Tag Archives: Great walks

Our Milford Sound Extravaganza

We were still fizzing from the Stewart Island trip as we headed towards our next stop which was Te Anau.

Click on any Image to enlarge

Lake Te Anau

On the ferry on the way back from Stewart Island, I booked a deal through the NZMCA with Fiordland Tours where they would pick us up from the club park in Te Anau in a small coach, and take us to Milford Sound. We would then get on a boat for a cruise through Milford Sound with guides all the way and back to Te Anau.

Te Anau NZMCA park

The weather was looking fantastic. With the disappointment of not doing the wings over Wanaka, our original reason for coming down to the South, I was a bit reluctant to book too far out in case something came up or the weather wasn’t looking good. It worked !! We had perfect weather.

Fiona at NZMCA park Te Anau

We arrived in Te Anau early in the afternoon and parked on the lakefront for half an hour or so for a look around. Fiona went for a quick look through some of the shops.

Click on the Gallery below for an enlarged Slideshow

We then rocked into the NZMCA park which is about 1k or so out of the town. Its a nice park with rural views.

At 8am the next morning, the coach turned up and we were off towards Milford Sound. It has been years since I was down here so I’d completely forgotten the lie of the land except I remembered this awful road so we were happy being driven by someone who knew the road and it wasn’t any where near as bad as I remembered.

Amazing Eglington Valley

Our first stop was in an amazing valley surrounded by mountains with a little bit of fog. A lovely spot. Don’t forget to click on these images to have a decent look at them!

We then headed off towards the mirrored lakes and had a stroll through the trees on a boardwalk looking at the reflections. Nice !

Cascade Creek walk

Back in the coach and then we stopped at a small walk down to another lake called Cascade Creek which backs onto Lake Gunn. A nice stroll and lovely place.  The next stop  after this was to see the Falls Creek Waterfall and then we went through the Homer Tunnel.

Lake Gunn

We arrived in Milford and boarded a really nice double decker party boat and set off fairly quickly towards Mitre Peak. You feel so small among these huge mountains all around.

We were lucky to see some rare Hector Dolphins just by Mitre peak which were the largest pod the skipper had every seen in Milford.

Mitre Peak looking very majestic… Stunning

We then we headed out further through the sound towards the Tasman sea. The trip took about 90 minutes but was amazing. It is really nice to get to see and feel the size and scale of these huge mountains which you don’t appreciate from the postcards.

Looking back into Milford Sound from the Tasman sea
Mitre Peak

On the way back we spotted a seal having a snooze on a rock and others playing in the water and then came to a massive waterfall. The skipper put the nose of the boat into the falls for those interested in having a shower to get wet 🙂

A happy seal
Huge Waterfall

We were taken for a walk along the waterfront in Milford before getting back on the coach to head back to Te Anau.

The boat we were on

A great trip and well worth doing.. check out the Deals on the NZMCA web site.

An absolutely stunning trip and well worth doing with a great crew.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Te Anau – Armada GPS

A day at Stewart Island

Arriving in Gore, we parked Rafe in the middle of the main st and crossed over to a nice looking Café. As we approached some people who saw us get out of Rafe and cross the road were waving and smiling at us.

Click on any Image to Enlarge

At Craig’s POP
Happy hour.. Peter and Sues Esprit and Ross to the right.

After sitting down with our coffee, we got chatting to the people right next to us Ross and Sally (the wavers and smilers) originally from Picton.  It turns out that they’re in their third year of living in their Jayco Caravan and cruising around the South Island.

Happy hour outside.

As we chatted away, we worked out that we are all going to Stewart Island on the same ferry in the morning. They gave us the name of the place they were staying at and that the coach was picking them up from there, so I rang both the POP and the coach company and booked both. Easy peasy.

Craig with his amazing collection in the shed.

The Lineham Layover is owned by Craig Lineham and Shelley Peters and is in the northern end of the main street of Invercargill. A nice spot with a big parking area on gravel.

