Tag Archives: Campgrounds

Staying at the Racecourse

Another great weather day was there to greet us as we rose to leave Reefton to go to Richmond.

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The grand entrance

We were gagging for a coffee by the time we approached the Nelson area. There is a nice wee place at Kohatu called the Flat Rock Café where we’ve stopped several times before.

Easy parking for big vehicles and a good coffee so we stopped there for half an hour or so before we carried on towards the Nelson Racecourse in Richmond.

Rafe parked under the trees

At $20 a night with power, water, rubbish, toilets showers and laundry its very affordable and in a nice spot.

Relaxing in the sun

After parking, opening vents and settling down, we went for a 20 minute walk into Richmond to have a nosey around the shops and a coffee. Last time we were here, they had half the main street all ripped up and it was impossible to get anywhere. It was nice to see it all finished and it looks good too.

A happy James with his car

The next day, we met our neighbour James who was on his own in his Motorhome. We were keen to visit upper Moutere and when James found this out, he asked us if we could take him up to Woodstock so he could retrieve his car. He was getting it fitted with an A frame and going to tow it behind his Motorhome. There is no public transport or any other way for him to get his car.

We’ve never been to Woodstock and it wasn’t far out of our way so we were off with James to get his car.

We took a wrong turn and for a moment we weren’t sure that James knew where his car was as he wasn’t familiar with the area but after retracing our steps for a few k’s, James recognised where we were and we found his car. It’s so easy to get lost up there as we found when we tried to get from there to Upper Moutere without the GPS.

The Moutere River at Woodstock
My chatty friends at Woodstock

After we dropped James off, I found a bridge that crossed the Motueka River that flows through the Woodstock valley. After parking in a gravel pit so I could get some pictures of the river from the bridge, there were two cyclists coming the other way and I got chatting to them. They were local Caravanners who regularly did 30 odd k’s every few days around the area. We must have chatted for about 20 minutes about all sorts.. lovely couple.

It was time to head to Upper Moutere for lunch. This is when we got lost !

One of the nice things about these small towns is its usually pretty easy to get a park.. there was one big park left when we got there and we sort of fitted in it 🙂 See the pic.

The main drag at Upper Moutere
The old Post Office

We headed for the old Post Office which now sells Fancy pickles and breads and also has a very talented Jeweler making some amazing stuff. She used to work in the UK but returned home to NZ after winning a bunch of awards for her work.

The Oldest pub in NZ

After this we headed for the oldest Pub in NZ, the Moutere Inn.  We came here a few years ago so we knew the food was good and it didn’t disappoint!

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I had Nachos with Bacon and Cheese .. Wow and Fiona had a Seafood Chowder.. washed down with a local cider made less than a few paddocks away 🙂

Amazing Nacho lunch

After this we headed back to the Racecourse.

We were sitting in Rafe enjoying a cup of tea when there was knock on the door. It was James with a nice bottle of Scottish Gin he’d bought for us for taking up to Woodstock. We were bowled over as he had offered us money for diesel which we’d turned down.

If you’re reading this James.. a really nice surprise! a big thank you mate and it was lovely to meet you and be able to help you out.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Richmond – Armada GPS
Rafe’s Tracker map to Woodstock / Upper Moutere – Armada GPS

The first town in NZ to have electric Streetlights!

That’s Reefton and with its lovely old buildings, it’s all character.

Click on any Image to EnlargeAfter checking in at the campground next to the river which is very reasonable, we set off to check out the town. First stop was lunch at the Future Dough Company sitting on the pavement. I had a massive Nachos with Cream and cheese with bacon.. amazing!

Our spot in the campground

The last time we were here, we checked in with the bearded miners and although I checked in again, it was all closed up and there was no sign of them. We did find that Reefton now has its very own Gin Distillery!

Looking down the main street

We checked in to the Reefton Distilling Co in town to find it was the home of Little Biddy Gin. There were other flavours available to taste which was fun.

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After tasting a few, we ended up with one called Snow which we bought and then headed back to Rafe at the campground.

As the title suggests, Reefton was the first town in NZ to have electric streetlights powered by the river via two tunnels and a Flume in 1868. It was the first town in NZ to have a public power system.

The town reeks of the history with the amazing old buildings and the perfect place for us to stop on the way north.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Reefton – Armada GPS

Stars and Hot Pools at Tekapo

And the amazing view from our parking spot in the Holiday Park!

