Tag Archives: Small Towns

Out with the Old, in with the New

It was New Year’s Eve. We left the Hawkes Bay Golf club reasonably early so we could find a good spot at Eriksen Park. It was busy but there were plenty of gaps.

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The Dethleff corner. Steve and Rosemary’s Esprit, Rafe and Ian and Erik’s Esprit.

We’d only driven about halfway into the park when we spotted an older Dethleffs Esprit with some big gaps alongside, so I parked alongside and Steve next to us. Easy.

Busy at Eriksen Park

After we’d opened vents and settled in, off came the bikes and the four of us set off to Napier for lunch. It was nice to see some of the old cars cruising the streets.

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We then went to the famous Masonic Hotel for a drink but after less than ยฝ hour, we were told they were closing so we moved to this amazing wine bar just down the road that Steve knew about, where we were entertained by really good German host who really looked after us.

At Napier shops about to have lunch. Steve, Fiona and Rosemary. Check out the car going past.
On the way back to Eriksen into the gale !

At least an hour went by, maybe more ๐Ÿ™‚ and we set off back to Eriksen on our bikes along the waterfront. The easterly wind had really got up, so the electric assistance was cranked to the max ๐Ÿ™‚

Ian, Rosemary, Steve, Fiona and Erik enjoying a New Years eve Happy Hour.

The owners of the older Esprit came back in their Toad, and we went over and met them. Nice guys from up by Kaitaia, Eric and Ian. They later came over and joined us for a New Year’s Eve drink.

Bliss

After tea, we sat outside while it got a bit cooler and waited for the fireworks.

A really good day on the bikes again with friends.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Eriksen Park – Armada – GPS

Taihape’s Gumtree

One of the major strategies of this trip was to drive across the Gentle Annie Road from Taihape to Napier. Fiona spent several years as a youngster living in Waiouru and did several trips across this road with her family to see her Grandparents who lived in Ongonga. It was then a gravel road which took some 5 hours, and in a Triumph Herald, that would have been fun!

The first things we did when we arrived in Taihape was to stop at our favourite Cafe Brown Sugar Cafe.

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Plenty of space for their events. Toilets/showers on the left.

Fiona wanted to have a bit of a nosey around the town while took Rafe up the hill to the Gumtree Holiday Park which was an easy walk away.

Gumtree was originally setup as an area where Eve and her builder husband could have Eve’s Dance Studio, her husband’s workshop and room for their friends to stay. As time went on, they had some small events with their friends who bought Caravans, so they decided to go all out and set up the area for Motorhomes and caravans to stay. The end of the workshop houses a well setup Toilet and Shower facility and there.

Parked in the corner to get the breeze. The Taihape Airfield is just over the gully behind those big trees.

On arrival I was told to park anywhere on one of the 12 or so powered sites around the fence line and Eve would pop down and give me all the info I needed. Very easy.

It was really hot, so I chose to park in a corner where a nice breeze was coming across the gully nearby. I was the only one there at that time but by the end of the day there were 6 or so mostly Caravans popped in for the night.

Others came later

It’s a great spot and an easy walk down to the town.

Even though Taihape is only a small town, it is not blessed with lots of options for Motorhomes so it’s nice to know there was a nice camp with a reasonable tariff and friendly face within easy reach of the town.

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Gumtree Holiday Park – Armada – GPS

A great place to stop – Tokoroa

What a pleasant surprise finding the Tokoroa Club parking area.

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Excellent parking

Nicely partitioned away from the normal parking area with 6 powered sites.

The Bowling club next door

It is extremely good value for $10 and they’re really friendly people too.

Massive carpark with the Motorhome parking behind.

Their carparks are huge but at the back of their main carpark are the Motorhome / Caravan parks.

We arrived early in the afternoon, plugged in, opened the vents and went into the bar for a nice cold Gin and Tonic and paid for the park at the same time.

There was a storm due!

They do meals as well but you do need to be a member of a Club to be able to use the indoor areas.

The Club

A great spot for an overnight break.

Rafe’s Tracker map to the Tokoroa Club – Armada – GPS

The Famous Puhoi Pub

One of the iconic Hotels around and just out of Auckland is this wonderful old historic pub. It also has a huge carpark where you can stay overnight in your Motorhome or Caravan.

The Parking area

While I was in this neck of the woods, I thought I’d pop in and check it out.

How the first settlers arrived.

