The Garden Festival Starts

Leaving the NZMCA Park in Bell Block, Dave,  our safari leader had arranged for us to stay in the grounds of the TSB Stadium. Whilst this is not a place that you can usually stay Dave has a good working relationship with the local council and as we are all self contained they were OK with this. Also with the large number of motorhomes in the area for the garden festival it was another place to squeeze some more tourists willing to spend money in the area.


The carpark area is planted with cherry trees between each row which at this time of the year are covered in blossoms making the carpark a pink spectacle and much more than a carpark as our overnight destination. The only drawback with these trees was  given the height of our van we couldn’t park between the trees and had to park across 4 car park spaces but nobody seemed to be worried about this.


One of the great things about traveling with this group has been the happy hours and how everyone has made us feel so welcome into the group. It was a warm and sunny evening sitting under the blossoms with each person sharing their adventures for the day and reliving the bike ride earlier in the day that I wrote about in my previous blog.


That evening we had arranged to all go out for dinner for a smörgåsbord at the Devon Hotel in the interests of road safety I won’t say how most of the group arrived but lets just say a lot of fun was had by all in Des’s bus. With 22 of us there for dinner it was just as well that they had an amazing amount of food on display as I have never seen so many people able to match me plate for plate as we all feasted up large.

@$32.90 per person with the gold card discount and yes they counted Sarah and I as gold card holders it was amazing value for money and a place that all of us would highly recommend. At the end of the night Sarah and I decided that with very full stomachs a good walk was in order so we walked back up the hill to the stadium and the motorhome.

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The following day once the rain had cleared it was time to get out and about. With the stadium right next to Pukekura Park the main park in New Plymouth and the home of a huge botanical garden it seemed like the perfect place to start. We had no sooner entered the park than the rain started again giving us the perfect reason to head into the Fern Houses. A set of 4 greenhouses that are connected to each other through a series of tunnels.

I don’t think it matters where you start here as each of the greenhouses has something special to offer but what they all had in common was they all had an absolute blaze of colour inside. I don’t think I have seen such a profusion of flowers before. The display was truly staggering and one than we would both recommend you come and see.

I actually wondered if the camera would run out of battery given the number of shots we where taking. It seemed almost every direction you looked there was another flower demanding your attention.

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Coming out of the Fern houses we wandered down towards the waterfall a gift to the city from NZI Insurance who paid for the creation of this artificial waterfall  back in the 1960’s. It was here we met Roger and Berice (correct spelling) who asked us if we had found the zoo and the talking parrot. We replied that we didn’t even know there was a zoo but would be happy to go accompany them to try and find it.

As we wandered through this enormous park we passed through stands of huge trees some of which must have been there for much longer than the park has been in existence.  Sadly most of the Azaleas had finished flowering but the Rhododendrons were in full flower and in a city that’s famous for them it was quite a show.

We also walked past the arena where the Womad festival is staged yearly and saw the stage hidden from view as it undergoes a massive refurbishment maybe we might back here one year and attend something it looks like a great place to sit on the terraced slopes.

We arrived at the zoo, which in all honesty is probably what you would expect from somewhere that charges nothing for admission but actually delivers a surprisingly enjoyable hour or so if you do take the time and trouble to visit. Although the monkeys kept fairly much to themselves we had a great deal of amusement from the Meerkats who were playing with a Halloween pumpkin.


For Roger and Berice the highlight was this cheeky parrot who after perching on Roger’s finger proceeded up his arm before settling on his camera. This parrot was so friendly that despite Roger shooing him off a couple of times he kept returning. A friend for life!

It felt good to have been a kid again for a period of time wandering around this small zoo and it’s something I would highly recommend that you take the time to do if you are visiting this park. The Zoo did a fantastic job for Halloween with each enclosure having something to associate with this time but we thought this little display was one of the best.

The surprises kept coming when right next to the zoo we stumbled across this historic house and gardens. There was an art show inside the house on that day that we didn’t visit as time was beginning to get away on us. Wanting to be back at the motorhome in time to join the others for happy hour.

In a place that had given us so much already the Kunming Chinese garden and pagoda was the final garden to view for the day. A very peaceful place.

One thing we have learnt on this safari is how important happy hour is to our fellow travelers and it’s not just because it’s wine o’clock time it’s also because it’s an important time for all in the group to catch up with what the others have been doing for the day. Tell each other a few stories and maybe a few exaggerated truths but over all just unwind after another day motorhoming. As they say “It’s a hard job but someone has to do it” and that may as well be us.

It’s usually around this point in the blog that I post my ratings system for the place that we stayed but as the TSB Arena is not an official camping area. In fact they would ticket you $200 if you did park here normally I will not be doing a rating for this place. Tomorrow we are moving on to stay at the Pukeiti Gardens and we are all hoping that the forecast rain holds off.

During our cycle along the Coastal Trail we did stop in at the Belt Road Camping Ground and if you were looking for somewhere central and close to everything this would be a good place to spend a night or two. They have great spots sitting right on the cliff top overlooking the port with rates starting from $23 per person per night (unpowered) not the cheapest place to stay but very well set up.


Continuing the short story about who is traveling with us on this safari are Roger and Berice who have been motorhoming in this their first motorhome a Mitsubishi Fuso for 5 years. They hail from Taupo and have been on a number of rallies and safaris and find it a great way to see the country and meet a wide range of people with similar interests.


Next up are Margaret and Tony hail from Katikati and proudly drive the smallest motorhome in our group an Explorer built on a Toyota Hilux cab chassis that they have owned for the last 7 years. this is to be one of their last trips in this motorhome with construction of their new Fiat Ducato starting in early November.

To view the places we have visited click here to see them on Google maps. You can click the links to read the blog about that area.

To view the Ratings we have done for other camps click here 

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