All posts by Chris Miller - Buggeritweareoff.com

Founder and Creator of Buggeritweareoff.com. Ex Newspaper Photographer and Commercial Photographer for more than 40 years.

Landscapes in the Ida Valley

Today was washing day.. two big loads to catch up while a brisk Nor wester was there to dry it all.

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Fiona using the power pole clothesline ๐Ÿ™‚

The washing line was a hoot. Two shortened power poles with the washing line wire in between. It worked a treat.

We’re staying at The Crows Nest which is a very small campground in the main street of Oturehura with cabins for Bike Trail people. There are only two powered sites but I’m sure the host Bill, could rustle up some more if the need arose. Its all here though and exceptional value at $20 per van for two with power.

The hosts are fantastic and although Bill was originally from Winton, for most of his life, he and his wife Mal, have been in the Tauranga area for quite a while but have now settled here. Theyโ€™re lovely people and very helpful.

Fiona off up to the Poolburn Dam.. great colours

The next morning, Fiona organised the washing and I got the bikes ready. Once the wash was out, we were off on our way up to the Poolburn Viaduct. An easy ride although a lot more gravel on the trail here making it harder to ride on than other parts of the trail.

Auripo Station looking back towards Oturehura
The Poolburn Viaduct .. took 3 years to build.

The colours and the landscape was just amazing. With the clouds doing strange things with the wind over the hills, it was really interesting for piccies.

Over the hills from the Viaduct looking out towards Lauder

I averaged about 20 odd Kph despite the gravel but stopped a lot for piccies with my phone. Some amazing spots.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

We ended up doing about 30 odd K’s for the round trip over nearly two hours.

People enjoying a walk on the Trail
Outside the camp looking back at the hills on dusk.. stunning

After cleaning up and locking the bikes,ย  we headed off for a walk to have a look at the town ending up in the pub!

Click on this Gallery for the old time General Store!

 

Great Hotel and its for sale

A neat wee town and we’ve decided to stay another couple of nights to have a good look around.

The Netspeed Speedtest
Download : 59.00 mbps
Upload : 20.10 mbps
Ping : 71 ms

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Rolling down to Waipiata

Fiona wanted to bike up to Hyde from the Rock and Pillar so after leaving Middlemarch, we stopped at the Rock and Pillar area where we’d biked to the day before and got her ready.

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Fiona arriving at Hyde

The plan was she was going to bike up to Hyde and I would meet her there in Rafe and then we’d go onto Ranfurly for the night for the next part of the trail.

Waiting for Fiona at Hyde

She made it to Hyde in quite good time and decided she wanted to ride further up the trail so I stopped at Daisyside where the trail ran right alongside the road and there was an easy carpark for Rafe and we put her bike on and off we went to Ranfurly.

Off to daisyfields

There was a Tunnel and a Viaduct and the complaint was the light didn’t work. Murphys law, the wires had come unplugged for the headlight just in time for the Tunnel so after plugging them back in, we were all good again.

Happy Hour in the corner at the NZMCA Park Ranfurly

We arrived in Ranfurly just in time for late lunch at the 4 square cafe and left with a bottle of wine for an afternoon in the blazing sun at the NZMCA park.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The next morning, we got the bikes ready and both set off towards Waipiata.

On the way in the fog to Waipiata

Leaving Ranfurly in the fog, it was cold and the air on your hands on the trail was bitter.. I thought then, we should have thought about gloves but too late. The sun was starting to come out and more sun was appearing across the trail the further we went on.

The Waipiata Pub

By the time we got to Waipiata, the pub open sign was out and it was time for a Latte and time to warm up. We met some really nice people who were there as well with cups of Coffee warming up as well who were from Epsom and Greenlane. They were doing the whole trail over 5 days. They were heading in the same direction as us so after a chat, we all set off.

We followed them as far as Kokonga which was another 12 k’s or so and then turned around to head back to Ranfurly. Several bridges and some nice scenes..

The Ranfurly NZMCA park

Every bit of this trail is quite different and has a different look. A great day. It was nice to get back to the NZMCA park, meet our neighbours and enjoy a drink in the Ranfurly sunshine.

The Netspeed Speedtest
Download : 59.04 mbps
Upload : 20.06 mbps
Ping : 71 ms

Rafe’s Tracker Map

The Start of the Trail

We arrived in Middlemarch early in the afternoon and with the plan being to bike up to Hyde from there, I thought that might be optimistic but Hey Ho!

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Getting the Bikes ready

We were staying in Middlemarch Holiday park so we had power to charge up the bikes and so we could turn up the heat as it was forecast to be pretty cold!

