This is one of those places that you’ll keep coming back to. It is just magic and there’s a ferry to Kawau too.
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I arrived early in the afternoon and got myself setup in a corner spot but then realised that under some huge trees, there would be no TV signal.
It’s a fairly casual arrangement, “Park wherever you like except the waterfront spots which are booked for a whole bunch of Ozzies in their Britz vans”. I was only 10 steps away anyway so that was fine:-)
It was warm, there were people out kayaking in the camps free Kayaks and people out swimming.
I went for a walk across to the Sandpit Yacht club later for tea and sat out on the deck with a nice glass of chardonnay. Very civilised I thought but such a nice spot and the food was fantastic too.
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You can stay in this.
Close to the water
The Ozzies on the water
Snakes and Ladders
The Boardwalk across thye mangroves to the Yacht club.
At the Yacht club
First thing on the waterfront
Later it was time to head back for a shower in the fantastic newish ablutions block.
There used to be a whole bunch of pretend historic shops around the office area which all seem to have gone which is a shame.. one of the features of this camp but still a great spot to stay all the same.
The Ferry’s were chocker and the number of people we’d met while travelling that were having trouble getting bookings made me think, “I’d better make sure we’re in Picton in plenty of time for the ferry”!
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We left Richmond about 8:30am and headed straight for Havelock for morning tea. Our check in time was 1pm at Picton. We arrived in Havelock at 9:30am and had morning tea eventually getting to Picton just after 11 so making it with plenty of time.
On arriving in Picton, we found a good park outside a Pub in Picton by the Railway Station. As we walked in, I received a text from Bluebridge saying that they had communication issues and they’re eftpos system was having a moment and could be have cash for anything we wanted on board.
I don’t do cash at all these days so we decided that we’d have lunch where we were at the Sports Bar. What a great decision too as the Seafood Chowder was something else. Washed down with a G&T as you do.. a perfect start for our trip on the ferry!
At 12:30, I thought we’d better head over and check in and although we were early, there were several rows of Motorhomes and Caravans already there.. good call I thought 🙂
Just after 1:15 pm, they starting loading us on the ferry.
We’d booked a cabin so it was a rush for the shower 🙂 Then we were mostly up on the deck enjoying clear blue sky all the way over.
We arrived just after 6pm and started heading north. We’d decided between us that as the new transmission gulley motorway was open, we’d go as far as we could stopping for tea along the way and maybe get to the brand new NZMCA park at Foxton.
What great park and although it was just 7:30pm, it was dark but there was plenty of room and keeping the parking simple with plenty of room around us made it easy.
There were a few motorhomers parked together in the corner with a small contained fire to keep them warm which was nice, and there were others well spread out so that made it really easy to park.
In the morning I went for a look around and signed in and once I’d found the “fridge”!. Its a fantastic park and although I’m not sure that we’d do the drive after a ferry trip again, like we had all the way from Nelson, I’m sure its perfect option for Plimmerton with the new Motorway.
A really nice park with plenty of room next to the Foxton Racecourse grandstand in a separate area.
We were still fizzing from the Stewart Island trip as we headed towards our next stop which was Te Anau.
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On the ferry on the way back from Stewart Island, I booked a deal through the NZMCA with Fiordland Tours where they would pick us up from the club park in Te Anau in a small coach, and take us to Milford Sound. We would then get on a boat for a cruise through Milford Sound with guides all the way and back to Te Anau.
The weather was looking fantastic. With the disappointment of not doing the wings over Wanaka, our original reason for coming down to the South, I was a bit reluctant to book too far out in case something came up or the weather wasn’t looking good. It worked !! We had perfect weather.
We arrived in Te Anau early in the afternoon and parked on the lakefront for half an hour or so for a look around. Fiona went for a quick look through some of the shops.
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Fiona at NZMCA park Te Anau
Lake of Mirrors
Cascade Creek walk
The boat we were on
Mitre Peak looking very majestic… Stunning
Cruising in Milford Sound
From our waterfront walk.
We then rocked into the NZMCA park which is about 1k or so out of the town. Its a nice park with rural views.
