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

Early Entrepreneurs

Ernest and his wife Hannah Hayes emigrated to NZ in the mid 1882 from England and settled in Oturehua. Intially working as a Millright in one of the flour mills here, Ernest’s real achievments began when he began inventing things to make life easier on their 150 acre farm.

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Hannah’s Cottage, now the cafe and the original home.

From windmills to rabbit bait cutters, the Hayes inventions quickly spread around the country and overseas. Perhaps his most well known tool is his refinement of J Reid’s fencing wire strainer, perfected in 1924, and is still used around the world today.

Wire winders

As the business grew, so did their family and although they had nine children, Hannah became one of NZ’s first travelling saleswoman biking all over the Maniatoto, and McKenzie areas selling their products.

Part of the workshops

Their factory on the farm was powered by Windmill and Pelton Wheel from water running down the hill and after initially living in a mud hut, later they built a large villa which they also powered from their factory.

Part of the workshop.. click on this to see Hi Res!

The Hayes engineeing works has been maintained by the family and is still in really good shape.

The workshop..

The various buildings for Dairy, Laundry, the workshops and the original Mud Cottage that they lived in is now Hannahs Cafe.

Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow

Fiona and I walked along the road about 1 k from our spot in Oturehua and checked it all out. It is also right on the bike trail as you come into Oturehua.

The Hayes Homestead

A magic place and its really nice to see how they lived and where one of New Zealands great inventers and his saleswoman wife lived and worked.

Rafe’s Tracker map showing where this is in relation to the town.

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 🙂

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. They’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,  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.

Click on an Image to see Hi Res

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 🙂

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 ½ 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 🙂

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

Fiona & Chris, two empty nesters put their dreams of doing something different into reality… Living in their Motorhome, come along for the ride.

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