Sunny Nelson by Bike

The Racecourse was quite handy as the Bike Trails all ran around where we were parked.

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The Richmond Motorway

We set off to ride into Nelson for lunch via the bike trail along around the waterfront. The whole Nelson area is spoilt for bike trails, they’re everywhere.

Riding along the Tahunanui

The first section runs right alongside the Richmond to Nelson motorway and goes around the back of the airport. Eventually it comes into the Tahunanui area and then onto the bike lanes following the traffic around the waterfront.. I rode on the footpath here as it felt heaps safer and there only a handful of pedestrians anyway.

Rutherford Park
Nelson main st
The city council building

Coming into Nelson via the Bike trail at Rutherford park, we found ourselves virtually in the main street next to an amazing, seen only in Nelson, two level bike park. Fantastic and after a few minutes of figuring it out how it all worked, we stuck our bikes in there and off we went for lunch.

Amazing secure bike rack

Often when you’re biking it is sometimes hard to find somewhere to park your bikes safely and securely, this is the answer!

Nelson at lunch time

We found a Café which had an empty block right next to it, this might have once been a carpark or a commercial building, but they’ve decked it out on one side as a dining area and on the other side made it available to several specialist food vendors with caravans selling all sorts.

The Caravan Vendors
The Caravan vendors
People enjoying lunch

We opted for a Japanese fried chicken dish which was yum. There were lots of people there coming and going so it seemed to be well known around the town.

Fiona had a another look around and then we were off back to Richmond. The trip was a round trip of 36k’s so we felt like we’d done some exercise by the time we got back to Rafe.

Riding outside the Tahuna Campground. Fiona out in front.
The view out from Tahuna

A nice day out in sunny Nelson.

Staying at the Racecourse

Another great weather day was there to greet us as we rose to leave Reefton to go to Richmond.

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The grand entrance

We were gagging for a coffee by the time we approached the Nelson area. There is a nice wee place at Kohatu called the Flat Rock Café where we’ve stopped several times before.

Easy parking for big vehicles and a good coffee so we stopped there for half an hour or so before we carried on towards the Nelson Racecourse in Richmond.

Rafe parked under the trees

At $20 a night with power, water, rubbish, toilets showers and laundry its very affordable and in a nice spot.

Relaxing in the sun

After parking, opening vents and settling down, we went for a 20 minute walk into Richmond to have a nosey around the shops and a coffee. Last time we were here, they had half the main street all ripped up and it was impossible to get anywhere. It was nice to see it all finished and it looks good too.

A happy James with his car

The next day, we met our neighbour James who was on his own in his Motorhome. We were keen to visit upper Moutere and when James found this out, he asked us if we could take him up to Woodstock so he could retrieve his car. He was getting it fitted with an A frame and going to tow it behind his Motorhome. There is no public transport or any other way for him to get his car.

We’ve never been to Woodstock and it wasn’t far out of our way so we were off with James to get his car.

We took a wrong turn and for a moment we weren’t sure that James knew where his car was as he wasn’t familiar with the area but after retracing our steps for a few k’s, James recognised where we were and we found his car. It’s so easy to get lost up there as we found when we tried to get from there to Upper Moutere without the GPS.

The Moutere River at Woodstock
My chatty friends at Woodstock

After we dropped James off, I found a bridge that crossed the Motueka River that flows through the Woodstock valley. After parking in a gravel pit so I could get some pictures of the river from the bridge, there were two cyclists coming the other way and I got chatting to them. They were local Caravanners who regularly did 30 odd k’s every few days around the area. We must have chatted for about 20 minutes about all sorts.. lovely couple.

It was time to head to Upper Moutere for lunch. This is when we got lost !

One of the nice things about these small towns is its usually pretty easy to get a park.. there was one big park left when we got there and we sort of fitted in it 🙂 See the pic.

The main drag at Upper Moutere
The old Post Office

We headed for the old Post Office which now sells Fancy pickles and breads and also has a very talented Jeweler making some amazing stuff. She used to work in the UK but returned home to NZ after winning a bunch of awards for her work.

The Oldest pub in NZ

After this we headed for the oldest Pub in NZ, the Moutere Inn.  We came here a few years ago so we knew the food was good and it didn’t disappoint!

Click on the Gallery below for an Enlarged Slideshow

I had Nachos with Bacon and Cheese .. Wow and Fiona had a Seafood Chowder.. washed down with a local cider made less than a few paddocks away 🙂

Amazing Nacho lunch

After this we headed back to the Racecourse.

