Tag Archives: Cafe

The dusty track from Lauder

While we were in Tekapo with our neighbours, Ray and Margaret who have been living in their bus for the last 4 ½ years or so, we found out that we had probably missed the best part of the Rail Trail while we were in Ranfurly. We had a few days up our sleeve before catching up with Helen in Lowburn so we decided to spend another couple of nights at one of our favorite stops in Central Otago, the Omakau Hotel.

The Omakau Hotel is well setup for Motorhomes with a whole set of Ensuite cabins and concreted Motorhome parks out behind the Hotel. See my previous blog on this.

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We were travelling from the NZMCA park in Cromwell so it wasn’t that far.

Getting ready at Omakau behind the Hotel

We used the time to have a good tidy up. Vacuuming and washing Rafe inside and out! The only problem is that the fresh water in these parts has a high level of calcium which dries on as water spots.. ugly! At least it was clean 🙂

At Omakau

The next morning, we up early and set off on the bikes to Lauder on the bike trail. The first bit to Lauder was slightly uphill but barely noticeable. There were a couple of bridges but it was largely a dead straight track across open fields most of the way to Lauder.

Arriving at Lauder

We stopped briefly at Lauder for a couple of sandwiches which we took with us and a glass of water.. the last of the big spenders !

Viaduct 1

From here is was a slight uphill grind up to the hills until we came to a curved viaduct crossing a river which was amazing. We stopped here for a look then headed onto some amazing tunnels which had to be walked through.

Real lord of the rings type of landscape

Both tunnels were reasonably short. We continued a slight climb through a really rocky Central Otago landscape to cross the main Viaduct.

The first Tunnel

From here we were on the edge of the Ida Valley and could pretty much see right down towards Ranfurly.

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Amazing view. Apparently this Viaduct took three years to build and the workers lived up here in the hills in little shacks. It must have been pretty unpleasant. There are some great signboards which give you the history as you go along.

Viaduct 2 took three years to build.

It was sandwich time before heading back to Lauder. We’d done the bits we missed !

Viaduct 2 with the Ida valley behind

The ride was great and it was nice to see the Tunnels and Viaducts that we had missed. We worked out that we did approximately 36k’s there and back.

On the way back to Tunnel 2

This was the easy bit. Feet up downhill really all the way back to Omakau. We stopped in at Lauder for a cuppa and something else to eat before heading back to Omakau.

In the tunnel

While we were in Lauder having a cup of coffee, I received a phone call from my old neighbour, Terry. He was on the road on his way to Alexandra and was keen to catch up.

Fiona nearly back at Lauder

We arranged to meet at Omakau and we had not long been back when he arrived armed with a bottle of Chardonnay and some cheese and biccies.

On the way back to Omakau

It was really nice to see Terry and we ended up having Tea at the Omakau Hotel which was great.

Larnach’s Garden

I’ve been to Larnach’s Castle a few times before but never really noticed or appreciated the huge gardens.

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The castle was originally built by William Larnach for his family in 1874. The Barker family bought the Castle in 1967 after it had fallen into a state of disrepair and had basically been abandoned which is when they restored the Castle and then later the gardens.

Outside the ballroom

The Barkers have done an amazing job of creating a massive series of different gardens in and around the Castle. One of the features is a Pergola (the lead pic) which is huge and covered in trees creating a tunnel with a view of Dunedin and the end.

Dunedin through the Pergola

Other areas have small lookouts suspended over banks with amazing views of the harbour.

Fiona enjoying the Garden

We drove up the peninsula in Rafe and its an interesting road. The weather had closed in and it was quite dreary and drizzly, not conducive to nice bright piccies!

On the road to the castle looking towards Port Chalmers

We parked right up the top of the carpark and set off through the gardens.

Rafe tucked up in the top corner

Just the entrance from the carpark was spectacular with really bright flowers and nice trees. I’m not really up on all the names of plants and gardening but even I could see that this was special.

The entrance to the Garden

We came out onto the front lawn of the Castle and because we hadn’t read the instructions :-), we set off in the opposite direction to the intended tour but made it to all the areas of interest !

Larnach Castle

After an hour or so, we ended up in the Castle Ballroom and Cafe. Two open fires burning made it really warm and inviting and after another 30 minutes or so, we set off to head down the road to Portobello.

The Cafe / Ballroom

We had a quick look around Portobello and then headed back around the waterfront back to the city. It is quite a long way and is a slow road back. Its well worth doing and the Gardens and the Castle are a must do too.

More nice Garden
Round the back with the Alice in Wonderland area

The Gardens were $15 each which included parking.

Port Mapua

Checking in at Mapua Leisure Park in the rain was easy. Getting Rafe organised in the rain on these huge parks was another matter. The parks are generally 9m by 9m but are marked only by little signs in the grass. Fun to see in the rain 🙂

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Rabbit Island and the Nelson hills behind

After figuring out that the trees I’d parked in front of were in the way of a good TV signal, all was well.   It was all about knowing where North was 🙂 I was completely confused even though I was once a boy scout too!

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We were right on the waterfront. Just amazing looking back over Rabbit Island to the hills behind Nelson. A great spot.

The port and the shops

On our second day, we went for a bike ride around to the Mapua Port. In what used to some old cool stores have all been turned into a selection of specialty shops and food outlets. It was really interesting. The port is only about 10 minutes riding from the camping ground and is an easy walk too.

The Antique shop in the cool store.

After looking through an antique shop with Fiona I went back to the wharf and watched the boats with the amazing current with the outgoing tide. It must have been at least 5 knots! The boats on the moorings look like theyre under way and when a small boat came in against the current, it looked like it was barely making and headway. It must be a dangerous area if you broke down!