The Kitchen in the camp

We were welcomed by the camp owner Susan who couldn’t have been more helpful and told to pick a site and plug in. Susan then went on to tell us that she had ridden the whole trail on her horse Wilson who was in the next paddock so she knew it well.

Susan with Wilson

It didn’t take long to get the bikes ready and we were off towards Hyde. It was just before 3pm when the shadows started to get longer and as we had to return to Middlemarch, I thought if we got as far as Rock and Pillar, we’d call it quits and have a go at Hyde the next day.

Fiona setting off from Middlemarch

What a great track and with the sun out a not a cloud around, but when we went behind the trees, it was cold. As we went on the shadows got longer but with the new Lecky bikes it was a lot of fun and basically, we did the round trip in just under an hour.

Some horses on the way

As it turned out, the sun hung up there longer than we thought and we might have made to Hyde.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

It gave us a chance to get back and have a look around the camp which is neat. The Kitchen is made from an old railway carriage and fits into a covered seating area for people to sit and enjoy the area.

On the way back to Middlemarch

Another interesting town full of history.

Back at the station

 

The Big Mine

Macraes is famous for its size and as it was on the way to Middlemarch, we stopped at the lookout for a look at this amazing mine. Friends of ours had shown us this several years ago but it looked even bigger this time than I remember it.

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The BIG Hole – To the left of the car on the road you’ll see the diggers in the pic below
Looking down in the BIG Hole

From the top the diggers and trucks were just little specks and you really have to look hard to see them doing their thing in the mine. Its massive!

The mine was opened in 1990 and since then has produced more than 5.7 tonnes of Gold.

The Boot Makers

After this we checked out the town ship which was basically the pub and a few historic old buildings.

The Pub at Macraes

Its amazing seeing all these places and this was one town that I had never seen.

Rafe’s Tracker Map to Macraes

Layers by the River

We spent the night at the Oamaru A&P grounds just a couple of K’s North of the town. At $6 for two and plenty of room on the grass, its a great spot. There are lots of loos and a laundry as well.

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Oamaru A&P ground

By the time we got up and got under way, and then checked out the Historic Precinct, it was lunchtime. The plan was to head to Middlemarch and do bits of the Otago Rail Trail that we missed two years ago but already, we were running very late!

No chance of getting lost here in Herbert

As we passed through Herbert, there was a Riverside Holiday Park right next to the river which looked good. As it was starting to get late, we popped in, there was heaps of parking and it seemed very reasonable at $28.

Shop in Herbert

The very helpful hosts who were happy for us to park anywhere as it was quiet and were happy to tell us a bit about the area.Just a fantastic spot right by a river and we had the camp virtually to ourselves in that area. We met another couple who parked away from the river around the other end who were from Timaru who were just giving their van a run ๐Ÿ™‚

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The huge cliffs beside the river showed really interesting layers of rock which suggested they were pushed up by several earthquakes… I’m not a geologist but thats what it looks like. Amazing.

We both really enjoyed this park. Everything was clean and tidy and everything worked. The Hosts were great and what an amazing spot.

What a Cliff

In the morning we went back a couple of K’s to check out the Historic town of Herbert.

The Netspeed Speedtest (at Oamaru A&P)
Download : 48.3 mbps
Upload : 17.4 mbps
Ping : 49 ms

Rafe’s Tracker Map  – The park is at the Blue Dot

Winchester’s favorite Cafe

About 3.5 years ago, Australian friends and business partners, John and Bruce bought a beautiful huge Mansion on the main road in Winchester, just a few k’s north of Temuka. It is called MiaFlora and is just amazing. It is open from Thursdays through to Sundays.

Click on the Images for HI Res (Cell ph pix)

Miaflora

The idea was to restore the house, landscape the gardens using unusual and larger items of Garden furniture and accessories and have a plant nursery around the back with everything that you can think of.

Unusual garden sculptre

Meanwhile inside the house and on the other side beside the house, John the talented Pastry Chef with his staff run the Cafe. The food is something else and the coffee superb, and of course it is all beautifully landscaped with Bruce’s directions.

The Cafe area inside

We caught up with old friends Ollie and Pam and they bought us to the Cafe. They also introduced us to Bruce and we enjoyed a fun ยฝ hour or so chatting about all sorts. He’s a real character and when you see the setup, very talented with things Green and Floral ๐Ÿ™‚

Just remembering that Ollie is a Chef and he and Pam are pretty fussy with food and things Hospitality, MiaFlora is their bolthole when they want a break somewhere nice.

Fiona, Ollie and Pam

Directly over the road is the local masonic Lodge with a huge easy access and flat carpark that could be used for Motorhome parking.

One of the yummy cakes we had there

Definitely worth checking out next time you’re in the area.. MiaFlora

Yum Yum at Olivers

About a hundred years ago, Fiona trained to be a nurse with Pam. ย We became good friends with Pam and husband Ollie, and as they also lived in Devonport we kept in touch.

