Tag Archives: History

Catching up at Cromwell

Our old friends Ross and Karen were always the people to visit here whenever we were in Cromwell, but they recently moved to a lovely home in Dunedin to be closer to their family. It was lovely to see them on the way down.

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The Historic Precinct

Gary and Dianne with Ian were in town in their Motorhomes so we were keen to catch up with them at the Cromwell Town and Country club where they had been staying. They had been in the South Island  together doing the Alps to Ocean bike trail, amongst other things so it was good to see them and hear their news.

Parked with our almost Lake view site at the Cromwell Town and Country Club. LtoR Rafe, Ian’s XLI and Gary and Dianne’s Niesmann and Bichoff

The Cromwell Heritage Precinct Farmers Market starts at 9am so it was an early rise at Creeksyde in Queenstown to get through the Kawerau Gorge (60k) and be settled to join them in Cromwell and walk down to the Market. Fiona LOVES markets so I knew things would be grim if I was late 🙂

The Historic Precinct

We got to Cromwell just in time with minutes to spare and we all headed off down to the Heritage area. After having a look around we settled down at the Tables by the lake to enjoy a coffee and a bun and who should rock it through the gate but old boatie friend Mark who was staying in Wanaka with Tina and his brother in law.. small world stuff.. nice to see him too.

The Crew, LtoR Ian, Fiona, Gary and Dianne

After walking back to the Motorhomes and later in the day, we set out in Gary and Dianne’s toad(car) and looked for somewhere nice to have a vineyard lunch but with Covid and everything we struggled to find somewhere to go. We ended up at a really nice place that we been to before on the edge of Lake Dunstan called the Stoaker Room .. fantastic ..nice food and I can’t remember which Chardonnay I had but I remember it was a goodie.. Fiona had a nice G&T.

Great Outlook

After a drink back at our Motorhomes at the Town and Country Club, we hit the hay. I’ve always enjoyed our time at Cromwell. Love the history and the atmosphere there.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Cromwell – 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

Our Milford Sound Extravaganza

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Geraldine charm

This is one town that if I was going to leave Auckland, I’d go here. Its also Fiona’s dads family home and Fiona’s aunties old house is well known around town. Her Aunties car is also in the Geraldine Car Museum.

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We would normally stay in Peski’s just out of town but we had planned to host some old Devonport friends who invite us to dinner every time we are here so we thought it’d be nice to shout them to a nice meal in the local Hotel.

Ollie and Pam

Ollie and Pam run a B&B just out of Temuka and he is a professional Chef so as they same in the game, it must be nice to occasionally have someone else cook up a nice feed for you.

Oodles of room
Nice new cabins

We checked in at the Geraldine Top 10 which was effortless and very hand to the Geraldine town centre and the pub!

The new Barkers setup

I remember last time we were here, there was a big house in the main street which was for sale and if my memory serves me right, they were asking only around $400k for it! I twitched a bit but it needed a lot of money spent on it. I see that Barkers bought it and have put their new shop and Café behind. The House has been superbly done up and is now used as a B&B. Nice!

The main street

After going out for a look around and after being tipped off by the very friendly lady in the Hardware shop, we checked out the new Gin distillery in the main street where you can taste different Humdinger Gins fresh from their still.

The Museum
Crafty shops .. best cheese around

One of the noticeable things about our walk through the town is the lack of foot traffic and everyone was VERY appreciative of us spending in the town. The locals were still hiding from Covid so it seemed. A shame for the retailers.

Later in the day, we walked back to Rafe (about 5 minutes!) and got organised to meet Pam and Ollie at the Village Hotel. I had Roast Pork .. WOW.. amazing. And it was like a mini mountain of amazing food!

The top 10 is a great spot and so handy to the town.

A great town and nice to see Pam and Cam again.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Geraldine – 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

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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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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.

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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

Origin at Otorohanga

We were staying in the reasonably newish Otorohanga NZMCA park which is only 800 metres to the Town centre.

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Otorohanga’s main street

One of the first shops we popped into was an Art Deco shop which had all sorts of stuff in it including quite a bit section on Steam Punk as well. Lots of Cloche hats and neat things.

Fiona with the poles outside the I site

A walk across the road and down through the Ed Hillary lane was a huge display of Kiwiana including a neatly displayed board of Kiwi slang and its American or English equivalent. Also there were old ads for wringer washing machines and reminders of the half pint of Milk at School. I was a milk monitor at the school I was at in Central Wellington so remember it well. Nice cold milk in winter for morning tea, Yum!

The Railway Station built in 1923 after the original burnt down

As you come out of the arcade at the other end is the railway station. We parked the bikes and went in for a couple of Latees. There we met Roger who owns the Origin coffee company that imports Coffee from their own farm in Malawi and brews it in the Railway Station. The coffee is fantastic. One of the best I’ve had for a while.

Fiona ordering coffees

Roger started Origin in 1999 and has gone from strength to strength since then. When you’re in the Station, don’t expect a big selection of food apart from Toasted Sammies and Cakes. The good news is, you’re welcome to bring you’re own food. Roger is keen to concentrate on the coffee 🙂

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After half an hour or so of chatting to Roger and enjoying the Coffee, as we were leaving, the Auckland to Wellington Train pulled in… this is a trip I want to do as well.. looks great !

The Railway station with the North Island train in.

We biked back to Rafe at the park to think about when we can do that Train trip 🙂