Val’s Park Over Property.

When we met Stan and Sara in the Catlins NZMCA park, Stan who is from Alexandra said, that we had to make sure we stayed at Vals POP.

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Rafe parked with power

Val and her husband Russell have been hosting NZMCA’rs since the early 1990’s and she is one of the earliest POP’s in the NZMCA bible. They’re both really nice people and their property is just superb with some power points and a complete Shower and Toilet setup setup in the corner.

In the next paddock

There is even a shed for happy hour on one side and it is beautifully quiet down a long right of way.

Part of the amazing garden

Pam and Bob from Dunedin were there in their Caravan and they’ve been helping with some of the gardening and maintenance. The gardens are spectacular.

Great driveway

We popped in to check in for a park briefly early in the afternoon and then went for a nosey around Clyde. Its a great wee town with a great cafe in the old BNZ building wher we had these amazing date cakes along with a cup of coffee.

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After a quick look at the Clyde Dam, we headed back as there were only three power points left at Vals and its first in, best dressed for $12 a night.

Clyde Dam

We joined in with the others there in the corner shed in the sun for a few drinks with cheese and biscuits as you do.

A great place to stay and we’re looking at heading back there to have a decent look around Alexandra and Clyde.

Rafe’s track to Vals

Simon and Kath’s Bus

We met Simon and Kath at the happy hour shed at Vals POP just outside Clyde. They’ve been there off and on since November last year while they work to finish off the bus before their travels start this summer. They originally came from Invercargill so know the area well.

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Simon and Kath

They bought the bus last October from a couple of chaps in Clyde and it sounds like they bought well. Its a 1998 Hino Blue Ribbon A Class probably coverted to a Motorhome in the 90’s in Christchurch. It is powered by a Volvo V8 diesel which is in great shape.

The living space

Simon had a background in Classic Cars and is very capable with a crescent spanner and a scewdriver and has lots of good plans, which include new wheel rims and finishing off the paintwork.

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The battery bank is all housed tidily in one locker on the side and looks impressive. All the hatches down the sides are all well kitted out with everything any Motorhomer could want with sliding drawers and lift up covers. Great Storage.

Galley

The inside furnishings are all leather and he has a couple of TV’s nicely positioned partly in a great drinks cabinet and one in the bedroom.

Some Tui’s next door

They’re really looking forward to getting away over summer in it once they’ve finished the new work. A lovely Motorhome with tons of room.

Lakeside

Pinders Pond would have to be one of the most beautiful parking spots in Central Otago. Its also free and is an easy 5k’s to Roxburgh by the most amazing bike trail right next to the Clutha river.

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Lots of space

After leaving the Gold Cottages campsite and saying goodbye to Lloyd and Kate, we headed down the road about 6k’s to Pinders Pond.

Is that a reflection ?

When we arrived, were a few Motorhomes and two Caravans there so we just plonked ourselves on the grass and had lunch.

Close to the bike trail

About an hour later, the place literally cleaned out and the Motorhomes all left and we moved back to a flatter spot closer to the Caravans.

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There is a bike trail which goes right up to the Roxburgh bridge and beyond one way and I think it goes to Millers Flat and beyond the other way. It is very easy riding and we were off. It took us about 20 minutes or so to get to Roxburgh so we celebrated with a cup of coffee in one of the cafe’s there before riding back.

Fiona nearly at Roxburgh
Roxburgh bridge

A lovely spot. Thanks to several people for recommending it.

Rafes Track to Pinders Pond

Small World

As I had driven past a few Fruit and Vege stalls as we came into Roxburgh, I could tell Fiona was getting edgy and one finally came with plenty of parking and warning πŸ˜€. As I drove slighly past it to get to let traffic past so I could reverse and drive in, another Motorhome came in behind me so after waiting for them to park, I drove in next to them.

Fiona recognised the them as old friends  and there was an immediate reunion in the fruit stall carpark 😎

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We made arrangements to meet in town later at the Gold Cottage Campground across the river.

Nice!

The camp is run by a lovely lady who has had it for 7 years but is making huge changes to it. The grounds, the amenities and the parks are absolutely top notch and all for $30 for two on a powered site.

A sluicing lake behind the park.
Pipe seats

There are also tracks out the back of the grounds which take you to Roxbough and lots of historical bits from the Gold mining days around with some great explanation boards.
Very easy and comfortable and it is all beautifully terraced so its easy to get a level parking spot.

A relic of the area.
At the campground

Lloyd and Kate arrived later on and we enjoyed several hours of fun with a few drinks.

Rafe with Lloyd and Kates Carado next to us

Lloyd was a bit of legend with the whitebait and cooked up some fritters that were sensational. It was a great night. They’re great fun and I’m sure we’ll catch up again soon.