Puhoi started out having three Hotels after emigrants from Europe all wanted to be in on the business. Eventually one bought the others out and the current Puhoi Hotel which was built in 1879 became the communities premier place to socialise.

It has been owned by the same family since 1962.

At the bar

I love old buildings and this one has the charm and grace to go with it. The bar is decked out with every Knick knack you can imagine. It just reeks of character.

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You can stay the night in the hotel too if you have friends without their own accommodation. The parking for Motorhomes is just across the road.

I went for a brief walk around the village, and it is like time stood still. The old buildings look like they would have been 100 odd years ago.

A neat little village and nice to place to stop.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Puhoi – Armada – GPS

Frankia Owners Group meet at Coromandel

We set off early on the Friday morning thinking there might be a bit of early Labour weekend traffic, but it wasn’t to be, and we made it to Coromandel in pretty good time.

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Steve Gibson took this amazing shot with his drone. Coromandel shops are off to the left.

The Frankia Owners group organiser Brian Maginness, had invited me along to meet some of the group. Many of them were ex Dethleff owners so it was nice to see them again. They’re a good bunch and I’ve always admired the Frankia Motorhomes so we were really looking forward to it.

Brian had booked out the entire Park over property at Acres which is almost right in the middle of Coromandel town.ย  Run by Pauline and Ron as part of their property in a separate area complete with power and a bathroom, it is spectacular, and we’ll definitely be back to see them again.

Late on Friday afternoon, a few gathered outside Rafe and Happy Hour was on.

I met Russell and Lorraine who were originally from New Plymouth where I had just come from the photo Auction for Hospice.

It turns out that Russell spent a lot of his working life as a Linotype operator at the Daily News in New Plymouth so knew many of my press photographer friends who were involved in the Auction as they had also worked at the Daily News. Small world stuff.

It was really nice reminiscing about the old technology with the lead bars, slugs on the page (letters/paragraphs for the press) Great stuff.

Outside the gate

I also caught up with Peter and Heather who have adult children a similar age to our own and have lived close to us in Devonport for a long time. They’ve recently just got started with their near new Frankia Platin. Lovely to see them enjoying their new Motorhome.

My old friend from Devonport, Peter.

After the happy hour was finished, we all headed up to one of the restaurants in the main street of Coromandel about 5 minutes’ walk away. A great night and everyone had fun.

The next morning, it was each to their own. Some went bike riding, some walked up the back through the bush, we went for a walk through town and after lunch, walked back slowly to the camp to catch up with our neighbours in their Motorhomes.

Off for a Bike ride

Happy Hour rolled around and after this, I set up a team piccy and moved the group, so our Dethleffs was out of the background ๐Ÿ™‚

The Team

That night’s tea was at my favourite restaurant in Coromandel, The Star and Garter. The meal I had was massive and Peter who was sitting next to me, watched me struggle through it. It was so nice.
I wasn’t going to waste any of it. ๐Ÿ™‚ A nice meal as always and at a reasonable price. Another great night.

Star and Garter on the left looking up the main street.

We all ambled back to the park and crashed.

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The next day, many left. The rally was over but Fiona and I along with several others had enjoyed the park and the others company so much, we weren’t quite ready to go home ๐Ÿ™‚

a Happy hour getting started.

A fantastic gathering… Well organised Brian and thank you to you all for making us both welcome.

Rafe’s Tracker map – Armada GPS

Ye Olde Luxury Post Office

And it’s a B&B so you can stay there!

A true labour of love .. Dave and Maria bought the Post office building some years ago and have restored what was originally the Eltham Post Office with the Telegraph area upstairs, is now a luxury B&B.

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Dave is a retired Photojournalist and worked with me at the Herald in the late 1970โ€™s. David has also provided some images to the Hospice Taranaki Auction happening on the 24th September.

Dave outside the B&B

I was in New Plymouth staying at Ninia Park over so it was an easy trip in Rafe to pop in to see Dave after 40 something years since weโ€™ve seen each other. Unfortunately, Daveโ€™s wife Maria was away in Sydney catching up with friends and family so I get to meet her.

Historical Neighbourhood

I found Dave water blasting some Mould of one of the sheltered walls at the back and we adjourned into the kitchen for a good catchup over a cup of tea.

The main Helena Suite

Later I got a tour of the building which is amazing. Theyโ€™ve certainly been busy!

Lots of old period things add to the charm

The upstairs has been converted into their private flat but in a thorough Way ๐Ÿ™‚ .. as you would expect from these two!

