Tag Archives: Small Towns

Grandchildren and Rotorua

Every now and then its time to grab the Grandkids and take them away in Rafe for a weekend and give Mum and Dad a night or two off.

Rotorua is the popular spot as they love the hot pools and the things to see and do there so we were off.

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Ayden and Liam on the swings during a Cup of Tea break at Gordonton

We stopped off at Gordonton to give the Boys a break and they very quickly found a play area and set off to give it a workout while Fiona and I watched with a cup of coffee.

Cruising on we eventually arrived in Tirau and the boys spotted a Subway so that was lunch sorted 😃

Rotorua was always a favourite place to go when I was in short pants. We used to stay in Motels opposite Kurau park where there used to be a miniature steam train that you could ride on. Sadly that’s gone now but its still a magic place.

We arrived in Rotorua around the middle of the day and decided to check in at Cozy Cottage Holiday Park which is right on the lakefront and has its own hot pools. We’ve stayed here a couple of times before when we first got Rafe, 5 or so years ago so we knew it was easy.

Rotorua Lakefront

After settling down, plugging in and opening some vents, we set off for a look around to see what was where. Ayden and Liam are 10 and 6 and the first thing they found was the playground and they were pretty happy with that and soon made some new friends.

Fiona and Liam in one of the pools

Not long after that, we were all in the pool.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The next day, we decided that we would walk into Rotorua and have a look at Ohinemutu, the waterfront and find some lunch.

The boys were hanging out for McDonalds so after a walk there and a look around, we caught the bus back to the park.

The boys digging with Mokoia Island behind

One of the features of this Motorhome park is its proximity to the lakefront and they have a track that takes you directly to the beach where you can dig holes with a shovel and make your own hot pools. The boys were keen to give this a go so after another hot pools swim, we headed down to the lakefront to find some hot water 🙂

Ayden had first pop with the shovel and he got straight into digging some holes. Within 5 minutes or so he had created a new pool with the only problem being that it was just too hot to put your feet in. Just two feet down right by the water and steam was coming out !

The boys on the Lakefront digging for water!

Cozy Cottage was $22 for each adult and $10 for each Grandie per night. With the hot pools and the facilities and being an easy walk to Rotorua, I thought this was pretty reasonable.

Aydens pool.

There are Cabins and Motel Units there too for friends without Motorhomes or Caravans.

Rafe in his spot

A fun weekend.

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On the banks of the mighty Waikato

Just past Tuakau is a lovely new Campground on the banks of the river.

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Glorious spot

It is run by the good folk at the Tuakau Hotel on land that used to be where the sand was loaded up and shipped off and its in a beautiful spot.

All weather parking

The campground has been constructed from scratch with about 8 dead flat gravelled sites with power and a barbeque table overlooking the river. It couldn’t be in a better spot and well thought out.

Perfect seating

We popped in to the Tuakau Hotel which is just a few k’s away and spoke to Tash at the Hotels Accomodation office where we were given the full rundown on what was where and in case we forgot, there was also a sheet of everything we needed to know along with a key for the water and the codes for the automated gate and shower block. The cost is $20 per site for two with power which I reckon is extremely good value.

Click on the Gallery below for a slideshow

After settling down and opening some vents, I went for a bit of a look around.

Looking down the river

There are three quite large self contained cabins too which can be rented which look out over the river too.

Looking across from the cabins

In the morning I went for a walk along the rivers edge to see the whitebaiters in full swing where I met Anthony who drives down here from Mt Wellington to do his whitebaiting. He was doing well and showed me piccies of his catch from the day before.

Whitebaiter Anthony from Mt Wellington

A lovely spot not far from the Tuakau Bridge on the way to Port Waikato.

The Netspeed Speedtest (Not great here)
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Rafes Tracker Map

Great Parking right in the town

A couple of years ago, I popped into the Pukekohe A & P to see how their Motorhome Parking was going as they had just started it and it looked great. Since then they have had some big groups of Motorhome parties through and most nights, there is somebody there.

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Looking back to the Motorhome Parking area across the Kart track

At only $20 a night including power with access to their brand new ablutions block with showers and toilets, it is ceratinly great value. The only downside over the last year or so has been the wet weather.

