After several weeks of sanding, painting and repairing things and generally getting the house on the market, it was time for a well earned break.
Our friends Helen, Rob and Chloe were keen to head to one of our favourite spots at the Pauanui Club at Pauanui.
To beat the holiday weekend traffic, Fiona and I decided that I would get Rafe stocked up. I would then collect her from work at 6pm and we would head down to the motorway towards Ardmore and maybe spend the night there. We would then go early the next day to Coromandel to try to beat the worst of the traffic.
As we crossed the bridge, there was no traffic ! We got to Manukau, still no traffic until we hit Takanini where roadworks slowed it down to a crawl but after a 1k or so, we were away again ! We decided we’d keep going until we’d had enough and that ended up being Thames 🙂
I’ve never stayed at Rhodes park before but it is just on the left after Thames Airfield before you get into Thames. It is Free parking provided by the local council and its a great place. A great big piece of flat gravel and you can park anywhere.
There were about 10 or so Caravans and Motorhomes and everyone had plenty of room. There as a good Internet signal there too but I forgot to measure it!
We woke up in the morning around 7:30 to the phone ringing which Fiona answered and it was Rob saying that they were at Drury on the Southern Motorway stopped in traffic. We made a decision to get up and get going in case the traffic extended to the Coromandel road and got cracking.
As it turned out, it only took us about 40 minutes to get to Pauanui and we were there shortly after 9am. Rob, Helen and Chloe arrived about an hour or so later.
The Club parking is superb and it is extremely good value. At $10 including power, toilets, a cold shower(if you have no option) and access to their bar and superb meals. It is also right next door to the Airfield with homes with built in hangers alongside the runway. There is always something to see and do. The town is an easy 5 minute walk away as well with some nice Cafe’s and a small supermarket. It is also right next door to a great Mini Golf park which was busy for most of the weekend.
There were 4 Motorhomes there when we arrived and there was plenty of room for more.
Some positive feedback for them. There is room for more Motorhomes there down one end but the 8 power sockets are on two poles where they could spread this over three poles and increase their turnover but its fantastic as it is!
We went for a walk around to see our son Alex’s family about a 1k away who were staying in Sarah’s family bach. Grandsons Ayden and Liam were there too so we took them down to the beach about 100 metres away.
Pauanui is a great surf beach with the famous Slipper island just off shore.
That night, Alex and Sarah and the boys came around and we all went to the Pauanui club for a few glasses of fizz and they had tea.
The next day, they all walked around to the Pauanui Waterways and had a look at this amazing development. Rob, Helen and Chloe climbed up to the top of Mt Pauanui which is a feat too!
All in all, over three days, it was nice to be in one spot for a period and just be able to blob and check out what was just around the corner.
We last caught up with friends Rob and Helen before we went to the South Island last year but saw Helen in Lowburn so it was good to see them with Chloe as well.
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We headed up to a neat wee campground in Leigh called Leigh Central. With the weather being off and on sunny and the odd shower but lots of easterly wind, we knew we were in for a few good puffs.
We’d only been there about half an hour when Rob turned up with their Tracker and Helen and Chloe arrived later.
Its a small campground which is part of a Motel complex right in the heart of Leigh.
Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow
Outdoor area for Happy times
A monster being weighed
We’d just arrived when the owner Ian popped out to welcome us in. Ian and his wife along with another couple own the complex and have been progressively upgrading it and it looks great. It is run on an honesty system at $20 per van per night, great value and with a view out over the water to Tawharanui Peninsula. There are plans to add Toilets and Shower which are there now but not hooked up and there is a full kitchen and lounge area with a big open fire which would be great in winter.
It was really nice to see Rob, Helen and Chloe again and we had a great night updating each other with all the news.
The next day, after a big sleep and lie in :-), we walked around to the Leigh School where there was a weigh in for a big Fishing competetion that had been on. There was a huge Marque and lots of stalls for food and it looked set for a big night with live music too.
We walked around the road to the well known Sawmill Cafe and had a beer and a nibble before coming back to the campground and enjoying some great Fish and Chips from the shop next door to the campground.
