Tag Archives: History

Springvale Suspension Bridge

About 45 minutes after we left Taihape, we arrived at this very popular camping area right by the river. We stopped in a parking area with other Motorhomes for lunch and a look around.

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The new and the old.
Looking back where the road used to go.

Built in 1923 and opened in 1925, the bridge allowed farmers to get their wool through to the port in Napier. In 1970, the road was realigned and replaced with today’s modern bridge. The original bridge is now maintained by the Heritage New Zealand.

Fiona checking out the old bridge.

Looking down from the bridge

When Fiona was living in Waiouru as a child, she remembers doing several family trips to Ongaonga to see her Grandparents. The road took 5 hours to get from Taihape to Napier in their Triumph Herald on the gravel road. You can imagine it with 3 kids in the back over that distance. Sounds like a fun trip 🙂

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It truly is a lovely spot, and I can see why people like to camp here. There were a few people under the trees in tents along with several Caravans and Motorhomes.  Several cars were down on the shingle by the river with people having a crack at catching something.

Camping by the river

We walked up to the bridge so I could get a piccy of Fiona on the old bridge. It’s great to see our heritage being looked after like this.

People enjoying the river

We easily spent a couple of hours there chatting to other Motorhomers after having something to eat. A lovely spot.

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Springvale Bridge – Armada – GPS

The Famous Puhoi Pub

One of the iconic Hotels around and just out of Auckland is this wonderful old historic pub. It also has a huge carpark where you can stay overnight in your Motorhome or Caravan.

The Parking area

While I was in this neck of the woods, I thought I’d pop in and check it out.

How the first settlers arrived.

Puhoi started out having three Hotels after emigrants from Europe all wanted to be in on the business. Eventually one bought the others out and the current Puhoi Hotel which was built in 1879 became the communities premier place to socialise.

It has been owned by the same family since 1962.

At the bar

I love old buildings and this one has the charm and grace to go with it. The bar is decked out with every Knick knack you can imagine. It just reeks of character.

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You can stay the night in the hotel too if you have friends without their own accommodation. The parking for Motorhomes is just across the road.

I went for a brief walk around the village, and it is like time stood still. The old buildings look like they would have been 100 odd years ago.

A neat little village and nice to place to stop.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Puhoi – Armada – GPS

Frankia Owners Group meet at Coromandel

We set off early on the Friday morning thinking there might be a bit of early Labour weekend traffic, but it wasn’t to be, and we made it to Coromandel in pretty good time.

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Steve Gibson took this amazing shot with his drone. Coromandel shops are off to the left.

The Frankia Owners group organiser Brian Maginness, had invited me along to meet some of the group. Many of them were ex Dethleff owners so it was nice to see them again. They’re a good bunch and I’ve always admired the Frankia Motorhomes so we were really looking forward to it.

Brian had booked out the entire Park over property at Acres which is almost right in the middle of Coromandel town.  Run by Pauline and Ron as part of their property in a separate area complete with power and a bathroom, it is spectacular, and we’ll definitely be back to see them again.

Late on Friday afternoon, a few gathered outside Rafe and Happy Hour was on.

I met Russell and Lorraine who were originally from New Plymouth where I had just come from the photo Auction for Hospice.

It turns out that Russell spent a lot of his working life as a Linotype operator at the Daily News in New Plymouth so knew many of my press photographer friends who were involved in the Auction as they had also worked at the Daily News. Small world stuff.

It was really nice reminiscing about the old technology with the lead bars, slugs on the page (letters/paragraphs for the press) Great stuff.

Outside the gate

I also caught up with Peter and Heather who have adult children a similar age to our own and have lived close to us in Devonport for a long time. They’ve recently just got started with their near new Frankia Platin. Lovely to see them enjoying their new Motorhome.

My old friend from Devonport, Peter.

After the happy hour was finished, we all headed up to one of the restaurants in the main street of Coromandel about 5 minutes’ walk away. A great night and everyone had fun.

The next morning, it was each to their own. Some went bike riding, some walked up the back through the bush, we went for a walk through town and after lunch, walked back slowly to the camp to catch up with our neighbours in their Motorhomes.

Off for a Bike ride

Happy Hour rolled around and after this, I set up a team piccy and moved the group, so our Dethleffs was out of the background 🙂

The Team

That night’s tea was at my favourite restaurant in Coromandel, The Star and Garter. The meal I had was massive and Peter who was sitting next to me, watched me struggle through it. It was so nice.
I wasn’t going to waste any of it. 🙂 A nice meal as always and at a reasonable price. Another great night.

Star and Garter on the left looking up the main street.

We all ambled back to the park and crashed.

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The next day, many left. The rally was over but Fiona and I along with several others had enjoyed the park and the others company so much, we weren’t quite ready to go home 🙂

a Happy hour getting started.

A fantastic gathering… Well organised Brian and thank you to you all for making us both welcome.

Rafe’s Tracker map – Armada GPS

Pukekura Park

One of the things I’ve wanted to visit but either ran out of time or was too far away, is the amazing Pukekura Park.