Rafe on the hard with the new ablutions block.

Fiona and I stopped in to stay a night and have a look around. After talking to Gina, who runs the office, she introduced me to Ian, the volunteer Camp organiser who was telling me  that the wet weather issue is about to be solved with the addition of rolled out gravel to all of the sites in stages.

Volunteer Parking Organiser/Creator Ian, at the parking area

I could tell while talking to Ian that he was really excited by the way the Motorhome Parking has developed and where it was going. He has done a wonderful job and I’m looking forward to seeing it when we come back in a few months.

A break in the rain

As the rain was almost horizontal and the wind with it, we decided to stay on the gravel by the new loos.

This must be the judges box

The site is huge with more than 50 acres odd to walk around. Dogs are welcome on leads and it is only a stones throw from the centre of Pukekohe so good for shopping too.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The train station is only 500 metres away and although the trains didn’t worry us, Ian tells me that it has been a problem for some. I love the sound of those big Diesels pulling a couple of hundred metres of train!

Pukekohe station

The next morning, we dodged the showers and went for a walk through the own to check out the shops and have lunch. Just over the road and along from the camp is a huge Mall with a Warehouse and all the shops you’d ever want. Very handy.

Fiona with a Statue of Possum Bourne in the main street
One of the Malls just around the corner

I used to have to come out to the Pukekohe races when I was a wee fella in short pants (about 5-6 ) as my Dad was involved with Shell Racing, and I remember Pukekohe then as a small village with big racetrack. It has definitely changed from those days.

I’m looking forward to going back soon to check out the new all weather parking setup. Well done Ian and team for a great setup.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Pukekohe. You can see we missed the turnoff 🙂

Night of the Lights

Leigh Central hosted part of the Lights at Leigh which was part of the Matakana Light Festival. What was really convenient is that Leigh Central is also our favorite place for Motorhome Parking in this area.

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Getting busy at Leigh Central

We were sitting at Leigh Eats enjoying a nice cup of coffee when we met Michelle and Rose. Rose used to live in Devonport in a past life and Michelle was organising the Leigh Light Festival.

The weather was awful with the rain pelting down but looking at the rain radar it was due to ease off about 3pm, an hour before the start.

Less than an hour later, the Sun came out and we were on 🙂

The Kids are off for the Scavenger Hunt.

The Leigh part of it started at Leigh School where there was a scavenger hunt for the kids. First stop after that was the Fire Brigade a block away for heated Marshmallows on sticks.. Yum !

Removing the Spark plugs

After this they made their way around to the Leigh Garage where they had to remove a spark plug each and an oil filter! Then onto the Tattoo Parlour to get a stick on Tattoo.

By this time, it was dark and the lights were on. Prizes were to given for the best lighting effort on a House or Letterbox.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

Mums and Dads were at the indoor Markets hosted by Leigh Central and then for some like us, it was off to the Leigh Hotel where Hostess Sarah had gone all out and lit up her dress and and her hair which looked fantastic.

Leigh Bar’s Sarah with her lit Hairdo

A great day finished off with a glass of something back in Rafe with the heater on!

Back at the Motorhomes

 

Rafe’s Tracker map to Leigh

Leigh Central Motorhome Park

We popped in here a year or so ago when Ian and his wife Heather had not long been at the helm of this neat little place.

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Looking across to the the parking

It also has quite a large Motel and Wedding reception area as part of it and since we were here last, they’ve added some some nice wee chalets which they call the Boathouses.

The Boathouses

The trees have grown, the loo and shower complex which they were installing last time are up and running and it is all looking really good.

Great view out across Omaha Bay

Being part of the NZMCA Camp saver program for off season parking is a bonus too.

Plenty of room

As we arrived, Ian and Heather were out wielding their tools adding baseboards to their accomodation at one end of the complex and although they were ovbiously busy, they couldn’t have more accomodating helping us to get setup.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

It’s nice to hear that they’ve been so busy as it really is a top place and very handy to a good Cafe and the pub is just around the corner.

The Reception area

The view out to Tawharanui Peninsular is spectacular.

