Tag Archives: Unusual

The City of Bikes

And it is Amsterdam. Dianne found a great camping ground just on the edge of town surrounded by Canals. The campground sold 3 day tickets where you could swipe on or off the tram as much as you liked. This worked really well.

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Ralph and Harry in Amsterdam

The first night we went in to have a bit of look around and ended up having tea in the town and checking out the red light area.

Fiona, Gary and Dianne trying to find somewhere to eat

Day two we got up early and headed in so Fiona could check out the Art in Rijksmuseum.

On the way there was a car accident on one of the bridges so that was as far as the Tram could go. One of the downsides of Trams of course is they can’t go  around the obstruction so we walked the rest of the way.

We stopped at a pub on the first night by the Cathedral for a beer
One of the larger canals where the accident was.

While Fiona was at the Art Museum, Gary, Dianne and I got on a Hop on Hop off round and Round open roof ferry. For 19 Euros, we could go right around the city by Canal with an audio commentary which was fantastic. Not great for taking piccies as you could only shoot out of the sides.

During the Hop on Hop off trip

One of comments which came across was that the canals are 3 metres deep. One metre of Water, One Metre of Mud and another Metre of bicycles 🙂

Madame Tussauds in the Dam square

On our third day there, Fiona and Dianne were keen to check out a Diamond Factory. I didn’t think I’d like it but I found it quite interesting. It was quite tourist tatty and the free coffee was awful but great to see.

Fiona with a big sample Diamond

One of the curious things I found with Amsterdam is Bikes have right of way over EVERYTHING!

One of the oldest foot bridges over a canal

The Bike lanes are everywhere and they go like the clappers and they simply ring the bell if you get in their  way. It is quite intimidating. Also in the bike lanes are scooters and small cars and they go even faster. Often there is only a few inches between the edge of the footpath and a scooter doing 30-40kph! .. Its not uncommon to see people speeding along on bikes on their cell phone with a child strapped on somewhere.

Bikes rule !

So much history.. most of the buildings are centuries old and some have a lean either forward or sideways 🙂

Next to the campground.

Amsterdam is a really interesting city. Next were moving on to Germany.

Staying in a Train

I rocked in to the Dargaville Campervan Park and Cabins and was immediately greeted by Donna leaping out of her live in caravan with a big welcome.  She was fantastic. She and her husband Vic have been managing the Park for some time now and love it.

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Being the only Motorhome in the park in the middle of the week, she suggested I could park anywhere. Unique to this park are a couple of the parks that have an ensuite cabin for Motorhomes where you can park next door and have exclusive use of your own private shower and bathroom for the duration of your stay. The cost of my parking was $18 for the night on my own but on gravel and the bathroom facilities are amazing. There is also a dump station available.

Rafe parked next to an Ensuite

Around the outside of the Motorhome parking are about 10 “cabins” which are actually ex NZ Railways Good wagons converted to accomodation and done really well. With decks attached, small kitchenettes and full bathrooms, they’re fantatsic.

The park is right in the centre of town and with Countdown and the Warehouse at the end of the road, makes it very handy to everything.

You can’t beat the welcome from Donna and its a very comfortable place to stay in the centre of a neat town.

Rafe’s Tracker Map

Dargaville at the top of the map

Glinks by the Sea

That sounds much posher than Glinks Gully 🙂

About 20 k’s South west of Dargaville is the small settlement of Glinks Gully. There are  lots of Baches and homes there with a fabulous beach. See Rafe’s Tracker map at the bottom for directions.

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I arrived around lunchtime with the intention of staying the night but given the state of the campground and how long and low Rafe is, I decided not to stay but its a neat spot if you’ve got a smaller and higher ground clearance Motorhome.

On the beach

The views are stunning straight down to the beach. There is an honesty box in the roundhouse like kitchen and the cost to stay with the NZMCA discount would have been $10 for me on my own.

The Kitchen roundhouse with Rafe behind

I parked Rafe thankfully without scraping on anything underneath and then went for a look around. I wandered down to the beach to check it out and once you get to the edge of the water, you can look in both directions and it is endless. The sun was shining and it was a great day so it was perfect for checking it all out.

I walked back to the camp up the hill and decided that I wouldn’t relax worrying about getting Rafe out in the morning so decided to head out again. I ended up having a 10-15 minute conversation with one of the local farmers parked in the middle of the road. The locals are really friendly and he was encouraging me to head down to Poutu to check out the lighthouse at the bottom of the peninsula. Another time..

Looking north

A great place to stay but I would recommend only for Motorhomes less than 7 metres and with plenty of ground clearance.

Rafes Tracker Map to Glinks Gully

Glinks Gully on the coast

High Tea at the Chateau

We arrived at the Whakapapa Holiday park with 10 minutes to spare to make our pre booked High Tea at the Chateau. I quickly plugged in Rafe and we locked the door and we headed off down the road.

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Rafe tucked up
Rafe tucked up

It’s was an interesting experience as I’m not very practised at these High Tea things. There are three tiers of goodies to eat. Dianne and I shared one platter (if that’s what they’re called) and Gary and Fiona shared the other.

