I didn’t have time to get into town this time to check out the Kiwiana which this town is famous for but we’ll be through here again soon I’m sure.
We first stopped in here a couple of years ago when the NZMCA park was only new. Its a pearler being right next to the Waipa river and with the trees being bare of leaves, there is a great view right across the river to farmland beyond. The perfect outlook while you enjoy that later afternoon glass of Rose 🙂
I pulled in later in the afternoon and there was plenty of room. I was going to try the local campground but they had a policy of a minimum charge for two, even in the middle of winter so I decided to do without the power and settle for a nice spot by the river.
With some high winds and plenty of rain expected, it was nice to be in behind the trees by he bank of the river too.
Nice park, nice outlook with water and rubbish collection and its interesting to see there is a choice between gravel and grass here too! Well done to those who look after it.
Our son Alex had a trip arranged to meet some people in the South Island for a few days so Fiona and I were on deck to look after the Grandies, Ayden and Liam.
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We parked Rafe over the road in a car park space in Papakura and I’d taken a couple of blocks of wood to level up Rafe with the camber which worked perfectly.
The boys were at School during the days so when Saturday morning came, we all went around to watch Ayden play rugby for his team at Ardmore. They were playing the top team in the competition so I think they would have been pleasantly surprised if they would win. The boys played really well, Ayden scored one of the two tries and they had a great game. The end result was 19-12 and after hearing the opposing coach saying afterwards say that Ayden’s team had improved vastly since the last time they played together, and it was a great game for both teams was really nice to hear.
After the game, we went back to the house and then set off for the treat trip to Miranda Holiday Park in Rafe. Fiona and I used to go there quite often but haven’t been for several years so there were quite a few changes.
Checking in was a breeze and we were given one of our favourite parking spots against what used to be the hedge beside the driveway except its all gone ! .. Shock horror but I have to say it does look good the way it has been done and it lets a lot of light and sun into the place.
It had been raining for most of the day off and on so there was quite a bit of water around.
We hadn’t been there long when the boys went off for a bit of an explore and very quickly found that the office had ice creams and lollies 🙂
It was time for a swim where we discovered the other new feature, which is the addition of a smaller toddlers pool next to the main pool.
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The Mini Golf
New Cottages look very settled now
New Ablution block out the back
The last time we were here was with our friends Bruce and Judy with Rafe’s twin and Dianne and Gary from Taupo. This was when we discovered the Dog friendly campsites out the back. They’re obviously a hit as there are quite a few more there now.. what a great idea. A bigger pitch with room around your motorhome for the dogs to roam while still being fenced in from the rest of the Campground.. fantastic.
Its always a great spot to stay and always clean and tidy.
Later we took the boys up to the Kaiaua Fish and Chip shop for tea followed by another swim in the pool. It was then time to watch the first All Blacks Aussie game in the TV room before we all crashed for the day.
In the morning, we managed to sneak in a quick swim before we checked out and hit the road home. A great few days. The boys really enjoyed it and so did we!
We arrived in Auckland about an hour earlier than planned around 10:30pm and immediately grabbed a cab and headed for the Hotel Ibis at the airport. Our son Alex was going to pick us up in our car around 7:30 in the morning but with the body clocks being as they were, we were awake and ready to go by 5:30am wondering what to do with ourselves 🙂
It was great to see Alex, Sarah and the boys at their home in Ardmore after a long time away. Unfortunately, we had to press on and pick up Rafe from Dianne and Gary’s shed in Taupo otherwise we had no where to sleep !
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We left Ardmore around 9:30 and headed south stopping at Cambridge for lunch and then getting to Taupo about 1pm. Rafe’s COF had expired and it was booked in for 2pm which it flew through.
I hate the waiting and standing around with WOF’s or COF’s as you never know what is going to spring out of the woodwork but today was a good day 🙂
We headed up to the National Equestrian Centre which is off the road north to Rotorua, just after the turnoff from Taupo. Its a magic spot and is $10 including power, showers and toilets.
With the jet lag the way it was, neither of us felt too good about driving north until we’d had a go at our body clocks and getting some sleep so we elected to stay here, despite the weather for the next 3 days and it just came down cats and dogs.