Click on any Image to EnlargeIt was started in the late 1800’s and started as 54 Acres. It is now 128 acres, significantly bigger and is just beautiful. They also have an amazing nighttime display with Lighting which I’ve yet to see.  One day soon.

The old band Rotunda
Through the Ferns

I got a cab up from Fitzroy Motor camp and went for a walk through. There’s a neat Waterfall just as you get in by the lake, a Kiosk which sells everything next to the lake and an old Band Rotunda.

The Waterfall

I walked down around the lake to cross the old wooden bridge and back the other side. With Ferns everywhere you look, it’s a fantastic place to see. It is just stunning!

The Fountain
The small electric Bus

There is a small electric bus which does the rounds for $5 if you don’t feel like walking.

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As I walked out, I discovered another lake with a fountain in the middle of it next to another playground and skatepark. New Plymouth has it all!

The Kiosk

What impressed me most was the planting and the scale of it. Well worth the visit.

Looking back from the bridge

Ye Olde Luxury Post Office

And it’s a B&B so you can stay there!

A true labour of love .. Dave and Maria bought the Post office building some years ago and have restored what was originally the Eltham Post Office with the Telegraph area upstairs, is now a luxury B&B.

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Dave is a retired Photojournalist and worked with me at the Herald in the late 1970’s. David has also provided some images to the Hospice Taranaki Auction happening on the 24th September.

Dave outside the B&B

I was in New Plymouth staying at Ninia Park over so it was an easy trip in Rafe to pop in to see Dave after 40 something years since we’ve seen each other. Unfortunately, Dave’s wife Maria was away in Sydney catching up with friends and family so I get to meet her.

Historical Neighbourhood

I found Dave water blasting some Mould of one of the sheltered walls at the back and we adjourned into the kitchen for a good catchup over a cup of tea.

The main Helena Suite

Later I got a tour of the building which is amazing. They’ve certainly been busy!

Lots of old period things add to the charm

The upstairs has been converted into their private flat but in a thorough Way 🙂 .. as you would expect from these two!

Dave outside the Post Office.

If you want to sample this beauty and have a night away from your Motorhome or Caravan in one of Taranaki’s small towns, check out their website here.

Rafe parked outside with the Post office behind
Lovely old Building

It was lovely to see Dave again after all these years. As I said to him, he still looks the same 🙂

House & Garden RV style!

Paeroa would have to get first prize in the Antique shops. A fantastic place if you like looking at old interesting stuff.

We’ve passed through here lots of times but only stayed here once before  and that was at the Paeroa RV centre.

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I hadn’t booked or anything and just rocked up and as I checked in, there was something vaguely familiar about the nice lady checking me in.

After I gave her my name, she looked at me strangely and and said, “I went to school with you at Takapuna Grammar School”, the penny dropped and everything fell into place. Jane was also was at school with Fiona at Vauxhall Primary School.. amazing memory.  We spent the next hour or so going though all the common friends that we have and strangely enough, have managed to keep in touch with.

Jane’s partner Steve is the caretaker and they have an amazing old Devonport Ferries red bus, a real slice of history.

Jane with her and Steve’s ex Devonport Ferries Bus

Paeroa RV Centre has changed over the years and now house s a lot of permanent people in bigger vehicles and they’ve developed a real community there. I found all of them very welcoming and very friendly and with the less than friendly winter weather that we’ve had lately, its a great spot to get comfortable.

Some of the appendages to their parks .. think decks and little garden areas are amazing. I very definitely felt very undecorated and certainly not anywhere in the hunt for a prize for my park 🙂 I did have some moss and a neighbour pots nearby though 🙂

Click on the Gallery below to check out the Gardens

Having met Steve and Jane, they talked me into staying a second night and I spent the next day walking into Paeroa, getting a haircut and buying some costume jewelry for Fiona.

Downtown Paeroa
There’s a plastic bottle now !

A fantastic place to stay, great people and I was really pleased to catch up with Jane again and meet Steve.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Paeroa – Armada GPS

Staying at the Racecourse

Another great weather day was there to greet us as we rose to leave Reefton to go to Richmond.

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The grand entrance

We were gagging for a coffee by the time we approached the Nelson area. There is a nice wee place at Kohatu called the Flat Rock Café where we’ve stopped several times before.

Easy parking for big vehicles and a good coffee so we stopped there for half an hour or so before we carried on towards the Nelson Racecourse in Richmond.

Rafe parked under the trees

At $20 a night with power, water, rubbish, toilets showers and laundry its very affordable and in a nice spot.

Relaxing in the sun

After parking, opening vents and settling down, we went for a 20 minute walk into Richmond to have a nosey around the shops and a coffee. Last time we were here, they had half the main street all ripped up and it was impossible to get anywhere. It was nice to see it all finished and it looks good too.

A happy James with his car

The next day, we met our neighbour James who was on his own in his Motorhome. We were keen to visit upper Moutere and when James found this out, he asked us if we could take him up to Woodstock so he could retrieve his car. He was getting it fitted with an A frame and going to tow it behind his Motorhome. There is no public transport or any other way for him to get his car.