We went from Gore directly to Craig and Shelley’s POP and caught up with Ross and Sally again. Craig is an amazing collector of all sorts.. Matchbox cars, Matches, you name it.

Right opposite them at the Pop was Peter and Sue with their Esprit from Taupo.  We met them at Mapua several years ago… small world. Later we all caught up for a glass of something and a catchup.

The Ferry in the fog at Bluff

We woke up early in the morning and as we made our way out to the end of the driveway, I received a phone call from the driver. He was early! But so were we 🙂

After picking up several other people from around Invercargill, we were off to Bluff to catch the ferry to Stewart Island.  It was a foggy day so they were sound the horn every few minutes for the first part of the journey until the fog lifted. It was going to be a great day and there was hardly any wind so it was a nice smooth sailing.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

45 minutes or so later we were on the wharf at Oban, the capital if you like of Stewart Island.

Oban and the wharf

The ferry was running late so we were quickly hustled onto a coach for a tour of Oban and the surrounding area.

With the Coach group looking out towards Paterson Inlet and the National Park area of Stewart Island beyond.Looking in towards Oban
Looking out Paterson Inlet and beyond.

We found out that power on the island is provided by a Diesel generator or provide your own with solar and generator. The populated part of Stewart Island around Oban, is only a small fraction of the island with the rest of it being National Park. We were taken to a lookout that showed the sheer size of the Island and its inlets and other islands.. amazing when you see it like that.

Fiona checking out the anchor with the coach group

We were shown the Anchor chain which keeps Stewart Island tethered to the mainland or the other way around 🙂

After getting back to Oban, we caught another slightly smaller ferry to Ulva Island with our guide. On the way over to Ulva Island, an Albatross swooped in and landed right next to the ferry which had stopped. Amazing birds.

Ulva Island is park space administered by Doc completely free of most predators giving the birds and trees free run. The birds come right up to your feet and look you up and down.. its amazing. I’ve never been into trees and birds but this is completely different to what you see everywhere else and once you know what’s going on behind the scenes, it pretty cool.. well worth it if you’re heading that way.

The guide leading the way at Ulva Island

We walked back to the ferry to be transferred back to our mainland ferry in Oban, to go back to Bluff.

Farewell Oban
Getting on the ferry back to Bluff

A fantastic day checking it all out at Stewart Island. You can stay the night there too but we did it all in a day to keep the lid on costs but a great day. On the way back on the ferry, I booked our next extravaganza!

Rafe’s Tracker map to Invercargill – Armada GPS

Those lovely old buildings in Oamaru

This is a seriously amazing place. I just love the way the good folk of Oamaru have looked after and encouraged their heritage.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

The Historic area is just something else. It doesn’t matter how many times we come, there is always something new and different to see.

I especially liked the welcome to Orclanders post Covid on the back of an old truck.. just lovely.

Wonderful welcome
The other side of the Orclander truck 🙂

We stopped in for lunch one the way from Geraldine and Dunedin.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Its really interesting looking at the records of the Criterion Hotel which reveal that one of the past owners were the McLeod brothers who owned it for some time. Fiona’s Dad’s family came from Timaru and Geraldine. It would be interesting to see if there was a connection there.

The wharf

A great spot with plenty of great Cafe’s and things to see and do.

Those nice old buildings

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.

Click on an Image to enlarge

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!

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow/to enlarge

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.

Click on any Image to enlarge

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.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow/to enlarge

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

Paradise at Ruakaka

I haven’t been able to get away recently so here is a post that was first published July last year.. fantastic campground which is also participating in the NZMCA Campsaver scheme.. enjoy.

From the moment I stepped out of Rafe at Ruakaka Holiday Park, everything about this place is HUGE. There are more than 260 powered sites and the camp is spread out over 13 hectares. The camp is divided into several regions each having their own ablution blocks.

