Tag Archives: worth doing

John Brittens International Motorhome

Where we were staying at Peski’s just out of Geraldine, was an easy 4k’s ride in to the town.

Geraldine has a fabulous Car, Truck and Tractor Museum along with washing machines, old cinema projectors and anything of note. Its an amazing place.

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We set off on our bikes to ride to the museum and spent an hour or so having a good look around.

Fiona with her great auntie Jeannie’s Morris

Fiona’s great aunty Jeannie’s old 1948 Morris is in the museum so we were keen to check it out as Fiona had travelled in it often as a small girl. Legend has it that Jeannie drained the radiator water every night and refilled it with hot water in the morning saying  “it started so much better. Anyway, Anti Freeze will rot the engine”! And there it is tucked in the corner.

We moved on to two other buildings where we found an old Gypsy styled Motorhome built on a 1926 International chassis by John Britten when he was in his early 20’s.

John’s Motorhome

Between 1972 to 1975, John purchased the old 1926 International Truck Chassis and set to turning it into a Motorhome for his travels around the South Island.

The Tiller

Everything is hand made. All the woodwork and engineering including the Califont for heating the water was all made by John.

The interior of Johns truck

On the sides, there are two hinged wooden doors as windows. There is even some stained glass on the back. It really is stunning given he ws so young and I guess it is no surprise that he went on to do great things with motorbikes and come up with the Britten race bike.

From the back. A nice stained glass window on the back. Note the opening wooden windows.

A great find and there is a lot more to see here. Well worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Botanical Parking

All the way around the South Island when we have talked to other Motorhomers and Caravanners, we’ve had the comment, “ when you’re in Geraldine, you HAVE to stay at Peskis!”.

Nice parking

Geraldine, Pleasant Point and all around this area is Fiona’s families old stamping ground, and there is lots of McLeod family history in this area so we were always going to be stopping here for some time!

Rafe tucked in for the first couple of nights

Peski’s was our destination and what an amazing place it is. Now run by Sue and David Fisher and their dog Tui. The best way to describe it is its like the Botanical Gardens which you can park your Motorhome or Caravan in.

The gardens

It is available to all NZMCA members and it is $15 for a powered site and $5 pp for a grass patch. $2 for the washine machine and $2 for the shower. There is also a cassette only Dump Station too which is also $2  and fresh water.

Down the driveway

We’d just come in the drive in early November, when we were welcomed by David who showed us where everything was and directed us to a powered site at the bottom of the Garden.

The place was reasonably busy but not fill by a long shot but everybody here was happy to be here and the atmosphere is something else.

Happy Hour

David works locally and the Park over property is officially Sue’s baby and it is easy to see they just love it here. They moved from the other side of Geraldine last November when the previous owners wanted to sell and its a stunning place to stay.

No wonder everyone raves about it. Whenever I turn around, I see one or both of them doing something in the grounds and they look fabulous.

Parking up

We decided to stay a week here as its handy to everything around here and every day we catch up with new neighbours and of course our very kind hosts, David and Sue.

They have just had a good friend of theirs make them a new letterbox which is a caravan with the wings on it with their street number.

Down behind the parking area are tracks into the bush and to the river which runs behind the property. David has set up a seat with bark and punga so you can relax down there with the river and solve the worlds problems 🙂

This is the second seat as the first one got washed away but Fiona and I spent a very pleasant ½ hour so as it was so hot and there was a nice breeze coming off the river.

The River
Fiona by the river

A great spot with fantastic hosts who are just amazing.

Running water at the river

We’ll be back here too. A lovely spot!

Rafe’s Track to Peski’s

The Boulders

I can’t believe the great weather we have had in the South Island. Almost every day has had temperatures of around 17C plus and perfect blue sky. Today was no different as we left Dunedin.

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In the carpark

Our first stop was to check out the famous Moeraki boulders. Its interesting that the signposts for the boulders all point to a restaurant above the beach which provides a nicely made set of steps and track to get down to them. Clever marketing I thought!