We were sitting in Rafe enjoying a cup of tea when there was knock on the door. It was James with a nice bottle of Scottish Gin he’d bought for us for taking up to Woodstock. We were bowled over as he had offered us money for diesel which we’d turned down.

If you’re reading this James.. a really nice surprise! a big thank you mate and it was lovely to meet you and be able to help you out.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Richmond – Armada GPS
Rafe’s Tracker map to Woodstock / Upper Moutere – Armada GPS

The first town in NZ to have electric Streetlights!

That’s Reefton and with its lovely old buildings, it’s all character.

Click on any Image to EnlargeAfter checking in at the campground next to the river which is very reasonable, we set off to check out the town. First stop was lunch at the Future Dough Company sitting on the pavement. I had a massive Nachos with Cream and cheese with bacon.. amazing!

Our spot in the campground

The last time we were here, we checked in with the bearded miners and although I checked in again, it was all closed up and there was no sign of them. We did find that Reefton now has its very own Gin Distillery!

Looking down the main street

We checked in to the Reefton Distilling Co in town to find it was the home of Little Biddy Gin. There were other flavours available to taste which was fun.

Click on the Gallery below for an Enlarged Slideshow

After tasting a few, we ended up with one called Snow which we bought and then headed back to Rafe at the campground.

As the title suggests, Reefton was the first town in NZ to have electric streetlights powered by the river via two tunnels and a Flume in 1868. It was the first town in NZ to have a public power system.

The town reeks of the history with the amazing old buildings and the perfect place for us to stop on the way north.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Reefton – Armada GPS

Having fun in Hanmer

Hanmer is one of those old favourite spots as we have had some epic family reunions here. Add the hot pools and it doesn’t get any better so we were quite looking forward to popping in for a night on our way up to Nelson.

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Hanmer Hotel

We arrived in perfect weather having come through from Oxford bang on lunch time.

At the NZMCA park

We managed to get a park in the main street by the trees and set out for somewhere to eat. We settled on a Home made pie from a Kiosk on the corner. Yum!

The last time we were here was about 4 – 5 years ago and there seemed to be more shops and buildings than there was last time we were here. The place has grown!

Lovely space

We didn’t really have time for a swim this time and after an hour of checking out shops, we headed back to the NZMCA park by the river.

There was only two other vans there when we arrived but by 6, that had doubled. Its always nice having a few around you in a semi rural place.

and with a Petanque court

There is a dump station just up the road a few k’s and although Hanmer is 7 odd k’s away, its a fun place to be.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Hanmer – Armada GPS

The Rustic Pub in Oxford

A big chunk of my family came from Oxford so its probably no surprise that we like it here.

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We popped into the cemetery to check on my grandparents.

The last time we were here, we popped in at the Museum and there was a few notable relatives who were in some displays in the Museum.  They’ve done a wonderful job of expanding the Museum and adding to the collections.

Great pub

We called in a the Rustic Hotel at the end of the main st in Oxford. For $20 they provide powered parking behind the hotel. They also provide a nice meal to with it.

The Stairwell complete with the old phone

One of the chaps I was talking to who was a regular turned out to be a crane driver who did the lifting required for a cousins house not far down the road in Rangiora. Small world!

The Back parking area

We dropped in after parking Rafe and met some really interesting people at the bar and had a good look around. It was a fun afternoon and very reasonable parking.

An amazing old building with a very friendly helpful publican Ross, in a neat town.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Oxford – Armada GPS

Stars and Hot Pools at Tekapo

And the amazing view from our parking spot in the Holiday Park!

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The view stunning

We arrived early in the afternoon straight from Queenstown and were given an elevated park that looks straight out over the lake.. amazing. The park looks near new and the facilities are spotless.

One of the must do things on this trip was the Mt John Star project at the observatory on top of Mt John.  Fiona wandered along to the office at the campground when we realised that they were in a position to book us in for the Star project too so we were set.

Fiona in the pool overlooking Lake Tekapo
The Pools

We also got tickets to the Hot pools next to the camp and wandered down to have a swim.. again elevated with views over Lake Tekapo.

Great Parking
Lake Tekapo

About 6pm we headed into Tekapo, about a 20 minute walk from the campground and had a cold drink while we waited for the coach up to the Observatory.

The lake

The coach turned up, we all piled in(about 10 of us) and off we went up this murderous road in the dark!! When we arrived at the carpark at the top, we welcomed by our two guides and were told that there was no lights as it upsets the telescopes. Looking down to the east we had a clear view of Tekapo and the sky was amazingly clear.

Click on the Gallery below for an enlarged Slideshow

We were split into groups to have a look at the Telescopes at different stars exploding and a close up look at the moon.  It was really interesting hearing different basic facts about the stars and what they represent. We found it well worth doing and really enjoyed it.