As we left, we drove down to the Leigh Wharf area which is really interesting. An easy walk from the campground too. Mathesons Bay is just around the corner and we checked that out as well.
A great place to stay, nice hosts and not far from anywhere. We’ll be back.
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Greytown is one of those lovely little towns that just oozes charm and is full of history.
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With up to 35C heat, we thought a trip to the Greytown pool next door to the wonderful little Greytown Holiday Park, well it would be rude not too! The pool is free being provided by the kind citizens of Greytown and it must be slightly heated as it was about 28 C in the pool!
The Holiday Park is fabulous with Ken and Nina at the helm. Ken is a real character and couldn’t be more helpful. At $35 for 2 with the NZMCA discount with power, it is very good value. And of course the use of the pool next door !
We were both keen to check out the Shoc Chocolate shop which is almost part of the local Museum.
The Cobblestone Museum is amazing and has a collection of several of the oldest buildings in the area.
There were also a few clever people in the area. One called Donald Donald who invented the wool press and got world wide patents for it. This is back in the late 80’s. He was also well know for inventing a wire fence strainer amongst other things.
Click on the Gallery below to see Hi Res
Inside the school house
The inside of the Church
A Church in the Museum
Donald Donalds barn at the Museum
Rafe in the Greytown Holiday Park
A local Church, Hospital, School House and others were well set out in an area where there was originally the Transport Hub for the area with the original cobbles still intact.
And afterwards.. the Shoc Chocolate shop was a great place to stop too.
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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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.
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.
Best Park over property (POP) – Peski’s in Geraldine where we spent nearly two weeks.
Best free Parking – Lowburn on the lake front.. a week of perfect weather helped here 🙂
I’ll let the Image Gallery below tell the story of the trip. Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow.
Rafe at the Mangaweka Campground
Entering the Tory Channel. North Island behind
Rafe with the handbrake on with people getting off at Picton.
Looking across towards Nelson with the snow on the tops of the hills
Some extras with the daffodils
Dogs exercising their owners.
I can feel a drink coming on
The famous Restaurant over the water.
Looking down the main street with the Old St Peters Church and the Windmill behind. The Windmill was in the main street of Nelson for many years.
Fiona on the Bristol Freighter
The Bristol Freighter
The port and the shops
Late afternoon in the sun
Looking down from the lookout
A Happy Place
The Moutere Inn
Dusk looking down Reeftons main street with the old lights lighting the street.
The Bearded Miners. Gavin, Peter and Mark
People collecting Driftwood down by the Greymouth Breakwater
ith rafe outside that famous Hotel
The Jetty down at Lake Mahinapua
The Bar. Amazing working cash register
Fiona with the fire at the Empire
Up in the Historic Gold area
The Franz Josef Glacier. See if you can spot a Helicopter
Rafe at Hawea
The amazing dump station with the grates in the ground at Queenstown
Queenstown with Jacks Point on the right
Fiona and Jessa at Q’town
Fiona checking out the Fairlight Railway Station
A Train at the Station
Inside the carriage – Lumsden
The Texaco Tanker Invercargill
Fiona in the café done up as a 50’s Kitchen
Curio bay looking towards the campground
The park setup – Lawrence
One of the Roxburgh pubs
A sluicing lake behind the park _ Roxburgh.
Close to the bike trail – Roxburgh
Fiona nearly at Roxburgh
A view over Clyde
The old Hotel
The road through the vineyard through the Kawarau Gorge
The kawerau River from the road
Jessa checking out a Pinot Gris at Mt Rosa
Lunch at the historic Gibbston Valley Tavern
The Ophir Bridge
The Function Centre – Omakau
The front of the Hotel
Starting off at Ranfurly Railway Station
Fiona arriving at Wedderburn
Once the tea rooms, now a museum.
The Dunedin Railway Station
Along the Platform
The Taieri train
In the Railway Station
The Pergola with a peep of Dunedin at the end.
