Spring Creek

While we were on the ferry, I’d checked out a couple of places to stay on the apps and found a place called Spring Creek.

Driving towards Blenheim, its one of the first small towns you come across as you come out of the Picton hills.

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The weather forecast was evil with all sorts of nasties due with cold, thunder and all sorts so we were keen to get plugged in with some heat which meant a Motorcamp or a CAP.

Rafe ready for the Thunder on gravel

Spring Creek Motorcamp is now run by Christine and Andy who last november moved down and are doing it up. It was very run down and with their experience from running the Top 10 at Orere Point by Clevedon, they making really good strides forward.

Christine and Andy

The camp is huge and is lucky that it has huge mature trees all around it and with the stream running along one side of it is a great place to stay.

New concrete pads and Motels

They also have quite a few motel units here and a backpackers building.

Nice pool

Fiona and I were staying a week so arranged for a weekly off season rate but the normal nightly powered site for 2 cost is $35 which is really reasonable. The showers are superb and are $1 and there is a well equipped laundry and dump station plus they’re really nice people as well.

Fiona hanging out the washing

We spent the first two nights on a gravel park as the grass was a bit soft and the forecast was evil.

Fiona heading for the Chocolate

During our first day here, we went for a bike ride about 5 k’s down the road to check out the Makara Chocolate Factory. There was a 20 odd knot head wind all the way so there was a bit of effort involved. A good ride though and perfectly flat and we knew there were good rewards at the end 🙂

We’ve been here before when we bought our wee Rafe caravan down several years ago. The chocolates are amazing and we couldn’t leave without buying some.

Right across the road from here is Saint Clair Family Wines with a full wine tasting facility and restaurant. We met a nice young couple and their young son from Australia there who were doing the vineyards in their small rented Jucy van. She was a Kiwi who had come back to see her family in Hamilton. Most people tend to go for the Sav Blancs and sweeter wines but I’m a die hard Chardonnay person and she was too, so we were both tasting the same wines and comparing notes which was fun.

At the Saint Clair Vineyard

After an hour or so there, we jumped on the bikes and rode back with the wind to Spring Creek Camp just beating a shower 🙂 .. its a lot more fun screaming along with the wind!

Primo spot next to the creek.

The next day, we took Rafe to the local supermarket in Blenheim and later went to Wither Hills for lunch which was just amazing. More wine tasting and the most amazing Beef lunch which melted in your mouth, washed down with some really nice Chardonnay. It doesn’t get much better than this. Fiona had a really nice Lamb Pie and really enjoyed that. Nice people, nice Restaurant, superb food and easy Motorhome parking too.

Eddies home next to Rafe

When we returned to the Camp, Andy, the camp owner, suggested that the park by the stream on the grass might be solid enough to park on so with some sheets of ply to stick our driving wheels on just in case, we parked right by the stream. There is a pet Eel called Eddie and his friends who are fed every morning and come right up on the bank.

Rafe near the stream

A neat place to be and we’re having fun.

Rafe’s tracking map from Spring creek to Withers Hill

We are Sailing

One of the things that winds me up or stresses me for some strange reason, is catching ferries with Rafe (or like the Chunnel with Ralph). I think its just having to be somewhere at a certain time and usually involves waking up to an alarm early too but its always fun and interesting.

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Wellington Harbour

The check in time for our Bluebridge ferry was 7am and we were there at 06:30.  We were first!

Oriental Bay

Around 7.30, we were pointed towards the ferry and parked up with some other Motorhomes and went upstairs. As I left Rafe, I clicked on the handbrake but thought later, possibly not as hard as I could have but I needn’t have worried. It was in gear and the sea was calm.

Leaving Wellington

Upstairs in the lounge, we sat down and I ordered Bacon and Eggs for us both, which was good as getting up early, we hadn’t had any breakfast.  It was one of those superb Wellington days as we left the harbour.

Evans bay and the Airport

As we got around and into Cook Strait, the wind was blowing nearly 30 knots from the North West. The sea was still calm. Yep, the handbrake thingy did cross my mind but then the sea was flat as a pancake.

