My old neighbours Terry and Lisa moved to Wangavegas (Wanganui) as he calls it, about 15 years ago and they love it. They’re really settled here with new friends and are currently building a new house out by the Golf course which is perfect for Terry as he loves his Golf.
We arrived early in the day and checked in at Carolines Outback Holiday Park where I’ve stayed before. Its a great park and it is right behind Carolines Outback Bar and Restaurant which was perfect for us to have a meal with Terry and Lisa.
They popped in about 5pm and we had a couple of drinks in Rafe before checking in to the Restaurant at 6:30.
A fabulous meal as always and it was great to catch up and hear all about their new house and their family.
In the morning they popped around and we walked around the river across the bridges with their Dog Archie before checking out at 10am and heading North towards Auckland.
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The Office – Bruce’s Truck
On the bridge Terry, Fiona and Lisa with Archie
Along the River where we walked.
Caroline’s Outback Holiday park is a great spot to stay and Bruce is always happy to help. Unfortunately it was a bit overcast and gloomy this time but check out the images from the last time I we were here and also see Bruces Truck.
The Tracker has popped its clogs so until its fixed or replaced there are no maps.. The Park is by the river about 1 k inland from the city on the Somme Parade.
We were staying in the reasonably newish Otorohanga NZMCA park which is only 800 metres to the Town centre.
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One of the first shops we popped into was an Art Deco shop which had all sorts of stuff in it including quite a bit section on Steam Punk as well. Lots of Cloche hats and neat things.
A walk across the road and down through the Ed Hillary lane was a huge display of Kiwiana including a neatly displayed board of Kiwi slang and its American or English equivalent. Also there were old ads for wringer washing machines and reminders of the half pint of Milk at School. I was a milk monitor at the school I was at in Central Wellington so remember it well. Nice cold milk in winter for morning tea, Yum!
As you come out of the arcade at the other end is the railway station. We parked the bikes and went in for a couple of Latees. There we met Roger who owns the Origin coffee company that imports Coffee from their own farm in Malawi and brews it in the Railway Station. The coffee is fantastic. One of the best I’ve had for a while.
Roger started Origin in 1999 and has gone from strength to strength since then. When you’re in the Station, don’t expect a big selection of food apart from Toasted Sammies and Cakes. The good news is, you’re welcome to bring you’re own food. Roger is keen to concentrate on the coffee 🙂
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The original Railway station built in the late 1880’s
The cafe with the roasting gear.
The Roasting equipment
After half an hour or so of chatting to Roger and enjoying the Coffee, as we were leaving, the Auckland to Wellington Train pulled in… this is a trip I want to do as well.. looks great !
We biked back to Rafe at the park to think about when we can do that Train trip 🙂
Grandsons, Ayden and Liam were both really looking forward to seeing some boiling mud for the first time and if we could, the famous Pohutu Geyser.
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We left early and walked about 100 metres to Te Puia all well connected by tunnels under the roadway. The family pass which was normally $150 odd seemed appropriate and because there was a NZ special discount, we were able to show our drivers licenses and get nearly $50 off ! A big saving.
There just enough time to get the boys an ice cream and us a coffee before the next tour was due to head off with Guide Kiri.
She was fantastic and as the Geysers were still building up a head of steam, after teaching the group of about 60 in the tour how to pronounce the full name of Whakarewarewa(and a lot more), she took us first to see the craft academy. Whakarewarewa is the abbreviated form !
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In the gallery
Wax moulds for Bronze statues
One of the smaller Geysers before it disappeared into the cloud
People watching the Geyser
Fiona, Ayden and Liam on the way to the Geysers
I didn’t realise but they have a full Academy for training craftsmen from Bone or Stone carving to Wood Carving, Jewellery and many other skills. They work on show for the tourists behind and below a walkway and you finally end up in a Gallery where the work is available to buy. The trainees have uniforms and have a full apprenticeship/graduation ceremony. It is an amazing setup. Very entrepreneurial and all done very nicely. I was impressed.
The steam was building up so Kiri took us down to the Mud Pools then onto the Geysers. Unfortunately there was a grey sky and the steam and the clouds all merged so it was impossible to really see the water let alone photograph it. The boys enjoyed it and also got to sit on some warm concrete which was nice as it was only 10C!
We spent about 4 hours there all up and we decided it was time to head back to Rafe and go and warm up in the Hot Pool.
As I say, I was very impressed with the way it was all setup. Paths and bridges are a long way from what I remember from the old Whaka village with them all being well engineered and maintained.
A fun day for young and old 🙂
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.
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 🙂
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.
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 !
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.
Both tunnels were reasonably short. We continued a slight climb through a really rocky Central Otago landscape to cross the main Viaduct.
From here we were on the edge of the Ida Valley and could pretty much see right down towards Ranfurly.
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The road to Lauder
Glass of water and a cake and we’re off again
The first Viaduct
Off the first bridge
On the way back to Tunnel 2
Crossing the second Viaduct
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.
It was sandwich time before heading back to Lauder. We’d done the bits we missed !
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.
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.
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.
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.
It was really nice to see Terry and we ended up having Tea at the Omakau Hotel which was great.
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.
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.
Other areas have small lookouts suspended over banks with amazing views of the harbour.
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!
We parked right up the top of the carpark and set off through the gardens.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
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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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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In a primo spot
Plenty of space
The kitchen, showers and toilets
Check out the current at the wharf!
Looking from the port over to the Richmond hills
Its all aboit bikes here. The shops at the port behind
Fiona riding off over the causeway to Mapua
We were right on the waterfront. Just amazing looking back over Rabbit Island to the hills behind Nelson. A great spot.
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.
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!
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 sun was shining, the wind was insignificant and it was just lovely by the water, watching boats come and go.
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.
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.
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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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.
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!
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 🙂
We found a couple but not quite what was required it seems so a cup of coffee in a cafe was a nice break.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of the Gun Emplacements
The old Gun Emplacements and Rangitoto
A few words of wisdom from an old fella (Gary) to the groom 🙂
Proud Dad Mark with Alisha and MC Gary doing the sounds.
All ready for the Wedding in the Officers Mess
The Officers Mess
The view across to the city
Rafe and the Fuso in the carpark. Gary later moved right next to us.
Rafe in the carpark with the Barrack buildings.
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.
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.
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 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.
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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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.
The Garen with the Pub behind
Nice outdoor seating
His parents owned the pub next door which is where he was born.
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.
Its 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.
As you come into Kerikeri on the left, there is a new complex of buildings set up as a Chocolate Factory and Café.
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.
Easy parking, lots of nice sweet things and great Coffee.