With the Milford Sound trip completed it was time after a final night and four days in Te Anau to hit the road again. Deciding to avoid Queenstown for the moment we set off in the direction of Lumsden. It’s a quiet road along State Highway 94 again we wondered where everyone was
To say that Lumsden is a one horse town is probably a bit of an exaggeration but in some ways it does typify small town New Zealand with a few stores that cater to the locals as well as some that cater towards the traffic that is passing through. It is still one of those blink and you will miss it sort of places.
Lumsden does have, unusually in this day, a large freedom camping area right next to the old train station. Complete with dump station, fresh water, rubbish bins etc it was no wonder almost 40 vans parked there that night. It was obviously very popular lets hope they were supporting the local stores.
It is however home to the best donuts we have ever eaten. purely by chance we called into the Bafe Cafe to grab a bite for lunch when Sarah spotted the donuts. So we decided to treat ourselves they had 3 types and we went for the classic the best donuts we have ever brought. Crisp on the outside light and fluffy on the inside full of fresh cream with lashings of raspberry jam simply the best. So good in fact that we went back the next day to grab two more. It was good to see our lunch purchases were approved by some fairly famous past customers of this store.
As an interesting aside we thought we would treat ourselves for dinner. We had probably the worst Chinese takeaways ever directly across the road at the Lumsden Takeaway. Lovely people but terrible food so bad that we ended up throwing it away.
The entrance/exit to the NZMCA camp ground in Lumsden (#9279) runs through a small stand of pine trees making a very pretty photo as well as blocking the view of the camp from the road partially assisting privacy.
Situated within walking distance to the village it’s a good stopping point with easy access to the Round the Mountains bike trail although we only used our bikes to collect the terrible Chinese.
Next door to the NZMCA camp is the council campground that has power, showers, washing machine etc at a reasonable price. A curious site in the council campground are the 3 Alpacas that wander around the camp although I didn’t get a photo they appeared quite friendly.
One of those shall we or shan’t we moments occurred as we approached the Aviation Museum in Mandeville. Deciding that we would stop was a good shall we. Stepping through the door of the museum we where greeted by a wonderful host we took the time to explain what the place was about where each exhibit was etc.
Stepping into the hanger it was like stepping back into history seeing all these wonderful old planes, almost all of which can be taken out of the hanger onto the airfield next to it and flown. The restoration work that has been undertaken on these is tens of thousands of man hours.
The museum contains four Tiger Moths with two of them flown on a regular basis as sightseeing aircraft. When you look inside the cockpit they are just so basic compared to what you see today but I guess they have all that they need since they have been flying for 100 years.
This wonderful plane was the first aircraft in New Zealand to be registered to carry passengers although I am not quite sure if the seats at the front would count as business class in today’s environment. The rather blurred shot at the top (sorry about this) states that Aerobatic Maneuvers Prohibited. I can just imagine trying to drink from the inflight service as the pilot does a barrel roll!
The plane “Tui” above is the original NAC plane that has been restored to original flying condition, you could almost imagine yourself stepping aboard back in 1946 when it frst started flying in NZ.
It was hard not to think about pulling the lever for the ejection seat as we stood next to the training jet. In fact it was hard to keep my hands off the displays full stop. The temptation to jump in and take the controls or simply just sit in the plane was just overwhelming.
I could have uploaded heaps more photos I took so many but that would spoil things for you when you get there it really is a must do. All in all it was $24 ($12 each) well spent to get into the museum. But wait there’s more
What they have done with the planes they are now starting to do with rail. For a small donation you can walk out into the rail yards where they have the restored Rodgers steam engine that spent 60 years submerged in the local river. The restoration job is just incredible with the engine now up and running. The plan eventually is to turn this into a museum to cover both steam and flight. If the planes and the steam engine are anything to go by coming back in 5 or 10 years would be an absolute must to see where they had got to.
Arriving into Gore at the main roundabout there are 2 huge monuments the one of the brown trout Sarah remembers from our last trip 27 years ago but the guitar is a more recent addition. It’s nice to be able to take photos without heaps of other tourists standing in the way.
We had heard about the campgrounds at the local A&P showgrounds (#9309) with prices at $5 without power or $10 with per night it’s a super cheap place to stay with toilets, dump station and water all on site. The only slight drawback is the train line right next door with the bells from the crossing waking me up just before 7 both mornings. Lots of people are staying here with around 40 to 50 motorhomes, campervans and smaller vans a night but it’s so spread out that you don’t feel cramped at all.
Jumping on the bikes for a bit of exploration we came across this iconic building a real piece of New Zealand breakfast history with the porridge made here having been eaten in many a home.
There must be a real sense of community pride with the local public gardens that are beautifully manicured, lots of roses currently in bloom as well as a large Avery where the cheeky fellow above was the only bird that got close enough to take a decent shot through the cage. There are about 10 bird cages with a wide range of birds but impossible to get a decent shot through the wires.
Day two in Gore saw us walk into town for a few supplies and purchase a couple of warmer tops. It might still be summer in the north but here in the south we are starting to feel the cold at night and first thing in the mornings. The town has a good range of shops catering well to the local community as well as a number of places selling farm machinery to cater to the farmers.
After a bite for lunch we jumped on the bikes again heading off to explore the suburbs and the land around the town it was as you can see in the photos a really nice day with pleasant riding conditions. Not really knowing were we where going we just rode up the hill behind the town finding some nice country beyond the town boundary. We also came across the town water tower although getting close for a photo proved to be a bit of a challenge since it’s in use and surrounded by fencing preventing easy access.
On the return from the bike ride we stumbled upon a community gardens with lots of fresh produce for sale. We left with tomatoes and beans but it would have been so easy to have brought more it all looked very fresh and tasty.
It’s funny how easy it would be to just drive through some of these smaller towns that are not on the main tourist trail but to do so would mean missing out on some very pleasant surprises and the best donuts in the world!!! In fact we are just planning our return to Lumsden now, Bafe Cafe here we come! Just kidding.
Special mention must go in this post to Ben @ Transport Repairs Ltd in Gore. Ever since we have had the Motorhome the handbrake has not been the best so I finally decided to get it adjusted. I found the company online and called to make an appointment, talking with Ben he told me to bring it around which I did. I arrived there they pit it straight over the pit and 20 minutes later all fixed. Great Service highly recommended.
One other thing about these showgrounds is that there is always something happening we watched them putting up the rugby goal posts the other day then training on the field later that evening. There is a cross fit gym in the grounds that runs at odd times, you can tell it’s running by the loud music, but it’s not to bad and not to often. Then there’s the caretaker doing odd jobs around the grounds. Its all very entertaining.
A great place to stay 10 out of 10