Gary, Fiona and Dianne at High tea.
Gary, Fiona and Dianne at High tea.

Apparently you start from the bottom with the cucumber Sammies and work your way up to the sweet things on the top level. All very interesting.

Fiona all set to go
Fiona all set to go

The Chateau is an amazing old building. Although it has been well looked after, it reeks of another time. It’s a shame that all the joinery has been changed to aluminium but I suppose that’s so they can double glaze and so on but it has been done nicely.

The Windows and Mt Ruapehu
The Windows and Mt Ruapehu

The campground is quite interesting in that it hovers over a river from further up off Mt Ruapehu.

The river behind the parks. The parks are on the left in the trees.
The river behind the parks. The parks are on the left in the trees.

The Motorhome parks are all in between carefully cut out parks in between trees with rock and wood boundaries and all nicely flattened.

Dianne and Fiona heading back. Rosie can be seen through the trees.
Dianne and Fiona heading back. Rosie can be seen through the trees.

There is an amenities block just down from the parks.
Nobody was terribly interested in having dinner after all the goodies from the High Tea so we had a few drinks in Rafe until around 9.30 and then all retired for the night. There was no Internet but we were given free access to the camp wifi. An interesting park.

And Rafe’s Track to get there..

Rafe's Track to Whakapapa Holiday Park
Rafe’s Track to Whakapapa Holiday Park

The Pinnacles

We were all quite looking forward to checking these out as apparently, they’ve been used in one of Peter Jacksons movies. I’m not sure which one.

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The march up to the Pinnacles
The march up to the Pinnacles

We left Martinborough early and set off south towards the Pinnacles. They’re about 30 odd K’s from Martinborough so they’re a good hour south.
The South West was blowing at around 30-40 knots and we were getting some good puffs on the road. The road is pretty good being sealed all the way but as you get closer, it is quite exposed and at one point, there is a causeway where the waves were virtually crashing on the edge of the road with plenty of debris lying around.
We were pleased to get there. Rob, Helen and Chloe had beaten us there as we had stopped for Groceries and had a look around Martinborough before leaving.

Our park in the corner. Of the Doc camp
Our park in the corner of the Doc camp

Rob had a spectacular spot at the Doc camp there, tucked into a corner, protected by trees and bush with plenty of room for Rafe.
After settling down with a cuppa and getting organised. We set off up the valley towards the Pinnacles.

Doc suggests a 1.5hrs easy walk round trip. I would say this is understated and would be a 2 hr trip with the last K being a good uphill slog in gravel. Those who know me will tell you that I’m not the fittest trooper on the planet but if I can do it, anyone can but it is a wee bit more that what Doc say it is.
PinnaclesIt is spectacular and is well worth the slog mostly up the side of a stream. I commented to Rob on the way back that I felt a bit like Daniel Boon given the slightly eery almost desert like landscape similarities.

Daniel Booning down the stream
Daniel Booning down the stream

We set the chairs up behind Rafe and the Tracker out of the wind, wheeled out some portable music and started on a wet debrief of the day’s activities as you do :-). A nice day in the sun checking out some neat stuff we’d never seen before.

Rafe’s track to the Pinnacles

Martinborough to the Pinnacles
Martinborough to the Pinnacles

Employee of the month at Tui Brewery :-)

We left Dannevirke camping ground around 10 am and after a quick top up with diesel and to the Dannevirke Supermarket, we were under way. We had just gone through Woodville when Fiona noticed a gift shop that might have some old plates to update our ones in Rafe. About 15 minutes later, Gary and Dianne came around the corner in Rosie and stopped.. They had just been through the Manawatu gorge and back after missing the turnoff :-). Fiona had just come back when they were away again.

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imageWe hadn’t gone very far when we arrived at the Tui Brewery. For those overseas, Tui is well known for the quirky billboards with clever advertising.

Fiona with the girls!
Fiona with the girls!

It’s also well known for their TV ads with the hot girls who are the workers so we had to get Fiona in on the act with their board with Employee of the month. With the old building covered in scaffolding, they must be giving it some love.
imageThere’s a great big carpark there so easy Motorhome parking and they look like they do great lunches. You can also do tours of the brewery too. A good place to stop.
We cruised on and stopped just outside Masterton and made our own lunch before heading on to Castlepoint.
imageI’d booked the three of us into the Holiday Park there and they had allocated us an amazing park for three on the top of the hill looking out over the beach.

Our wee spot in the world. Rafe, Rosie and the Tracker
Our wee spot in the world.
Rafe, Rosie and the Tracker

We were all blown away. The weather was amazing so we were going to have a great night. Click here to see the earlier post on New Year’s Eve.

Rafe's track to Castlepoint
Rafe’s track to Castlepoint

The Homebuilt Caravan

While we were in a park in the north, Sculptor Nick and partner Tracy rocked in with their girls Mila and Ruby, and their Homebuilt Caravan.

matakoheThey found it in a barn in Balclutha and after recladding it and  modifiying their table so it could add extra beds for the girls, they’ve set off around the country for a year on the road.

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They were not keen on going down the track of having a gas oven so they settled on a wood burner which also heats their water.