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The view stunning

We arrived early in the afternoon straight from Queenstown and were given an elevated park that looks straight out over the lake.. amazing. The park looks near new and the facilities are spotless.

One of the must do things on this trip was the Mt John Star project at the observatory on top of Mt John.  Fiona wandered along to the office at the campground when we realised that they were in a position to book us in for the Star project too so we were set.

Fiona in the pool overlooking Lake Tekapo
The Pools

We also got tickets to the Hot pools next to the camp and wandered down to have a swim.. again elevated with views over Lake Tekapo.

Great Parking
Lake Tekapo

About 6pm we headed into Tekapo, about a 20 minute walk from the campground and had a cold drink while we waited for the coach up to the Observatory.

The lake

The coach turned up, we all piled in(about 10 of us) and off we went up this murderous road in the dark!! When we arrived at the carpark at the top, we welcomed by our two guides and were told that there was no lights as it upsets the telescopes. Looking down to the east we had a clear view of Tekapo and the sky was amazingly clear.

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We were split into groups to have a look at the Telescopes at different stars exploding and a close up look at the moon.  It was really interesting hearing different basic facts about the stars and what they represent. We found it well worth doing and really enjoyed it.

On our walk into Tekapo

Its a lovely place Tekapo and its always fun staying here. I was really impressed with the park and the pools and as I said, a shame we were only here for the night.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Tekapo – Armada GPS

The Newest Motorcamp in Town.

After a great day in Cromwell, we were to check out the Frankton Shopping area  so we were headed there.  Amazing how this area grows and there are some good shops here too.

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Great view
Lake Wakatipu

After that we headed down the road to Driftaway.  Everything here is brand spanking new.. and nicely laid out. There is a huge multi story ablution block which includes everything you’d ever need and including a dining area / lounge which looks out over the lake.. million dollar views ! Showers , Toilets Laundry everything you’d need is all there.

New Tourist flats

The campground is layered down the hill in different levels so everyone has a view of the lake.

Looking along to the Kitchen and Lounge area

Its stunning. My only criticism would be the sites are a tad on the tight side but it is a magic spot and worth every penny of its $52 with an NZMCA discount.

Looking along to the Kitchen and Lounge area

Later in the day, Gary, Dianne and Ian arrived with their Motorhomes and we joined them later in the day for a G&T as you do 🙂

A Murky look across the lake first thing in the morning

A lovely spot but we had a plan to check out Arrowtown and still had another of Fiona’s cousins to catch up with!

Rafe’s Tracker map through to Frankton – Armada GPS

Sunny Queenstown

After a couple of good nights at the NZMCA park in Te Anau, we set off towards Queenstown. By the time we got to Lumsden, it was time for a coffee and a walk to stretch the legs.

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Lumsden – Great parking

We were last here a few years ago and the place looks fantastic. The Heritage Train Station project is looking really good and is now a full fledged parking spot for Motorhomers wanting to stop in for a night or two. The Train and carriages are covered over and its looking great.

Carriage done

We wandered down to a small Café just on the main rd. next to the Train area which carried on the rustic them but with really nice food and coffee.

Click on the Gallery below to see  enlarged Slideshow of Lumsden

After half an hour we set off towards Queenstown. One of my favourite drives around here is alongside the lake up to Jacks point alongside Lake Wakatipu.

Enjoying the beach at Queenstown

We arrived at Creeksyde Motorcamp right on lunchtime. The first thing we did was give Rafe a wash  and a general spruce up and what a difference, it changed colour!

A clean Rafe at Creeksyde
The Gardens

Queenstown was having one of those partly overcast / cloudy days which improved as the day went on. We decided after the last few days at a hectic pace we’d blob out a bit and spend a few days here so Fiona could catch up with her cousins Heather, Jan and Jan’s other half Rob.

Fiona was also keen to have a Fergberger which we did for lunch after we’d settled Rafe after his wash and opened vents etc.

Click on the Gallery below enlarged Slideshow of Queenstown

So I got the bike down, Fiona wanted to walk and I met her down at the wharf and later outside the Fergberger shop ion the main St. The burgers are everything the ad says, they are fantastic.

After that we headed off towards the gardens and had a coffee outside the beachfront Café and watched all the goings on.