At 8am the next morning, the coach turned up and we were off towards Milford Sound. It has been years since I was down here so I’d completely forgotten the lie of the land except I remembered this awful road so we were happy being driven by someone who knew the road and it wasn’t any where near as bad as I remembered.
Our first stop was in an amazing valley surrounded by mountains with a little bit of fog. A lovely spot. Don’t forget to click on these images to have a decent look at them!
We then headed off towards the mirrored lakes and had a stroll through the trees on a boardwalk looking at the reflections. Nice !
Back in the coach and then we stopped at a small walk down to another lake called Cascade Creek which backs onto Lake Gunn. A nice stroll and lovely place. The next stop after this was to see the Falls Creek Waterfall and then we went through the Homer Tunnel.
We arrived in Milford and boarded a really nice double decker party boat and set off fairly quickly towards Mitre Peak. You feel so small among these huge mountains all around.
We were lucky to see some rare Hector Dolphins just by Mitre peak which were the largest pod the skipper had every seen in Milford.
We then we headed out further through the sound towards the Tasman sea. The trip took about 90 minutes but was amazing. It is really nice to get to see and feel the size and scale of these huge mountains which you don’t appreciate from the postcards.
On the way back we spotted a seal having a snooze on a rock and others playing in the water and then came to a massive waterfall. The skipper put the nose of the boat into the falls for those interested in having a shower to get wet 🙂
We were taken for a walk along the waterfront in Milford before getting back on the coach to head back to Te Anau.
A great trip and well worth doing.. check out the Deals on the NZMCA web site.
An absolutely stunning trip and well worth doing with a great crew.
There was free parking provided in a carpark right next to the Chunnel entrance so we took advantage of that for our last night in France. We woke up early to see if we could get an earlier crossing in the Chunnel as our booking was for 10:55am. Gary and Dianne were ready early so we were off.
When we checked in, we found that we could get on an 9:50 crossing so we were in.
After checking underneath and see if any stowaways were hanging on as requested by the British border man, we headed off to Starbucks in the duty free pavilion until our time for boarding.
It was all really easy. After spending 20 minutes or so in the carriage inside Ralph, we were in Folkstone, UK and drove straight out onto the the motorway towards the Dartmouth Crossing.
A bit of traffic on the M25 around London slowed us down but by 2.30pm, we were in Milton Keynes picking up our suitcases from Ralphs home at Hireahymer.com.
After this, we followed the Gary’s GPS settings to the Old Dairy Farm campground which is right by a canal. Just beautiful. A really small camp with about 15 powered sites on an old Farm.
We headed off in Ralph up to a pub about 3 k’s called the Three Locks Hotel which is as it says, right by 4 locks and by the canal.
A beautiful setting. We shouted Dianne and Gary a meal out on our last night as a way of saying thank you for being in their hair for the previous month or so and being great tour guides, especially of their old home country of the Czech Republic. We wouldn’t have had the confidence to do it without you guys. Thanks heaps to you both.
The Dairy Farm house
A sneaky pic of Dianne and Gary
We had a great night there. I think we were all pretty tired as starting out in France early and driving to where we were was all a bit hectic.
It was a relatively early night but what a lovely spot to finish off the trip.
In the morning we were taking Ralph home and catching a coach to Heathrow Ibis for a night and then our flight home to NZ.
While had the rental car we found that we weren’t really that far from Stratford on Avon so we’d do a trip up there for a look around.
On the way we stopped at a neat wee town called Moreton on Marsh and also had a walk around there.
We noticed one of the pubs there was doing specials around the Sky showing of the Lions V the All Blacks so we asked if we could watch the Americas Cup as a back up plan and they were very welcoming. We managed to get our Sky Go app and internet issues sorted so it wasn’t necessary but very kind of them.
Stratford on Avon was an amazing town. It was chocker with people having fun everywhere and again some more of those lovely old buildings. These looked even older but more Thatched roofs and from basic building practices.
