margaret who have been living in their bus for the last 4 ½ years or so, we found out that we had probably missed the best part of the Rail Trail while we were in Ranfurly. We had a few days up our sleeve before catching up with Helen in Lowburn so we decided to spend another couple of nights at one of our favorite stops in Central Otago, the Omakau Hotel.

The Omakau Hotel is well setup for Motorhomes with a whole set of Ensuite cabins and concreted Motorhome parks out behind the Hotel. See my previous blog on this.

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We were travelling from the NZMCA park in Cromwell so it wasn’t that far.

Getting ready at Omakau behind the Hotel

We used the time to have a good tidy up. Vacuuming and washing Rafe inside and out! The only problem is that the fresh water in these parts has a high level of calcium which dries on as water spots.. ugly! At least it was clean 🙂

At Omakau

The next morning, we up early and set off on the bikes to Lauder on the bike trail. The first bit to Lauder was slightly uphill but barely noticeable. There were a couple of bridges but it was largely a dead straight track across open fields most of the way to Lauder.

Arriving at Lauder

We stopped briefly at Lauder for a couple of sandwiches which we took with us and a glass of water.. the last of the big spenders !

Viaduct 1

From here is was a slight uphill grind up to the hills until we came to a curved viaduct crossing a river which was amazing. We stopped here for a look then headed onto some amazing tunnels which had to be walked through.

Real lord of the rings type of landscape

Both tunnels were reasonably short. We continued a slight climb through a really rocky Central Otago landscape to cross the main Viaduct.

The first Tunnel

From here we were on the edge of the Ida Valley and could pretty much see right down towards Ranfurly.

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Amazing view. Apparently this Viaduct took three years to build and the workers lived up here in the hills in little shacks. It must have been pretty unpleasant. There are some great signboards which give you the history as you go along.

Viaduct 2 took three years to build.

It was sandwich time before heading back to Lauder. We’d done the bits we missed !

Viaduct 2 with the Ida valley behind

The ride was great and it was nice to see the Tunnels and Viaducts that we had missed. We worked out that we did approximately 36k’s there and back.

On the way back to Tunnel 2

This was the easy bit. Feet up downhill really all the way back to Omakau. We stopped in at Lauder for a cuppa and something else to eat before heading back to Omakau.

In the tunnel

While we were in Lauder having a cup of coffee, I received a phone call from my old neighbour, Terry. He was on the road on his way to Alexandra and was keen to catch up.

Fiona nearly back at Lauder

We arranged to meet at Omakau and we had not long been back when he arrived armed with a bottle of Chardonnay and some cheese and biccies.

On the way back to Omakau

It was really nice to see Terry and we ended up having Tea at the Omakau Hotel which was great.

A Hidden Sanctuary in Paradise

We woke up to another stunning day at Tekapo NZMCA park by the lake. Ray and Margaret next door in their bus were up and about. Fiona had an idea that she’d like to take Rafe out and check out some of the lakes nearby.

As soon as I stepped out to see Ray, they were doing exactly that and did we want to come with them in their Toad (Suzuki). Then came the rustling around for thermos flasks and cooly bags. A better idea said I, why don’t we take Rafe and we’ll have fridge and cup of tea / butter etc facilities. We were off.

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Ray and Margaret have been on the road in their bus for 4 ½ years so there aren’t many places in the South Island that they don’t know about. One of their little Gems was a neat place called McGregor Lake and Lake Alexandrina.

Looking across lake McGregor to Tekapo

Its about 12k’s from Tekapo and is run as a campsite by a Community Committee. It is in a fantastic spot on the side of a river between the two lakes. Just spectacular.

Stunning Spot

You can stay their for $10 a night per person. There are Toilets and Showers and rubbish along with an outdoor kitchen.

Our first stop was the Dump Station at Tekapo to fill and empty and then the local 4 Square shop for some fresh bits for lunch, then we were off.

We headed along the road to Mt St John and then a short gravel road and we were there.

Across Lake McGregor

We met a chap who had been there a while in his caravan and was keenly following the antics of the local Paradise Ducks. He directed us further down a track to the other area where there more than 50 Caravans and a whole bunch of Baches up on the hill.

Ray on the left walking to lake Alexandrina

As we walked along the river, Ray told us about a time when he was here earlier when he saw Salmon swimming upstream to spawn. The small river was just chocker with Salmon. It would have been quite sight !

Great camping

With the caravans on both sides of the river, its just an idylic spot to stay. No shops and no pubs but if you’ve got a kayak or just want to blob, what a sensational spot.

Lake Alexandrina

After a good look around, we retired to Rafe for lunch with cups of tea and plenty of laughs.

The images say it all.
Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

After lunch we tidied up and headed back to Tekapo Club camp and organised ourselves for the next event of the day, Happy Hour!

Our neighbours Jim and Lynley back at the NZMCA park

As the afternoon wore on, more and more neighbouring Motorhomers and Caravanners came over to join us. Its really interesting meeting people from all walks of life and where they come from. Lots are retired but many still work and its interesting hearing their stories.

Happy Hour with all our visitors at Tekapo. Cell pic

Another fantastic day in the Sunny South Island.

Rafe’s Track to the camping area.

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