Tag Archives: Small Towns

Historic Greytown

Another one of those towns that we keep coming back to. The food and shopping is good, the real estate prices like everywhere else have skyrocketed but it is still a lovely little town.

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The Sun is out

We checked in at the local campground as we’ve stayed there a few times before and the manager Ken can’t do enough for you. It is also a Winter Campsaver site so that makes it very cost effective in the off season. Nice showers and toilets and nice flat sites with big high hedges to protect against the famous Wairarapa winds. There is also a swimming pool next door run by the council which you can use in the hot months.

Ken was very welcoming and basically is was park wherever you like. We settled Rafe and plugged in and went for a walk into town and started at the french Café for a coffee before moving on to the pub.

That night when we got back, we met our new neighbours Michelle and Patrick from Wanganui and other neighbours Karen and Ian who have recently sold their award winning Olive Grove. Juno Olives. Really nice people who we spent a lot of time with over the next few days.

Play Area

The next day, we took Rafe to Martinborough to have lunch at one of our favourite Vineyards, Margrains. The Chardonnay is fantastic as is the food.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

We started in the main square at a Café in the corner and from there walked around the square to check out the shops. Fiona took a shine to a dress shop there and ended up buying a nice black dress and a wooden necklace to go with it which looks good. We then moved on to Margrains and the slow cooked Pork Belly they do has never tasted better. Nice to wash it down with a great Chardy!

The Pub in town

We headed back to the Greytown Campground to catch up with our neighbours.

On our last day in Greytown we were going to bike up a trail 10 k’s or so to a historic railway station just out of town but we got to the other end of Greytown and it started to pour with rain so a change to plan B. ..

We spent the rest of the day walking through the shops and later had a fantastic communal meal in Michelle and Patrick’s awning with our neat neighbours.

Our Farewell dinner
LtoR Our farewell dinner. Patrick, Michelle, Karen and Ian.

A nice farewell to some super nice people and a great little town.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Greytown Campground – Armada GPS

Small town camping

One of the nice things I find about getting out is finding all the little out of the way places you can stay for not a lot…. in other words very good value. They may not be perfectly flat or lacking in something but they make up for it in spades with their charm and beauty.

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Ekatahuna is one of those camping grounds. Great showers, toilets and with power and a well equipped kitchen for those who want them, it is surrounded on three sides by river and is just a stunner.

There is a Heritage walk to the town which is only 5 minutes away.

We arrived in the mid afternoon and checked in and we simply just parked in the middle of the grass. Fiona and I settled opened up some vent, plugged in and we were off to check out the walk around the camp by the river.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The remains of one of the end supports of an old swing bridge that went across the river as a short cut to town is buried in the trees and can still be seen.

The River surrounding the park

There is a cabin there too which you can stay at and its all very casual and relaxed.

A great place to stop over and quiet too.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Ekatahuna Campground – Armada GPS

Norsewood

Since we’ve done our DNA, I’ve taken a great interest in things Scandinavian as it turns out that I’m pretty much all Scandinavian through my fathers line with an emphasis on Danish!… even though his Dad was from the Fens in the UK… real Viking country 🙂 it is really interesting.

So we couldn’t go past Norsewood without popping for a look and having lunch at the Café there. The food is amazing as is the coffee.

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The Cafe – ex Bank
The Food!
The Cafe

Norsewood was settled by many Scandinavian family’s who arrived in Napier in 1872 and it grew from there. You can feel it everywhere you look and the area is predominantly still populated by descendants of these original families.

Gas Station / General Store

There is history everywhere you look. The Café used to be the original Bank of NZ and has been used as a Barbers shop, the local Doctors rooms, Music teacher and lastly a Café.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

There is also a Viking Longboat in a glass encased shelter down in the reserve on the corner.

The Viking Longboat

After a walk around the town and a stop at the Norsewear Clothing shop to buy some shirts we got under way again. One of things at the Norsewear shop is that if you spend more than $10 there, they’ll give you a pair of nice wooly bedsocks in either black or white adorned with either Caravans or Motorhomes. Fiona went for the white Motorhome socks and they look very cosy.

The “Wooly Socks” shop

A neat town and there is a camping ground there too if you want to stay.  A neat wee town just oozing character and history.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Norsewood – Armada GPS

Lunch in the carpark

Our friends from Christchurch, Rory and Henny were in town for the NZMCA AGM Rally with their friends from New Plymouth so it was a must for me to catch up with them as they had seen Fiona during a shopping trip, but I had missed them.

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Downtown Rotorua!

Rory and Henny and I met years ago when I was away on a blog hunting expedition on my own and we bumped into each other in Coromandel of all places. It turns out that Rory used to buy ice creams from my Grandfathers General Store in Diamond Harbour when he was a small boy.  Later we worked out that he also knows some of my other cousins in Christchurch too.. small world 🙂

The UCC on the left and Rory and Henny’s new Burstner on the right

While parked down by the waterfront in a carpark, I thought I saw Rory and Henny roaring round the corner next to me and when I rang a few minutes later, it turned out it was them. They were heading for the supermarket and we arranged to meet after that.

