Tag Archives: Small Towns

The Vines Village

This is a great place to stop with specially marked Motorhome parking. There is a great Café which does a great Bacon and Eggs breakfast and the coffee is good too.

There own pond .. nice outlook

There are several specialty Wine shops, a Cellar / Wine tasting shop, an amazing Quilting shop, a specialty Merino clothing place which is nice and out the back, there are places for the kids to stretch their legs too.

A nice bright Quilt
Fiona checking out some local spirits

The morning we were there, there were local rugby people giving the visiting kids a good workout with rugby balls and running races. There was also a Boules court and a giant chess set to play with as well.

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We stopped in for a cup of coffee and a scone and had a good look around. Everything in the specialty Wine shop is made in NZ including Gin and Whisky and its well worth a look.

Looking across towards Nelson with the snow on the tops of the hills

If you’re in the area, a great place to stop. Its on the road out to Nelson at Raupara. There is something there for everyone 🙂

The 27K ride

Andy, the Spring Creek camp owner, had just been telling me that some truck drivers who were due to stay in the camp had called to say that they wouldn’t be here as they’d got stuck in the snow in the Lewis Pass so we knew it was going to be cold!  It was fine though and it was forecast to be dry but the sky was a bit threatening.

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The weather is strange here as you see the clouds in the hills and on the rain radar but nothing seems to make it over the Nelson hills apart from sunshine, so a lot of the weather forecast seems to be a case of the Bark being worse than the Bite!

The old Narrow Blenheim Bridge and railway bridge. Fiona way in the distance.

Anyway, we set off in the morning to ride into Blenheim which is about 7 k’s down the main highway. About halfway down, I discovered a bike lane that goes all the way down so we shifted over to that to be safe.

The Criterion Fire
One of the rebuilt Criterions after the fire in the floods.

After having a look around Blenheim, we stopped for a cup of tea. We stumbled across the spot where the old Criterion Hotels were built, all on the same site. There were 3 of them all destroyed by fire between the late 1880’s through to the 1960’s. The site is now occupied by a Backpackers and Bar.

The Backpackers on the Criterion site.

We were heading out to Allan Scotts Vineyard which is about 10 k’s by bike against the 25 odd knot wind which was hard riding. Right opposite Allan Scotts is Cloudy Bay Vineyards so we were spoilt for choice.

Allan Scotts fine establishment
Allan Scotts Cellar. The Chardonnay was spectacular.

A glass of Chardonnay and a really nice cheeseboard here with all sorts which was really nice and Fiona had a Seafood Chowder soup which she enjoyed.

Looking across towards Nelson with the snow on the tops of the hills

Then it was back on the bikes and back to Rafe, 10 k’s ! With the wind behind us coming home, we were barrelling along and we were home before the showers looming in the hills.

South Island, here we come.

After spending our last night in Auckland with eldest son Drew and his partner Jenna in Milford, we set off in the morning, bound for Taupo.

Rafe and Ian and Lynda’s XLI

We were heading for Dianne and Gary’s home in Taupo to meet other fulltimimg Motorhome friends Ian and Lynda, who arrived earlier in their Dethleffs XLI.

Dianne and Fiona made a spectacular curry for us all and we had a lot of laughs and lots of fun.

Dianne picking the girls up for a tiki tour around Taupo

In the morning, we all went to a local Cafe and then for a look around Taupo.  Another great night with everyone and lots more laughs and Fiona and I were off to Rafe for the night. In the morning we caught up  briefly with everyone for a cup of tea and then we were off, heading further south.

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We stopped at the Army Museum in Waiouru for lunch which was great and then carried on to Mangaweka.

Rafe at the Mangaweka Campground

We stayed at a neat wee Campground in Mangaweka last Christmas with Gary and Dianne and its a fantastic place right by the river. The same people own another more upmarket Campground with a bar and eating area right over the bridge.

Look at those cliffs!

There is also an old Power Station just along the road with an old dam. Apparently Mangaweka was one of the first to have its own streetlights and electricity in the country, all driven by this local dam.

Fiona at the old Power station

At $7 a night each with power with our NZMCA discount, it is spectacularly “reasonably priced” but I understand the price with soon be $9 per night with no discount. .. Still very good value in a lovely spot.

Rafes track to the Mangaweka Camp

Gravel at Waipu

We popped in at Waipu on the way home from further north to find that the Caledonian park has now got a Gravel driveway from St Mary St which is fantastic news.

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Lovely parking

Often  we’ve been there to stay and its either been wet or about to rain and although the parking under the trees is pretty well drained and solid, the road across the end of the footy field to get to the parking, is often a bog and impassable.

From the carpark. You can see the parking under the trees on the right.
Once boggy and mucky!

Staying out in the carpark when there is a rugby event on is not really my cup of tea and although we’ve done this when it has been wet, its not really a relaxing area to be in with cars coming and going.

