It was miserable in Tauranga and due to get worse so I headed over the hills to the Opal Hot Springs Holiday Park just outside Matamata.
As I pulled up, I met Vanessa and Carrilline at the front desk, both very friendly and ready to show me where everything was..
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Carrilline and her husband, Brian own the business and after 3 years here, they are making some big changes. I showed her a picture on the NZMCA app of the camp and it looks completely different with all the parks now being all weather.
The pools are being painted later this year. The place is looking really good.
I parked Rafe at one end of the new all weather parks and headed off for a walk around the park while the sun was out. The pool complex is massive with an almost Olympic sized heated pool and several others.
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Showwers, Loos, Kitchen etc
The pool area
Happy faces, Vanessa and Carrilline
Nice with the trees
There are 70 powered sites, 10 non powered and a dozen or so Motels and Cabins.
Its in a lovely position just outside Matamata heading towards the Kaimais. A great place to blob out with some heat.
The Netspeed Speedtest
Download: 4.51 Mbps
Upload: 2.85 Mbps
Ping: 125 ms
Some time ago we promised the Grandsons Ayden and Liam that we would take them to Rotorua for a few days and see the boiling mud and swim in a hot pool.
The boys have never been to Rotorua so were looking forward to it after a false start a few months ago, when one of them got sick and we couldn’t go.
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We were also meeting our friends Rob, Helen and daughter Chloe who were on their way to the South Island.
After picking up Fiona from work in Takapuna and then collecting the boys at Ardmore, we were off to Rotovegas! We didn’t leave until late so we weren’t expecting to be in Rotorua much before about 7pm.
As it was cold and there was some pretty rough weather due to arrive, we decided on staying at the Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park which looked pretty good with the hot pools.
It is a well setup place and comes with several thermal pools and a playground for the kids. It was also perfectly located for us as we were just around the corner from Te Puia and Whakarewarewa.
Helen had made a nice tea for us and after settling down Rafe, we moved into an amazingly well setup new kitchen and dining Room. It was all connected to our parks with a covered walkway which I thought was pretty cleverly done.
After a great night of catching up with Rob, Helen and Chloe, we setup the drop down bed for the boys and all turned in for the night.
In the morning, Rob and Helen were taking Chloe up the Gondolas and headed for Ngongotaha while we went outside with the boys and took them to Te Puia which was just over the road.
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One of the few Holiday parks with a Cafe
The big pool
Ayden and Liam playing in the Playground.
Some of the cabins
Grandsons Liam and Ayden at Rotorua
I had a good look around the camp in the early afternoon and it is huge. There are 164 powered sites and nearly 30 odd cabins and units and while we were there, the housemovers were setting up some more !
After spending the day in the thermal area, we arrived back just as it started to rain and headed for a hot swim where we caught up with Rob, Helen and Chloe.
After Happy hour and a few glasses of Chardy in the Tracker, we hit the sack for the night.
A great spot to stay for the Hot Pools, for the thermal attractions and the amenities are superb.
The Netspeed Speedtest here.. not too flash!
Download: 6.46 Mbps
Upload: 1.79 Mbps
Ping: 47 ms
We started planning Queens Birthday quite a few weeks ago so we could book into the anticipated busy Miranda Holiday Park and get parks, for both Rafe and our friends in their Tracker.
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Rob, Helen and Chloe were joining us for the weekend and we were really looking forward to catching up with them again.
The weekend forecast was not great but we figured that our old favorite spot would be pretty safe.
We arrived around midday on Saturday to find that Rob, Helen and Chloe had already arrived and after getting Rafe level and some vents open and the power on, Fiona and I were off to the hot pool.
The rain hadn’t started yet but was forecast to arrive anytime. Later in the day, it was all on and overnight into Sunday, it just didn’t stop. It didn’t prevent us though from ducking in and out for a swim on both days.
Later on Saturday, Rob and Helen popped over for a cold one and some cheese and biccies. I was amazed that despite the forecast, Chloe was still keen to stay the night on an air bed in a small tent between the two vans!
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Tent sites near us
The BBQ area
Gumboots for Happy Hour!
Sunday… It was all on, some Thunder, and LOTS of rain. The drainage ditch behind us was chocker and threatening to come into the park from the road. There was water everywhere.