Although my front wheels were close to the gravel. There was quite a bit of churned up mud just in front so I was keeping an eye on that. The land around Taupo is a little top soil over pumice so it is really well draining and although there was a huge puddle behind and partly under us, when the rain stopped and we had to get out, I simply backed back from the mud and drove sideways around it and there was no slipping at all ! The water that was behind us had drained away really quickly.
Its a great spot to park and the caretaker is really helpful and a really nice bloke.
After leaving there, we thought a night at the NZMCA park at Ngongotaha might be the ticket and then after that Auckland.
On the fourth day, we headed back to Auckland and stayed with Alex, Sarah and the boys in Ardmore.
The next day grandson Ayden was playing rugby at his rugby club around the corner so we all went around and watched that.
A great family occasion. Sarah’s parents Paul and Mary were there too. Ayden scored about 5 tries which was great so a lot of family excitement.
Its lovely to be back in Rafe and we don’t realise how spoilt we are until we drive something a bit older. Its nice to be back.
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.
Making our way slowly back to Calais across Northern France, we stopped in a small village called Boiry Notre Dame. The area around here is loaded with War cemetaries and references to both wars where the Germans absolutely hammered the place and often for no reason apart from to destroy the culture.
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The camp we were staying at was on the edge of the village with a Maize growing area which went for miles on the other side. From there we could also see about 40 odd giant Wind Turbines grinding away and they were earning their keep as it was blowing. They had really bright LED lights at the centre and at night these change red and they all blinked at the same time. Quite a sight!
In the morning, we caught a cab into Arras which was about 17 odd k’s (30 euros in the cab) and headed for the main square where there was a huge market on. Arras has three big squares all linked together and there are stalls everywhere you looked.
We sat down and enjoyed a Crepe lunch which the area is famous for in the main square. The square is dominated by an amazing old building which is the town hall, which has been rebuilt after the Germans dealt to it during the war.
The main square is called Place de Heros which gives you an idea of where the locals stand with the history.
After checking out more shoe and dress shops, we worked our way towards an old Cathedral around the back of the old square.
The cathedral in 1918
The front of the Cathedral now
Bullet and shrapnel holes in the Cathedral
The main square with the Town Hall
Detail of the roof of the Town Hall
In the main square with the Town Hall on the left
There are photographs and the story behind the cathedral is posted to the railings of the Cathedral which the Germans destroyed during the war. The Cathedral like many others has been rebuilt and looks fantastic.
We were going to check out the Wellington Tunnels but the people who run would only let us go in at a time that was too late for us so unfortunately we couldn’t do it. The Wellington Caves are a series of Tunnels dug by Kiwi Soldiers during the war under the town to surprise the Germans. Now part of the towns history and named after the soldiers who dug it out who came from Wellington, NZ.
We caught a cab back to the camp and sat outside for a while before tea.
One of the things that we’d decided to do when we left Luxembourg was to find a spot we could stay in that gave us close access to some french villages.
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Dianne found a lovely community run campground in a little village area about 20 k’s west of Reims called Courmelois. There were two other villages close by within 10 minutes of biking and the fee at the camp was very reasonable. It was 20 euros for both of us with EHU (power or electric hook up) and nice showers, toilets and dumping facilities.
It was all very relaxed and they basically gestured us to two power boxes and said we could park anywhere between them which gave us heaps of room. There were no sites marked out.
We settled down on the first night and made loose plans to do the bike thing around the local villages.
The next morning came around and it was time to get organised. I couldn’t find the key for the lock on the bikes. After an hour or so of stewing and turning the place upside down for the said key, we turned to plan B. I won’t say how we got the bikes down except to say it involved a toolbox and and the lock was useless afterwards but as Gary does, he had a spare 🙂 We could use it to secure the bikes until we got back to the UK. Fantastic!!
We set off and within 10 minutes or so, we were in a lovely little village called Thuisy and there was one shop only there.. a Bread and pastry shop. Just what we were looking for so after a few minutes, we were off again to another village called Wez. As we came in to the village, we found a neat wee Pub on a corner and popped in for a cup of Coffee.
