We’ve always wanted to check out the Gold Diggings Museum on the side of the Kawerau Gorge.
After parking Rafe in their huge carpark, Fiona and I crossed their bridge across the Kawerau river and checked in for a guided tour of the Gold mining area there.
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The whole gorge was a really intensive gold mining area. The cost is $25 per person whether you go guided or unguided. Why would you not take the tour thought I for the same price ?
The tour guide Bruce was great. A fantastic sense of humour and knew everything there was to know about the area and Goldmining. There were 8 on our tour and after explaining the history and some interesting facts on the geology and seeing some nice pieces of Gold, we were off.
The first thing we were to see was a full working water powered stamper battery. Amazing that water has that much power and these were put togthether with some pretty rudimentary tools.
Bruce also showed us the sluicer in action again from gravity fed water. Amazing the power and pressure.
After this, we could have a go at panning for Gold. No nuggets were found by us this day 🙂 but it was fun having a go !
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On the way to the Stamper Battery
Left over bits
Some of the old gear
Fiona checking out a miners hut
The Village from above
A Miners hut
After this, we headed off on the track to look at the Chinese mining village up on the hill. Amazing that they lived in these conditions for months at a time and it must have been cold in winter.
We also saw some tunnels, some mines and a water powered air compressor for breaking up rocks.
As we walked back down towards the carpark we saw a building all set up as a bank for the Goldminers.
A great setup and we really enjoyed learning about the Gold and the history of the area.
There aren’t too many motorhomers who don’t know about Lowburn Reserve on the side of Lake Dunstan and how nice it is. It is just north of Cromwell on the main road through to Wanaka.
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Leaving Omakau, Fiona decided she hadn’t had enough riding so she started off on the bike towards Alexandra while I went to the Omakau dump station and did the filling and emptying and then headed off to Alex.
About an hour or so later, I met Fiona at the old Station carpark on the bike trail and we had lunch.
With the sun shining and the forecast for fine weather well into the distance, we thought Lowburn would get be a good spot to stay. We had about 3 days before Helen and Glenys arrived from Auckland to get Helen and Rob’s house ready for their retirement sometime late next year.
On our first night here, I bumped into Jeff and Sheryl who I had met in Kaiteriteri who was waiting for the Hoedown to start at the racecourse.
Every night we met someone new which was great. Mostly friendly South Islanders.
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.
We woke up to another stunning day at Tekapo NZMCA park by the lake. Ray and Margaret next door in their bus were up and about. Fiona had an idea that she’d like to take Rafe out and check out some of the lakes nearby.
As soon as I stepped out to see Ray, they were doing exactly that and did we want to come with them in their Toad (Suzuki). Then came the rustling around for thermos flasks and cooly bags. A better idea said I, why don’t we take Rafe and we’ll have fridge and cup of tea / butter etc facilities. We were off.
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Ray and Margaret have been on the road in their bus for 4 ½ years so there aren’t many places in the South Island that they don’t know about. One of their little Gems was a neat place called McGregor Lake and Lake Alexandrina.
Its about 12k’s from Tekapo and is run as a campsite by a Community Committee. It is in a fantastic spot on the side of a river between the two lakes. Just spectacular.
You can stay their for $10 a night per person. There are Toilets and Showers and rubbish along with an outdoor kitchen.
Our first stop was the Dump Station at Tekapo to fill and empty and then the local 4 Square shop for some fresh bits for lunch, then we were off.
We headed along the road to Mt St John and then a short gravel road and we were there.
We met a chap who had been there a while in his caravan and was keenly following the antics of the local Paradise Ducks. He directed us further down a track to the other area where there more than 50 Caravans and a whole bunch of Baches up on the hill.
As we walked along the river, Ray told us about a time when he was here earlier when he saw Salmon swimming upstream to spawn. The small river was just chocker with Salmon. It would have been quite sight !
With the caravans on both sides of the river, its just an idylic spot to stay. No shops and no pubs but if you’ve got a kayak or just want to blob, what a sensational spot.
After a good look around, we retired to Rafe for lunch with cups of tea and plenty of laughs.
The images say it all. Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow
A bridge across the river
Baches on the hill
Lake Alexandrina with boat sheds
Showers and Kitchen
Ray checking out one of the pumps
Rules of the road
Margaret, Ray and Fiona walking back for lunch
Rafe ready for lunch
After lunch we tidied up and headed back to Tekapo Club camp and organised ourselves for the next event of the day, Happy Hour!
As the afternoon wore on, more and more neighbouring Motorhomers and Caravanners came over to join us. Its really interesting meeting people from all walks of life and where they come from. Lots are retired but many still work and its interesting hearing their stories.
