Enjoying Wellington 

We recently had a few days in Wellington. I always enjoy visiting Wellington, going to old haunts and discovering new ones. We stayed in the motorhome at the car park by the Evan’s Bay boat club. This is a great spot for motorhomers. There are always a range of vans here from very large to small. The bus  route is nearby. One day we walked into the city, cycled another and caught the bus on the wet day. There is a food market by Te Papa on Sundays. Great for breakfast and to stock up with fruit and vegetables for the week. It  is a 5km ride from Evan’s Bay to Te Papa around the coast, interesting too.      From Evan’s Bay it’s an interesting drive along Shelly Bay Rd through Shelly Bay, Scorching Bay and Worser Bay where we watched yachts racing, then over the hill to Seatoun and Mirimar.

Te Papa has joined forces with Weta Workshop to create the amazing exhibition – Gallipoli, The Scale  of our War. This is well worth visiting with the incredible larger than life size models, photos and letters telling how supplies weren’t getting through and they were sick and tired. Very emotional. Exhibition runs until April 2018. Allow a few hours, or do a return visit, there is so much to see and take in. Te Papa is the national museum and art gallery of NZ. It is a recognised world leader in interactive and visitor focused experiences. 

We also visited the Wellington Museum on Queen’s Wharf, not far from Te Papa. It is in a heritage building on the waterfront. It offers an insight into the social and cultural history of Wellington. It takes you on a journey through Wellington’s past, present and future. The Wahine disaster was particularly worth seeing.

Museum visits over, time for relaxation. Off to a  small boutique bar – LBQ is on Edwards St near McDonalds on Manners St. If you enjoy boutique beer this is the place to go. Over 100 beers on sale! Wellington’s beer geek heaven.

If you are a cyclist take a trip to Island Bay to see their new cycle way – but maybe not on your bike! A number of local cyclists are not using it saying it is dangerous. We have certainly never seen anything like it with the footpath, next to that is the cycle lane, then a gap lane,  then the lane to park and leave your car while you go shopping – or into your house if you are unlucky enough to live on this part of The Parade – then the lane when cars drive. It will be interesting to see how long it stays like this before being reconfigured.

Websites :   http://www.gallopoli.tepapa.govt.nz. 





Stony River Hotel, Okato, Taranaki

Where the mountain meets the sea……

Spent a lovely night in the motorhome at this gem on the Surf Highway travelling south around the coast from New Plymouth.  They have good parking outside so you can stay in your motorhome, in one of the really nice refurbished rooms in the hotel, or simply visit for a drink or a meal.

The hotel is run by the very friendly couple Heimo and Renate who moved to New Zealand from Austria seven years ago. They have a pleasant dining room and a great lounge (snug), along with a garden bar for those warm evenings. The resident passion fruit vine is amazing. I have never seen one so healthy. Nice sheltered spot!

The meals are delicious. Lamb rack, chicken breast wrapped with speck, sauerbraten (a traditional German dish), along with many others, all beautifully prepared by Heimo. 

Check their deals on their website.  Some presently available are a two course dinner for two, and bed and breakfast. We thought  the three course dinner for two with bed and cooked breakfast, presently $195 sounded great.

They have a stall at the Farmers Market on Sundays in New Plymouth where they sell smoked salmon, smoked beef sourdough rye bread and speck. This is very popular as it is nitrate free.

In the hotel they also have some local products for sale such as honey, apricot jam, knitted garments, felt scarves. I bought a merino silk felt scarf, gorgeous colours with pinks and blues. How could I resist? 

Our group loved our night at the Stony River boutique Hotel and enjoyed being shown around by the convivial hosts Heimo and Renate. They also regularly have live music some nights so we will be back to enjoy an Austrian evening.

Nearby the Stony River Hotel is – surprise surprise – Stony River. There is a walkway along this river. It is a 4.4 km loop, about 1.5 hrs walking time.   There are also some great surf beaches.  

Wellington- Marine Reserve

Travel around the coast in Wellington, through Lyall Bay and Island Bay going towards Owhiro Bay and you will come to the Taputeranga Marine Reserve on The Esplanade. This was developed to protect the ecosystem and keep it in a natural state. Scientists use the reserve as a natural laboratory and for those of us who love the sea it is relaxing to sit and look out over this area while for the more adventurous it is a great place to spend a few hours. You can dive, swim, snorkel and explore the rock pools, but don’t take any fish or shellfish away. This is not allowed in marine reserves. With the only predators in this area being of the natural sea life kind, that is not human, the sea life is able to grow and reproduce, so we can all enjoy the spectacle before us. It’s wonderful to see paua, starfish and other shellfish at our fingertips in their natural habitat.