They had a nice attached Restaurant so we decided to go for a ride and come back for lunch and it was amazing. We ended up staying here for several hours.
Leaving there, Gary found another village a little further away by the canal so we headed off down there but the village was deserted. Lots of lovely homes but no action at all and no sign of any people apart from the odd farmer. This was on a weekday too.
With it all being quiet, we decided to head back to the camp and had an early tea with the stuff we got from the pastry shop. Yum .. A nice day out biking in the fresh air dodging showers. 🙂
Right on the river border between Germany and Luxembourg is a fantastic MotorCamp in a town called Echternach.
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The camp is huge with more than 500 sites, most of them powered and quite a few are permanent. We managed to get two spots near the river and they were huge and included a couple of trees between us.
In the morning we walked over the bridge into Luxembourg and caught the bus into Luxembourg city with all day passes each for 4 euros.
Luxembourg has one of the highest earning ratio by GDP anywhere in the world but despite this, we didn’t find it that expensive.
The Border, On the left is Germany and on the right is Luxembourg. The camp is on the river
Dianne and Fiona checking out the bus timetable.
The bus in the narrow back streets
Downtown Luxembourg is mostly all pedestrian access only. The pipe sculpture is made from ducting.
In the main square
Gary taking a photo of a building in the square
Outside Notre Dame
Inside Notre Dame
A small lane in Echternach on the way home past the old Church
The pied piper of Echternach .. feeding the Geese.
In the Echternach campground.. some are quite territorial!
One way to travel
Luxembourg City is like the Czech Republic where it didn’t suffer from bombing during the war like the rest of Europe so many of the old buildings are still in good shape.
After lunch in a quiet Cafe, we had a good look through the town. After running out of more shoe shops to look at :-), we walked down to have a look at the Notre Dame Cathedral. What an amazing building. You can feel the history.
We headed back to Echternach on the bus and stopped off in a bar for a drink and then a walk through town. Again, more lovely old buildings and all of them in good shape.
In the main square on the wall, there was a picture of the square taken in 1899. I did one of the same angle and there is very little change between the two.
We had a great day and enjoyed checking out Luxembourg. Nice people who mostly speak English so its easy everywhere and plenty of interesting stuff to see.
This is probably the best campsite that we’ve stayed at the whole time we’ve been away for both position and facilities. It was however probably the most expensive camp but as Fiona would say “Hey ho!”.
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There were probably over 200 sites and it is on the side of the river at Koblenz, overlooked from the other side on the hill by an old castle. You can reach the castle by Gondola’s which run most of the day and are reasonably priced with access to the castle for only 12 Euros.
We weren’t sure about whether we would get in to the campsite and when Gary rang the night before, we opted for the “comfort sites” rather than standard which would have added to the price but the sites were great as well as huge 🙂
On our first morning, we set off to the edge of the camp where a small ferry would take us over to the Old Town and from there we could catch the Gondola up to the Castle. The Castle dates back to Roman times and with its attached fort has seen battles all the way through to WW2.
After an hour or so of having a good look around and checking out the view, we had lunch up there and made our way back down to the Old Town. The views from up there are stunning.
Walking through the Old Town was really interesting although much of it has been rebuilt after being bombed during the war. It is still a very charming and interesting town with lots of history.
After an Ice cream in the square, we made our way back to the ferry and to the camp.
We were sitting down outside Ralph having a cold drink when some new neighbours arrived. They were Danish and really nice people. After they’d spent 15 minutes or so discussing where they would pitch their huge tent, they started spreading it out and standing it up with what seemed to be hundreds of pegs. It was a thing of beauty and well set up.
The Crew boarding the ferry
Gary and Dianne on the Mozelle River
On the ferry about to head to Koblenz in the background
Koblenz from the ferry
The castle with the memorial
Dianne, Fiona and Gary in the castle courtyard
Fiona and Dianne at the castle
The campground from Koblenz
About an hour went by when we noticed that they had set it up about 2 metres into the next park which was only quite small but given the sterling effort that had been made, no one wanted to break the bad news to them.