The ferry and looking  towards the camp on the left.

After having some great Fish and Chips at the fish shop, we headed back to the town for a cuppa at the bakery and then back to the camp.

The bakery at Mapua town.

The sun was shining, the wind was insignificant and it was just lovely by the water, watching boats come and go.

Rafe on the waterfront

With over 100 powered sites, a pool, a Cafe and some motels, its massive. A very pleasant place to stay and I gather it rocks during summer.

Rafe’s track to Mapua

Riding to beat the rain

We woke up to a stunning view across the water at Rabbit island. It was dead still and with lots of local dog walkers out exercising.

Dogs exercising their owners.

Who’d have thought that it was going to go pear shaped later in the day with a front forecaast to come over and drench the whole country !

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Bright Sunshine

We thought there would be a few hours where we could jump on our bikes and go into Nelson for a look around. Fiona was keen to get some wool and it was good to bike around the foreshore and check out all the neat houses tucked into the hillside.

Wow

The bike lanes are pretty narrow and close to the traffic so we ended up using the footpaths probably more than we should have but there were no pedestrians so Hey Ho!

The typical Nelson look

We parked our bikes in the centre of town and locked our bikes into the provided bike racks and set off on foot. On a mission for the wool shops 🙂

The main road through Nelson with the council clock.

We found a couple but not quite what was required it seems so a cup of coffee in a cafe was a nice break.

The River through Nelson

After looking around a bit more, we hopped back on the bikes and headed back the 4kms back to the campground. The weather was closing in and it all looked different with a grey sky but still nice and warm. After an 8K round trip, it was time for a cuppa by the sea.

The famous Restaurant over the water on the way back.

A great day out and although it was supposed to be raining by 2pm and we rode back looking at the threatening sky, it was still dry at 6pm!

The Wedding at the Fort

What a fun weekend. Our old friends Mark and Tina’s eldest daughter Alisha was getting married to Tom and they had chosen The Officers Mess at Fort Takapuna as the wedding venue.  A fantastic spot and where Fiona’s family had spent some years in the officers housing by Narrow Neck beach.

The roof of the old fort with the Officers Mess behind and the carpark.

Just as it says, The officers Mess has been converted into a Wedding Venue and Café and was the old Officers Mess for the Army and later used by the Navy as well.  Its a lovely old building which looks out over the harbour towards Rangitoto Island.

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Fiona’s dad Norm was CO of Fort Cautley which was then the HQ for the Army’s 3rd Battalion. There were officers and senior NCO houses from the current buildings all the way down to Narrow Neck Beach.

Narrow Neck beach. This grass is where all the officers housing was.

Fort Takapuna has a huge history. It was originally built to fend off the Russians in the 1860’s and later updated for the two world wars in case the Japanese or Germans got down here. It is now looked after by DOC and more information on it can be seen here.
Its well worth a look around and the carpark is huge, perfect for Motorhomes and Caravans.

The Old Fort

When Friday came around, Fiona and I decided we would make a weekend of it and stay in Devonport on Friday night. We earlier met our old friends Dani and Grant at the Esplanade Hotel for a few cold ones and afterwards tea at the wharf.

The next day was wedding day and I packed up Rafe and headed off to the venue where we had permission to stay overnight in the carpark as guests.

In the carpark

I spent the day having a really good look around the fort while Fiona was getting her hair done.  There was a soccer game on at the playing field there which was fun to watch. I have no idea who was playing but it was fun to watch and I really enjoyed shooting a few piccies of it. I haven’t photographed any soccer since my days on the Herald and the Auckland Star so it was fun. Soccer is one of the hardest games to photograph as so I was pleased that I got a couple or reasonable piccies from it being as rusty as I am.

One of the better soccer piccies 🙂

The forecast rain held off so the ceremony was held outside looking out on the harbor. It was a bit of a catchup with old friends for us as Gary, Chris, Mark and Tina are all old Boatie mates along with Geoff and Bev who were also there.  We were all put on Table 4! Our friends Gary and Chris were joint MC’s and they did a great job. It was nice to catch up with the extended families and old friends too, many of them had come over from Aussie for the occasion.

The Wedding Service with a view

The wedding went well, the food was great and it was a fun night. We finished the night in Rafe with “Table 4” friends for a nightcap and cups of tea.

Rafe’s Track map

The way home from Fort Takapuna

New overnight parking at Hukerenui

On our way north by the Hukerenui Pub is the Jack Morgan Museum. I was interested in this as my old Whalechaser Rorqual was built by a Jack Morgan in Picton and although I was certain there was no connection given the distance, one never knows 🙂

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The Museum
The Museum

It turns out that the Hukerenui Jack Morgan was a real character and was a local identity an on retirement started his collection which now makes up the contents of the Museum. Some of the locals have done a great job of the gardens next door too.

His parents owned the pub next door which is where he was born.

The Parking, plenty of room
The Parking, plenty of room

A really interesting place and if you visit the Museum, you can stay for free on the grass behind. It is $6 a night otherwise. There are toilets there too.

MorganIts well worth a look through with all sorts of knick nacks from years gone by and there is a café next door in the pub to finish off with a cup of tea.

Treats at Makana

As you come into Kerikeri on the left, there is a new complex of buildings set up as a Chocolate Factory and Café.

Rafe parked up safely
Rafe parked up safely

A great place to spoil yourself as well as rest your legs and get something sweet.  It is also very easy to park Motorhomes in the car park as long as you pick one of the end parks on each row. There is also bus parking around the back for caravans and longer vehicles.

We visited a Chocolate factory on the outskirts of Blenheim, last year and that was their South Is store.

MakanaEasy parking, lots of nice sweet things and great Coffee.