The land that it sits on and its layout and the views are absolutely sensational.  Everywhere I looked I could see nice images.

Click on an Image to Enlarge

My view

It also is a participant in the NZMCA’s Camp saver program and owner Anne-Marie says it is working well for them. They also do off peak weekly stays too.

On the waterfront

I was interested to see their information sheet included how to park within your site to ensure that everyone has 3 metres separation. I think this is good news as many Holiday Parks  parking is far to close for fire safety.

Great parking

I was a bit lucky to get one of the waterfront sites facing out to Marsden Point and Bream Head even though it was pretty exposed to the easterly nasties that came through, it was really nice to wake up to a great view when the weather played the game.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The weather wasn’t that flash with an amazing thunder and lightning storm coming through with showers before and after but there was enough fine weather to get some nice images.

And just around the corner

This campground though has it all.. the views and the sites are spectacular with great facilities.

Ruakaka Beach is just down the road and there is a Bird Sanctuary to walk through too.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Ruakaka

Peace and Quiet at Waharau

I’ve always wanted to find out about a POP that was reputed to be really popular on the Waharau coast and thought maybe now is the time.

Just north of Kaiaua and the famous Rays Rest, it is the perfect place to spend a few days if you wanted some of the nice things like power and a toilet.

Click on an Image for Hi Res

Lots of parking spots

I rang Andrew, the owner of the Pop and asked if they were open .It was all good so off I went.  I spent two days there and it was just bliss.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Andrew’s parents purchased the 200 acres of scrub in the 60’s and then had to turn it into a farm.

Rod, the campground manager’s office is in the truck

There is a small Kauri forest on the back of the farm which you can walk up to. The bigger Kauris have all been milled decades ago but its a nice reminder of what was once there.

The camp is a classic with a small stream running most of the way around one side. There are 4 powered, graveled sites, all on different levels plus some unpowered on grass sites.

The levels of parking

The loo is a classic recycled corrugated iron shed but it all works. One of the most popular items here is an old copper for heating the water for showers. With plenty of firewood on hand, you light the fire, heat the water, put in a 20 litre container (provided) and there is a winch for winding it up a tree. That’s the shower mixer with some cold water to get the right temperature. You can also use the hot water in a private shower over a bath setup if you’d prefer. A great setup! and apparently it is really popular.

Almost directly across the road is a beach on the edge of the Firth of Thames looking straight out to the Coromandel Peninsular.. just bliss.

The Seal on the rock

After parking Rafe and checking out the Camp area and being followed everywhere by a very friendly chook, I went for a walk down to the beach.

Dusk at the beach

While I was just watching the antics of the Shags sitting on the rocks, there was some movement in the water nearby. It was a Seal who climbed up on the rock ruining the Shag’s day 🙂 He was now King of the Castle.. Andrew told me later that he’s been coming to the beach for years every year since he was a pup.

There aren’t too many places left in this world where you can get a powered site for 2 for $12 and with a big welcoming smile. A lovely spot, great hosts and a fantastic place to go if you just want to do very little.

Rafe’s tracker map to Kauri View Farm – Armada GPS

 

Goldfields with the Boys

Heading for our next stop in Waihi with Ayden and Liam in the back, we stopped just out of Tokoroa when someone spotted a Subway store, the boys favourite 🙂

Click on any Image to enlarge

At the Goldfields Park

From here we cruised on up to the Waihi Goldfields Railway. A great place to stay and they’ve really tidied it up since we were last here.

Waihi Station

Its the perfect stop as we could take the boys on the Train to Waikino and then later meet their Dad Alex at Ngatea where he would take them to Pauanui.

Grandsons Ayden and Liam with Fiona

I was a wee bit concerned as it was getting late in the day and you can’t really book parks here but there was plenty of room.

Leaving Waihi

The next morning, we went over to the station and got our tickets and were ready for the ride to Waikino. The boys were quite excited and had a lot of fun encouraging the drivers alongside the railway to toot their horns.