We’ve never been to Woodstock and it wasn’t far out of our way so we were off with James to get his car.

We took a wrong turn and for a moment we weren’t sure that James knew where his car was as he wasn’t familiar with the area but after retracing our steps for a few k’s, James recognised where we were and we found his car. It’s so easy to get lost up there as we found when we tried to get from there to Upper Moutere without the GPS.

The Moutere River at Woodstock
My chatty friends at Woodstock

After we dropped James off, I found a bridge that crossed the Motueka River that flows through the Woodstock valley. After parking in a gravel pit so I could get some pictures of the river from the bridge, there were two cyclists coming the other way and I got chatting to them. They were local Caravanners who regularly did 30 odd k’s every few days around the area. We must have chatted for about 20 minutes about all sorts.. lovely couple.

It was time to head to Upper Moutere for lunch. This is when we got lost !

One of the nice things about these small towns is its usually pretty easy to get a park.. there was one big park left when we got there and we sort of fitted in it 🙂 See the pic.

The main drag at Upper Moutere
The old Post Office

We headed for the old Post Office which now sells Fancy pickles and breads and also has a very talented Jeweler making some amazing stuff. She used to work in the UK but returned home to NZ after winning a bunch of awards for her work.

The Oldest pub in NZ

After this we headed for the oldest Pub in NZ, the Moutere Inn.  We came here a few years ago so we knew the food was good and it didn’t disappoint!

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I had Nachos with Bacon and Cheese .. Wow and Fiona had a Seafood Chowder.. washed down with a local cider made less than a few paddocks away 🙂

Amazing Nacho lunch

After this we headed back to the Racecourse.

We were sitting in Rafe enjoying a cup of tea when there was knock on the door. It was James with a nice bottle of Scottish Gin he’d bought for us for taking up to Woodstock. We were bowled over as he had offered us money for diesel which we’d turned down.

If you’re reading this James.. a really nice surprise! a big thank you mate and it was lovely to meet you and be able to help you out.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Richmond – Armada GPS
Rafe’s Tracker map to Woodstock / Upper Moutere – Armada GPS

The first town in NZ to have electric Streetlights!

That’s Reefton and with its lovely old buildings, it’s all character.

Click on any Image to EnlargeAfter checking in at the campground next to the river which is very reasonable, we set off to check out the town. First stop was lunch at the Future Dough Company sitting on the pavement. I had a massive Nachos with Cream and cheese with bacon.. amazing!

Our spot in the campground

The last time we were here, we checked in with the bearded miners and although I checked in again, it was all closed up and there was no sign of them. We did find that Reefton now has its very own Gin Distillery!

Looking down the main street

We checked in to the Reefton Distilling Co in town to find it was the home of Little Biddy Gin. There were other flavours available to taste which was fun.

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After tasting a few, we ended up with one called Snow which we bought and then headed back to Rafe at the campground.

As the title suggests, Reefton was the first town in NZ to have electric streetlights powered by the river via two tunnels and a Flume in 1868. It was the first town in NZ to have a public power system.

The town reeks of the history with the amazing old buildings and the perfect place for us to stop on the way north.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Reefton – Armada GPS

Having fun in Hanmer

Hanmer is one of those old favourite spots as we have had some epic family reunions here. Add the hot pools and it doesn’t get any better so we were quite looking forward to popping in for a night on our way up to Nelson.

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Hanmer Hotel

We arrived in perfect weather having come through from Oxford bang on lunch time.

At the NZMCA park

We managed to get a park in the main street by the trees and set out for somewhere to eat. We settled on a Home made pie from a Kiosk on the corner. Yum!

The last time we were here was about 4 – 5 years ago and there seemed to be more shops and buildings than there was last time we were here. The place has grown!

Lovely space

We didn’t really have time for a swim this time and after an hour of checking out shops, we headed back to the NZMCA park by the river.

There was only two other vans there when we arrived but by 6, that had doubled. Its always nice having a few around you in a semi rural place.

and with a Petanque court

There is a dump station just up the road a few k’s and although Hanmer is 7 odd k’s away, its a fun place to be.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Hanmer – Armada GPS

The Rustic Pub in Oxford

A big chunk of my family came from Oxford so its probably no surprise that we like it here.

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We popped into the cemetery to check on my grandparents.

The last time we were here, we popped in at the Museum and there was a few notable relatives who were in some displays in the Museum.  They’ve done a wonderful job of expanding the Museum and adding to the collections.

Great pub

We called in a the Rustic Hotel at the end of the main st in Oxford. For $20 they provide powered parking behind the hotel. They also provide a nice meal to with it.

The Stairwell complete with the old phone

One of the chaps I was talking to who was a regular turned out to be a crane driver who did the lifting required for a cousins house not far down the road in Rangiora. Small world!

The Back parking area

We dropped in after parking Rafe and met some really interesting people at the bar and had a good look around. It was a fun afternoon and very reasonable parking.

An amazing old building with a very friendly helpful publican Ross, in a neat town.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Oxford – Armada GPS