On our walk into Tekapo

Its a lovely place Tekapo and its always fun staying here. I was really impressed with the park and the pools and as I said, a shame we were only here for the night.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Tekapo – Armada GPS

Lovely Arrowtown

In the morning we left left Gary, Dianne and Ian to continue their journey and headed off towards Arrowtown with the intention of possibly staying the night. When we arrived, we couldn’t raise anyone at the only campground in town so decided that after a look around, it was probably better to head back to Creeksyde in Queenstown which is closer to Arthurs Point where Fiona’s cousin lives.

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Arrowtown never disappoints and its one of the few towns around that really knows how to welcome Motorhomes with its amazing parking down behind the town.

Great parking for Motorhomes
The River behind

We arrived mid morning and the sun was shining and it looked fantastic. It was time to do shopping so Fiona was in heaven. After a couple of hours of cruising up and down the main street, we stopped in at a Café for lunch.

Can’t get enough of these buildings!

Arrowtown has a fantastic Museum which is well worth a look and is one of the few towns in NZ that still has a cobbled kerb. The main street also still has the proportions designed for the old horse and cart days so it really shouts out its Heritage and History. The buildings also make great images and they’ve done a great job of keeping it well maintained and making it work as a Tourist destination. I still think though that this is definitely one of the towns that is missing visitor numbers due to Covid which is a real shame.

We set off early mid afternoon to check back into Creeksyde in Queenstown.

Cobbled Kerb

Fiona got in touch with her cousin Jan and she came down to pick us up for drinks at their lovely home in Arthurs point for drinks. It was really nice seeing Rob and Jan as we haven’t seen them for a while. After a few hours, Jan dropped us back at Creeksyde.. a great day out!

Rafe’s Tracker map to Arrowtown and to Creeksyde – Armada GPS

The Newest Motorcamp in Town.

After a great day in Cromwell, we were to check out the Frankton Shopping area  so we were headed there.  Amazing how this area grows and there are some good shops here too.

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Great view
Lake Wakatipu

After that we headed down the road to Driftaway.  Everything here is brand spanking new.. and nicely laid out. There is a huge multi story ablution block which includes everything you’d ever need and including a dining area / lounge which looks out over the lake.. million dollar views ! Showers , Toilets Laundry everything you’d need is all there.

New Tourist flats

The campground is layered down the hill in different levels so everyone has a view of the lake.

Looking along to the Kitchen and Lounge area

Its stunning. My only criticism would be the sites are a tad on the tight side but it is a magic spot and worth every penny of its $52 with an NZMCA discount.

Looking along to the Kitchen and Lounge area

Later in the day, Gary, Dianne and Ian arrived with their Motorhomes and we joined them later in the day for a G&T as you do 🙂

A Murky look across the lake first thing in the morning

A lovely spot but we had a plan to check out Arrowtown and still had another of Fiona’s cousins to catch up with!

Rafe’s Tracker map through to Frankton – Armada GPS

The String in the Flyscreen!

One of the things that broke around the South Island was our habitation door flyscreen. There are 4 strings that keep it steady in the middle and the second one down just let go from old age. The string was knackered. We were in Te Anau when it finally let go and although we could still use it, after we left the Te Anau midges behind, we didn’t really need it.

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In Te Anau where it broke

There are really no clear instructions for fixing these things and by the time I’d done mine three times and picking up bits and learning as you go, I managed to get mine working nicely. Fiona had to keep me settled and there was the occasional swear word that leaked out here and there. Just as well the Grandkids weren’t here 🙂

The Research

After doing a bit of homework on it, I talked to Bruce Philpott who has the same van as us. He replaced his a few years ago with a locally made customised one.  He was really helpful in giving me the rundown on how to get the blind cassette out of Rafe with out breaking to much other stuff!

Then I read John Pedersen’s blog on the fun he and Sarah had with theirs when it let go a few years ago. He talked about how he banished his to the “Naughty room” a few times until he and Sarah could deal with it. I understand completely 🙂 Johns blog is a good read.

Clever Engineer, Alan Watt has also done his on his Dethleffs Trend and had lots of useful advice. Like John, he advised me not to throw away the old string so I could get the right lengths and also to use Fishing Braid with glue which I did. The best advice I got from Alan was take it quietly before you rip into it, study it,  when its in bits and as you go to understand how it works.  Once I got my head around it, it became a lot easier.. great advice!