Outside the ballroom
The main street at Rush hour 😉 Waimate
The Oamaru Wharf
Plenty of room
Sue (Peskis) with her new Letterbox
The gardens at Peskis
Fiona checking out the Hats
Cheers at Geraldine
One of the performing groups
Fiona with her great auntie Jeannie’s Morris
The interior of Johns truck
Fiona with the Cadburys Chocolate
Lake Tekapo late on our first day
Love the different layers in the colour
The Stone Church with the tourists
Happy Hour with all our visitors at Tekapo. Cell pic
A bridge across the river
Across Lake McGregor
Our neighbours Jim and Lynley back at the NZMCA park
The first Tunnel
On the way back to Omakau
A Miners hut
On the way to the Stamper Battery
Fiona gold panning
Under the mountains
Rafe in front of the house plugged in. The visitors area on the very left.
The boat club down by the NZMCA park
Parked behind the Gate in Cromwell
Ross is a great character.. the birthday boy.
The pools at Hamner
Fiona enjoying the heat.
Look at all that water.
Fiona at the market – Nelson
The Church cafe – Richmond
The bar at the cellar Door
Lots of Motorhomes on the deck
Ian and Gary with all the polishing toys!
We met some wonderful people along the way and had some nice 5pm catchups in some fantastic places.
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 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 !
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.
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.
We left the next morning for the day to go into Nelson to see Monty’s market in the middle of town.
Interesting seeing people out having fun in the sun looking for the bargains.
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.
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 décor. There is another cafe in a Church next door called la Capilla and also a burger bar called Abbey Road.
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!
They all look like nice places with plenty of easy Motorhome parking around the back.
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.
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.
Other areas have small lookouts suspended over banks with amazing views of the harbour.
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!
We parked right up the top of the carpark and set off through the gardens.
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.
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 !
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.
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.
The Historic Black Hotel in Ophir was a welcome sight for a late lunch cup of coffee. After an amazing Lemon Meringue Tart and a good look around the hotel, we set off for a good look around Ophir with the camera.
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The original Post Office seems to be the hub of the History in the area and they’re doing a good job of promoting the old buildings. The Post Office still operates for 3 hours each day. Behind it is the original Jail Cell from Omakau.
Check out the Gallery below for a slideshow of Ophir
The Ophir Bridge
The Cottage Hospital and Doctors house.
The Pitches Store originally ran as Grocers and a Butchers but is now a Restaurant.
The Courthouse built in 1886 now a private residence.
The Centre of the community to this day, built in 1926.
After an hour or so here, we went over the bridge to the Omakau Commercial Hotel where they have a great Motorhome and caravan parking setup behind. The parks are all on concrete pads and most have an optional ensuite with a shower and toilet area.
The parking is $15 a night with power and the ensuites are $10 pp per night. We opted to do our own thing and just use the power.
After settling down Rafe, we went for a walk around the town through a new subdivision and its amazing how many new houses are being built here. The Rail Trail has really set things alight in the whole Central Otago region.
We headed into the Hotel to pay for our park and have a drink and meet Stacy who gave us a great background on the pubs history.
It was originally built in 1898 as a Homestead on a 200 acre block, by the Leask family, one of the original settlers and his family. There are original stables out behind the Hotel which are used as a function centre.
When Stacy and her husband took over the Hotel 11 years ago. The weeds were knee high and it desperately needed some tlc. Stacy’s dad was involved in helping to restore the pub and after they realised that Stacy’s grandmother was a house maid at the pub for years, Stacy’s Dad couldn’t bring himself to sand the top of the handrail but lacquered and painted everything else. The thought was his mother would have run her hands up and down it over many years.
The rooms all look fantastic and all have a slightly different look so they’ve done a great job. The grounds are immaculate and it now looks well loved.
After having a few drinks down in the bar, we spent an hour or so back in Rafe and then came back for Tea. I had Pork Belly which was really reasonably priced and was stunning. Fiona had Blue Cod and that was good too.
A lovely place to stay and Stacy is about to put the hotel on the market so if you think this is you, give her a call at the Omakau Commercial Hotel.