Our last little road trip wasn’t too little at all, as it turned out – we travelled 1500kms over 4 weeks. Attending the CCNZ National Rally was the main point of the trip, which was extended into a bit of a tiki tour taking the long way home. The plan was to visit some new places we had never stopped at before, as well as a few old favourites. And although we had a route and timetable all mapped out, we also compromised a few times. That didn’t really matter at all, the six of us travelling together all really enjoyed the trip.
We left early and spent the first five nights at one of our favourite POPS in Hastings, parked up by the apple orchard. This gave us time to catch up with rellies, replenish Robin’s empty jars at Arataki Honey, visit the Farmers Market, and stop off at Rush Munros for a couple of their famous ice creams. And at long last we finally got to walk along the boardwalks surrounding the Pekapeka Wetlands. What a lovely warm Hawkes Bay day is was, the birds were singing, fish were swimming, dragon flies were buzzing around, and the surroundings were so pretty.
Easter was spent at the CCNZ National Rally held at Putorino – one of those tiny little places which you drive past on the way to Gisborne, but don’t even notice. Not much there at all, just the pub, the school, and the sports grounds where we were staying. The rally was very laid back, with plenty to keep us occupied, and it is always great meeting up with old friends again who we only seem to see on these occasions. Most of the Heretaunga contingent managed to come away with a raffle prize or two, so we did very well. It wasn't too much of a drive from Putorino to our next stop, freedom camping at Opoutama and Blue Bay. Such a lovely restful place, with glorious views across the bay.
With the last 6 nights being off power, it was great to move on to Waikanae Beach Motor Camp in Gisborne to plug in and recharge everything – and a must for me, to use the laundry. After a night each at Opoptiki and Edgecumbe, we moved on to Kawerau – three new places we had never stayed at before. We had been told about evening trials to select rafting teams to represent New Zealand later in the year, so wandered down to the river to watch a little of this high octane, energetic sport. Each raft battled the Grade 3 river to get the six man team through the gates strung across the river. The rafts came hurtling down with the current, aiming for the green gates, and then had to turn and paddle against the current to slip through the red gates, before continuing on their way again.
But the highlight of Kawerau was a trip up to see the Tarawera Falls. First we had to purchase a Forest Access Permit, then we had a slow, dusty drive through the pine forests over the dirt road, then a short walk through lovely native forest. And there they were, the falls plunge 65m down a sheer cliff before tumbling down bush lined rapids. The river bed around the falls is carved into ancient volcanic rocks and the high cliffs are thought to be the eroded end of an old lava flow that poured from the mountain 11,000 years ago. There’s no doubt about it – New Zealand has such beautiful scenery.
Staying at an avocado orchard in Tauranga was a new experience for us all – another very pretty setting, and we were each given some of these tasty delights. (Some of mine ended up as guacamole dip for 4zees). Then on to Bowentown where we enjoyed a three course dinner at the Fishing Club one evening for the grand total of $23 – such good value. Looking down into the huge Martha Mine in Waihi and the surrounding old buildings was well worth the steep climb, and we enjoyed a ride on the Goldfields Railway to Waikino and back – such fun, just love these little vintage trains.
Another new stop was at the Paeroa RV Centre – and my goodness, did it rain while we were there. So much that the ablution block was inches deep in water and had to be closed down overnight. From here we moved on to the newly opened NZMCA site at Ngnototaha, Rotorua – plenty of room here, and there is a handy garage to use for 4zees during inclement weather. Two more things got ticked off our “must do” list. A visit to Wingspan to see the falconers and their birds has been something we long wanted to do, and we were thrilled to both get the chance to have a falcon sit on our leather gloved hand.
We were keen to have a go at Rail Cruising after experiencing something similar at Whangamomona. The self drive carts cruised along at 20kmph through the Dansey Scenic Reserve, full of beautiful native forest, and onto open farmland. At Tarukenga Station we got out to stretch their legs while the carts were turned around on the nifty little turntable, and then we headed back to Mamaku Station. It was a fun afternoon.
One night at the NZMCA site at Taupo Airport, and then we travelled down to Himatangi Holiday Park just in time for the Anzac Weekend caravan club rally. Some of us set the alarm bright and early on Anzac Day to take part in the Dawn Service. 2015 is a very special year as it is the 100th Centenary, and it was good to hear of record attendances all over the country.
As well as travelling 1500kms we stayed at 4 POPS, 3 motor camps, 2 NZMCA sites, 2 clubs, 1 freedom camping area, 1 sporting complex, and attended 2 caravan rallies. Met up with friends and rellies, enjoyed several nice meals out, and did goodness knows how many visits to various laundrettes. Now we are safely home – wonder when we are going away again?