With the Rail Trail finished and Brian farewelled it was time to head back to Gore to get the COF on the Motorhome. To be honest I was a little apprehensive about this even though it’s only 6 months old as during the course of our travels I have managed to bottom out the rear end a couple of times denting one of the cross chassis rails. I had also read that you could not have your wings displayed at the top of your windscreen where ours are. But in the end all good now till September.
With the COF out of the way it was off to the movies to watch Finding Your Feet an enjoyable couple of hours with a few good laughs and some foot tapping music. We also drove out to Dolomore Park a camping area about 10 kms out of Gore set in native bush but after a brief look there we decided to move on. It was pretty but just a bit cold and dark with all the shade from the trees.
Last time we had been in Gore we had stayed at the A&P Showgrounds (#9309) this time however we thought we would stay somewhere different staying at the Town and Country Club (#9306) I must say that for $8 with power, water, kitchen, toilet and free wifi it represents great value for money. If however all the spots where taken it would be a little cramped as I am not sure there are 3 metres between them. Best of all with good weather an onsite washing machine two loads of washing done and dried before the sun set.
In my blog covering our last visit to Gore someone made the comment that we hadn’t visited the Hokanui Moonshine museum so we did that on this visit spending an hour or so wandering around. It was certainly interesting reading about the illicit stills and how Gore was “dry”for 60 years. I thought the mermaid swilling from the bottle was rather funny.
Back on the road again on the path to Queenstown we stopped back at the NZMCA camp in Lumsden (#9279) intending only to stay for the one night. We parked next to Fred and Christine in their Dethleffs Trend which they have had for a couple of years and are loving after many years of boating. It’s really surprised me the number of people in Motorhomes who are ex boaties.
Just after sunset the weather really started to pack up with rain becoming more and more persistent. In the morning I said to Sarah that I’ll use the rain the wash the Motorhome so we put a bucket under the rear where the rain was running down in river loads. Once I had collected a decent amount it was out with the extension brush for a good old scrub down. Fred popped his head out from next door to tell me I was mad but it was a job that needed doing and it wasn’t cold so it felt good having done it.
With the rain getting heavier we hunkered down for another day hardly venturing from the camper except for the short walk into town to grab a couple of the famous donuts only to discover the shop closed for a few days holiday. Damn!!! wet for nothing!
What looks like a picture of a car park is actually the freedom camping area in Lumsden with by my estimate around 70 to 80 vehicles parked for the night including a number of larger rental motorhomes. Sarah and I had to laugh when we saw someone had pitched a tent right on the station platform I didn’t take a photo as I didn’t want to invade someones privacy but that’s maybe a step to far.
The area is very well set up with a toilets, water, sink, dump station and rubbish bins but I do wonder how the locals feel about having so many people right in the middle of town taking over the historic train station. When we spoke to the lady at the local 4 Square she said that they don’t cause any trouble but they don’t really bring anything into the town only spending a few dollars each.
Stopping along the way to make some breakfast after an early start out of Lumsden we came across the rest area at Mid Dome where they are working hard to return the mount to it’s original state by removing all the wilding pines. A big job but one that when finished will make it a more attractive place.
Signs here made it plain that there where no toilets but interestingly none stated no freedom camping so you didn’t have to look to far in the trees to find evidence of people staying. Why not just install toilets?
Next stop on the road was the Fairlight Railway Station I hate to say it but it looks so much better in the TV commercial the building we saw was run down missing the “Fairlight”sign and had that abandoned feeling, which I guess is the case as the Kingston Flyer no longer runs meaning that the station is no longer used. The station is also a POP (#8608) although with nothing between the station and the road it might get a little noisy.
This area has so much to offer for the cyclists as well with another cycle trail following the road we stopped at twin suspension bridges that cross the Mataura River. These have been built as part of the track and just shows how much money and how important the cycle part of tourism has become in this area. Now I just wish that they would invest in some decent sized carparks in town so that I can park my camper then I’ll be really happy.