View out to Tawaharanui

We really enjoyed coming back here and will be back more often. A lovely spot.

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Fairlie, the home of great pies and Campground!

Our aim after leaving Lowburn was to stay at Fairlie after getting a freezer full of one of the best pies in the South Island. They’re known as “Fairlie good pies” around the south but I reckon they’re Fairlie Amazing pies. Pork Belly with crackling, Chicken and Salmon and some other amazing options.

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Taken under a light in the Rafe – Pork Belly with the Crackling all ready eaten 🙂

 

After stopping at Lake Pukaki for lunch we hurtled on to Fairlie.

The place to stay in Fairlie is the Fairlie Holiday Park which is also taking part in the NZMCA’s Camp Saver program.

Nice parking

$20 a night for a powered site with everything else available. There is a dump station, great Toilets and showers in several places and a huge council playground right next door for the little ones.
They also have Dogs on leashes.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

This motorcamp up until about 6 years ago was part of the Top Ten network but closed. Mary Jane and her partner Dutchie have taken it from there and it looks fantastic.

Kitchen and Laundry

It is also only 5 minutes walk into the main shopping area one way and is next to a lovely huge river on the other side.

Looking through to the playground

Being able to park for the night in sites like this on the Camp Saver program is just fabulous and long may it continue and grow.

Off to see the Red Shed

After parting ways with Rob at Alexandra, we set off towards Queenstown and then Glenorchy. Good old GPS took us right through the main shopping area of Queenstown. We were heading for the pedestrian mall at one stage 🙂

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On the way to Glenorchy

Once out of Queenstown, it was a fun drive. We stopped along the way at a lookout over Lake Whakatipu for lunch and then carried on. The road was up and down all the way to Glenorchy but amazing scenery.

The Glenorchy Hotel
The Motorhome parking at the Hotel

We checked in at the Glenorchy Hotel where they have CSC Motorhome parking for $12 with power which is great.

Amazing little town. The main street

After settling down Rafe, we set off to have a quick look around and of course ended up in the Pub in front of the fire.

Tourists on the wharf

In the morning, we used the Laundry here to get through the washing before the forecast rain came.

Looking up from the main street at Mt Larkins

Later, the weather was closing in and we had an amazing thunderstorm which went on for about three hours. Its amazing hearing the boom echo off the mountains and the ferocity of the lightning was something else too.

Looking westward towards the weather!

It was fun tucked up listening and watching 🙂

Looking across to Mount Bonpland

After breakfast, we set off for a walk down through the town as the wind got up, the sun came out and the mountains around us looked amazing.

The Famous Red Shed
Looking back at Mt Larkins from the wharf

Fiona went for a walk around the Glenorchy lagoon which she said was nice.

Its a nice wee town and interesting to see a few big back up generators around. They must have a few weather related power issues from time to time.

The Netspeed Speedtest
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Alexandra to Clyde River Bike Trail

It was a cold, foggy and clammy day with a bit of drizzle thrown in but we were keen to bike into Alexandra from where we were staying about 7 k’s from Alex at Derek and Andrea’s Park over Property.

In the unpowered area

Its a big space with plenty of powered sites, a toilet, $2 shower and a laundry along with water.  And its $12 per van!

Us next to a Burstner Elegance of some other fulltime Jaffas’

From here its and easy ride to either Clyde or Alexandra and the Otago Rail Trail is just 1/2 a kilometre away.

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The old Alexandra bridge supports

After a coffee and a quick look around in Alex, we found the end of the trail by the bridge and set off along the river towards Clyde. Its about 12k and is supposed to take about 45 minutes.

Looking back at Alex

Its a great ride and we came across several coming the other way on bikes and a few walkers.

Crossing a small Waterfall

About half way along there are old tailings where a lot of Gold was discovered, and there is what looks like an old drill bit from days gone by. When I say drill bit, its about 6ft in diameter so not something that would fit the Black and Decker !

Fiona with the giant drill bit

We averaged about 15-18kph along the ride as its quite different from the Rail Trail (avg 25kph) with a few curves around trees and ups and down but this makes it a fun ride.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

It runs alongside the river and in several places you cross bridges, ride on boardwalks and there is even a small waterfall. Well worth doing.  It took us a little more than ½ hour.