Boulders

We parked in the huge carpark and wandered down to the beach where there were already a good number of people with their iphones getting piccies of the boulders. These are amazing. Apparently they’re over 5.5 million years old and were made on the sea floor with mud!

Interesting shapes and they certainly drew a large crowd while we were there.

Next stop was Oamaru for lunch. We stopped down in a large carpark by the Historical Precinct and had a wander around through the old buildings and shops. We were only here a few years ago and it has changed quite a bit since then.

The Criterion hotel

While I was standing in the middle of the road in the old precinct, a chap on a penny farthing came screaming around the corner! Later when I checked out my images, the best one was with his eyes shut looking really brave 🙂

The man on his Penny farthing


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Its always a pleasure looking around Oamaru and I can see why my old friend Grant and his family moved here. Its got a lovely feel and atmosphere to it.

The waterfront

Larnach’s Garden

I’ve been to Larnach’s Castle a few times before but never really noticed or appreciated the huge gardens.

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The castle was originally built by William Larnach for his family in 1874. The Barker family bought the Castle in 1967 after it had fallen into a state of disrepair and had basically been abandoned which is when they restored the Castle and then later the gardens.

Outside the ballroom

The Barkers have done an amazing job of creating a massive series of different gardens in and around the Castle. One of the features is a Pergola (the lead pic) which is huge and covered in trees creating a tunnel with a view of Dunedin and the end.

Dunedin through the Pergola

Other areas have small lookouts suspended over banks with amazing views of the harbour.

Fiona enjoying the Garden

We drove up the peninsula in Rafe and its an interesting road. The weather had closed in and it was quite dreary and drizzly, not conducive to nice bright piccies!

On the road to the castle looking towards Port Chalmers

We parked right up the top of the carpark and set off through the gardens.

Rafe tucked up in the top corner

Just the entrance from the carpark was spectacular with really bright flowers and nice trees. I’m not really up on all the names of plants and gardening but even I could see that this was special.

The entrance to the Garden

We came out onto the front lawn of the Castle and because we hadn’t read the instructions :-), we set off in the opposite direction to the intended tour but made it to all the areas of interest !

Larnach Castle

After an hour or so, we ended up in the Castle Ballroom and Cafe. Two open fires burning made it really warm and inviting and after another 30 minutes or so, we set off to head down the road to Portobello.

The Cafe / Ballroom

We had a quick look around Portobello and then headed back around the waterfront back to the city. It is quite a long way and is a slow road back. Its well worth doing and the Gardens and the Castle are a must do too.

More nice Garden
Round the back with the Alice in Wonderland area

The Gardens were $15 each which included parking.

Inhaling the History

The Historic Black Hotel in Ophir was a welcome sight for a late lunch cup of coffee. After an amazing Lemon Meringue Tart and a good look around the hotel, we set off for a good look around Ophir with the camera.

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The Post Office. Still in use today.

The original Post Office seems to be the hub of the History in the area and they’re doing a good job of promoting the old buildings. The Post Office still operates for 3 hours each day. Behind it is the original Jail Cell from Omakau.

Check out the Gallery below for a slideshow of Ophir

After an hour or so here, we went over the bridge to the Omakau Commercial Hotel where they have a great Motorhome and caravan parking setup behind. The parks are all on concrete pads and most have an optional ensuite with a shower and toilet area.

The parking with the ensuites

The parking is $15 a night with power and the ensuites are $10 pp per night. We opted to do our own thing and just use the power.

Parking with the Ensuites

After settling down Rafe, we went for a walk around the town through a new subdivision and its amazing how many new houses are being built here. The Rail Trail has really set things alight in the whole Central Otago region.

The front of the Hotel

We headed into the Hotel to pay for our park and have a drink and meet Stacy who gave us a great background on the pubs history.
It was originally built in 1898 as a Homestead on a 200 acre block, by the Leask family, one of the original settlers and his family. There are original stables out behind the Hotel which are used as a function centre.

