Tag Archives: NZMCA parks

At the Octagon

It was lovely arriving in Dunedin in the sunshine. We came in from Mosgiel and coming over the hill on the motorway with the sea and the peninsula in the distance was an amazing sight.

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The Octagon

We’ve been here before but only for a day here and a day there and it has always been raining and dreary so it was really a nice suprise to see it sunny and warm.

The NZMCA park in Dunedin

We headed straight for the Woodhaugh NZMCA park which is on the northern side of the city  but is very easy to find and handy for buses into town. After arriving and getting settled we walked around the corner and caught a bus into the Octagon.

Walking up to the Bus stop by the river

Fiona was keen to go to the Scottish Shop and check out the tartans. After that we head a quick look around the Octagon before heading down to the iconic Railway Station and having a good look round there. This building is something else.

The Dunedin Railway Station

Opened in 1904, it was Dunedin’s fourth railway station and was designed by Architect George Troup, earning him the nickname Gingerbread George after the pink basalt and Oamaru stone used in the building.

In the Railway Station

It is a stunning building with more than 750,000 mosaic tiles in the floor and is something to see.

Spectacular décor inside the station

Its nice to see Dunedin Railways doing so well with the Taieri Gorge railway excursions. The trains look fantastic and are all original carriages.

The Taieri train

Cadbury’s Café and Chocolate Tours was next on our list so we walked up a couple of blocks to check in for a Hot Chocolate made with Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate. No extra sugar required 🙂

Fiona with the Cadburys Chocolate

Its something else and I recommend you try one if you’re in the area. They also do the tours of the factory too but having just done one a few months ago in Belgium, we passed on this.

Plenty of room for more

After wandering around the town a bit more, we caught the #3 bus back to the NZMCA park.

Rafe with Robert and Dawns Burstner next door(in the middle)

When we arrived back at the camp, we had a new neighbour with a new Burstner so I went over and introduced myself and after tea, Robert and Dawn came over for a few glasses of nice Pinot and cider with lots of laughs.

A great day in a nice city in the sun with some nice people.

Art Deco on the Rail Trail

I used to joke with my old friend Gary who lived here, about Rantartica but over the 4 days we spent in the new NZMCA park here in Ranfurly, the temperature ranged during the day between 24 and 26 degrees every day. Beautiful blue skies with only one morning with a bit of drizzle.

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The NZMCA Park in Ranfurly

Stunning weather and a lovely town.

Rafe with the awning out in the heat of Ranfurly

The people are really friendly and the buildings are amazing.

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Around the time of the war, the town was struck badly by a string of suspicious fires where a significant number of iconic buildings were burnt to the ground.

Once the tea rooms, now a museum.

At the time, money was scarce and the cheapest and quickest way to replace them was to do the Art Deco style. The town is blessed with these lovely old buildings with some real class.

The famous Ranfurly pub

The drizzly day we had was when the town had its market day at the railway station and it was just great to see the whole town come out to play, even in the dreary weather. It was only shortlived and an hour two later, there was brilliant sunshine again.

The entrance to the park

We were originally only going to stay for two nights but its such a great place to stay so we stayed for four! The NZMCA park is right in the middle of town and is huge.

Looking down the road to Dunedin towards the St Bathans mountains

We’ll definitely be staying here again.

Rafe’s track to Ranfurly

Val’s Park Over Property.

When we met Stan and Sara in the Catlins NZMCA park, Stan who is from Alexandra said, that we had to make sure we stayed at Vals POP.

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Rafe parked with power

Val and her husband Russell have been hosting NZMCA’rs since the early 1990’s and she is one of the earliest POP’s in the NZMCA bible. They’re both really nice people and their property is just superb with some power points and a complete Shower and Toilet setup setup in the corner.

In the next paddock

There is even a shed for happy hour on one side and it is beautifully quiet down a long right of way.

Part of the amazing garden

Pam and Bob from Dunedin were there in their Caravan and they’ve been helping with some of the gardening and maintenance. The gardens are spectacular.

Great driveway

We popped in to check in for a park briefly early in the afternoon and then went for a nosey around Clyde. Its a great wee town with a great cafe in the old BNZ building wher we had these amazing date cakes along with a cup of coffee.

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After a quick look at the Clyde Dam, we headed back as there were only three power points left at Vals and its first in, best dressed for $12 a night.

Clyde Dam

We joined in with the others there in the corner shed in the sun for a few drinks with cheese and biscuits as you do.

A great place to stay and we’re looking at heading back there to have a decent look around Alexandra and Clyde.

Rafe’s track to Vals

Niagara Falls :-)

After stopping at the Otautau Dump station, we headed back into Invercargill to get some fuel and water. Fiona’s sister Sara had rung to say she was heading to Queenstown in 5 days so we had to get a wriggle on if we were going to see the Catlins.

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My new favorite phone app, Gaspy came to the rescue and where every service station in Invercargill was selling diesel for $1.36 a litre plus, Gaspy identified a truck stop that was selling diesel for a $1.09 in the back streets of Invercargill !

Plenty of room.

We headed off towards Curio bay and Niagara where the NZMCA park was. After having a quick look at the Curio bay beach, we headed to Niagara.

Fiona at Curio bay
Curio bay looking towards the campground

The park is all gravel with a shed for checking in. Just along the road are the Niagara Falls. Someone with a sense of humour named them after the American ones but they’re famous for whitebaiters rather than as a waterfall :-).

There was plenty of activity there with some friendly whitebaiters.

Niagara Falls

We headed back to Rafe as the promised rain was looking imminent and just after we got back, some new neighbours rocked in and parked beside us.

The NZMCA park

Stan and Sara were from Alexandra and Kawerau and were travelling together. We had a nice hour or so with them with a few cold ones. Nice people and I’m sure we’ll see them again somewhere.