With the hall behind

So good news. A great park for NZMCA’rs at $10 a night with power and toilets and so close to Waipu, its a wonderful place to stay.

The Village Bike Run

One of the things that we’d decided to do when we left Luxembourg was to find a spot we could stay in that gave us close access to some french villages.

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Ralph can be seen slightly behind the small tree in the middle

Dianne found a lovely community run campground in a little village area about 20 k’s west of Reims called Courmelois. There were two other villages close by within 10 minutes of biking and the fee at the camp was very reasonable. It was 20 euros for both of us with EHU (power or electric hook up) and nice showers, toilets and dumping facilities.

Harry and Ralph

It was all very relaxed and they basically gestured us to two power boxes and said we could park anywhere between them which gave us heaps of room. There were no sites marked out.

Pastries and Free Wifi. Dianne, Gary and Fiona.

We settled down on the first night and made loose plans to do the bike thing around the local villages.

The Village and the Campground. Canal along the bottom.

The next morning came around and it was time to get organised. I couldn’t find the key for the lock on the bikes. After an hour or so of stewing and turning the place upside down for the said key, we turned to plan B. I won’t say how we got the bikes down except to say it involved a toolbox and and the lock was useless afterwards but as Gary does, he had a spare 🙂 We could use it to secure the bikes until we got back to the UK. Fantastic!!

Gary checking the map on his phone by the Pastry shop – Thuisy

We set off and within 10 minutes or so, we were in a lovely little village called Thuisy and there was one shop only there.. a Bread and pastry shop. Just what we were looking for so after a few minutes, we were off again to another village called Wez. As we came in to the village, we found a neat wee Pub on a corner and popped in for a cup of Coffee.

Gary, Dianne and Fiona outside a closed champagne place in Wez around the corner from the Pub.

They had a nice attached Restaurant so we decided to go for a ride and come back for lunch and it was amazing. We ended up staying here for several hours.

Gary giving Fiona encouragement to get up the hill!
Stopping at the canal to watch someone going through the lock

Leaving there, Gary found another village a little further away by the canal so we headed off down there but the village was deserted. Lots of lovely homes but no action at all and no sign of any people apart from the odd farmer. This was on a weekday too.

Gary following Fiona up the canal tow path

With it all being quiet, we decided to head back to the camp and had an early tea with the stuff we got from the pastry shop. Yum .. A nice day out biking in the fresh air dodging showers. 🙂

Our route around the villages

Spend up for the Russians

Approximately 120k’s West of Prague is the resort town of Karlovy Vary. It’s airport used to be an international airport as the party privileged in communist times used to fly in for their spend up in the shops and for its spa treatment.

Also famous here is the Grand Hotel Pupp which is the Casino Royale Hotel in the James Bond Film.

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Looking down the river at the shops

It is famous for its spa and there is an underground thermal aquifer where people have come to fix all sorts of ailments. There are various wells with thermal water at different temperatures and different minerals do different things!

The Grand Hotel Putt is THE Hotel in this great wee town.

Like the rest of the Czech Republic, the buildings are just stunning.

The view of the town from the Grand Hotel

Its is an important tourist area for the country and everywhere seemed pretty busy but unlike Prague, you could still easily move about.

Fiona on a bridge by the spa.

It seemed every second shop was a Jewellery or a Dress or Shoe shop so Fiona and Dianne were having a great time.

We eventually found our way to a nice street cafe by the river where we had a chilled water to cool down from all the window shopping 🙂

The Spa

The Hotels there are something else and I can only imagine what it would cost to stay in them.

The shopping street.

A lovely town and another place where without the local knowledge from Dianne and Gary, we would never have known about.

And a map so you can see where this is.

One the Czech Republics Hidden Gems

We got a rental while we were in Prague so we could leave the motorhomes at the campsite and have a look around. One of the planned outings if you like, was to Cesky Kumlov which is 150k’s southwest of Prague.

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One of the Squares. Gary, Fiona and Dianne on the right

It is now a UNESCO protected World Heritage site.

A weary traveller having a rest.. Gary in the blue on the right

We set off about 9am and after a stop or two along the way, we arrived at Cesky Kumlov. The town was established in the 1400’s and was then German. Most of the buildings in the town were built in the 1500’s due to a discovery of Gold by the castle.

The town is built on what is almost an island by the course of the fast flowing river that almost completely surrounds it. The castle was closed on the day we were there as it was Monday. I’m not quite sure how that works but never mind.

The Castle above the town

There were a few bus load of tourists there but nothing like other places we’ve been to. We had a great meal in a restaurant by the river and walked around the village.

A stunning wee town and if it wasn’t for the local knowledge of Gary and Dianne, we would never have known about it.  A great day out. Thanks guys.