Its all insulated and warm and toasty and it was nice to see them happy and getting around NZ.

The Potter with the Trains

Who else could this be but ex Devonport potter, Barry Brickell.

Unfortunately Barry passed away last year but his Driving Creek Railway business still lives on.  It is an amazing example of what can be achieved by someone with an idea and the drive to see it happen.

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The double decker viaduct
The double decker viaduct

He spent years building up his railway, even making his own trains and designing his own propulsion system using small diesels and hydraulics on the wheels making it very efficient.

Driving Creek Railway is in Coromandel and has easy parking for Motorhomes too but best to get there early for easier parking.

The view from the viaduct
The view from the viaduct

The train ride takes about an hour and works its way up to the Eyeful tower at the top where there is a fantastic view over Coromandel and across to Waiheke Island.  As you go to the top, you cross a couple of viaducts, one of them a double decker. There are several tunnels one of which is lined with pottery tiles made on site.

A train coming through the tunnel with Barry's tiles
A train coming through the tunnel with Barry’s tiles

There are also several retaining walls made with Barry’s left over wine bottles. Its great to see they’ve got an extra life apart from just holding the contents.

DCRA fantastic achievement that is also now a great tourist attraction. You can also buy some nice pottery and souvenirs there too.

Our own Bathroom

We were heading to Wanganui to catch up with our old neighbours Terry and Lisa but on the way, I had heard about a campground in Kapiti which had a shower and toilet shed for each Motorhome site. I had to check this out.

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Rafe and our helpful neighbour
Rafe and our helpful neighbour

It was a real treat having our own little self contained bathroom just outside the door.  While we were in town, we would see if we could catch up with Fiona’s cousin Malcolm and his wife Michelle, and have them for tea.

We arrived at Kapiti Holiday Park around 4pm and were shown where to park in “Windsor Lane”.  Each named avenue is surrounded by huge high hedges protecting everyone from any winds.

The avenues
The avenues

The hedges also mean you have to be mindful of the direction you park if you want TV reception. My very kind neighbour pointed this out to me when I backed in and he realised that I wouldn’t get a signal where I was, but if I turned Rafe around the other way, my dome would be further from the hedge and would get a clean signal. Good to have that local knowledge.  Thanks neighbor!
KapitiThe little shed had its own shower, toilet and handbasin  in with its own hot water cylinder. There was also a gully trap next to the shed on the outside for waste and a freshwater tap at the back along with a power point. Everything you could ever want and very convenient.

Delicately cut in to the hedge
Delicately cut in to the hedge

We could easily do a dash for the shower in the morning with a towel around us without anyone noticing ! With winter prices it was $40.00 for the night for us both.

The meal went well and it was great to see Malcolm and Michelle.
Just over the road was Paraparamu Beach so we were off for a walk and see the coast. Kapiti Island looks huge as it is just off the beach.

Fiona having a walk
Fiona having a walk on the beach with Kapiti Island behind.

A lovely park and quite a novelty with the little cabins.

Drinks and Food by the side of the Hot Pool !

I felt like spoiling myself and had heard about the new Top 10 Taupo’s new pool bar. A swim in a hot pool and be served a nice Chardonnay sounded like just the ticket to me.

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I arrived at the Top 10 around lunch time which was great after a great run across the Napier – Taupo rd. After spending two nights in the NZMCA Eriksen rd park, I was a little taken back by the Top 10 winter rates for a single person at $27.00. But then thought, everything is spic and span and the new multi million dollar pool complex and so on, it’s not that bad when you compare it to others and I was spoiling myself 🙂

People enjoying the Bar
People enjoying the Bar
One of the hotter pools
One of the hotter pools

After parking Rafe, it was time to do some laundry and check the place out out before having a swim. It’s nicely laid out with lots of green things (trees and stuff) between parks and the Toilets and Showers are absolutely immaculate and pretty new. There is also Pétanque, Volleyball, Tennis, Trampolines, Basketball and something new called Neos.. There’s plenty for everyone.
The washing was finished so I was off for a swim.

There are no steps which makes it interesting for getting in and out. You sort of slide in and out over a concrete bank. The main hot pool is huge with other hotter and cooler pools and channels from it. There is a cave which is 4 metres deep at one end of the pool with a waterfall over the entrance. And the bar.. Fantastic. You can buy pizza’s, meals, drinks, what ever takes your fancy and there are partly submerged chairs to sit on too. There was a unique system when I checked in where they took my credit card number so all you have to do is give the bar person your site number and sign your name and it’s all done. The prices were very reasonable too .. $8.00 for a big glass of Chardy. Very pleasant.

Enjoying the Sun
Enjoying the Sun

There is also a huge TV screen over the pool which had the movie Shrek on when I first got in. Early in the evening, it had the league on which I thought was a bit of an atmosphere killer. It was better when it was switched off in between !.. Each to there own.

Kids watching Shrek
Kids watching Shrek

Although this is a commercial Top 10 site and the price is up there at $57 peak for 2 with power, it isn’t too bad when you see what’s there and you’re ready to treat yourself to something special.
TaupoIt’s a novel experience and a first for me here in NZ. This is the only one in NZ like this. Go and spoil yourself.