Thunder and Lightning

While we were in Cromwell, we heard the odd crash of thunder in the distance and given that there were 5 days of storms in that region, we seem to miss it all 🙂

Click on an Image to see Hi Res

Rafe with Brian and Rose’s Jayco

After leaving Weedons, were headed into Christchurch to get some more toilet chemicals and then started the trek north to Hanmer.

It is years since we were last at Hanmer and its a great place.

The Hanmer park

We headed into the NZMCA park which I’ve driven past numerous times but this was our first time in it. What a neat spot. We’d only just pulled up and I was levelling up Rafe when I met our next door neighbours Tony and Beryl from Motueka, who were heading south to catch up with family in Arrowtown. They had a nice little Bailey caravan and having lived in a bigger model earlier were seasoned caravanners so it was really interesting chatting to them.

John at happy hour!

We were joined by their caravan by John and his girlfriend from Australia who was a real character. He had been part of the television series Outback Truckers so it was great to catch up with them too.

The pools

The next morning, we took Rafe into Hanmer which is about 7 k’s from the park and had a swim and lunch in the hotpools. While were there, out rolled these huge black clouds and it was all on with the thunder and the lightning. Even in the daylight you could see the lightening.

Happy hour before the rain

We got back to the park quite late and a new van had come in while we were out. Brian and Rose from Motueka. We got talking to them too and it turned out that they lived only a few houses away from Tony and Beryl 🙂 A small world.

And the rain came down!

We all got together between Rafe and Brians Motorhome and enjoyed a cold drink and a laugh or two. The Thunder and lightening hadn’t finished yet but we all had umbrellas which I thought was very stoic !

Dusk at Hanmer NZMCA park

The Hanmer park doesn’t have any water, rubbish or any extras and as I said, its 7ks out of town but given that there is no freedom camping in the area, the options are very limited but its a great wee park all the same and comes it at the same great price as all the other NZMCA parks. 🙂

Rafe’s Track

Murray and Faye’s Fleetwood Bus

We first me Murray and Faye at Weedons several years ago when they visited us in Rafe for a few cold ones late one day and we bumped into them again a year or so later as they arrived at Pauanui and we were leaving so it was really nice to catch up with them again.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

Murray and Faye

They are now custodians of the Weedons NZMCA park just out of Christchurch and are really pleased with their new baby, “California”.

It is a 1994 Fleetwood Pace Arrow with a 300HP Cummins Turbo 6 cylinder diesel engine which they got last September. It is 11m long.

Dining area / Galley

I asked him how many litres of Fresh, Grey and Black water they could hold and the numbers had many zeros on them so the simple explanation is they can go for 10 days with big showers each 🙂
Thats impressive !

The Bedroom
The Lounge

Its a lovely bus which they’re slowly adding their own touches to.

The Galley

Murrays parting comment was that he can’t get over how easy and comfortable it is to drive. “Its just like a car!”

From the back

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.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

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.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

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.

Click on an Images of Hi Res

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.

Click on an Image to see Hi Res

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.

Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow

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.

Click on an Image for Hi res

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.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

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