Looking out towards the Remarkables
Queenstown

The next day, we woke to a fantastic clear blue sky but still no snow on those mountains. Fiona got in touch with cousin Heather who popped around and we met in a café over the road and then came over to see us in Rafe in the campground. Its always neat to see Heather, she is always on the go.

The Boatshed Cafe
The view from the deck at the Boatshed Cafe

After that, we decided it was a good day to do a bike ride through Queenstown, around the gardens on the point and right down to Frankton. Its about 15k’s for the round trip and is an easy ride through some of the best scenery.

We stopped in at The Boatshed Café which is close to the Frankton Marina and partly overlooks it. Their front deck over looks the water and looks out to the Remarkables and the food and service is amazing. There are heaps of bike racks there so you can secure your bike while you eat.

A great day out after which we headed back to Rafe and blobbed out with a nice G&T!

The Dump station st Creeksyde

We’ve stayed at Creeksyde quite a few times over the years. Its quite a quirky place with the plumbing decorations and the artwork.. one of the best dump stations around and well decorated too.

The loos at Creeksyde

They were doing a deal that if you stayed three nights, the tariff dropped to $49 a night down from $55 for two. Given that it is an easy walk to Queenstown shops and is well appointed with the best loos and showers around, I think its pretty reasonable and they’re always friendly and helpful.

Rafe’s tracker map to Queenstown – Armada GPS

A day in the sun in Dunedin

We seem to get the short straw when it comes to getting great weather in Dunedin but we struck the jackpot this time. It was perfect.

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Ross, Fiona and Karen at St Clair for tea.

Before we left Geraldine, I rang our old friends from Devonport, Ross and Karen who have recently moved after a long time in Cromwell to Dunedin. We hadn’t seen them since Ross’s birthday party a few years ago so we were looking forward to catching up.

Nice parking

We made a beeline for Dunedin Holiday Park which was doing a off peak discounted deal and was right next to St Kilda beach. It was also not far to Ross and Karen in Dunedin South.

From the top of the sandhill between the camp and the beach. City in background left.

After settling down, Ross and Karen arrived with their son Cam, and we enjoyed a catchup reunion drink on the picnic table outside Rafe. Wonderful to see them all.

Looking down to St Clair

They had arranged for us to go to tea at a nice Beachfront Café in St Clair which is basically the other end of a long beach from where we were.  After a couple of very nice pizzas, they took us around to show us their house.  A nicely renovated villa with all the mod cons.. perfect for them. Their two adult kids and grandchildren live not far away.

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The next day, we were heading to Gore and we decided to stay at the Town and Country club.

Early morning at Gore

They have an amazing setup with a brick toilet, shower and laundry setup with separate secure parking with plenty of powered sites around the perimeter of a graveled all weather parking area… all for $20. If you are a Clubs NZ member, they also do meals and have a well setup bar area. Fantastic.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Dunedin- Armada GPS

Donegal House Kaikoura

This fine establishment was created by Murray Boyd over the course of three years.

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Murray at the Bar

Murray descends from a long line of early settlers of the area from Ireland and has done wonders with his creation from scratch of an early Irish Hotel, complete with the mud hut look. Its an amazing achievement and to top it off has also created a Motorhome and Caravan park along with some amazing gardens.

There’s a mountain range there somewhere

We popped in here on an earlier trip south and spent a couple of days here waiting out some very dreary Kaikoura weather but had fun here all the same.

The Gardens

The weather this time wasn’t much better but with a great Irish welcome from Murray, a nice Gin for Fiona and a Chardonnay for Moi, we were very happy.

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Looking around with the family history on the walls, you really get a sense of what a huge job he’s done and its a great spot to stay. They also do a lot of events here.. great spot.

The main bar area with the History on the walls

The last time we were here, the weather was slightly nicer.. check it out here.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Kaikoura – Armada GPS

Sun and Sand at the Mount

After we left Cambridge, we both decided we weren’t ready to go home so we headed east and while driving decided on heading to Mount Maunganui. I’ve got several friends who have stayed at the campground at the beach and I’ve been wanting to give it a go.

Up and over the Kaimai’s and onto the mount was easy and we arrived not much after midday.

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The reception people were fantastic and we were given #1 park which they said was a bit of a treat as it was a Sunday night. #1 park is right next to the surf club and as close as you can get to the beach… absolutely a primo spot.