Some of the Gold Cottages
Playground

They’re currently living and working up past Wanaka and having a ball with their new Carado Motorhome.

Rafe’s track to Roxburgh

The Scout Den

Just after arriving in Lawrence, we found the motorcamp was closed frm April until November! Its just as well there are other options in Lawrence πŸ™‚ .

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At the Scout Den. With Mary beside us.

Over an old bridge from the main road and on the left is the Lawrence Scout Den. It has a nice big hard flat lawn in front of it with room for a few. When we arrived there was one other in there so we lined up with plenty of space and settled rafe down for the night.

The park setup

I had a quick look around the area and next to where were parked was a display of old Gold mining equipment and it looked great. A small picnic table surrounded with all things Gold and its history from the area. Neat. Fiona went for a walk into town which was just over the bridge and had a wee nosey around too.

I went over to the box to pay the $6 donation and there in the book was Mary’s name from NZ Motorhome Friends. I went over and knocked on her door and invited her over for a cup of tea.

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I’ve seen a lot of her pictures and comments on facebook so it was nice to finally meet her. Mary is from Hamilton but is cruising around NZ and doing in style in her Swift Motorhome.

We had an early night after that and in the morning drove into Lawrence to have a bit of look around.

Contrast of buildings
A traffic jam in Lawrence πŸ™‚

There are some amazing old buildings here and like most other Central Otago towns are making the most of their history and it looks great.

Rafe’s track to Lawrence

Niagara Falls :-)

After stopping at the Otautau Dump station, we headed back into Invercargill to get some fuel and water. Fiona’s sister Sara had rung to say she was heading to Queenstown in 5 days so we had to get a wriggle on if we were going to see the Catlins.

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My new favorite phone app, Gaspy came to the rescue and where every service station in Invercargill was selling diesel for $1.36 a litre plus, Gaspy identified a truck stop that was selling diesel for a $1.09 in the back streets of Invercargill !

Plenty of room.

We headed off towards Curio bay and Niagara where the NZMCA park was. After having a quick look at the Curio bay beach, we headed to Niagara.

Fiona at Curio bay
Curio bay looking towards the campground

The park is all gravel with a shed for checking in. Just along the road are the Niagara Falls. Someone with a sense of humour named them after the American ones but they’re famous for whitebaiters rather than as a waterfall :-).

There was plenty of activity there with some friendly whitebaiters.

Niagara Falls

We headed back to Rafe as the promised rain was looking imminent and just after we got back, some new neighbours rocked in and parked beside us.

The NZMCA park

Stan and Sara were from Alexandra and Kawerau and were travelling together. We had a nice hour or so with them with a few cold ones. Nice people and I’m sure we’ll see them again somewhere.

Matai falls

It rained that night and there were some good puffs too.

We set off around mid morning towards Balclutha stopping at the Horsehoe and the Matai falls, and stopping at Owaka for lunch.

From Florence Hill lookout. Tatuku bay

Its a lovely part of the world.

Rafes Track to Niagara falls

NZ’s Longest Wooden Suspension Bridge

We were heading for Tuatapere and then onto Clifden Suspension Bridge. Apparently it is the longest wooden suspension bridge in NZ and was built late last century.

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The Bridge

The river had a lot more water going down then before the Manapouri Power system chopped back the flow of water. It is also a free overnight spot provided by Southland Council.

The largest Wooden Suspension bridge in NZ

We spent an hour or so having a good look around here. A lovely spot.

The Free Overnight parking area.

Nice spot but next we were heading to a place Fiona’s grandparents spent some time at Otautau which had an interesting overnight parking place on the side of the towns football field.

On the side of the footie field.

Its a neat spot and comes with power, inludes hot showers, washings facilities and a small kitchen with two ovens. It $10pp plus $5 for power.

Fiona hanging out the washing.

A neat spot not far from the centre of town and run by some people who live not far from the park who were very helpful.

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Fiona decided she’d wash our linen and as she entered the kitchen/washouse found that someone had left one of the Ovens on!Β  No damage done but who knows how long that had been left on.. thinking power bills :-/

Looking out at footie field.

Great spot and we’re planning to check out the local museum tomorrow and head for the Catlins.

Rafe’s track to Otautau

Warm, Bright and Sunny in Southland

One suggestion that we got from a local in Invercargill was to check out Riverton so after checking out Bluff and having Fish and Chips for lunch there, we headed towards Riverton and Colac Bay where we were to stay.

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Colac Bay

Colac Bay is an amazing place and with an 18 degree afternoon with bright sunshine forecast for the next two days, we thought we were in heaven. So close to the water and nice and quiet.

The parking at Colac bay

We didn’t count on the fact that the road past us went to a well known Paua place around the corner so there was the odd local heading off for a feed later when the tide went out but only a few went through.

