This is a great place to stop with specially marked Motorhome parking. There is a great Café which does a great Bacon and Eggs breakfast and the coffee is good too.
There are several specialty Wine shops, a Cellar / Wine tasting shop, an amazing Quilting shop, a specialty Merino clothing place which is nice and out the back, there are places for the kids to stretch their legs too.
The morning we were there, there were local rugby people giving the visiting kids a good workout with rugby balls and running races. There was also a Boules court and a giant chess set to play with as well.
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A VW Combi Model on top of the signs gives away the Motorhome friendly parking spot
Coffee in the sun
Outside the Quilt shop
A specialty wine shop selling all sorts including locally made Gin and Whiskey
Spectacular Loos.. with an ATM too!
Motorhome parking outside
Kids having running races out the back.
Snow on the hills behind the cafe
We stopped in for a cup of coffee and a scone and had a good look around. Everything in the specialty Wine shop is made in NZ including Gin and Whisky and its well worth a look.
If you’re in the area, a great place to stop. Its on the road out to Nelson at Raupara. There is something there for everyone 🙂
Andy, the Spring Creek camp owner, had just been telling me that some truck drivers who were due to stay in the camp had called to say that they wouldn’t be here as they’d got stuck in the snow in the Lewis Pass so we knew it was going to be cold! It was fine though and it was forecast to be dry but the sky was a bit threatening.
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The weather is strange here as you see the clouds in the hills and on the rain radar but nothing seems to make it over the Nelson hills apart from sunshine, so a lot of the weather forecast seems to be a case of the Bark being worse than the Bite!
Anyway, we set off in the morning to ride into Blenheim which is about 7 k’s down the main highway. About halfway down, I discovered a bike lane that goes all the way down so we shifted over to that to be safe.
After having a look around Blenheim, we stopped for a cup of tea. We stumbled across the spot where the old Criterion Hotels were built, all on the same site. There were 3 of them all destroyed by fire between the late 1880’s through to the 1960’s. The site is now occupied by a Backpackers and Bar.
We were heading out to Allan Scotts Vineyard which is about 10 k’s by bike against the 25 odd knot wind which was hard riding. Right opposite Allan Scotts is Cloudy Bay Vineyards so we were spoilt for choice.
A glass of Chardonnay and a really nice cheeseboard here with all sorts which was really nice and Fiona had a Seafood Chowder soup which she enjoyed.
Then it was back on the bikes and back to Rafe, 10 k’s ! With the wind behind us coming home, we were barrelling along and we were home before the showers looming in the hills.
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.
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.
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.
They also have quite a few motel units here and a backpackers building.
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.
We spent the first two nights on a gravel park as the grass was a bit soft and the forecast was evil.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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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The check in time for our Bluebridge ferry was 7am and we were there at 06:30. We were first!
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.
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.
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.
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 into the Tory Channel and everyone came out on the observation deck as the wind had dropped right off.
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.
With the usual Bluebridge efficiency, we were off the ferry with ease and on our way to Blenheim.
This is the tale of our mini adventure to the Outer Hebrides in our 6m coach built motorhome. I hope you find the story of the people we met and the places we've seen interesting and useful if you're planning your own trip.