Rory decided that we’d head over the a bigger carpark where we could comfortably fit three Motorhomes in while we had lunch without upsetting the car parkers.

Nice view

Rory had a plan and setup his near new Burstner Lyseo with  Tony and Sheri from New Plymouth, with an area in between where could put out chairs and tables out for a bit a knees up for lunch.

It was really nice seeing them both again and also meeting their friends Tony and Sheri and their UCC Mercedes based Motorhome.

Lunch with a great view and there were lots of Motorhomes there, possibly having a break from the rally.

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Carpark – Armada GPS

Redwood Forest Treewalk and Ride

This was the main reason why we wanted to come to Rotorua. We moved Rafe to Cozy Cottage Holiday Park as it’s a bit less to bike! We’ve stayed here before some time ago and as they were doing a deal and because I’m a sucker for Hot Pools which they have, yippee, we’re in!

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Walking through Redwood Forest

Its also closer to the Redwood Park area. As it was Easter, the park was chocker but mostly with tents and a few Caravans.

The Tree walk

After checking in, we got the bikes ready and headed off to the Redwoods Forest area. Although we had a brochure with a map on the back of the Trail to get there was as clear as mud and we found ourselves having to stop and get directions a few times but got there and its a great ride just getting there once you know where you’re going 🙂

Fiona checking in

I waited with the bikes and got some pictures around it while Fiona did the walk. It looks great with platforms on the bigger trees with suspension bridges between. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour. There is also a night time walk you can do with the trees all lit up which comes free with the daytime walk.

Into the forest

After Fiona got back, we got on the bikes and opted to do the “Mokopuna” trail which takes you around an easy route through the trees and about 2/3rds of the way around there is an exit chute from the forest where you can head back into town for lunch which is exactly what we did.

Magical

On the way back we rode past the Racecourse where there were 600 odd plus mostly white Motorhomes enjoying the NZMCA Annual AGM. An awesome sight seeing so many parked in one spot.

After the walk and onto the ride.

After lunch we headed back to the Park for a hot swim after our 16 odd K’s ride.

Fun in the sun at Pauanui

With the Covid scare stopping our Anniversary weekend trip dead in its tracks, we headed off to Pauanui for the weekend to catch up with family and friends with our bikes on the back.

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Fantastic Beach

Its a great place for bikes as its all pretty flat and as most of the locals there use bikes to get around, they seem pretty tolerant and used to seeing them on the road.

We checked in at our favourite place for parking there, the Pauanui Sports Club. The Pauanui Club have been offering parking for NZMCA’rs for a few years now and doing a great job of it.

Looking good

The first day we were there, there was a knock at the door in the morning and it was our grandson Ayden who had biked around to say hello. We were later joined by his Dad, Alex and brother Liam.

Alex teeing off

The mini golf course next door was the place to be which was also busy with the long weekend. Granny Fiona went along too. 8 yr old Liam found a water trap within a few strokes of his club. As it was quite hot, he was in no hurry to get out either 🙂

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We had been invited out to tea with one of Fiona’s old school friends Janette and her husband Evan. Always nice to see them so we were off on our bikes to their place for a great night.

Busy busy

The next day we spent meeting the neighbours. Paul and Ruth on one side from Auckland and Peter and Wendy from Tauranga on the other. Small world stuff too. It turns out I’d met one of Peter and Wendy’s good friends involved with the Motorhome industry who we met again later in the weekend. I also used to work with Paul’s brother in Auckland 30 plus years or so ago in the newspaper industry..

We took the boys to the village to get some lunch.

We finished off here by having fish and chips with the grandkids around at their place. A nice weekend.

I’ve been a great supporter of the Pauanui Club. They’ve been great supporters of the NZMCA and its members and provide a great facility.  It is run with little human intervention meaning, no booking, no sites are marked out.

Due to its popularity now, I think time has come for the sites to be marked out and a limit placed on the numbers like the NZMCA sites.

Over the weekend, we ended up having 14 vans in there with only half having some reasonable fire gaps between them.

An extra one out by the Airfield

The general thought here was that it would be a good idea that the club put some “below lawn mower height” pegs in to define some sites and make sure that everyone is kept safe. Cheap and easy and it can continue to be run as it is.

Busy busy busy

Its a fantastic place to stay with great people and long may it continue.

Nice to get away for the long weekend and catch up with everyone at a great spot.

Rafe’s Tracker map – Armada GPS

Big Motors, Big Sounds, Retro Caravans, Motorhomes at the Beach Hop!

One of those BIG events of the year which I reckon we should all do at least once. The 2020 Beach Hop was postponed from earlier in the year but it was just as popular as it always is.  Its a fun event and the fine people at Whangamata did well accommodating everyone as the place was literally jumping with people 🙂

One of our neighbours towed his Rolls Royce behind his Motorhome
Complete with a machine gun!

There were 1700 registered (for the show) vehicles plus they think about that again of unregistered owners of vehicles who turned up just to enjoy the fun.