The Function Centre

When Stacy and her husband took over the Hotel 11 years ago. The weeds were knee high and it desperately needed some tlc. Stacy’s dad was involved in helping to restore the pub and after they realised that Stacy’s grandmother was a house maid at the pub for years, Stacy’s Dad couldn’t bring himself to sand the top of the handrail but lacquered and painted everything else. The thought was his mother would have run her hands up and down it over many years.

Stacy with the banister

The rooms all look fantastic and all have a slightly different look so they’ve done a great job. The grounds are immaculate and it now looks well loved.

After having a few drinks down in the bar, we spent an hour or so back in Rafe and then came back for Tea. I had Pork Belly which was really reasonably priced and was stunning. Fiona had Blue Cod and that was good too.

Old farming gear along the driveway

A lovely place to stay and Stacy is about to put the hotel on the market so if you think this is you, give her a call at the Omakau Commercial Hotel.

Rafes Track to Ophir

Alive and Hopping

That is Queenstown ! Its a busy town and seems to be going 100 miles an hour everywhere you look.

The options for camping here are limited to MotorCamps really and we were happy to stay at an old familiar spot which used to be a Top 10, The Creeksyde Holiday Park. We’ve stayed here both in Rafe, a renter Mercedes and our old caravan Wee Rafe. Its a lovely spot but like all the Campgrounds in Queenstown comes with a premium price. As a treat and as it was close for Jessa, it was worth it. On the way there, we stopped at Pak N save in Frankton and did a big shop for a week or more and wow, that placed has sure changed. Its like a whole new town there now.

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Our park in Queenstown

After settling down Rafe in his little spot, Fiona walked into town and I unhooked my bike and biked down for a look see. I headed down to the ferry wharf to watch the goings on and Fiona went to some Art and Clothes shops.

The waterfront
Queenstown waterfront

We met down at the waterfront and enjoyed a cuppa watching the tourists getting on and off boats and generally people watched for a while. Lots of fun in the sun.

A reminder of where you are !

We eventually headed back to Rafe and got organised for tea.

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Jessa popped in about 6pm and it was a fun night catching with one of “our favourite Nieces”!

Fiona and Jessa

It was great to see Jessa Jean and we’re looking forward to catching up again in a few weeks when Fiona’s sister Sara (Jessa’s Mum) comes down for a holiday.

Rafe’s track through to Queenstown

Waterfalls and the Glacier

We liked Ross so much, we seriously thought about staying another night but thought, we’d better push on.

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The NZMCA park at Franz Josef

We found the NZMCA park in Franz Josef really easily. Rafe’s GPS took us right to the front door !

A great setup with water, the dump station and the check in hut.

Its a really nice park. Looking in Google Earth, it looks like a square of brown cut out of the bush and sitting in it, its magic with all the ferns and Westland bush all around. The dump station works a treat too. Very easy.

Looking back to Franz Josef

After checking it all out, we headed off to town for some bits and bobs from the 4 Square and then went and did a recce of the Glacier car park to see what we were going to be dealing with the next day when the weather was supposed to clear up a bit.

The Franz Josef Bridge

The next day started out with blue sky but very quickly greyed over and was typical west coast drizzly close weather. We were heading to the Glacier anyway so took Rafe to the car park.

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Just as I got the umbrella out and stuck it under my arm, the sky lifted and there were big patches of blue and the drizzle petered out to nothing.

Fiona with the Glacier behind

It was a 90 minute return trip according to the Doc signs and it was an easy walk. At the Glacier, it was amazing just sitting there watching the succession of Helicopters dropping people and guides off on the Glacier.. every few minutes there was another one.

The Glacier. Spot the chopper.

If you look at the closer Glacier images, you should be able to spot the odd helicopter. There were heaps of people on the track in both directions and it was nice to see so many people enjoying the walk. It was like being in Europe hearing all the different languages as they walked past you.

At the top with the Glacier and a waterfall.

We stopped at the Glacier for 20 minutes or so before heading back and as it would happen, the weather closed in again just as we got back to Rafe 🙂

The Glacier.. spot the chopper

A fun day out walking by the river up to the Glacier and well done to the local NZMCA people there for setting up such a great park. Very cool and close to town too.

Rafe’s track to Franz Josef