Talking about the “Flyer”our next stop was Kingston where we visited the Flyer locked up in the rail yards. I hadn’t realised that there where two steam engines it was sad seeing them sitting there not being used although I do remember hearing something on TV talking about the owners getting the service running again. If this was to happen it would take a lot of work as the tracks are all overgrown especially at the Fairlight end of the station.
The station house for the Flyer is in good condition still with signage showing the train departing at 10am and 1.30pm with nothing to say that the train is not operating. Inside the building is a coffee lounge that looks like it just closed yesterday. All very strange.
There is also a large notice at the station house offering land for sale that seems to cover quite a bit of the land in and around the railway line if not part of the railway itself which would make putting the train back into a running format rather difficult.
It was a really bleak morning so viewing the lake was a brief affair stepping out from the van to look whist trying to keep from shivering in the cold broody conditions then back into the van to get warm whilst continuing the journey.
We had noticed as we got closer to Fairlight that the hills had a dusting of snow on their peaks but as we got closer to Queenstown it became much more noticeable. We stopped at the viewing point for “The Devils Staircase” Where I was able to capture this shot. There are so many places along the lakeside that would make great photo stops but that’s not matched by the number of place to pull over so you have to make the most of the chances when you do get one.
It made me realise that catching the bus into Milford Sound was actually the right thing to do as I found myself trying to watch the road as well as take in all the sights around me.
Most people reading this will think that Sarah and I are mad as this is as close to Queenstown as we got. I know it’s strange but we both hate crowds and neither of us particularly enjoying shopping either so we just drove through the town. There was nowhere to park our motorhome anyway with the supposed parking area only suitable for much smaller vans.
We drove to our intended destination for the night at the DOC camp (#8634) in Kinloch where the clouds were shrouding the mountains giving little glimpses of their majesty crowned with fresh white snow. It was a grand sight when available on an otherwise gloomy day. The camp ground at Kinloch is just a basic long drop as well as one water tap that when you turned it on had water that looked like it had liquid mud running through it.
With the rain continuing it was an afternoon in the Motorhome catching up on our books and having a relaxing afternoon doing nothing.
It was a rather cold night in fact we where both glad that we had invested in another duvet inner that we had put into the duvet the night prior as with the temp dropping to minus 1 it was very chilly in the morning. I guess all the snow around should have been some sort of warning about this.
The following day we thought that we would jump on the bikes for a ride further up the road to Greenstone. We had gone about 400 metres when we came across these road signs, what really amazes me is that there is nowhere to turn around where the signs are and why wouldn’t you put them at the beginning of the road. I can only imagine what would have happened if we had driven down here in our 9 metre Motorhome! Obviously we would have had to back down the road but where is the common sense.
The ride itself along the road through the stands of native beech was very pretty as well as very green (if that makes sense). We got through the first ford reasonably well with shoes still dry but the second ford about 3 kms up the road was to deep with the water flowing too fast for us to cross whilst remaining dry so we rode back to the Motorhome a little disappointed at being thawted in our effort to reach Greenstone especially as there was no chance of taking the van. We have decided to invest in some gumboots.
There is a really nice lodge in Kinloch that had been catering to a large party of Chinese or Japanese tourists whilst we were there. Later on we saw a couple on the wharf taking what appeared to be wedding photos such a beautiful setting with dramatic scenes behind them but she would have been really cold in the dress she was wearing. I didn’t want to intrude so I took no photos of them.
You cannot really see it in the photo but the Dart River Jet is a constant visitor to the area giving tourists a thrill but to us it was just noise pollution spoiling the amazing birdsong that filled the bushes around us. It’s the loudest birdsong we have heard in all our travels setting off the stunning scenery giving a real back to nature feel about the camp.
From here it’s onto Lowburn just out of Cromwell but that’s the next blog.