We came through here years ago and simply stopped for a drink but my old boating mate Alan, used to come here years ago for election night parties with his buddies.
It was on the market not so long ago and I believe it now has new owners and they’re really getting stuck in
The camping ground at the Okoroire Hotel has all been cleaned up and while it is not particularly flat, (bring your ramps) for its money it is good value. $10 a night each gives you power, loos and you’re right next to the track down to the newly restored hot pools by the Waihou river. There are three pools on the riverbank above the river. The pools are $5 each to use. An amazing setting.
Outside the Okoroire Hotel
Inside the hotel
The path down to the pools
Fiona in the pool
The river from the pools
Fiona in the hot “hot”pool
The hotel itself is just up the road a bit and was first built in the 1880’s and was setup as a stopping point for the stagecoaches from Auckland, heading south. You can also stay at the hotel and there is also a 9 hole golf course. What more could you want?
We arrived here directly from crowds of people at the balloon event so it was nice just to blob out with some peace and quiet but Fiona’s keen to stay another night so it must be good.
As you arrive into Hamilton off the expressway from the north, you will see at one of the roundabouts, a car on top of a pole.
This is the Jukebox Cafe and Classic Car Museum. NZMCA members can stay the night here for free and there is tons of room at the back of a huge carpark.
The Jukebox cafe is all decked out with an American 60’s Rock n roll type decor along with the staff wearing the retro clobber. While we didn’t eat here it all looks pretty good.
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The back of the Auburn
A car I had as a teenager, a Mark 1 Zephyr
The front of the Auburn
Fiona’s favourite, the Messerschmitt
The Classic Car Museum is a must do and is someone’s private collection. It includes a caravan, a Cord, and an amazing looking Auburn which I’d never heard of.
There’s a Messerschmitt along with trucks and many others. You’ll easily get lost in here for an hour or two.
We went through here with Gary and Dianne before they headed back to Taupo and were sitting in the carpark getting ready for a cuppa while waiting for Fiona. She was really taken with the Messerschmitt.
On the way back from Waihi we stopped in for a look at the Karangahake gorge.
We are intending to do the bike trail but it’s all about gathering up more knowledge before we take this on.
It’s a really interesting area with several short walks that are not part of the trail. We had a look at a couple of the old power stations and batteries while we were there which takes an hour according to the sign. The walking doesn’t take anything like that and it’s well worth a look.
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The overall map on the site
The first swing bridge
The second swing bridge with the battery ruins on the left
The River in the gorge
Fiona being a goldminer
The second battery
The second battery at the lowest level
The second battery at the middle level with the huge wall remaining
The second level wall with the walkway across the river
Remains of the track for the ore
The battery end of the skyway ore buckets. (Flying fox)
Looking along the river with the road alongside
Looking back into Karangahake
Looking back to Karangahake as it was at the time
Karangahake was a small town which included all the things you’d expect to see in a town like Te Aroha or similar.
We walked across the swing bridges and up the hill past the power station, the two batteries built down the hillsides. The ore was swung across the river from the tops of hills in a flying fox type of setup before processing with cyanide. It really was a huge setup. It’s not until you’re up there that you realise the scale of it all and looking at the remains, what it must have taken to build the buildings themselves and the infrastructure to go with it.
We walked all around and as the weather deteriorated, we worked our way closer to Rafe in the carpark. Another one of those feature areas that I’ve driven past lots of times and was really pleased we stopped for a look.
Isn’t just great having the NZMCA app now running on our iPads. Even though I’ve had the gps files installed in Rafes in dash gps, it’s really nice sitting in the deck chair with the iPad and figuring out where to next with the app.
We found in the iPad, a great spot in Waihi that sounded fantastic. It’s at the Goldfields railway station at Waihi. For $10 per night, there are 6 powered sites and more space for others as well. There is also access to water and the Rail Trail toilets as the Rail Trail ends at the railway station. About 15 minutes walk away is the centre of town.
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The train with the Waihi station
Nicely kept carriages
Rafe in the overnight area from the train
Pulling out of Waihi, off to Waikino
The traffic to waihi
Close to waikino
A nice Mitzi zooming past
Arriving at Waikino
Inside the cafe at Waikino station
Outside Waikino station
Shifting the loco
Back to Waihi
On the way back to Waihi
The Conductor watching at a crossing
We arrived and plugged in, paid for the park and we’re just in time for the last train ride to Waikino and back. The perfect way to check out the bike trails before walking or biking the Karangahape gorge trails.
The train stops for 15 minutes or so, just enough time for a beer, glass of wine or just a coffee or ice cream. A great way to spend a couple of hours and fun too.
There are 3 return trips each day from Waihi.
This is a wee bit off topic, more about boats than Motorhomes but I’m so disappointed in our brain dead elected council people to let this go ahead. Read on.
Years ago, there was a huge footbridge with steps that went from the northern end of Milford beach and climbed up into the cliff to join a track to go to Inga / Beach Rd. Over the years, the bridge fell into a state of disrepair and in the late 60’s -early 70’s was deemed unsafe and demolished with a promise from the council that it would be replaced at a future date.
Time marched on and the Milford Mariners Society and Milford Cruising club members developed the marina to where it is today with about 200 boats with jettys, power and water.
Along came a few people from Castor Bay who couldn’t be bothered walking around the marina to get to the beach and had the council drag out the “promise” to renew the bridge.
This “replacement” is a mechanical bridge which they intend to operate remotely which is very different from what was there and with all the best intentions, will break down. When it does, it will become a safety issue, not to mention the costs in running it.
Anyway, how it works – Boaties are supposed to radio in to Viaduct Harbour to have the bridge opened when they want to leave or enter the creek. There will be alarms to “warn” people off the bridge which will be heard all around the Milford basin.
