Category Archives: South Island 2019

Motorhomes and Ferrys

It doesn’t seem to matter how early and organised you are but taking a large Motorhome across the strait always seems to be stressful. I have to say though this was one of the easier crossings.

It was perfect weather for a crossing. No wind forecast and not a cloud in the sky.

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Parked in Picton

We lined up early and were boarded pretty quickly. Easy peasy turning around and lining up behind a huge truck in front of us.

The InterIsland left about 20 minutes before us and we basically followed that all the way over.

It was really nice to see Arapawa Island all lit up by the late afternoon sun. This is where the Perano Whaling family based our old Whale Chaser called Rorqual.

Arapawa Island. The whalechasers were kept in the bay in the middle.

They chased in threes and all worked to a larger Mother ship which was a steamer called the Tuatea. Unfortunately it was later destroyed by fire. Rorqual like its other chasers were all powered by 600HP V12 petrol engines.

Rorquals one was a Kermath Sea Raider but others had different varieties, some even having old aero engines. They could honk though.. most did around 35 knots plus which was going for a 12 metre boat.

The trip was nice but as we got closer to Wellington, the wind got up so when we arrived, it was actually quite cold.

Wellington

It was easy as ever getting off and we were headed up to Plimmerton NZMCA park where we were meeting Fiona’s cousins for a night of Fish and Chips, nice wine and lots of laughs. A great end to a nice day.

About to leave the ferry

The Vineyard bike ride

A couple of years ago we stayed here at Spring Creek and Managers, Andy and Christine had recently arrived from the  Orere Point Top 10 and were just getting started.

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Parked at Spring Creek

On our way to the ferry and wanting to check out the vineyards around Blenheim on the bikes, we thought this would be a perfect spot to stay. It was also good to catch up with Andy and Christine and see the changes they’ve made to their campground.

The Eel Park

We rocked in fresh from the Kaikoura Coast so it was nice to be able switch off, plug in and open a bottle of wine.

Nice Parking

The next day we were up earlyish and got the bikes ready for the loop around Blenheim.

The Bike trail to Blenheim on State Highway 1

Our first stop was at the Ritual Cafe in the centre of Blenheim and the food was amazing. We’ve been here before and the Coffee and food never fails!

Click on the Gallery below for the bike ride

After having lunch there we set off westward towards Allan Scotts Vineyard. I’m not sure of the distance biut probably an easy 10k’s or so, so the Chardy in their open Veranda was very well received. From there we headed to the Raukaura Shops and then back to the camp after a quick stop at the Chocolate factory.

Arriving!

The round trip was about 32k’s and I felt like I’d done some riding too.

Fiona in the open Veranda area

Last time we did much the same ride two or so years ago on Huff and Puff bikes, it took a whole morning. This time on Electric bikes, it took less than 1.5 hours. A big difference but I still felt the 32k’s !!

The Pine trees on the beach

While we were at Fairlie, I met our neighbours Peter and Val who were heading to Amberley to see their daughter. She just happened to live near the Campground at Amberley Beach. This was to be our next destination too.

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Rafe in the Park

After leaving Fairlie, we checked with old friends Ray and Margaret who have settled now in Geraldine. We met them at Peskis and they later showed us around Lake McGregor when we were with them at Tekapo. We had lots of fun together and it was neat to catch up with them again and see their house.

From here it was a quick stop at Christchurch to get some chemicals for the loo and then off to Amberley Beach.

The Non Dog area

We arrived there about 4pm and the shadows were already starting to get long. The camp is split into two bits. On the right is an area for Dogs and on the left is an area without Dogs. We went to the left and signed up and put our money in the “wooden maiden”. The cost is $5pp plus $5 for power.. very good value with some new loos nearby and the beach just through the sandhills.

Crossing to the pines

We went for a walk down to the beach just for a look and it looks fantastic with Pines on the foreshore in the sandhills.

Fabulous beach

It reminded me of when I was growing up in Christchurch, we used to have family holidays somewhere up this coast and I remember the pine trees that you had to run through to get to the beach and there were lots of old Cribs.. ahh the good old days !

Late Colours

It looked a bit bleak this time but this was only because it was getting late.

In the morning we left there and headed through to Kaikoura. Coming down from Wellington poured with rain all the way so we didnt get to see much but this time it was brilliant sunshine.

Its amazing what has been done here by the roading and railway people fixing things up after the earthquake. We saw some of the brave abseiling workers fixing back wire barriers to stop rocks falling. Amazing

The Pier Hotel

Arriving at Kaikoura for lunch, our first stop was to the Pier Hotel where we’ve eaten before. Looking across from there its amazing to see all the rocks that have been pushed up by the earthquake.

Looking across Kaikoura with all the new Rocks

One of the things still noticeable is the state of the roads around the area but Kaikoura is looking great and its great to see the good folk of Kaikoura bouncing back after such massive damage.