Toot that horn

They liked the Taniwha too by the track on the way. After a 20 minute Ice cream stop, we were on our way back to Waihi. If we had more time, we would have taken them over the river to the Victoria Barracks and the Museum .. next time. We did come here a few years ago and biked the trails right to Karangahake. That can be seen here and the Windows walk is well worth doing, see that here.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

When we got back to Rafe, we realised how much progress Alex was making from Auckland so we needed to get cracking ! After a quick look at the big Waihi Mine hole, we set off towards Ngatea.

Checking out the Taniwha

The Goldfields Railway parking has improved dramatically. They seemed to have levelled it slightly and clearly labelled the parking but generally, it all looks great and for $15 a powered site per vehicle, it can’t be beaten.

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Goldfields Railway – Armada GPS

The Coastal Walkway

It was going to be a scorcher so we got the bikes sorted and headed from the Bell Block park down towards the Waterfront to join up to the Walkway.

Click on an image for Hi Res

Fiona screaming down the hill to the walkway.

From the Bell Block park to the Wind Wand is about 20k’s round trip so its a good ride and you know you’ve used some muscles when you return 🙂

Coming up to the Te Rewa Rewa bridge
The Te Rewarewa ridge

The trip is mostly downhill to the Te Rewa Rewa bridge but its a fantastic pathway. Some of its boardwalk but most of it is a wide concrete path which eventually goes through the side of the Fitzroy Holiday Park. We stopped at the Kiosk for a cuppa and something to eat and then rode on to the Wind Wand. Great fun.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

There we left the waterfront to have a quick look at some shops and then headed back along one of the shopping streets and back down to rejoin the Waterfront.

Fitzroy beach

Just fantastic. A great outlook and apart from the uphill bit at the end going up through the houses was pretty easy. .. Well worth doing!!

Heading home

A couple of glasses of wine later with some neighbours in the park and that was us for the day 🙂

With the Green things

We were heading north with no particular destination firmly set except we thought, maybe a night at Waipu and then a night the NZMCA park at Rainbow Falls if there was room.

Click on the Images to see Hi Res

The traffic was unbelievable so we left the motorway at Silverdale and headed up Highway 16. I haven’t been up this was for a long time so it was a nice drive through. We stopped at the lookout spot looking out over the Kaipara Harbour just before Wellsford which was nice too.

Rafe at Caledonian park in Waipu

We arrived in Waipu and headed straight for our favorite spot at the Caledonian Park. There are only a couple of spots there where you can get a TV signal next to a power pole and we managed to snaffle one of them.

The next morning, the grounds people were up early to set up for the Scottish Games so we headed towards Kerikeri and after a cup of coffee at the Pear Tree Cafe by the Stone Store, we went to check in to the Rainbow Falls park.

This has to be one of the better parks being right next to a fantastic walking track with the Falls right behind.

Rainbow Falls park with the lighthouse

Just by chance, it happened that old friends Max and Jan were staying opposite us in their new Hobby Caravan so we joined them for a drink outside their caravan.

Max and Jan’s new Hobby with the wrap around sun glasses 🙂

The next day, we went for a walk down towards the Stone Store by the river but got half way down when we realised that we didn’t have a wallet between us for something at the other end so we turned around and headed back to Rafe.

Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow

A fantastic walk with people fishing in the river, lots of people out enjoying the walk and people swimming under the falls. It is really nice to see so many people out enjoying this fantastic park.

Dusk

We had just got back when my old mate Grant rang and he Dani arrived ready for a cold drink. Max and Jan arrived back at the park not long after (Dani’s parents) and joined us as well. Lots of fun and laughs in Rafe in a nice park.

If you haven’t been to this park, it truly is fantastic having some great walks, the falls and public loos just over the fence as well. The park is now at a point where almost half of it now has gravel down with the grass growing through and it looks great.

Rafe’s Track to Rainbow Falls Park