Interesting track

Eventually we came to the Clyde Bridge and rode off into Clyde.

At the finish line Clyde bridge.. 12k’s

A fun day

The Netspeed Speedtest at Derek and Andreas CAP
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Landscapes in the Ida Valley

Today was washing day.. two big loads to catch up while a brisk Nor wester was there to dry it all.

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Fiona using the power pole clothesline 🙂

The washing line was a hoot. Two shortened power poles with the washing line wire in between. It worked a treat.

We’re staying at The Crows Nest which is a very small campground in the main street of Oturehura with cabins for Bike Trail people. There are only two powered sites but I’m sure the host Bill, could rustle up some more if the need arose. Its all here though and exceptional value at $20 per van for two with power.

The hosts are fantastic and although Bill was originally from Winton, for most of his life, he and his wife Mal, have been in the Tauranga area for quite a while but have now settled here. They’re lovely people and very helpful.

Fiona off up to the Poolburn Dam.. great colours

The next morning, Fiona organised the washing and I got the bikes ready. Once the wash was out, we were off on our way up to the Poolburn Viaduct. An easy ride although a lot more gravel on the trail here making it harder to ride on than other parts of the trail.

Auripo Station looking back towards Oturehura
The Poolburn Viaduct .. took 3 years to build.

The colours and the landscape was just amazing. With the clouds doing strange things with the wind over the hills, it was really interesting for piccies.

Over the hills from the Viaduct looking out towards Lauder

I averaged about 20 odd Kph despite the gravel but stopped a lot for piccies with my phone. Some amazing spots.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

We ended up doing about 30 odd K’s for the round trip over nearly two hours.

People enjoying a walk on the Trail
Outside the camp looking back at the hills on dusk.. stunning

After cleaning up and locking the bikes,  we headed off for a walk to have a look at the town ending up in the pub!

Click on this Gallery for the old time General Store!

 

Great Hotel and its for sale

A neat wee town and we’ve decided to stay another couple of nights to have a good look around.

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Rolling down to Waipiata

Fiona wanted to bike up to Hyde from the Rock and Pillar so after leaving Middlemarch, we stopped at the Rock and Pillar area where we’d biked to the day before and got her ready.

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Fiona arriving at Hyde

The plan was she was going to bike up to Hyde and I would meet her there in Rafe and then we’d go onto Ranfurly for the night for the next part of the trail.

Waiting for Fiona at Hyde

She made it to Hyde in quite good time and decided she wanted to ride further up the trail so I stopped at Daisyside where the trail ran right alongside the road and there was an easy carpark for Rafe and we put her bike on and off we went to Ranfurly.

Off to daisyfields

There was a Tunnel and a Viaduct and the complaint was the light didn’t work. Murphys law, the wires had come unplugged for the headlight just in time for the Tunnel so after plugging them back in, we were all good again.

Happy Hour in the corner at the NZMCA Park Ranfurly

We arrived in Ranfurly just in time for late lunch at the 4 square cafe and left with a bottle of wine for an afternoon in the blazing sun at the NZMCA park.

Click on the Gallery below for a Slideshow

The next morning, we got the bikes ready and both set off towards Waipiata.

On the way in the fog to Waipiata

Leaving Ranfurly in the fog, it was cold and the air on your hands on the trail was bitter.. I thought then, we should have thought about gloves but too late. The sun was starting to come out and more sun was appearing across the trail the further we went on.

The Waipiata Pub

By the time we got to Waipiata, the pub open sign was out and it was time for a Latte and time to warm up. We met some really nice people who were there as well with cups of Coffee warming up as well who were from Epsom and Greenlane. They were doing the whole trail over 5 days. They were heading in the same direction as us so after a chat, we all set off.

We followed them as far as Kokonga which was another 12 k’s or so and then turned around to head back to Ranfurly. Several bridges and some nice scenes..

The Ranfurly NZMCA park

Every bit of this trail is quite different and has a different look. A great day. It was nice to get back to the NZMCA park, meet our neighbours and enjoy a drink in the Ranfurly sunshine.

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