Another benefit of visiting a place like this is that it encourages us to climb over the uneven surface of rocks. This is good for the older as well as the young. Our brains are challenged to put our feet in safe positions and our confidence grows as we do so. It’s amazing how quickly you lose your confidence to do these things when you don’t do them regularly, and how young children find uneven surfaces tricky when they haven’t been offered these experiences. They get a buzz when they find they can move over and around the rocks. For the older folk it’s a bit like doing the crossword or sudoku – use it or lose it – physical activity is great for the brain as well as the body.

After climbing around at the beach a coffee and snack seems a good plan. Opposite the marine reserve is a cafe with a great outlook. Sit on the deck of “the bach” and enjoy the fresh Wellington sea air along with the view. You may even see a ferry go past. “The bach” also operates as a function centre.  It’s also on the bus route. There is good parking for motorhomes.

Fishing in Kaikoura 

the crayfish before the size check and return to sea of many
Tomo’s fishing boat

Dolphins at play beside the boat
What a day of fun I have had. Was booked in to go on a fishing charter with Kaikoura Fishing Tours at 8.50am. Woke at what we thought was 8.20am. This isn’t too unusual, we often sleep in when in the motorhome, lept out of bed thinking no time for breakfast, just as well I packed my fishing bag the night before! But no, it was only 7.20! Whew! After a relaxing hour I boarded the fishing boat for my two hour trip.
On board the boat were skipper Tomo, his mate, six Chinese folk and myself. As we skimmed the sea we  saw three pods of dolphins. Lucky us. They were having fun playing near the boat, jumping out of the water and putting on a show for us. No swimming with the dolphins on this trip, we had business to do! The first stop was to pick up, empty and reset three crayfish pots. As per photo the pots when pulled up had plenty of crays in them, but most of them were too small. The law says that to be able to take crays home from a fishing charter you must participate in the measuring of them. On with the gloves and each cray was held by one of us while the boat mate measured the width of the tail. Not a job we were trusted with, I guess their licence depends on the accuracy of this. All the crays that didn’t measure the required 54mm were returned to the sea along with the only female we brought up. It had a big egg sac attached for a little cray, wonder how many of the eggs that a crayfish lays survive to adulthood? There is another job to do before we can take the crays off the boat. The telson, the end of the fan on the tail, must have the end of the centre of the five parts cut shorter. This shows that the crayfish has been legally caught and it cannot be sold. It is illegal for a crayfish with the telson cut to be sold or served in a restaurant (apart from to those who caught it, as you can take your cray or fish you catch into a restaurant and many will cook it for you). 

We caught blue cod, red cod and sea perch, so will be dining on fish for a while ( some went into the motorhome freezer).

This is a great fishing charter. These guys work incredibly hard, pulling in the craypots, setting up the fishing lines for the clients, baiting them, taking the fish off the lines, and filleting the fish at the end of the trip ready for he clients to take home. Lines and bait are supplied.

The trip was made even more fun by the Chinese group on the boat. They were so excited by the crayfish coming into the boat, then the fish that they were catching., It was like when you do something you have done many times and is, maybe, mundane to you, with a young child. You see it through their eyes. There was squealing and laughing, it was a great atmosphere. Helped by the number of fish we caught of course!

Fishing charter website: http://www.kaikoura-fishing- tours.co.nz

Hanmer springs

We travelled in the motorhome from Christchurch to Hanmer Springs in the autumn. This is an easy 2 hrs or so drive. The trees are stunning at this time of year with the autumn colours shimmering.

We stayed at the Hot Springs Motor Lodge on the edge of the shopping area (walking distance to shops, restaurants and many activities).  Self contained motorhomers can stay in a  field beside the lodge for $30 per night. If you dine in their restaurant the $30 comes off your meal account. We did this and really enjoyed our meals, the atmosphere, the friendly staff and the surroundings. The building is nicely laid out with a pool table and darts in an adjoining room. We, along with other families, found this a great way to entertain the children while we waited for our meals. There are also fascinating photos on the walls, showing the very early history of Hanmer.

A soak in hot pools is always a great way to relax and Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa is no exception. They have been attracting visitors for more than 125 years. There are 15 thermal pools of varying temperatures, private pools, steam and sauna rooms and waterslides,  amongst other facilities. The pool complex is fresh and modern. There is a special feature which we didn’t find the last time we visited, but this year we heard lots of people saying they were going to the Lazy River. So we followed. The youngsters and oldies alike were loving an oval shaped pool, the movement of which carries you around it naturally. Fun fun fun! What’s not to like about this complex? We had a nice lunch in their cafe too.

We also enjoyed A-MAZE-N-GOLF. This themed mini golf course is easy enough for youngsters but still has plenty of challenges. It is well maintained and has plenty of shade – or shower cover. Alongside the mini golf is the Lost Temple Adventure Maze. We didn’t have time for this but it looked as though it was fun.

We loved our time in Hanmer Springs and look forward to our next visit there.