Dave outside the Post Office.

If you want to sample this beauty and have a night away from your Motorhome or Caravan in one of Taranakiโ€™s small towns, check out their website here.

Rafe parked outside with the Post office behind
Lovely old Building

It was lovely to see Dave again after all these years. As I said to him, he still looks the same ๐Ÿ™‚

Peace and Quiet at Raglan

The weather was good, there was a beach only a few yards away and the town was only 10 minutes walk.

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Rafe at Raglan

We were looking to get out of the traffic but not too far away.. Raglan won the day. It has been a while since we were last here but it has an atmosphere all of its own. Very like Waiheke Island with some of the similar arty but down to earth shops.

Kids enjoying Badminton
Our neighbours from Hamilton and Tauranga enjoying the sun.

When my son Drew found out we were heading to Raglan, he said we had to go to Orca so I booked in online and its a magic spot. We went for lunch and the food was fantastic and it was very reasonable with a great view too.

The view out of the main street
The Historic Raglan Pub

After lunch we headed back to Rafe at the Raglan Holiday Park and then later onto the beach.

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There was a family from Hamilton with their youngest doing hand stands and flips on the sand while they enjoyed a glass of wine and watched the sun go down. Just magic.

Amazing Sunset

We were looking forward to the next day, Watching the rugby and then checking out the town.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Raglan – Armada GPS

House & Garden RV style!

Paeroa would have to get first prize in the Antique shops. A fantastic place if you like looking at old interesting stuff.

We’ve passed through here lots of times but only stayed here once before  and that was at the Paeroa RV centre.

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I hadn’t booked or anything and just rocked up and as I checked in, there was something vaguely familiar about the nice lady checking me in.

After I gave her my name, she looked at me strangely and and said, โ€œI went to school with you at Takapuna Grammar Schoolโ€, the penny dropped and everything fell into place. Jane was also was at school with Fiona at Vauxhall Primary School.. amazing memory.  We spent the next hour or so going though all the common friends that we have and strangely enough, have managed to keep in touch with.

Jane’s partner Steve is the caretaker and they have an amazing old Devonport Ferries red bus, a real slice of history.

Jane with her and Steve’s ex Devonport Ferries Bus

Paeroa RV Centre has changed over the years and now house s a lot of permanent people in bigger vehicles and they’ve developed a real community there. I found all of them very welcoming and very friendly and with the less than friendly winter weather that we’ve had lately, its a great spot to get comfortable.

Some of the appendages to their parks .. think decks and little garden areas are amazing. I very definitely felt very undecorated and certainly not anywhere in the hunt for a prize for my park ๐Ÿ™‚ I did have some moss and a neighbour pots nearby though ๐Ÿ™‚

Click on the Gallery below to check out the Gardens

Having met Steve and Jane, they talked me into staying a second night and I spent the next day walking into Paeroa, getting a haircut and buying some costume jewelry for Fiona.

Downtown Paeroa
There’s a plastic bottle now !

A fantastic place to stay, great people and I was really pleased to catch up with Jane again and meet Steve.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Paeroa – Armada GPS

Heading North

The Ferry’s were chocker and the number of people we’d met while travelling that were having trouble getting bookings made me think, โ€œI’d better make sure we’re in Picton in plenty of time for the ferryโ€!

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We left Richmond about 8:30am and headed straight for Havelock for morning tea. Our check in time was 1pm at Picton. We arrived in Havelock at 9:30am and had morning tea eventually getting to Picton just after 11 so making it with plenty of time.

We went the long way around the coast past Momorangi Bay where we’d stayed a few years ago in wee Rafe, our wee Caravan.

On arriving in Picton, we found a good park outside a Pub in Picton by the Railway Station. As we walked in, I received a text from Bluebridge saying that they had communication issues and they’re eftpos system was having a moment and could be have cash for anything we wanted on board.

I don’t do cash at all these days so we decided that we’d have lunch where we were at the Sports Bar. What a great decision too as the Seafood Chowder was something else. Washed down with a G&T as you do.. a perfect start for our trip on the ferry!

In the Queue

At 12:30, I thought we’d better head over and check in and although we were early, there were several rows of Motorhomes and Caravans already there.. good call I thought ๐Ÿ™‚

Just after 1:15 pm, they starting loading us on the ferry.

Fiona on the Landing pad on the way out the Marlborough sounds

We’d booked a cabin so it was a rush for the shower ๐Ÿ™‚ Then we were mostly up on the deck enjoying clear blue sky all the way over.

