Tag Archives: History

Party in Waihi

I love those weekends when you have nothing else to do but drive a short distance, enjoy your Motorhome for a couple of nights with a party in between and then go home to recover ๐Ÿ™‚

Well .. this was one of those and it was fun!

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It was our old friend Angela’s 50th birthday and it was at Rob and Angelas small horse farm at Waihi.

Waihi Station

I’ve always loved Waihi and one of those character towns and a good place to stay.. the Railway Station. Now $15 a night with power or $10 without, it is very handy to everything and and its fun watching the trains come and go.

Train arriving in from Waikino
A couple of extra passengers

We’ve been here a few times, once with friends Rob and Helen and Gary and Dianne when we walked/biked through the Karangahake Gorge and Waikino. Lots of fun.

We arrived late on Saturday, parked, watched some TV and then hit the hay.

The park behind the station

Angela and Robs place is on the other side of Waihi and kickoff was midday. We did have a sudden mad moment when we thought about walking it but with bottles of wine etc, a taxi sounded like a much better idea.

Angela and Rob at the party

We met some really nice people and it was nice to see Angela and Rob in their rural home.

The birthday girl blowing out the candles

Its funny when you go to these places and meet people and they went to the same school as you or lived around the corner and you feel you should have met them earlier but didn’t. Thats how it was with several people .. amazing!

About 5pm it felt like it was our time to go… We rang the cab but no sign of her so we started walking back. Several more calls to the cab on the way. No response so half an hour later, we were back at the Railway Station.

People getting off

A neat day out in a lovely town.

The Station with the parking behind

My previous blogs on Wahi have much more on the town and the trip through the Gorge.

There is good Netspeed Internet available here but I forgot to do a speedtest.

Rafe’s track to Waihi

A Break in Greytown

Greytown is one of those lovely little towns that just oozes charm and is full of history.

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With up to 35C heat, we thought a trip to the Greytown pool next door to the wonderful little Greytown Holiday Park, well it would be rude not too! The pool is free being provided by the kind citizens of Greytown and it must be slightly heated as it was about 28 C in the pool!

The Gypsy caravan which you can rent at Greytown Holiday Park

The Holiday Park is fabulous with Ken and Nina at the helm. Ken is a real character and couldn’t be more helpful. At $35 for 2 with the NZMCA discount with power, it is very good value. And of course the use of the pool next door !

Fiona checking out one of the oldest Greytown Cottages in the Museum

We were both keen to check out the Shoc Chocolate shop which is almost part of the local Museum.

Inside the Cottage

The Cobblestone Museum is amazing and has a collection of several of the oldest buildings in the area.

The original Cobblestones

There were also a few clever people in the area. One called Donald Donald who invented the wool press and got world wide patents for it. This is back in the late 80’s. He was also well know for inventing a wire fence strainer amongst other things.

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A local Church, Hospital, School House and others were well set out in an area where there was originally the Transport Hub for the area with the original cobbles still intact.

A very mod front entrance of the Museum

And afterwards.. the Shoc Chocolate shop was a great place to stop too.

What was Hot in the South Island

Fiona and I had both taken 6 months off for a trip to Europe and to go around the South Island and we were really looking forward to it..

After getting back from Europe in early August and with our house still rented out, we immediately went to Taupo to pick up Rafe who was being cared for in Gary’s shed by Gary’s neighbour Chris… kind chaps that they are !

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Welding on the feet

We returned to Auckland to get a few things done like drop down steadies on Rafe and a couple of other things and then we were off.

Rafe and Ian and Lynda’s XLI

We left Auckland and first stop was Taupo with Gary and Dianne, who we’d been around Europe with and other Motorhome friends Ian and Lynda. A few nights there, a night in Mangaweka, then to Wellington to catch up with my son Alex who commutes from Auckland, then onto the ferry and the adventure began.

Dianne picking the girls up for a tiki tour around Taupo

The highlights:
Best Park over property (POP) –ย  Peski’s in Geraldine where we spent nearly two weeks.

Nice parking

Best free Parking โ€“ Lowburn on the lake front.. a week of perfect weather helped here ๐Ÿ™‚

The View

Best NZMCA park โ€“ probably a tie between Tekapo and Ranfurly. Tekapo is stunning amongst the pine trees right on the lake and Ranfurly, dead flat with a dump station next door, rubbish and water and right in the middle of town !

Amongst the pines with Ray and Margaret on the right

Best Long term rate campground โ€“ Kaiteriteri right on the beach. Just magnificent.

Close to the water

Best pub that we stayed at โ€“ Empire Hotel in Ross. Great roast meals, lovely town and great hosts.

The Empire

Also Omakau Hotel with a fully setup Motorhome park at the back.

Best Museum we saw โ€“ Bill Richardsons Truck Museum. Brilliantly done and with a huge collection of all sorts.. even lawnmowers and tools.

Henry Ford and some Bowsers

Best Bike ride โ€“ Otago rail trail. Omakau to Ida valley and back. Also Lowburn to Historic Precinct in Cromwell.

The first Viaduct

Best Bridge that we crossed in Rafe โ€“ Historic Ophir Bridge. I found myself doing some quick mental arithmetic to make sure it was safe ๐Ÿ™‚

Rafe on the Ophir Bridge

Most amazing discovery โ€“ Brittens first Motorhome which we found in the Geraldine museum.

From the back. A nice stained glass window on the back. Note the opening wooden windows.

I’ll let the Image Gallery below tell the story of the trip.
Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow.