The Netspeed Speedtest Amberley
Download : 42.05 mbps
Upload : 12.16 mbps
Ping : 50 ms

Rafe’s Track North

Fairlie, the home of great pies and Campground!

Our aim after leaving Lowburn was to stay at Fairlie after getting a freezer full of one of the best pies in the South Island. They’re known as “Fairlie good pies” around the south but I reckon they’re Fairlie Amazing pies. Pork Belly with crackling, Chicken and Salmon and some other amazing options.

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Taken under a light in the Rafe – Pork Belly with the Crackling all ready eaten 🙂

 

After stopping at Lake Pukaki for lunch we hurtled on to Fairlie.

The place to stay in Fairlie is the Fairlie Holiday Park which is also taking part in the NZMCA’s Camp Saver program.

Nice parking

$20 a night for a powered site with everything else available. There is a dump station, great Toilets and showers in several places and a huge council playground right next door for the little ones.
They also have Dogs on leashes.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

This motorcamp up until about 6 years ago was part of the Top Ten network but closed. Mary Jane and her partner Dutchie have taken it from there and it looks fantastic.

Kitchen and Laundry

It is also only 5 minutes walk into the main shopping area one way and is next to a lovely huge river on the other side.

Looking through to the playground

Being able to park for the night in sites like this on the Camp Saver program is just fabulous and long may it continue and grow.

The Mackenzie Country Treasure Trove

Driving past this for about the 6th time without getting some piccies was not an option 🙂

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The Service Station

The Three Creeks Trading is created from over 25 years of collecting memorabilia by Dave Taylor and it is all for sale !

Everthing you could imagine

With all sorts of Bric a Brac from days gone by, old washing machines, beautifully made Macrocarpa outdoor furniture, you name it, Dave’s got it.

Great Radio

Although most of what you see here has been brought together by Dave, more and more has been added from the Us over the last 10 years. You can easily forget the time and get lost in it. Its a wonderful spot.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

They also have an on site Coffee Caravan if you simply just want a break for Coffee.

Yes, you can buy Coffee here

Burkes Pass is half way between Geraldine and Tekapo and is well worth checking out. There is easy Motorhome parking in front too.

An airstreamy Motorhome

Biking to Lowburn

Moving from the Queenstown Holiday Park after my job was complete, we were looking forward to catching up with Rob and see Helen who had arrived in Lowburn from Auckland the day before.

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Motorhomes and caravans down at one of my favourite parking spots

We were at Rob and Helen’s place for the weekend and Sunday was planned for a quick bike ride down to the lake by Lowburn Inlet.

Rob had some chores he wanted to deal with and was going to walk down later so we all set off.

The bikes ready to go

Fantastic sunshiney day and warm as toast as long as you kept out of the shadows!

Fiona and Helen heading to Lowburn

We ended up down by the inlet where we’ve stayed in Rafe right by the lake. Its interesting to see that the absolute lakeside has been fenced off but it is still a wonderful place to stay. I believe the loos have had a bit of a makeover too.

Lowburn lake

We didn’t stay long and we biked back up the Lowburn Valley to check out some of the newly built houses. The real estate scene down here is cruising along nicely and I’m not surprised looking at some of the fantastic homes being built here.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

When we arrived back at the house in time for friends Ross and Karen afternoon drinks, Rob was just arriving back from a walk. He didn’t say where he’d been but Rob doesn’t do small walks 🙂

Fiona getting back to Rob and Helen’s

A great day out in the sun.

Off to see the Red Shed

After parting ways with Rob at Alexandra, we set off towards Queenstown and then Glenorchy. Good old GPS took us right through the main shopping area of Queenstown. We were heading for the pedestrian mall at one stage 🙂

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On the way to Glenorchy

Once out of Queenstown, it was a fun drive. We stopped along the way at a lookout over Lake Whakatipu for lunch and then carried on. The road was up and down all the way to Glenorchy but amazing scenery.

The Glenorchy Hotel
The Motorhome parking at the Hotel

We checked in at the Glenorchy Hotel where they have CSC Motorhome parking for $12 with power which is great.

Amazing little town. The main street

After settling down Rafe, we set off to have a quick look around and of course ended up in the Pub in front of the fire.

Tourists on the wharf

In the morning, we used the Laundry here to get through the washing before the forecast rain came.

Looking up from the main street at Mt Larkins

Later, the weather was closing in and we had an amazing thunderstorm which went on for about three hours. Its amazing hearing the boom echo off the mountains and the ferocity of the lightning was something else too.

Looking westward towards the weather!

It was fun tucked up listening and watching 🙂

Looking across to Mount Bonpland

After breakfast, we set off for a walk down through the town as the wind got up, the sun came out and the mountains around us looked amazing.

