We woke to a covering of mist hanging low over the Riverton Racing Club early this morning at 6.00am. I just had to put my dressing gown and shoes on, and grab my camera and snap a few photos before the mist lifted. Luckily everyone else was tucked up tight in their vans so no one else was around to see me.
Misty morning in Riverton
Our plan today was to travel on the the NZMCA Park at Lumsden, but we had to go the long way round, as the name “Nightcaps” jumped out of the map at me. With such an interesting name, there was no way I wanted to miss it, I informed the driver. So he set the Garmin Sat Nav to take us to Lumsden, via Nightcaps.
Welcome to Nightcaps
Nightcaps was formerly another coal town and had a very interesting Heritage Corner which told of the history of the town. Captain John Howell, of Riverton fame was one of the first European settlers in the area. The Maori people introduced the settlers to the black rock they used for fires – coal. The settlement developed from 1880 to exploit the massive coal field and the Nightcaps Coal Company built its own railway and produced some 1.8 million tonnes of coal, mostly low-grade lignite, operating for 40 years.
Heritage Corner at Nightcaps
There has to be a story behind the name Nightcaps. It is reported that Captain John Howell was riding with several companions up the river flat when one of them remarked on the thin covering of fog on the hills known as the Nobbles. Howell replied, 'Oh, they have their nightcaps on' - and so the name was given.
Early coal mining in Nightcaps
It was a nice little interlude to stop and find out about this interesting little place, and then we carried on up SH6 to the NZMCA Park in Lumsden. This was our first time staying at this park, and it was such a pretty entrance through a stand of totara trees.
The park itself is a large graveled area and the custodians have been busy planting many native trees and bushes around the perimeter. There are only a few vans here, with plenty of room for many more. There are no facilities available, and no water supply. Just as well we always travel with our water tank full.
NZMCA Park at Lumsden
After lunch we went to check out the town. Lumsden also used to be a major railway junction with lines departing to all four points of the compass. The station seems to still be the focal point in town with two old engines on display.
Lumsden Railway Station
The town is also very “Motorhome Friendly” with plenty of overnight parking for freedom campers around the station. A notice in the ladies toilet block requests that dishes and clothes should not be washed in the basins, although I did see a tourist exiting with dishes. Instead there is a sink set up especially for this purpose in the station. We had never come across this before
Dish washing facilities available at the station
We returned to camp and had a very pleasant afternoon relaxing under the shady awning. And we were delighted to see a whole family of little quails came cheeping out of the bushes later in the afternoon. There were so many of them, it must have been a great breeding season for quails.
Lots of baby quails looking for some dinner