The Canal was busy with a couple of Narrow boats set up as Ice cream shops doing a great trade. There were canal boats parked on the river and moving in all directions along with tour boats and a larger restaurant barge left while we were there.
We had a good wander up through the shopping streets to look at some of the old buildings.
There is one house there that is said to the oldest house still lived in. Part of it has been turned into a museum. It is just great seeing all these towns and they’re all different.
The Americas Cup was on and the stars all lined up for eldest son Drew and Jenna to take us out on our old boat Rorqual. It was also Fiona’s birthday so it was a big day.
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Other son Alex and wife Sarah, along with the grandsons Liam and Ayden were meeting us there too.
We all boarded at Milford Marina and set off under the bridge down to the course off North Head.
After finding a hole amongst the huge spectator fleet and getting the anchor to settle we waited for the race to start.
There were boats everywhere and most had plenty of people on board too.
After a couple of start delays they were off. Its great being part of it but I’ve always thought from many years of covering these events from my old newspaper days, unless you’re on a boat following them down the course, you don’t tend to see very much of them as they’re usually so far away. As I say though, great to be part of it and nice to be out there soaking it all in.
There was one big boat behind us that were sitting out on their outside deck with the G&T’s watching it on a huge TV as well as seeing it from the boat.. the best of both worlds.
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Liam up with me on the Flybridge on our way to the course.
Jenna and Sarah
The Bahamas comes to Auckland
Drew had set up his Ipad so we could get a reception on the boat and keep up with the play so that was really good too.
Lots of people were cooling off in the water off the back of their boats too. A real carnival atmosphere.
We had to catch the tide back at Milford and a restaurant in Milford was waiting for the birthday girl so we left early to head back but a great afternoon out soaking it all in.
It was Classic Boat Riverhead Pub day and as it turned out a Reunion of sorts with lots of old friends I haven’t seen for a while. We were going up on Alan’s 28 ft Lanes Classic boat, Raindance.
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Alan and I are both ex Launch Captains of the Classic Yacht Association so we had both done this trip many times before as part of that role and it was always a fun day out.
Alan picked me up from home about 8:30 and we were down at Bayswater Marina ready to go just before 9. The forecast was for showers and very little wind so the 13 or so other boats coming would be able to deal with this easily.
As Alan had organised this, I’d had a bit of a heads up on who was coming so I was looking forward to see some of the original people involved with the rebirth of the Classic Launches in Auckland.
We left in the sunshine to head under the harbour bridge and headed up a little beyond the Greenhithe Bridge where we were to meet up with all the other boats and at 10:15, we headed up in single file to the Pub. The departure time was crucial to give us the maximum eating / drinking / social time before the river lost its water with the tide.
Jason in his newly restored boat called My Girl caught up with us off Beachaven and we followed him up to the meeting point just past Herald Island. The other boats all seemed to arrive together and soon we were off to the pub.
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Freinds Dave and Barb Cooke with their lovely old Salthouse Trinidad
Everybody anchored and tied up without any drama and it was up to the Marque to catchup with old friends. A few people I talked to asked me questions about Motorhomes ! .. seems we might have a few more ex boaties coming our way 🙂
A great day but all good things have to come to an end and with the tide on its way out, it was time to dodge the showers back to Bayswater.
It was an easy trip back with the chop building a little on the way and a few showers.
Over our boating years, both Alan and I have had some amazing moments in both Bon Accord harbour at Kawau and around Kawau so being driven around on the ferry so we could have a good look with a commentary was a real treat.
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Alan does one of the biggest, if not the biggest Wooden Boating Blogs around called Waitematawoodys.com and was on the Classic Yacht Association committee with me for several years. We have been known to sneak away in Rafe for the odd boys trip which are always fun!
We left Rafe about 9:30 from the Sandspit Holiday Park and wandered along the road to the wharf to get our tickets and check in. So after having a cuppa at the café on the wharf we set off about 10:30 for Kawau.
Being an Island and only accessible by boat, Kawau Island has only a handful of roads and a handful of vehicles.