Most mariners will tell you that Milford creek is a nightmare to enter in anything from an easterly quarter in more that 15 -20 odd knots with the swell. If the bridge fails to open, there would be mayhem with boats up each others chuff in the corner of the entrance with nowhere to go.
I’ve entered the channel several times in Rorqual when it has been quite rough after a holiday weekend or two and once you’re committed to enter, there is no turning back. It is simply too narrow with rocks on both sides with the swell coming from behind. This makes it incredibly hard to steer until you get well into the creek. It is a safety issue which I think the council has largely ignored.
I understand the cost before construction started was already at $1m with talkfests and surveys. I reckon it’ll be at least $2-3 m before its finished.. all for a few people to walk to the beach.
We hear them say.. “ it won’t fail”. Those in Viaduct harbour will tell you about their bridge that “wouldn’t fail” that has failed regularly since it was installed which is why we are hearing talk about it being replaced.
Anyway .. as you can see, it is being built.
As a safety measure, they are constructing a pontoon which will require ongoing dredging (cost) just outside the bridge. On a busy holiday weekend with returning boats, this will be totally inadequate as it will only be big enough to hold about 4 vessels.
News Flash : A wee birdie tells me that the folk who open the bridge at Viaduct Harbour won’t work the Milford bridge as they have enough trouble getting folk off the Viaduct bridge before opening, let alone try to do Milford remotely.. What now ?
While waking up this morning to another nice sunny day, I thought I should head out to Kawakawa Bay and have a cup of tea while the cockle gatherers were doing their thing. It’s also a bit more interesting that watching small planes come and go for another day. 💤
There were plenty of gatherers there too, making the most of the weather and getting down to business.
While there, I met an interesting couple with their newly built Motorhome who were trying to retire after giving their lifelong printing business to their adult children. There was a problem with a machine so they’d been summoned from their break down by Kaiaua, to sort it out! It was interesting swapping notes on how our respective but similar business’s had changed over the years with technology and changes in the economy.
After an hour or so there, I headed back to Ardmore. As I went through Clevedon, I kept seeing these signs saying “historic place 400m” so decided to check it out.
It turns out that the Wairoa River in Clevedon was quite a bustling place. There were warehouses, a sawmill and several other businesses on both sides of the river. They even towed barges with planes on them during the war from Hobsonville via “Port Clevedon” to hangers in Ardmore. Really interesting.
I had a quick walk around Clevedon before heading back to Ardmore MCA park for the afternoon.
When I returned, I found my next door neighbour in the middle of the grass, under his Toyota Landcruiser doing a lube and oil! A caravanner saving some money. Isn’t it funny what people choose to do on a hot day😎
We headed over to Featherston today despite the 100k odd gale warnings and it was quite an interesting trip! Martinborough is down in a basin lower that Featherston so I suspect that protects it against the big blows but once up on the Featherston plain despite heading strait into the wind, it was evil. The Van was all over the place. Slowing down to 65k odd helped but that was all we could do when were exposed in the sides.
We looked for a park so the van wasn’t side on and found the Fell Locomotive Museum right over the road. You could barely stand up in the wind so we thought we’d run for cover into the Museum.
What an interesting place. The steep grades over the Rimutakas ranges were such that they had specially designed Shunters that used a third rail to climb and brake.
Apparently, they used to get through a set of 8 brake shoes per loco for each descent and 4 for each brake van each descent! They had a cog driven wheel in each side of the loco of the centre rail that was wound in by the engineer and driven by the steam engine. It was held in by gigantic springs for the extra traction uphill. Apparently it worked really well. Each loco could deal with 3 passenger wagons or 4 freight vans depending on the weight and it was quite common to see 4-5 Shunters per train with passenger carriages and freight in between.
We were warmly welcomed by some nice chaps who showed us and explained us how it all worked and then shown to a theatre where we saw an early 1900’s film of the whole system working. Great film. Funny to see all the old clobber that people wore back then and really interesting.
If you’re in Featherston, check it out. At $5 a head it’s well worth the visit.
We visited an unnamed disappointing coffee shop after that, that interestly had its front door facing out of the wind ! Awful coffee and very average cakes.. That’s the first we’ve struck that bad on the whole trip so can’t really complain.
Given the wind was so bad, we headed back to Martinborough for our last night. Rugby tomorrow morning. All Blacks v France. Just as well I brought the sky card with us. We’ll head to Napier after that.
3k’s or so outside of Matamata is the Firth Tower Museum.
Its an amazing collection of original buildings in the grounds of what used to be a farm for the Firth family in Auckland to feed the flour mill. It later became the base for a well known Waikato family to farm.
The original farmhouse was built with the tower in the later 1800’s but the farmhouse burnt down in 1902 and was replaced then by the current house. It was then owned by the McCaw family. Don’t forget you can click on the images to enlarge them
Firth Tower Museum Historical man cave
Milking .. love the old radio
Each building had its own collection
Out with the washing
Love the stick with the fork
Where we parked for the night, that’s the back of the van with the arrow. From the top of the tower shot through the glass.
Madam checking out the Phone box
The House with Tower
The Schoolhouse, Post office and Church
Madam all dressed for the occasion
In each of the buildings there is a theme of history, Agriculture, Transport, Medical, local war involvement, and there is even two carriages with the History of the Kaimai tunnel as well.
The volunteers who staff it were all wearing historical gear to add to the feel of the place. When we visited, there was school trip of local primary school kids and they all got dressed up in historical clothing to add to the occasion.
For $10 you can stay the night with power or free parking without power. One of the nice things about being on the road is discovering new places to stay and how nice they can be and often it is the least expensive that are the nicest places to stay… this was one of those times. A great way to spend the day and it really is a well setup museum.
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