Tag Archives: Motorhome friendly parking

Boiling Mud and Geysers

Grandsons, Ayden and Liam were both really looking forward to seeing some boiling mud for the first time and if we could, the famous Pohutu Geyser.

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Fiona, Ayden and Liam on the way to the Geysers

We left early and walked about 100 metres to Te Puia all well connected by tunnels under the roadway. The family pass which was normally $150 odd seemed appropriate and because there was a NZ special discount, we were able to show our drivers licenses and get nearly $50 off !Β  A big saving.

The base of the Geysers

ThereΒ  just enough time to get the boys an ice cream and us a coffee before the next tour was due to head off with Guide Kiri.

Kiri with the Tour group

She was fantastic and as the Geysers were still building up a head of steam, after teaching the group of about 60 in the tour how to pronounce the full name of Whakarewarewa(and a lot more), she took us first to see the craft academy. Whakarewarewa is the abbreviated form !

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I didn’t realise but they have a full Academy for training craftsmen from Bone or Stone carving to Wood Carving, Jewellery and many other skills. They work on show for the tourists behind and below a walkway and you finally end up in a Gallery where the work is available to buy. The trainees have uniforms and have a full apprenticeship/graduation ceremony. It is an amazing setup. Very entrepreneurial and all done very nicely. I was impressed.

The base of the Geysers

The steam was building up so Kiri took us down to the Mud Pools then onto the Geysers. Unfortunately there was a grey sky and the steam and the clouds all merged so it was impossible to really see the water let alone photograph it. The boys enjoyed it and also got to sit on some warm concrete which was nice as it was only 10C!

Boiling Mud

We spent about 4 hours there all up and we decided it was time to head back to Rafe and go and warm up in the Hot Pool.

Pohutu Geyser is in there somewhere

As I say, I was very impressed with the way it was all setup. Paths and bridges are a long way from what I remember from the old Whaka village with them all being well engineered and maintained.
A fun day for young and old πŸ™‚

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) –Β  Peski’s in Geraldine where we spent nearly two weeks.

Nice parking

Best free Parking – Lowburn on the lake front.. a week of perfect weather helped here πŸ™‚

The View

Best NZMCA park – 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 – Kaiteriteri right on the beach. Just magnificent.

Close to the water

Best pub that we stayed at – 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 – 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 – 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 – Historic Ophir Bridge. I found myself doing some quick mental arithmetic to make sure it was safe πŸ™‚

Rafe on the Ophir Bridge

Most amazing discovery – 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.

Great parking

We arrived in Richmond pretty knackered and late in the day but as soon as we drove in, I saw Nick and Karen’s tag axle Autotrail Commanche behind where we were about to park.

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Nick and Karen’s Commanche

We first met them at a Paeroa Motorhome Friends catchup so it was really nice to see them.

They’re a great couple and have been fulltiming in the Commanche now for nearly 2 years and loving the lifestyle.

After tea they joined us for a cup of coffee and a biscuit in Rafe. As Fiona says, they were the inspiration for us to try fulltiming so it was good to catch up with them and see how they were going.

The Richmond Motorhome park is part of the A&P grounds in Richmond and is extremely good value with powered sites for just $15. There are toilets, several washing machines and recyling and rubbish collection.

The park

We left the next morning for the day to go into Nelson to see Monty’s market in the middle of town.

Fiona at the market

Interesting seeing people out having fun in the sun looking for the bargains.

Cellar Door cafe

After this we went to find somewhere nice for lunch and came across a group of three cafes all on the one site on the way to Motueka, about 2k’s from Richmond.

The La Capilla next door

We initially thought they were owned by the same person but they are separate and competing businesses. We stopped in at the Waimea Cellar Door Cafe which was quite quirky and rustic with its dΓ©cor. There is another cafe in a Church next door called la Capilla and also a burger bar called Abbey Road.
Interesting places.