The Campground

There was a beach volley ball competition right on the other side of the surf club which was a final of a competition and it was well set up with a big audience watching. A real buzz.

Beach Volleyball champs

There was an endless stream of people walking along the boardwalk, both up and down the Mount, only feet from our bumper. We were right in the thick of it!

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I went for a walk around to get the lie of the land and some images and had just posted one with my phone on Facebook when we got an immediate reply from Fiona’s cousin, Malcolm and Michelle who had just arrived at their apartment along the road. They had come  from Raumati beach.

An hour or so later and we were having tea with them in Rafe looking out at the beach in front of us.. magic.

Right on the Beach

We were going to check out the hot pools which are half price if you stay here but crashed instead.

The next morning, we had a coffee with Malcom and Michelle at their apartment and then headed home. Its a great place to stay and we were very fortunate and lucky to get on the front row so to speak but I think doing it again, a few rows back would be just fine for me.

A very well setup park with new ablution block and everything that opens and shuts..

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Mount – Armada GPS

Mighty River Campground – Karapiro

On the edge of the Waikato river at Karapiro is an amazing complex set up for our competitive rowers.  All the top rowing regattas are held here and most of our top Olympic and Commonwealth Games Rowers and Canoeists all train at this fantastic facility.

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Nice parking on the lower camping area
Down by the river

Attached to this is the Campground run by Liz and her assistants and it is HUGE. There are two campgrounds and they’re dead flat. The top one is set back a bit from the river but has a view through the trees and the bottom campground, right on the river.

The Dethleffs Rally on the top campground

We had arranged to host the 2022 Dethleffs Rally here tip toeing a bit around the Covid outbreak which was at its peak. We lost a few due to Covid and about 8 or so more wanting to keep their heads down.

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We spent some time at the Café here which is great too.. nice food and great coffee and an easy walk from the Motorhomes in either campground. Its a great spot for just watching the rowing too with a cuppa in hand.

It is 7 k’s odd from Cambridge and there is a bike trail all the way in so bring your bike. There is a no dogs policy but cats are ok.

All in all, a lovely spot.

Rafe’s Tracker Map – Armada GPS

The 2022 Dethleffs Karapiro Rally

The venue was the Mighty River Domain at Karapiro which was fantastic.  Given that the  last Dethleffs do a few years ago was here and was a big success and after talking to the camp manager Liz who couldn’t do enough to help me, it was a done deal!

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Just before kick off, we had nearly 50 people coming (limit of 100 red light) but by the weekend, we’d lost quite a few so that was a bit disappointing.  A couple caught Covid and others were hunkering down.  We’ll try for one next year. So we had about 25 people which worked well.

On the Friday everyone started arriving from the middle of the day onwards.

My GPS sent us to cross the Dam but when I got there, there were limits on both weight and length due to the curve in the dam. We were at the front of the one way queue but managed to back out of the way when the light went green. There was one hardy Dethleffs soul who went across anyway.. he was later presented the bravery award !

Later in the day, Jonas and Irene arrived.. (Mr and Mrs Dethleff of NZ) and Jonas started to cut up a whole lot of meat he’d got from the Pokeno Butchery for everyone.. one of the best around. Just about everyone provided a salad .. a great communal effort and the variety was amazing.

Irene and Jonas with the meat.

I was a bit reluctant to take on this fantastic quality meat and burn it or undercook it so Jonas took on the cooking role which he did to perfection helped by John O on his BBQ.

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After tea, the campfire seating plan was retained for a social session and later outside various Motorhomes.

The next day, those who brought their bikes hit the bike trail into Cambridge to a café which was about 7 k’s away.

Fiona and I were joined by a few at the park Café overlooking the lake for a couple of hours until the cyclists returned.

The afternoon was spent with everyone sussing out each others Motorhomes and a good catchup.

For many this was their first Rally or Motorhome get together and the feedback was fantastic.. “when is the next one?” was a common question!

Later we reassembled the circle of chairs and all enjoyed a meal and a few drinks together and more fun times outside some ones Motorhome.

One the following morning, we all caught up at the Café and a group pic to celebrate the occasion.

The Team pic

A good result. Although I’ve been involved in helping previous Dethleffs and NZMCA rallies with parking (one with over 400 motorhomes!) this was something quite different.. especially with the germ floating around.

Rafe’s Tracker Map – Armada GPS