The storm was a bit of a non event at Geraldine. There was a bit of wind in the afternoon but not enough to upset our 5pm meeting 🙂 Overnight there was a little rain but not enough to keep us awake at all so when we woke up to bright sunshine, it was like we’d missed something 🙂
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We were leaving Peski’s today after more than a week with Sue and David’s wonderful hospitality and with our neighbours, Ray and Margaret, decided we’d meet up at the NZMCA’s superb park on the lakes edge in Tekapo.
I’ve never been here before but its a stunning spot. It was a bit grey and gloomy when we first arrived and just as we were leaving for a walk to the church along the track to town, Ray and Margaret arrived.
The wind was howling from the west but as we got closer to the Church, more blue sky appeared and the wind dropped off slowly.
By the time we returned less than an hour later, we had sunshine and lots of it.
The next day, Ray and Margaret went for a bike ride to the pools and I rode while Fiona walked into the township. The track goes right down the side of the NZMCA park and finishes at the old stone Church. I couldn’t believe all the tourists going nuts at the church with their point and shoot cameras. All good for the countries tourist dollars!
The last time I was here, there were only a few houses and a few bars. Now its a fully fledged town.
After lunch, we headed to the supermarket and I headed back to the NZMCA park on my bike with the veges for the fridge and Fiona had a look around the shops and walked back.
The park though is fantastic. Its a bit lumpy and uneven but I see that a roped off area further down has had some remedial work on levelling it out but we found places we could park in without any problem.
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Plenty of parking
Rafe amongst the trees with the lake in front
A different look again
Tekapo NZMCA park
A nice park and there are some public loos just along the track a bit from the park. (5 minutes walk) There is also a dump station just across the road.
The look of the lake never ceases to amaze me with the different light. The water is almost turquoise and when the mountains have some sun on them with no clouds around, the lake is stunning. A lovely place to stay.
All the way around the South Island when we have talked to other Motorhomers and Caravanners, we’ve had the comment, “ when you’re in Geraldine, you HAVE to stay at Peskis!”.
Geraldine, Pleasant Point and all around this area is Fiona’s families old stamping ground, and there is lots of McLeod family history in this area so we were always going to be stopping here for some time!
Peski’s was our destination and what an amazing place it is. Now run by Sue and David Fisher and their dog Tui. The best way to describe it is its like the Botanical Gardens which you can park your Motorhome or Caravan in.
It is available to all NZMCA members and it is $15 for a powered site and $5 pp for a grass patch. $2 for the washine machine and $2 for the shower. There is also a cassette only Dump Station too which is also $2 and fresh water.
We’d just come in the drive in early November, when we were welcomed by David who showed us where everything was and directed us to a powered site at the bottom of the Garden.
The place was reasonably busy but not fill by a long shot but everybody here was happy to be here and the atmosphere is something else.
David works locally and the Park over property is officially Sue’s baby and it is easy to see they just love it here. They moved from the other side of Geraldine last November when the previous owners wanted to sell and its a stunning place to stay.
No wonder everyone raves about it. Whenever I turn around, I see one or both of them doing something in the grounds and they look fabulous.
We decided to stay a week here as its handy to everything around here and every day we catch up with new neighbours and of course our very kind hosts, David and Sue.
They have just had a good friend of theirs make them a new letterbox which is a caravan with the wings on it with their street number.
Down behind the parking area are tracks into the bush and to the river which runs behind the property. David has set up a seat with bark and punga so you can relax down there with the river and solve the worlds problems 🙂
This is the second seat as the first one got washed away but Fiona and I spent a very pleasant ½ hour so as it was so hot and there was a nice breeze coming off the river.
A great spot with fantastic hosts who are just amazing.
With the run of good weather seemingly endless, we headed on to Waimate to the NZMCA park for the night.
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This like most of the other NZMCA parks is just fantastic with plenty of room and all the features you would expect with a dump station just around the corner.
We cruised in, got settled by some trees on the grass and checked the place out.
The park is only about 1k from the centre of town so is easily within walking distance. In the morning, it got a wee bit overcast and grey. Fiona rode into town for a look around and I followed her later once I’d finished a chore or two.
The following day after some late drizzly rain, it was brilliantly fine again so we parked by the Waimate reserve where they had Market Day. It was nice wandering around and just seeing the locals sitting in the sun, chatting away.
I think it was more of a social get together rather than anyone stressing too much about making huge sales 🙂
I was impressed with the NZMCA park as was everyone else who parked there.
Well done to those who put it together and look after it.