Matai falls

It rained that night and there were some good puffs too.

We set off around mid morning towards Balclutha stopping at the Horsehoe and the Matai falls, and stopping at Owaka for lunch.

From Florence Hill lookout. Tatuku bay

Its a lovely part of the world.

Rafes Track to Niagara falls

The Pass

We woke up at Franz Josef to find we had no power left. A combination of too much TV, no sunshine on the panels and sitting in one spot for too long. The electronic controller in Rafe turns things off if it looks like it’ll damage the batteries so nothing died!  So lesson.. less power consumption unless we can generate more by moving or some sunshine. This is our first time in a winter South Island so its all about learning that the sun doesn’t work as well on solar panels in winter.  🙂

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After using the superb dump station and topping up with water, we set off for Haast and the pass. It was just drizzling when we left but by the time we got to Haast, it was pouring. After having lunch in Rafe with some locally sourced fresh bread, we set off through the Haast. It looks great and as many said, its an easy drive, even when its raining!

The walk to Thunder Creek

We stopped briefly to have a look at the Thunder Creek Falls which look amazing. The 5 minute bush walk to get to the falls is stunning.

Thunder Creek falls

There was one guy there who thought by hopping on rocks he’d get a better shot. The problem was his kids followed him! The shot would’ve been the same from the side of the river 🙂
We left there and a little bit further on, we stopped off at another called the Fantail Falls where various visitors to the falls had made little stacks of river stones by the falls.

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Another nice spot and easy parking but it was still raining !

Fantail falls

The plan was originally to stop at the Makarora Tourist centre but when we got there, it all looked a bit farm paddock like and Rafe being quite low is a bit allergic to lumpy paddocks to park in so we kept going and decided on Lake Hawea Holiday park by the lake and give Rafe’s batteries a good tweak.

Rafe in the trees at Hawea. Nice park

Its a neat Campground and they’re very welcoming. We parked down by the lake despite the fact that there was a good wind coming off the lake but it was due to drop off. We also managed to fluke a TV signal first pop through the trees which pleased Fiona 🙂

Lake Hawea when we arrived.. a bit windy

I went for a walk along the lake and had a good look around. Nice bathrooms and a Laundry and a good sized Kitchen too.

Lake Hawea in the morning

We’re looking at going back there in a few weeks.

Rafe’s track through to Hawea

Waterfalls and the Glacier

We liked Ross so much, we seriously thought about staying another night but thought, we’d better push on.

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The NZMCA park at Franz Josef

We found the NZMCA park in Franz Josef really easily. Rafe’s GPS took us right to the front door !

A great setup with water, the dump station and the check in hut.

Its a really nice park. Looking in Google Earth, it looks like a square of brown cut out of the bush and sitting in it, its magic with all the ferns and Westland bush all around. The dump station works a treat too. Very easy.

Looking back to Franz Josef

After checking it all out, we headed off to town for some bits and bobs from the 4 Square and then went and did a recce of the Glacier car park to see what we were going to be dealing with the next day when the weather was supposed to clear up a bit.

The Franz Josef Bridge

The next day started out with blue sky but very quickly greyed over and was typical west coast drizzly close weather. We were heading to the Glacier anyway so took Rafe to the car park.

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Just as I got the umbrella out and stuck it under my arm, the sky lifted and there were big patches of blue and the drizzle petered out to nothing.

Fiona with the Glacier behind

It was a 90 minute return trip according to the Doc signs and it was an easy walk. At the Glacier, it was amazing just sitting there watching the succession of Helicopters dropping people and guides off on the Glacier.. every few minutes there was another one.

The Glacier. Spot the chopper.

If you look at the closer Glacier images, you should be able to spot the odd helicopter. There were heaps of people on the track in both directions and it was nice to see so many people enjoying the walk. It was like being in Europe hearing all the different languages as they walked past you.

At the top with the Glacier and a waterfall.

We stopped at the Glacier for 20 minutes or so before heading back and as it would happen, the weather closed in again just as we got back to Rafe 🙂

The Glacier.. spot the chopper

A fun day out walking by the river up to the Glacier and well done to the local NZMCA people there for setting up such a great park. Very cool and close to town too.

Rafe’s track to Franz Josef

Some new China at the new park.

Some of our china plates that we bought  a few years ago in Oamaru that we use in Rafe, had deteriorated. Fiona had  managed to find some new ones the same sort and colour on Trade Me so on the way south, we had to pick these up in Porirua.

Fiona with some of her China

This time she got a Teapot, 6 of each, cups and saucers, small side plates, bigger side plates, bowls and dinner plates all for $190 !! ..

A panorama of the park when we arrived.

After getting the China, we headed straight for the new Plimmerton NZMCA park and it looks fantastic. There had been a working bee on ealier and it was pretty busy. I counted over 40 Buses and Motorhomes there.

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Fantastic new Dump Station

The new Dump Station looks great in the middle and its really handy to the Railway Station. A great spot.

We called our son Alex who is currently working in Wellington amnd he popped out for tea. The next morning, we got up early and caught the train into Wellington City. Its an easy walk from the park and only takes 25 minutes and then we walked around to a French cafe for brunch.

Alex met us at the cafe, then we went for a walk around the city. Very pleasant.,

You know you’re in Wellington when you see this.

Alex later dropped us off at Rafe in Plimmerton and stopped for a cup of coffee and then headed home.

When we left !

I’m impressed with this park and have to say, the crew here have done a great job with it. Fiona was keen to stay a third night but as I’d booked an early ferry during the week, I thought we might be better closer in for our last night with the early morning weekday traffic.

A nice park and I’m sure it is going to be well used and enjoyed by many.

Rafes Track to Plimmerton