Rafe in line

I parked on the Whangamata School footy field along with nearly 300 other Motorhomers and a whole lot of Retro Caravans. At $75 for three nights each van, it makes a great donation to the school of about $14k which replaces a lot of cake stalls 🙂

The Retro Caravans – Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

I managed to get to see some old friends who I haven’t seen for a long time. They’re both ex newspaper Photographers who have retired here now and love it.

Another neighbour with his Ford
Heading out

I met John who used to work at the Christchurch Press and Star, and his wife Cheryl at their favorite coffee shop in the centre of town. Very hard to hear anything with the big V8’s running past but it was really nice to see them. I also caught up with Paul who I used to work at the Herald with. We met at the Whangamata Club which is a neat place and just down the road from the school.. Paul is a Caravanner now so great to see him too.

Just Cruising – Click on the Gallery below to enlarge

Without a doubt the Grand Parade was one of the big events of the weekend and it went forever width the sheer numbers of cars. Quite a few woman made the most of the occasion and were dressed up in their bebop skirts and looked amazing.

Grand Parade and later – Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

Amongst the cars popped out a Morris 1000 with a half done paint job which got a few smiles. Most of us some where in our histories have had one of those or knew someone with one.

The Morris 1000

After enjoying a good lunch in a town café with an elevated deck for a view of the street, I wandered back and listened to one of the many bands playing.

There was one called Boom Boom Deluxe appropriately singing Rockabilly music and doing it really well. The female lead singer / double bass player, Hettie La Bomb, could really belt out the sound and looked the part too.

Hettie La Bomb on her Bass
Hettie La Bomb

One of the things I enjoyed this time was watching people reactions to the cars and the event.

Specialist French vintage Models, Dollykitten and Marion

A lot of fun and after several years of trying to get here but other things getting it the way, I’m pleased I came. Neat place, I met some nice people and lots of action.

The big picture – Rafe’s Tracker map to Whangamata – Armada GPS
Rafe’s Tracker map to the school – Armada GPS

Mac and Cheese at Rangiriri

This is THE place for a stop for lunch with a Motorhome. Easy parking right over the road, good service and fantastic food.

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We were heading south from Auckland and it so often happens, it was right on lunch time and we both decided it was time to eat.

We have stopped at this Hotel before and discovered the standard of food to be above and beyond so we were looking forward to lunch.

Easy parking

Within minutes of being in there, Fiona was on the end of a big G&T and I had a glass of Chardy and we were waiting for our electronic beeper to do its thing.

Fiona at the bar

The pub was built in 1904, partially burnt down and rebuilt in 1905 and given that the Maori wars only finished 35 years or so before that, it was one of the early bigger buildings in the Waikato area.

The river flooded early this century and virtually surrounded the pub in water.

The big flood at the turn of the century – Weekly News Photo

The beeper went off and Fiona got the meals. I had an amazing Macaroni Cheese “Mac and Cheese” on the menu for $13 which was very filling and was very tasty.

Yum ! Mac N Chees !

We had a quick look around and carried on with our journey south.

There is an old Maori Wars Cemetery right opposite which is also worth a look at.

One to remember for both the quality of the food, the service, the price, the ambience and the easy parking 🙂

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Rangiriri Hotel – Armada GPS

A Kauri treat

Long Bay Holiday Park with the Kauri’s behind

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On my second day at Long Bay Holiday Park in Coromandel, I discovered the track to get up to the Kauri grove up behind the bay.

One big tree

There is a boot washing station to prevent Kauri Dieback getting into the forest but its an easy walk in. Its mostly uphill going in and I found myself stopping a few times just to catch my breath (must be getting old or unfit) but it is well worth the effort.

The walk up

There is one massive tree that I could see, and a whole lot of smaller but really tall trees and a couple of areas where you can sit and take it all in. Its a magic spot just like the rest of the bay.

The Grove at the top with the seating area

I sat up there for about half an hour before walking back down to the Holiday Park in the bay.

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I’ve never been one for long walks or studying trees but this is well worth seeing.

That’s a big tree

What a fantastic place to stay

There are few places in the world that you can stay at in a Motorhome that would beat Long Bay Holiday park.

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The Beach

In the off season, this is a camp saver park too. Leanne is the very friendly camp manager and also runs the well stocked shop. Everything is very easy and laid back.

Just lovely

I was lucky to have 2 out of my three nights here with just brilliant sunshine and made the most of it by walking around to the next beach called Tucks Bay.  Its an easy 10 minute walk around a coastal track which is well worth doing. There is also a gigantic Kauri tree and Kauri glade which is worth a look too.

Tucks Bay
Coming back from Tucks Bay

But its just a neat spot. You can also hire boats or kayaks and go for a paddle around. There are 65 powered sites and three onsite caravans as well.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

I went for a walk and met some of the neighbours. It is within walking distance rom Coromandel town (about 3 k’s) but probably a better bike ride.

A must do if you in the area. I’ll be back soon 🙂