Almost all the houses only have water only access and the way they’ve been built either on top of a hill with their own chairlifts (think electric Wheely Bin on a rail 🙂 ) with a jetty at the bottom or on the water. Some of them are amazing but I suspect most would be either baches, occupied by retired folk or who don’t have to commute.
We were on the Royal Mail boat which started at Vivian Bay in the north and worked its way around to Bon Accord Harbour and Mansion House Bay and then down to South Cove where there was mail to be dropped off. On the way back to Mansion House Bay for lunch, we passed the Old Copper Mine.
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Their own little harbour!
Passengers getting off at Mansion House
The descent of the wheelie bin!
Kawau was huge source of copper in the mid 1800’s with a community of around 300 related to the Mine and its output at its peak. By the 1800’s it all fizzled out and most of the miners moved on to the Gold Fields.
After a walk around the Mansion House and the coffee shop, we eventually made our way back to the ferry. It was nice barrelling along at 15 knots in the sun with a glass of Pinot Gris in hand.
We walked back to Rafe in the Sandspit Holiday Park and prepared ourselves for a meal at Sandspit Yacht Club.
They’ve had a lot of rain up here so the Sandspit Holiday Park crew suggested that we stick to one back from the water just to make sure we don’t sink!
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My old boating friend Alan and I were in need of some time out of the house so we decided a few days before to check out the Sandspit Holiday Park and do a trip to Kawau on the ferry. Sounded like a plan thought I so off we went early on the Friday afternoon. It is only 42k’s from Auckland and with little traffic, we were there at 3.30pm.
Its a lovely little park with a lot of permanent Baches and Caravans but what a neat spot.
With an NZMCA discount, it was $23 each a night. With their very new Showers and Kitchens, its a delight to stay at. There are a whole bunch of older interesting buildings there too and Horace the Morris is a feature as well.
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Snakes and Ladders anyone
Horace the Morris
One of the Quirky wee cottages you can stay in
Out of the way
kayaks available too
Rafe by the water
We stayed two nights with a ferry trip to Kawau in between. Lucky with the weather, after getting back from Kawau, we walked along to the newly setup restaurant on the top floor of the Sandspit Yacht Club and caught up with Motorhome friends Rob and Helen who live not far away from there.
The last time we were here, unbeknown to me, they had some issues with the drainage system for the bathrooms which used to be a real problem apparently in the height of summer.
This has all been upgraded and put up the hill out of the way and hasn’t been an issue since. Nice friendly hosts who were happy to help with anything. ..
A great spot and handy to the Kawau ferry and the new Marina at Sandspit.
The Netspeed Speedtest for here.
Download: 7.34 Mbps
Upload: 2.10 Mbps
Ping: 23 ms
I think the tower was playing up a bit as we had some difficulty with the connection over the two nights.
This was first posted in Feb 2016 .. a special repost for lockdown!
After the torrential rain on Saturday morning, the organisers of the Rotoiti Classic boats decided to postpone it until Sunday.
For the last few years, Alan and I have jumped into Rafe and come down to see the great spectacle that is the Rotoiti Classic Boats Parade. For the last few years, we have also provided images to the society for their annual calendar. They’re a really friendly bunch and we’ve made some really good friendships with quite a few of them.
We left the camp early and after a quick breakfast, we took Rafe around to the top of the “viewing platform” which is a park and parking area just along the road from Okere Falls Store.
We were welcomed by commodore Grant and past commodore Fraser down by the water and offered several options for possies to help with pictures and they couldn’t have been more helpful.
Alan took his from the back of the commentary boat while I set up in my nice comfy deck chair on the grass and sat right by the waters edge and shot from there.
Several hundred people materialised from everywhere quite quickly and made themselves comfortable on the grass.
At 10:30, the whistle sounded and the first boats started the parade. From Rowing boats right through to big launches. All meticulously maintained and most with oodles of history.
As always, click on the images to see them in hi res and the slideshow below.
A great spectacle. A nice weekend with some great people.
After the parade finished, the boats all headed over to the other side of the lake and enjoyed their annual picnic on the beach.
We headed for home after stopping briefly at Tirau for lunch.