The La Capilla cafe

They had a deal on for a cup of coffee and a scone for $7 so we did that and then had a cider and a glass of the Waimea Chardonnay. Very nice it was too and a generous pour as well!

One of the quirky windows

They all look like nice places with plenty of easy Motorhome parking around the back.

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 πŸ™‚ 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 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 πŸ™‚

The man on his Penny farthing


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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

Larnach’s Garden

I’ve been to Larnach’s Castle a few times before but never really noticed or appreciated the huge gardens.

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The castle was originally built by William Larnach for his family in 1874. The Barker family bought the Castle in 1967 after it had fallen into a state of disrepair and had basically been abandoned which is when they restored the Castle and then later the gardens.

Outside the ballroom

The Barkers have done an amazing job of creating a massive series of different gardens in and around the Castle. One of the features is a Pergola (the lead pic) which is huge and covered in trees creating a tunnel with a view of Dunedin and the end.

Dunedin through the Pergola

Other areas have small lookouts suspended over banks with amazing views of the harbour.

Fiona enjoying the Garden

We drove up the peninsula in Rafe and its an interesting road. The weather had closed in and it was quite dreary and drizzly, not conducive to nice bright piccies!

On the road to the castle looking towards Port Chalmers

We parked right up the top of the carpark and set off through the gardens.

Rafe tucked up in the top corner

Just the entrance from the carpark was spectacular with really bright flowers and nice trees. I’m not really up on all the names of plants and gardening but even I could see that this was special.

The entrance to the Garden

We came out onto the front lawn of the Castle and because we hadn’t read the instructions :-), we set off in the opposite direction to the intended tour but made it to all the areas of interest !

Larnach Castle

After an hour or so, we ended up in the Castle Ballroom and Cafe. Two open fires burning made it really warm and inviting and after another 30 minutes or so, we set off to head down the road to Portobello.

The Cafe / Ballroom

We had a quick look around Portobello and then headed back around the waterfront back to the city. It is quite a long way and is a slow road back. Its well worth doing and the Gardens and the Castle are a must do too.

More nice Garden
Round the back with the Alice in Wonderland area

The Gardens were $15 each which included parking.

Heading down to Railway Country

After saying goodbye to Jessa, we had an appointment at the local Fiat dealer in Queenstown to plug in to Rafe’s computer and reset the Service reminders that had been driving me nuts since Greymouth !

Queenstown with Jacks Point on the right

Central Otago Motor Group are just along the road from where we were staying and they were so obliging and helpful with the southern hospitality, I was completely bowled over. John the Service Manager, was the man in charge of the electronic tools and while I was waiting for him, the service receptionist came out and offered me a Muffin. Apparently someone was leaving. Unbelievable welcome!

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John was fantastic and within a few minutes of plugging in, the messages had gone away.Β  If you want something done and you have a Fiat based Motorhome and you’re in their area.. don’t go anywhere else πŸ™‚

Fairlight Railway Station

After that, with a big smile on my face, we were off towards Invercargill alongside Lake Wakatipu. I don’t think I’ve ever driven down this road but its awesome. We stopped along the way to get have a cup of coffee and get some piccies of Queenstown.

Rafe looking for Adventure

After stopping at the famous Fairlight Station, we next stopped at Lumsden where they have a huge restoration project happening to restore what they call the Lumsden Railway Precinct Project along with a carriage and some other rolling stock. It looks great. About 30 local businesses and volunteers have come together to make this happen.

Lumsden Railway Station
Inside the carriage

There is also an old gaol with the original stocks outside with a couple of signs on it. They both refer to Dogs and people not picking up after them so I’m assuming that’s what happens if you don’t πŸ™‚

Where you end up if you don’t pick up your Doggie do’s πŸ™‚

There is also a very easy to use dump station and water there if you’re looking for one.

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It looks like a progressive wee town and the Railway Precinct is definitely going to make a difference when its finished.