Two girls trying to get some pictures of each other in the wind on deck.

I went for a walk around the ship as we nearing the Tory Channel and there were a couple of girls up on the Observation deck trying to get pictures of each other in the wind. It was hilarious.

Getting close to the South Island. The interislander leaving the Tory Channel
Entering the Tory Channel. North Island behind
The old Perano Whaling station

Getting into the Tory Channel and everyone came out on the observation deck as the wind had dropped right off.

Rafe with the handbrake on with people getting off at Picton.

We were in Picton early and when I got back to Rafe, I found that I had in fact put the handbrake on properly and had no need to even think about it 🙂 just my imagination !  Its like putting the keys somewhere daft and how often do we all do that.

Picton looking great in the sun.

With the usual Bluebridge efficiency, we were off the ferry with ease and on our way to Blenheim.

Getting Close to the Ferry

For our last night in Wellington before the ferry, we thought it would be sensible to get a bit closer to avoid the weekday traffic with our early check in being 7am at the Bluebridge terminal.

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The NZMCA App screamed out the Petone  Club as a good place to be and we cruised in the late morning to this massive park.

Petone Club

There’s plenty of room to park and they’re very obliging and helpful. They have a Buffet going for lunch and dinner and you’re very welcome in the bar. Just remember to take your NZMCA card with you.

Our parking.

The parking area is huge and all sealed. The power  is a bit awkward as it is all in a bunch of 4 plugs right next to the entrance to the Motorhome parking area so its throw your leads over the fence.

The entrance to the parking area. The power is on the gatepost outside.

Our lead was just long enough to reach but it all works and for $10 a night, a fantastic place to stop. There are also toilets and a shower that can be used too.

We went for walk down to the local Pak N Save for some basics, which is about 20 minutes walk away.

Later in the day, we invited our next door neighbours over for a drink. John and Margaret hail from Masterton and were staying in Wellington.  After a pleasant hour with them, we went into the Petone club for a spectacular tea for $9.50 each and a Sticky Date pudding.. Yum!  All washed down with a huge $7 glass of chardy.. also Yum!

Rafes Track to Petone

A nice spot. Onto the ferry next.

Some new China at the new park.

Some of our china plates that we bought  a few years ago in Oamaru that we use in Rafe, had deteriorated. Fiona had  managed to find some new ones the same sort and colour on Trade Me so on the way south, we had to pick these up in Porirua.

Fiona with some of her China

This time she got a Teapot, 6 of each, cups and saucers, small side plates, bigger side plates, bowls and dinner plates all for $190 !! ..

A panorama of the park when we arrived.

After getting the China, we headed straight for the new Plimmerton NZMCA park and it looks fantastic. There had been a working bee on ealier and it was pretty busy. I counted over 40 Buses and Motorhomes there.

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Fantastic new Dump Station

The new Dump Station looks great in the middle and its really handy to the Railway Station. A great spot.

We called our son Alex who is currently working in Wellington amnd he popped out for tea. The next morning, we got up early and caught the train into Wellington City. Its an easy walk from the park and only takes 25 minutes and then we walked around to a French cafe for brunch.

Alex met us at the cafe, then we went for a walk around the city. Very pleasant.,

You know you’re in Wellington when you see this.

Alex later dropped us off at Rafe in Plimmerton and stopped for a cup of coffee and then headed home.

When we left !

I’m impressed with this park and have to say, the crew here have done a great job with it. Fiona was keen to stay a third night but as I’d booked an early ferry during the week, I thought we might be better closer in for our last night with the early morning weekday traffic.

A nice park and I’m sure it is going to be well used and enjoyed by many.

Rafes Track to Plimmerton

South Island, here we come.

After spending our last night in Auckland with eldest son Drew and his partner Jenna in Milford, we set off in the morning, bound for Taupo.

Rafe and Ian and Lynda’s XLI

We were heading for Dianne and Gary’s home in Taupo to meet other fulltimimg Motorhome friends Ian and Lynda, who arrived earlier in their Dethleffs XLI.

Dianne and Fiona made a spectacular curry for us all and we had a lot of laughs and lots of fun.