About another ½ hour went by and the Danish Chap came around our side and started pulling the hundred or so pegs out saying that they’d sat down for a beer and realised what they’d done.
After they’d pulled all the pegs out, we worked out a way if we gave them a hand, where all of us could drag it a meter or so along the ground without them completely starting from scratch so they were pretty happy at that.
A fantastic park in a great position in a lovely town. Although pricey but well worth doing for its position and a nice setup.
Kitzingen is about 350 k’s from Prague and after stopping just inside the Czech Republic border to spend our last crowns on Diesel and lunch, we cruised on into Germany.
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We arrived in Kitzingen about 2pm in the afternoon at a great Stellplatz by the river which was 9 Euros a night plus power at .5EU by kwh. It took two 50c coins to get through the night with just a fridge going and a couple of phones and a laptop charging.. pretty cheap. This works out about NZ$15 a night all up with free toilets and dumping and it was a stones throw from the centre of a charming village with more of those lovely old buildings.
We settled down and made a start on a 5 litre bottle of Estrella Wine which I’d bought for about NZ$9 in a Tesco store in Prague. I was assured from another shopper that it was ok to drink but we were a still bit worried about it. It was actually quite nice when you think what it cost 🙂
The next morning, Fiona was off early over the bridge to the baker to get some buns for us all for breakfast then we all went back for a look and a cup of coffee in the square.
Part of the churchfrom the camp
In the town
The View from the camp to the town
You pay for your ticket here and display it in your window
A Euro for your water
The Dump Station
.50 EU for power
Later in the day, the motorhomes started filling up the Stellplatz and parked where ever they could. The place was chocker.
A park right by the river with barges to watch go by, close to town and nice and cheap.
We had another of those GPS moments finding our campsite in the centre of Prague. There are a series of tunnels that act as the main route through Prague and under the river. There are even turn offs in the tunnel like a motorway network so when you get the lovely GPS lady saying half through a 80kph tunnel, saying turn right and you are at your destination, things get a bit confusing.
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So in a motorhome convoy, we followed each other around and around the motorway system to find out that the said campsite was right on top of the Tunnel by the Vlatava river. Thanks to a bit of sleuthing from our resident Detective Gary, we found our way in. The next hurdle was the lovely campsite girl’s English was probably slighly better than our Czech but we managed to sort everything out 😎.
The campsite was quite interesting but was pretty reasonaby priced for the 5 days that we were staying. $3500 Czech Crowns per van with two including power, toilets, showers and dumping facilities. This equals NZ$225.
On our first day, we headed up to Prague Castle on two trams which took about an hour. When we got there, we realised we’d made a mistake going there on a Saturday on the first day of the school holidays. It was absolutely chocker.
There were people everywhere. After spending half an hour in the queue for tickets to see the inside of the Cathedral, we then discovered the queue was about an hour or more at least so we decided to head back into town and try again later.
We walked down the stairs back towards Prague Old Town Square. Crossing the Charles Bridge, we saw where parts of the film Mission Impossible were made where Tom Cruise flipped a car and ran up to a bridge. The square is a now a little market square.
There is a post on the centre of the bridge which was where you can make a wish.
The Entrance to Prague castle.. security was tight
One of the Guards having a happy day 🙂
The Prague Castle Cathedral
Prague Castle Cathedral from the back.
Charles Bridge and the Old Town
The old Town by Charles Bridge
parts of the Old Town with Prague Castle
Dianne and Fiona with Prague Castle behind
Looking along the Charles Bridge
Fiona and Dianne making a wish in the middle of the Charles Bridge
Walking through Old Town
Cheese and biccies on the rooftop Terrace
The Prague Astronomical clock which was first installed in 1410!
Old Town Square with the Tyn Cathedral
As we walked through the old streets checking out all the shops, we eventually got through to Old Town Square and the famous Tyn Church.
We stopped at a pub in the Square and had a glass of wine and Cheese Board on a roof top terrace looking over most of central Prague which was magic.
A walk around the Square came next after which we made our way back up to Prague Castle to have another go at the Cathedral only to find it had closed. So we headed back to the camp to enjoy a glass of wine in the sun.