We met some wonderful people along the way and had some nice 5pm catchups in some fantastic places.

Fiona on the bike ride on the way back to Lowburn alongside lake Dunstan

The weather was superb. Fiona reckons we only had 1 wet day in the South Island! I reckon it was 3 but the weather really looked after us, if anything it was quite hot with a record breaking 33C in Cromwell on the day we decided to do a bike ride from Lowburn to the Historic Precinct and back !

The Historic Precinct

The difference in Fuel prices between the different parts of NZ was quite noticeable with the highest I saw at $1.48 a litre for diesel around Hanmer and the lowest $1.19 in Cromwell. We filled up in Takanini before we left at $.98 a litre! As Fiona says though Hay Ho.. when in Rome !

Happy Hour at Peski’s

One of the things that really surprised me as we went around was how many people recognised us from this Blog and who made themselves known. It was fantastic to meet you and to hear your feedback. We’re fast approaching 400,000 views which is amazing in less than 2 years!

We’re back in Auckland with our feet up for a bit before we set off again.

The Kawerau Gorge Gold Diggings

We’ve always wanted to check out the Gold Diggings Museum on the side of the Kawerau Gorge.

Rafe in the carpark in 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 bank

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 ?

One of the old traction engines in the field

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.

On the way to the Stamper Battery

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.

The Water powered Stamper Battery

Bruce also showed us the sluicer in action again from gravity fed water. Amazing the power and pressure.

Bruce showing us the sluicer

After this, we could have a go at panning for Gold. No nuggets were found by us this day ๐Ÿ™‚ but it was fun having a go !

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

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.

Chinese miners huts

We also saw some tunnels, some mines and a water powered air compressor for breaking up rocks.

The Chinese village

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.

Rafe’s track to the Gold Diggings

The dusty track from Lauder

While we were in Tekapo with our neighbours, Ray and Margaret who have been living in their bus for the last 4 ยฝ 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.

Getting ready at Omakau behind the Hotel

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

At Omakau

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.

Arriving at 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 !

Viaduct 1

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.

Real lord of the rings type of landscape

Both tunnels were reasonably short. We continued a slight climb through a really rocky Central Otago landscape to cross the main Viaduct.

The first Tunnel

From here we were on the edge of the Ida Valley and could pretty much see right down towards Ranfurly.

Click on the Gallery below to see a Slideshow

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.

Viaduct 2 took three years to build.

It was sandwich time before heading back to Lauder. We’d done the bits we missed !

Viaduct 2 with the Ida valley behind

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.

On the way back to Tunnel 2

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.

In the tunnel

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.

Fiona nearly back at Lauder

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.

On the way back to Omakau

It was really nice to see Terry and we ended up having Tea at the Omakau Hotel which was great.

John Brittens International Motorhome

Where we were staying at Peski’s just out of Geraldine, was an easy 4k’s ride in to the town.

Geraldine has a fabulous Car, Truck and Tractor Museum along with washing machines, old cinema projectors and anything of note. Its an amazing place.

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We set off on our bikes to ride to the museum and spent an hour or so having a good look around.

Fiona with her great auntie Jeannie’s Morris

Fiona’s great aunty Jeannie’s old 1948 Morris is in the museum so we were keen to check it out as Fiona had travelled in it often as a small girl. Legend has it that Jeannie drained the radiator water every night and refilled it with hot water in the morning sayingย  โ€œit started so much better. Anyway, Anti Freeze will rot the engineโ€! And there it is tucked in the corner.

We moved on to two other buildings where we found an old Gypsy styled Motorhome built on a 1926 International chassis by John Britten when he was in his early 20’s.

John’s Motorhome

Between 1972 to 1975, John purchased the old 1926 International Truck Chassis and set to turning it into a Motorhome for his travels around the South Island.

The Tiller

Everything is hand made. All the woodwork and engineering including the Califont for heating the water was all made by John.

The interior of Johns truck

On the sides, there are two hinged wooden doors as windows. There is even some stained glass on the back. It really is stunning given he ws so young and I guess it is no surprise that he went on to do great things with motorbikes and come up with the Britten race bike.

From the back. A nice stained glass window on the back. Note the opening wooden windows.

A great find and there is a lot more to see here. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

The Boulders

I can’t believe the great weather we have had in the South Island. Almost every day has had temperatures of around 17C plus and perfect blue sky. Today was no different as we left Dunedin.

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In the carpark

Our first stop was to check out the famous Moeraki boulders. Its interesting that the signposts for the boulders all point to a restaurant above the beach which provides a nicely made set of steps and track to get down to them. Clever marketing I thought!

Boulders

We parked in the huge carpark and wandered down to the beach where there were already a good number of people with their iphones getting piccies of the boulders. These are amazing. Apparently they’re over 5.5 million years old and were made on the sea floor with mud!

Interesting shapes and they certainly drew a large crowd while we were there.

Next stop was Oamaru for lunch. We stopped down in a large carpark by the Historical Precinct and had a wander around through the old buildings and shops. We were only here a few years ago and it has changed quite a bit since then.

The Criterion hotel

While I was standing in the middle of the road in the old precinct, a chap on a penny farthing came screaming around the corner! Later when I checked out my images, the best one was with his eyes shut looking really brave ๐Ÿ™‚

The man on his Penny farthing


Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Its always a pleasure looking around Oamaru and I can see why my old friend Grant and his family moved here. Its got a lovely feel and atmosphere to it.

The waterfront