Rafe at Colac Bay looking towards Invercargill

It was a great night and really clear and warm.

Rafe not far from the loos

We woke up late and after breakfast and cleaning up, as we left we saw the Fisheries patrol there. They very cheerily waved us through their roadblock knowing we weren’t Paua people.πŸ€“

Interestingly I saw two cars go past us out of the area just before the Patrol arrived πŸ™‚

Rafe’s track to Colac Bay

Its a lovely spot and there are well maintained loos there too.

After leaving Colac Bay, we stopped off about 15 k’s on at Monkey Island Reserve which is another bigger free camping area right on the beach. Just a stunner.

Lovely looking over to the Ridge Mountains from Monkey Island Reserve
Fiona on the beach at Monkey Island Reserve

We stopped there for lunch. I was keen to stay the night but Fiona was keen to move on.

Plenty of room at Monkey Island reserve

A beautiful place to stay and there quite a few in tents and a few Motorhomers there too.

Rafe’s track to Monkey Bay

Old things Transport , Collectables and Lawnmowers

One of the things I wanted to do when we got to Invercargill was go to Bill Richardson’s amazing truck Museum. We settled for the Coachmans Inn which is just down the road from the Museum and was $34 a night for two. The receptionist was ex Auckland and we had a great old chat about things Auckland and other things.

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The Coachmans Inn Motorhome Area

Its has a whole bunch of powered sites behind the Hotel surrounding the amenities block which while it was nice and clean, it did seem a little tired.

Amazing new building

We had a lie in with the sun coming in the windows and eventually walked down the road to the Museum. Fiona was walking into the city, another 1k down the road and was going to walk back and meet me in the cafe.

The Texaco Tanker
Early Fords

The Museum is a fantastic place. From first walking in, there is an amazing Texaco Tanker. I forgot to look at the details of what it was but what a mean looking machine. Then onto the early Fords.

Later Fords

It seemed like there was every single model of Ford from 1904 onwards into the 40’s and 50’s.

British Beddy

Every model of truck you could imagine and there were some early lawnmowers too. There was an interesting collection of tools for service stations and I was really interested to see an early tyre changing device.

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I worked in a service station in Glenfield when I was a teenager and had to use one of these beasts. Swinging on the end of a tyre lever with grease. Lots of fun. It brought back some old memories.

A Tyre Changer

Petrol Bowsers, Oils and some motors along with a GM 671 setup as a generator and a 171 too.

A Gm 671 set up as a Generator

My old boat Rorqual had a GM Turbocharged 671 in it so I was interested to see it setup as a generator and normally aspirated too. In all the *71 series motors, all the pistons, conrods and bearings, valves etc are the same so easy for parts.

A Bean!

Fiona rang and said that just about everything was shut (saturday afternoon) and she was heading back. I was just about finished so I headed for the Cafe where a few minutes later, Fiona wandered in.

Fiona in the cafΓ© done up as a 50’s Kitchen. “That’s the oven we had in Waiouru”!

An amazing place and a must see if you’re in Invercargill.

Our track to Invercargill

Heading down to Railway Country

After saying goodbye to Jessa, we had an appointment at the local Fiat dealer in Queenstown to plug in to Rafe’s computer and reset the Service reminders that had been driving me nuts since Greymouth !

Queenstown with Jacks Point on the right

Central Otago Motor Group are just along the road from where we were staying and they were so obliging and helpful with the southern hospitality, I was completely bowled over. John the Service Manager, was the man in charge of the electronic tools and while I was waiting for him, the service receptionist came out and offered me a Muffin. Apparently someone was leaving. Unbelievable welcome!

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John was fantastic and within a few minutes of plugging in, the messages had gone away.Β  If you want something done and you have a Fiat based Motorhome and you’re in their area.. don’t go anywhere else πŸ™‚

Fairlight Railway Station

After that, with a big smile on my face, we were off towards Invercargill alongside Lake Wakatipu. I don’t think I’ve ever driven down this road but its awesome. We stopped along the way to get have a cup of coffee and get some piccies of Queenstown.

Rafe looking for Adventure

After stopping at the famous Fairlight Station, we next stopped at Lumsden where they have a huge restoration project happening to restore what they call the Lumsden Railway Precinct Project along with a carriage and some other rolling stock. It looks great. About 30 local businesses and volunteers have come together to make this happen.

Lumsden Railway Station
Inside the carriage

There is also an old gaol with the original stocks outside with a couple of signs on it. They both refer to Dogs and people not picking up after them so I’m assuming that’s what happens if you don’t πŸ™‚

Where you end up if you don’t pick up your Doggie do’s πŸ™‚

There is also a very easy to use dump station and water there if you’re looking for one.

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It looks like a progressive wee town and the Railway Precinct is definitely going to make a difference when its finished.