Cutting a long story short, after their children grew up, they eventually went for a change of lifestyle and bought their farm just out of Temuka and did up the farm house.

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Ollie and Pam

It was a massive restoration which included lifting it up and spinning it around to face the sun.

The Farmhouse

Ollie is a trained chef and along with his cooking skills and having Pam at his side, they’ve setup and run Olivers Farm Stay’s B&B.

We had just arrived at Winchester Domain Camping ground which is about 500 metres up the road from their B&B just as we did a couple of years ago.

Fiona looked a picture as she had just washed her hair and one side of her head all done up in curlers.. think Ena Sharples ๐Ÿ™‚ .. Ollie and Pam pull up and pop their heads in the door.. ๐Ÿ™‚

After a cup of tea in Rafe, they took us up the road to their local cafe in Winchester.

Several hours went by here and then we went straight to Ollie and Pams home for tea.

It was great to catch up on all the news about their family and where they were up to.

While we had a glass or two of nice wine, Ollie prepared the feast and it was just stunning. No wonder their overseas customers keep coming coming back when there is this standard of hospitality.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The time ticked by unoticed as it does when you’re having fun but what a magic night and lovely to catch up with them both again.

Roasted Kumara !

If you’re in the area or know someone who wants to be spoiled with great food, in a comfortable place with some great humour thrown in. Check out http://www.oliversfarmstay.co.nz

Feeling at home in The South

And it is in Peski’s at Geraldine which is also one of THE best parking spots.

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The Top level

We’ve stayed here several times and it just like a comfy old chair! ย Sue and David .. and Tui keep the place looking immaculate and the happy hours are legendary ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

Sue and Tui

It was great to see them both again after two years or so since we here last.

We popped in pretty much unannounced and they were chocker but Sue managed to squeeze us in next to their Garage.

The shadow is creeping over

The Happy Hour tree has had a big haircut and with the sun dropping earlier, it was a case of where the sun was for our late afternoon catchup.

We met a whole lot of people from Christchurch who were here together and they were good fun.

The Old Happy Hour Tree with a HUGE haircut

We rode into Geraldine on the new Electric bikes which was good fun. Its about 7 k’s out of Geraldine but thats about 10 minutes at 30k’s on an Electric Bike ๐Ÿ™‚ I like Geraldine and I’ve said to various members of our family that I might just go and buy a house here ๐Ÿ™‚ .. all attempts end up with โ€œthe lookโ€!..

I checked out the track behind down to the river. The garden seat has washed away a few times in various weather events but David has managed to reset it again.

Peskis is $15 a night with power. There is a washing machine, a shower and a cassette only dump station which are available each for $2.

Chocker Block

A fantastic spot and they’re just the best hosts. A must stay spot when you’re next in the area.

The Netspeed Speedtest
Download : 44.06 mbps
Upload : 5.59 mbps
Ping : 51 ms

Rafe’s Tracker Map

In the Paddock at Oxford

The Oxford Workingmans club was handy to the Anzac day service the next day so we thought we’d check it out. It was also handy to the cemetery where we went to check in on my Grandparents and see how things looked there.

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Workingmans club

At the cemetary, the headstone was in a bit of a state and you could barely read it so we thought we’d get some potent cleanup stuff and take to it with a stiff brush. It came up really well and looks fantastic.

Fiona cleaning the Headstone
The end result!

After that, we went and checked out the local Workingmans club which has free accomodation for Motorhomes in a well separated paddock out the back.

Our neighbour in the paddock

We decided to join the Oxford Workingmans Club and after enjoying a couple of wines, we bought some Fish and Chips and headed back to Rafe. They’re fantastic people there and very helpful. A place to remember.

Rafe’s tracker map

The Turkey Lounge

We’re 7 k’s odd out of Kaikoura parked in the country next to a country pub and along comes a stunner.

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Rex and jenny

I had just been for a walk around the grounds of the pub and was returning to Rafe when in comes Rex and Jenny with their beautiful homebuilt Teardrop Caravan and WOW!!

Stunning

Its roomy too, much bigger than your average teardrop. They have a Queen size bed in it along with a wall of wardrobe and shelves.

The back lifts up for the Galley area and there is a great little hideaway for their slide out Barbeque.

Arriving at the Park.. what a sight

Having taken 2 years to build from scratch, they’re returning to their home town of Tauranga after a 3 month trip around the South Island. They finished building it 3 years ago and are now are getting to enjoy it.

Click on the Gallery below to see a great Slideshow!

Matched with the 1957 Chevrolet, it is the full package and sounds it too.

The ultimate sound and vision package !

On their way