Most European Motorhomes are supplied by either of two Dutch manufacturers and although I found a pdf file from the one I’m sure ours came from, there were differences. But the BIG tip I got from that is where to tie the knots from the blinds. This was from Horrex in the Netherlands.

There is also a good video online which doesn’t have sound but is well worth a look at too.

Getting Underway

After a good chat with Bruce on where the screws were and things to look out for, I set out to remove the cassette from Rafe. It came out pretty painlessly and I set up a table and laid it out ready to drill out the pop rivets in each corner.

Click on the Gallery to see “the bits” enlarged.

Its a good idea to  spread out the bits and get phone snaps how it all goes together in case your is different from the ones below.

An overview shot showing where the string goes. Front blind handle has been removed. Top this end.
From the bottom end.

Once the pop rivets were drilled out, and we had it all in bits,  we just had to take the blinds pack out from their slide on handle and slide the case from the back.  We cut the old string out and we sewed the new string though the holes. The string goes around the back of the blinds, and back to the front, both top and bottom.

Fiona sewing the blind (no 3)
This where the joins should be in relation to the blind.. before the last hole on both ends.

We  tied the ends together and then glued the knots. The cord runs out the ends in opposite directions. Top strings out the bottom and bottom strings out the top.  Some use cut off electrical connectors and squash them rather than tying them.

After tying and positioning the knots we taped over the string on the back of the blind pack to keep the string in place.

On went the slide on back case over the tape and the slide on front handle onto the blind pack.  Tip: make sure you’re  careful to feed the string through the handle in both directions. (top to bottom and vice versa)

It was time then to  start pop riveting the bits together around the outside starting with the corners at either end of the blind pack. The Handle sticking out with the string. See below.

The top rail (left) showing the string going through the outside case and to the tensioner. Tension BEFORE you pop rivet the last two corners back together.

The bottom on ours had a fixed knot on the end of the bottom rail away from the blind. Don’t forget to feed it through the side of metal case first. See below with the old string before it was cleaned 🙂

The end of the bottom rail showing the string going through the outside casing.

In went the tensioner and we tied a knot to it along the top rail.  This needed to be done and tensioned  before pop riveting on the outside metal case as the string goes through the end and gets jammed by the outside case.  I had to drill out the pop rivets and redo that corner again after tensioning 🙂

As I said, I took three goes before I got it to work reliably.

All back together again.

The first time, I made it too tight and broke the string the first time we tried to open it 🙂

No 2, It was too lose so we completely pulled it apart only to find all we had to do is drill out one corner and tension it properly 🙂

Third time lucky..

Back in Rafe

I reckon I could do it in a couple of hours or so now but it is finicky and can be frustrating..   If you’re handy with a drill and a pop rivet gun, give it a go.

Catching up at Cromwell

Our old friends Ross and Karen were always the people to visit here whenever we were in Cromwell, but they recently moved to a lovely home in Dunedin to be closer to their family. It was lovely to see them on the way down.

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The Historic Precinct

Gary and Dianne with Ian were in town in their Motorhomes so we were keen to catch up with them at the Cromwell Town and Country club where they had been staying. They had been in the South Island  together doing the Alps to Ocean bike trail, amongst other things so it was good to see them and hear their news.

Parked with our almost Lake view site at the Cromwell Town and Country Club. LtoR Rafe, Ian’s XLI and Gary and Dianne’s Niesmann and Bichoff

The Cromwell Heritage Precinct Farmers Market starts at 9am so it was an early rise at Creeksyde in Queenstown to get through the Kawerau Gorge (60k) and be settled to join them in Cromwell and walk down to the Market. Fiona LOVES markets so I knew things would be grim if I was late 🙂

The Historic Precinct

We got to Cromwell just in time with minutes to spare and we all headed off down to the Heritage area. After having a look around we settled down at the Tables by the lake to enjoy a coffee and a bun and who should rock it through the gate but old boatie friend Mark who was staying in Wanaka with Tina and his brother in law.. small world stuff.. nice to see him too.

The Crew, LtoR Ian, Fiona, Gary and Dianne

After walking back to the Motorhomes and later in the day, we set out in Gary and Dianne’s toad(car) and looked for somewhere nice to have a vineyard lunch but with Covid and everything we struggled to find somewhere to go. We ended up at a really nice place that we been to before on the edge of Lake Dunstan called the Stoaker Room .. fantastic ..nice food and I can’t remember which Chardonnay I had but I remember it was a goodie.. Fiona had a nice G&T.

Great Outlook

After a drink back at our Motorhomes at the Town and Country Club, we hit the hay. I’ve always enjoyed our time at Cromwell. Love the history and the atmosphere there.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Cromwell – Armada GPS

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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