The Tory Channel
The Tory channel looking south

We arrived just after 6pm and started heading north. We’d decided between us that as the new transmission gulley motorway was open, we’d go as far as we could stopping for tea along the way and maybe get to the brand new NZMCA park at Foxton.

Rafe in the garage. Fiona ready to go!

What great park and although it was just 7:30pm, it was dark but there was plenty of room and keeping the parking simple with plenty of room around us made it easy.

The Foxton NZMCA park
Great parking

There were a few motorhomers parked together in the corner with a small contained fire to keep them warm which was nice, and there were others well spread out so that made it really easy to park.

Easy to see where you are.

In the morning I went for a look around and signed in and once I’d found the โ€œfridgeโ€!. Its a fantastic park and although I’m not sure that we’d do the drive after a ferry trip again, like we had all the way from Nelson, I’m sure its perfect option for Plimmerton with the new Motorway.

The crew in the corner

A really nice park with plenty of room next to the Foxton Racecourse grandstand in a separate area.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Fox / Upper Moutere – Armada GPS

Staying at the Racecourse

Another great weather day was there to greet us as we rose to leave Reefton to go to Richmond.

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The grand entrance

We were gagging for a coffee by the time we approached the Nelson area. There is a nice wee place at Kohatu called the Flat Rock Cafรฉ where we’ve stopped several times before.

Easy parking for big vehicles and a good coffee so we stopped there for half an hour or so before we carried on towards the Nelson Racecourse in Richmond.

Rafe parked under the trees

At $20 a night with power, water, rubbish, toilets showers and laundry its very affordable and in a nice spot.

Relaxing in the sun

After parking, opening vents and settling down, we went for a 20 minute walk into Richmond to have a nosey around the shops and a coffee. Last time we were here, they had half the main street all ripped up and it was impossible to get anywhere. It was nice to see it all finished and it looks good too.

A happy James with his car

The next day, we met our neighbour James who was on his own in his Motorhome. We were keen to visit upper Moutere and when James found this out, he asked us if we could take him up to Woodstock so he could retrieve his car. He was getting it fitted with an A frame and going to tow it behind his Motorhome. There is no public transport or any other way for him to get his car.

We’ve never been to Woodstock and it wasn’t far out of our way so we were off with James to get his car.

We took a wrong turn and for a moment we weren’t sure that James knew where his car was as he wasn’t familiar with the area but after retracing our steps for a few k’s, James recognised where we were and we found his car. It’s so easy to get lost up there as we found when we tried to get from there to Upper Moutere without the GPS.

The Moutere River at Woodstock
My chatty friends at Woodstock

After we dropped James off, I found a bridge that crossed the Motueka River that flows through the Woodstock valley. After parking in a gravel pit so I could get some pictures of the river from the bridge, there were two cyclists coming the other way and I got chatting to them. They were local Caravanners who regularly did 30 odd k’s every few days around the area. We must have chatted for about 20 minutes about all sorts.. lovely couple.

It was time to head to Upper Moutere for lunch. This is when we got lost !

One of the nice things about these small towns is its usually pretty easy to get a park.. there was one big park left when we got there and we sort of fitted in it ๐Ÿ™‚ See the pic.

The main drag at Upper Moutere
The old Post Office

We headed for the old Post Office which now sells Fancy pickles and breads and also has a very talented Jeweler making some amazing stuff. She used to work in the UK but returned home to NZ after winning a bunch of awards for her work.

The Oldest pub in NZ

After this we headed for the oldest Pub in NZ, the Moutere Inn.ย  We came here a few years ago so we knew the food was good and it didn’t disappoint!

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I had Nachos with Bacon and Cheese .. Wow and Fiona had a Seafood Chowder.. washed down with a local cider made less than a few paddocks away ๐Ÿ™‚

Amazing Nacho lunch

After this we headed back to the Racecourse.

We were sitting in Rafe enjoying a cup of tea when there was knock on the door. It was James with a nice bottle of Scottish Gin he’d bought for us for taking up to Woodstock. We were bowled over as he had offered us money for diesel which we’d turned down.

If you’re reading this James.. a really nice surprise! a big thank you mate and it was lovely to meet you and be able to help you out.

Rafe’s Tracker map to Richmond – Armada GPS
Rafe’s Tracker map to Woodstock / Upper Moutere – Armada GPS