Later in the day, the rain eased up and Rob and I went for a walk to have a look around. Many of the parks with Caravans and smaller vans were half under water. Most of the tent sites near us were submerged but despite all this, everyone seemed happy. The pool was busy everytime I went anywhere near it too!
If you’re going to get stuck in a downpour, I couldn’t think of a better place to be really:-)
While we were in Cromwell, we heard the odd crash of thunder in the distance and given that there were 5 days of storms in that region, we seem to miss it all 🙂
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After leaving Weedons, were headed into Christchurch to get some more toilet chemicals and then started the trek north to Hanmer.
It is years since we were last at Hanmer and its a great place.
We headed into the NZMCA park which I’ve driven past numerous times but this was our first time in it. What a neat spot. We’d only just pulled up and I was levelling up Rafe when I met our next door neighbours Tony and Beryl from Motueka, who were heading south to catch up with family in Arrowtown. They had a nice little Bailey caravan and having lived in a bigger model earlier were seasoned caravanners so it was really interesting chatting to them.
We were joined by their caravan by John and his girlfriend from Australia who was a real character. He had been part of the television series Outback Truckers so it was great to catch up with them too.
The next morning, we took Rafe into Hanmer which is about 7 k’s from the park and had a swim and lunch in the hotpools. While were there, out rolled these huge black clouds and it was all on with the thunder and the lightning. Even in the daylight you could see the lightening.
We got back to the park quite late and a new van had come in while we were out. Brian and Rose from Motueka. We got talking to them too and it turned out that they lived only a few houses away from Tony and Beryl 🙂 A small world.
We all got together between Rafe and Brians Motorhome and enjoyed a cold drink and a laugh or two. The Thunder and lightening hadn’t finished yet but we all had umbrellas which I thought was very stoic !
The Hanmer park doesn’t have any water, rubbish or any extras and as I said, its 7ks out of town but given that there is no freedom camping in the area, the options are very limited but its a great wee park all the same and comes it at the same great price as all the other NZMCA parks. 🙂
The weather was about to go downhill dramatically and as there was a deal going on the Campermate app at Holdens Bay Holiday park for $14 a night, it seemed sensible to take up the offer.
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A couple of nights plugged in with the heater on to clear some posts, sounded like a good idea. There were hot pools there too.
Its a big park with lots of rental apartments and plenty of powered parks and being a cold winters day and about to get colder, it had more motorhomes there than I expected.
Holdens Bay is on the eastern side of Lake Rotorua just south of the airport. Its a little out of the way but apart from the odd plane, its a nice quiet spot with great facilities. You can also walk to the lake which is only 5 minutes away and there is a technology museum almost next door. With the deal and forecasted bad weather, a great spot to hunker down.
Nice Kitchen and toilets
The Pool but not pool weather
Looking into Rotorua
NZ is such a small place. I’d no sooner settled Rafe down when I heard a frantic tooting and looked around. There was some people that I’d met the night before in Taupo and put them onto Campermate.
A young Dutch graphic designer with his theatre nurse wife, Stephen and Angelique with their 3 year old son. A really nice couple who were into their third and last week of a NZ campervan tour. They had got the same deal I had and were staying one night before pushing on towards Auckland. I also bumped into them a few days later at Miranda Holiday park, one of my recommendations for their last night. We’ll hopefully catch up with them in Rotterdam when we get there sometime next year.
For those offshore, Campermate is a free cell phone app which shows where Campgrounds, dumpstations, free parking, petrol stations etc are on a map and use your location but also has deals. Well worth getting if you’re touring NZ.
Its such a neat place Rotorua with so much to do and has a calming atmosphere to it and of course all the Thermal stuff happening.
It’s always a great experience checking out St Faiths Church and Ohinemutu on the lakefront, when I’m in Rotorua.
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I can remember coming here when I was in short pants and it still looks as good now if not better.
It’s always quite serene and has an air about it which is nice. I think the thermal steam from the cracks in the road and everywhere probably helps this too.
There were quite a few people there too having a good look around so that’s great for the donation boxes there. A lovely peaceful spot and there’s a couple of overnight spots for motorhomers just around the corner by the boatramp.
This is the tale of our mini adventure to the Outer Hebrides in our 6m coach built motorhome. I hope you find the story of the people we met and the places we've seen interesting and useful if you're planning your own trip.