Dianne picking the girls up for a tiki tour around Taupo

In the morning, we all went to a local Cafe and then for a look around Taupo.  Another great night with everyone and lots more laughs and Fiona and I were off to Rafe for the night. In the morning we caught up  briefly with everyone for a cup of tea and then we were off, heading further south.

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We stopped at the Army Museum in Waiouru for lunch which was great and then carried on to Mangaweka.

Rafe at the Mangaweka Campground

We stayed at a neat wee Campground in Mangaweka last Christmas with Gary and Dianne and its a fantastic place right by the river. The same people own another more upmarket Campground with a bar and eating area right over the bridge.

Look at those cliffs!

There is also an old Power Station just along the road with an old dam. Apparently Mangaweka was one of the first to have its own streetlights and electricity in the country, all driven by this local dam.

Fiona at the old Power station

At $7 a night each with power with our NZMCA discount, it is spectacularly “reasonably priced” but I understand the price with soon be $9 per night with no discount. .. Still very good value in a lovely spot.

Rafes track to the Mangaweka Camp

Ready Steady Go

One of the discoveries we made in Europe was the huge impact on life in a Motorhome when you have drop down steadies. Our Uk rental, Ralph had quite squishy air suspension and had a couple of steadies on it but being a rental, the steadies had been damaged. The thread had been stripped on one side but we were able to get enough out of it to make a difference.

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Welding on the feet

From this, I made a decision that we would get some added to Rafe when we got home to NZ.

The other discovery was finding better door catches for holding the doors open against the wind. The ones that come of the Dethleffs and a lot of other brands are small plastic things which are as effective as an ash tray on a motorbike 🙂

Waiting for Bolts

While we were looking through the huge Motorhome accessory store, Berger in Berlin, I found bigger catches for roughly 2 Euros a pair and got 3 pair for the habitation door and the garage doors at the back of Rafe.

Dropdowns clipped up

The day came when we could get the Drop Downs installed and while we were there, get the catches changed.

Vantage RV had some Alko Drop downs which had brackets made for another Dethleffs customer who had changed their mind and so were left with them in their store cupboard.

One ready to go

The ones they had were set up for an A class vehicle which is higher that Rafe so they had to be shortened and have the feet re welded on.

The old clips

They look fantastic, they work well and although Rafes suspension is a lot stiffer than Ralphs being a lot younger, they work brilliantly.

Clips all finished

The catches make a huge difference too and it was all done in a couple of hours. Brilliant!!

Waterfront Mansion

Without wanting to annoy our old neighbours, we spent a couple of nights down by the Marina in front of my son Andrew’s house while we sorted out some Winter clothing for the South Island. It was nice to catch up with some of our old friends around the marina and such a nice place to stay.

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Beside the Marina

There were still two nights to go before we were catching up with our Devonport friends before our South Island trip so we thought we’d treat ourselves to Takapuna Motor Camp and check it out since we’d voted for it to stay.

The Tide is in and what a view.

At $47 a night for two on a waterfront site, it seemed to be to be on the pricey side but once you see the site on a good day, it is just magnificent and on our second morning, I received a text from good friend Alan asking if he could “come for a coffee at our Waterfront Mansion”.

Close to the water parking.

The Camping ground is great. It is only small so I could imagine it would be easily and often booked out on school holidays and Christmas Holidays.

You can rent these.

Standard Sites are  $42 and they also have chalets and caravans you can stay in. Loos and showers are free and are fantastic. The shower I had was one of the best ever with real pressure.

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We went for a walk one night into the Takapuna main street, Hurstmere Rd, for an ice cream, an easy 15 minute walk.

Rangitoto Island

I grew up about a block away and went to primary school about three blocks away so I’ve been keen to see what its like but living locally, I’ve never had a need to stay here but I can say its absolutely a primo spot. It is handy to everything and being right on the water with a view of Rangitoto like this, it doesn’t get much better.

Great Beach

There is also a really nice Café right next door and the coastal walk goes all the way around to Milford from right in front of the Campground.

Rafe’s track from the marina to Takapuna.