Tag Archives: Cafe

Lounging at the Lion – Piha

One of the trips I’ve been wanting to do for ages but I haven’t been able to get Fiona interested in is a trip to Piha. One of Aucklands better west coast beaches, it is dominated by Lion Rock in the middle and is one of the few North Island beaches to have two surf clubs.

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Lion Rock looking fantastic

Over the years the road has improved massively but it is still very windy(curvy) in places and there is no direct route. There are several ways of getting there but the best one I think is via Henderson Valley. Check the map below.

Its a slow 30k odd from the centre of Auckland but well worth it when you get here and its a nice drive.

Lion Rock

The Holiday park is a leased site off the council as part of the Domain but privately run and is on black sand. Its a big park with plenty of room and is only 5 minutes walk to the beach via a bridge over the lagoon.

All that space

At the time of this post, it was $22 per adult with power with new showers and loos close by. There is a cafe right over the road and a General Store next door for anything you may have forgotten.

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The beach is spectacular. I popped down here at dusk  to find a dozen or so amateur photographers wandering around in a group waiting to get the sunset.

The Amateur photographers doing their dusk pix.

Its funny as I remember when I was working at The Auckland Star, we used to get called on to judge various photographic awards for these Camera Clubs. The people were always very friendly and it was interesting to see what they were up to.  Generally it was a PR thing from the Star’s point of view and we tried to help with ideas where we could. I remember judging at the North Shore Society awards a couple of times but can’t remember any of the others.

Finished for the day

I met one of the members and gave him a few ideas while we were wandering around Lion Rock on the black sand. It was great to see them out there having some fun.

Sunset

After that, I wandered back to Rafe through the black sand and had a drink with my neighbours. A great night.

One of my neighbours Jo doing massages !

Lovely spot, close to Auckland and reasonably priced with a great Beach.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Piha

Good value Motohome parking with Pools.

After a great lunch at a Cafe in Ngongotaha shopping centre (the one closest to the NZMCA park) we had to start thinking about where we were going to stay for the night. It was 36C and I was sweaty already. It was also time to wash the linen.

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Rafe between the Hedgerows

Rotorua Family Holiday Park came up on the NZMCA app as being reasonably priced and they also had a laundry and a pool!  Perfection at $34 a night with a powered site and they were just around the corner in Ngongotaha.

Kids Playground

Motorhomers Reece and Diane, have been working on this park for the last 13 years and it looks fantastic. I was really impressed with the Motorhome sites being big, between hedgerows and easy to get in and out off.

The Tourist Flats .. neat

After buying their new Motorhome about 18 months ago, their only regret was having been too busy to get away in it.. the downside of self employment but they’ve done an excellent job of doing up the park and I’m sure they’ll get time to get away eventually !

Art Deco Loos

The Tourist flats and Toilets are in an Art Deco style and have all been done up and they look great.

How are those Flats

They’ve just finished doing up the Kitchen, Laundry and BBQ area and it looks good.

The Barbeque area.. neat and tidy

Fiona stripped the bed and headed off to the Laundry while I walked around and got some piccies. After that, we both headed straight for the pool and were there most of the afternoon. It was heavenly. We did have momentary thoughts about biking in on the trail to Rotorua which is literally just outside the gate but it was just too hot!

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We hadn’t long been in the pool when we met some German tourists who lived in southern Germany near Isny where the Dethleffs Motorhomes are made. Nice people and they were really interesting to talk to given Brexit and other things that are happening at the moment.

Nicely setup

It was nice to find a really nice clean campground, with great hosts at a really sensible price, in what is normally quite an expensive place to stay.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Down on the Beach

Having finished with the house pretty much with the landscaping, Laundry and Kitchen bits, it was time to get back in Rafe and head south.

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A primo spot in the corner

With the 32C degree temperatures plus, we figured a beach park would be the name of the game so we picked Waihi Beach NZMCA park.

Its a busy park now and its easy to see why being so handy to the Beach and easy rides to cafe’s. There’s even a nice Cafe right next door.

Look at those plants go!

Having done some piccies of the opening, I was really pleased to see how the plants had grown and how established it all looks. Its nice too to see the 3 metre parking marks. I reckon that makes it much easier to line yourself up keep everyone a resonable distance apart.

Nice planting and they’re off

When we first arrived there was a good westerley breeze blowing across the park so the sensible place to park was on the upwind side of the park and with the 30 plus degree temporatures, it was nice to have the breeze blowing through Rafe to keep us cool.

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We spent the first afternoon down in the township being only a 10 minute bike ride away and then headed down the bike trail down to Bowentown about 7ks’ south. Its a great ride and although we didn’t go right down to Anzac Bay its a great run.

The Bike trail heading back to the park

The next day we walked down to the beach. A nice spot to stop over and good to see the park is so popular.

Waihi Beach Pod

Waihi Beach NZMCA park is an easy 10 minute bike ride away from the centre of Waihi Beach shops.

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Easy parking for our bikes

We rode in for a look around the shops and to check out somewhere for lunch.

The Courtyard

Fiona found a setup called the Pod which is a group of Bure like buildings amongst a very pacific inspired garden which serves fantastic food and coffee. It also has a few shops in there too in separate buildings. Its on the left as you ride into the shops.

Fiona in the Bure

Quite a setup and it seemed to be very popular with the locals.
There is also easy secure parking for bikes (bring a bike lock).

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A lovely spot and quite different from your normal cafe.

One of the shops

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.

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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

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.

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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.

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.

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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

De Molen Windmill

We’ve passed through Foxton several times and every time have said, we should have stopped to check out that Windmill.. well, this time we did and what an amazing project.

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The Windmill

It is modelled on a 17th century Dutch Windmill with some modern changes to meet NZ building codes.

The Milling gear in the Windmill

De Molen was setup by two Dutch immigrants Jan Langen and Cor Slobbe and opened in 2003. It was established as a monument to all the Dutch immigrants that came to New Zealand and bring tourism and create some employment for the town.

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There is easy Motorhome parking behind the Public Library right next door on grass. Admission is $2 for a self guided tour and from the top, you can right out to Foxton beach and also a great view over the town.

Looking out to Foxton Beach

Its well worth doing and Fiona and I also saw the Rembrandt paintings on at the Library right next door. A really interesting hour or so,k

Rafe’s track to the Windmill

Catching up with Terry and Lisa

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.

Carolines Outback Bar and Restaurant

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.

No Holes left

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.

Terry with Lisa, Archie and Fiona

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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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.

Origin at Otorohanga

We were staying in the reasonably newish Otorohanga NZMCA park which is only 800 metres to the Town centre.

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Otorohanga’s main street

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.

Fiona with the poles outside the I site

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!

The Railway Station built in 1923 after the original burnt down

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.

Fiona ordering coffees

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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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 !

The Railway station with the North Island train in.

We biked back to Rafe at the park to think about when we can do that Train trip 🙂