The Famous Red Shed
Looking back at Mt Larkins from the wharf

Fiona went for a walk around the Glenorchy lagoon which she said was nice.

Its a nice wee town and interesting to see a few big back up generators around. They must have a few weather related power issues from time to time.

The Netspeed Speedtest
Download : 65.17 mbps
Upload : 13.49 mbps
Ping : 89 ms

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Our Cromwell friends and luxury parking!

On arriving at Cromwell, we had to stock on some groceries at the New World, get some Diesel at the Truck stop and call some friends re catching up as you do!

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The Historic Precinct in Cromwell

After this we had lunch by the lake and had a good look around the Cromwell Historic Precinct. The lake looked fantastic and its a nice spot to relax in and see what used to be in this area.

By the Historic Precint in Cromwell

We were going to stay the night in Lowburn at Rob and Helens house with Rob, Helen was flying down later that week. As they’re Motorhomers themselves, they have a purpose built concrete pad with a 16 amp external power socket for friends on wheels 😄

Absolute luxury !

Rafe and Rob and Helens Tracker at their place.

After a nice night with Rob at Lowburn, we met old Auckland friends Ross and Karen and they took us around to a restaurant and we enjoyed a nice couple of hours catching up on all the news. Our kids were all Playcentre kids together so we go back a long long way.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The forecast was looking very suspect so we headed back to Derek and Andrea’s Cap in Alexandra and Rob came with us to hunker down for the weather.

The view from Rob and Helen’s lounge

Its really good to see Rob and also Ross and Karen as we haven’t seen them for at least a year or two.

A look at Rob and Helen’s Tracker just after in arrived from the UK a couple of years ago.

Alexandra to Clyde River Bike Trail

It was a cold, foggy and clammy day with a bit of drizzle thrown in but we were keen to bike into Alexandra from where we were staying about 7 k’s from Alex at Derek and Andrea’s Park over Property.

In the unpowered area

Its a big space with plenty of powered sites, a toilet, $2 shower and a laundry along with water.  And its $12 per van!

Us next to a Burstner Elegance of some other fulltime Jaffas’

From here its and easy ride to either Clyde or Alexandra and the Otago Rail Trail is just 1/2 a kilometre away.

Click on an Image for Hi Res  – (Iphone images)

The old Alexandra bridge supports

After a coffee and a quick look around in Alex, we found the end of the trail by the bridge and set off along the river towards Clyde. Its about 12k and is supposed to take about 45 minutes.

Looking back at Alex

Its a great ride and we came across several coming the other way on bikes and a few walkers.

Crossing a small Waterfall

About half way along there are old tailings where a lot of Gold was discovered, and there is what looks like an old drill bit from days gone by. When I say drill bit, its about 6ft in diameter so not something that would fit the Black and Decker !

Fiona with the giant drill bit

We averaged about 15-18kph along the ride as its quite different from the Rail Trail (avg 25kph) with a few curves around trees and ups and down but this makes it a fun ride.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

It runs alongside the river and in several places you cross bridges, ride on boardwalks and there is even a small waterfall. Well worth doing.  It took us a little more than ½ hour.

Interesting track

Eventually we came to the Clyde Bridge and rode off into Clyde.

At the finish line Clyde bridge.. 12k’s

A fun day

The Netspeed Speedtest at Derek and Andreas CAP
Download : 41.79 mbps
Upload : 5.31 mbps
Ping : 66ms

Rafe’s Tracker Map

You can stay in your Motorhome at this Historic Hotel

Having done the section of the Bike Trail all the way to Alexandra, we thought it best to move towards Clyde. The GPS was suggesting the road over the hill from the Ida Valley into Ophir and down from there.

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The Old Cottage at Ophir

There was an old Stone Cottage on the hill just as we came into Ophir so we had to stop and get a pic even though we know nothing about it 🙂

The Bacon Butty 🙂

We headed off to Chatto Creek to have a good look at the Pub and Historic Post Office. While we were there I had an amazing Bacon Butty and Fiona had a Seafood Chowder. Both fantastic, HUGE and under $20.. great meals!

Fiona’s Seafood Chowder

In the grounds of the Pub is the original Chatto Creek Post office which was in use up from 1892 up until 1975. After that it had a short stint where it was a sleep out in Alexandra but it was soon retrieved and reinstalled to its orginal spot. Fancy borrowing a historic Post Office !

The Post office

A really interesting spot that has had its moments, the Pub even completely losing its roof during a wind storm in the late 1990’s but it is looking great.

The pub as it is today
As it was some years ago – a picture on the wall.

They are happy for Self Contained Motorhomes to overnight in the carpark and there is plenty of room. The Otago Rail Trail passes just behind the pub so its handy if you’re doing the Trail and they have accommodation as well.

A nice pub in a good spot.

Rafe’s Tracker Map to Chatto Creek