We ended our last column in Whangarei – a walk along the city waterway for us all, lunch at one of the many very good restaurants on offer, and then it was time to head south.
I’ve had lots of questions from readers – What did the Rock buy?
Well I can reveal here that we’re now the proud owners of a 1998, 5.5-metre motorhome with 650,000kms on the clock! Yep, unbelievable but true – we went from looking at a new model upgrade, to picking up a 20-year-old classic instead. Trust me – no one was more surprised than me!
We flew into Christchurch on a rainy Saturday morning, taxied to the auction house, and after a jump-start from the guys out the back, away we went in our new Ford Transit-based four-berth motorhome.
We were both apprehensive if we would even make it up to Kaikoura let alone to Picton for the ferry, but we had no issues at all. Rosie made it, cruising at 100km and more all the way – what a relief.
Yes, we’ve named her, ordered eyelashes for her headlights and new vents, and booked her into Marty’s Panel and Paint for a tart up. We’ve already done a full service on the engine, which is as sweet as the proverbial nut.
When we parked her on the front lawn it looked like RnR4 had popped out a baby. I’ll let you know what we do with her from here, but yes, the Rock has been banned from auction and tender websites from now on!
On the way home, we stayed in luxury accommodation at Escape to Picton boutique hotel, the first of our luxury stays in the last few weeks. It’s a nice central place with themed luxury bedroom, and bathroom with a centrepiece bath, complete with bubbles and salts. The vegan meals prepared for Rocky were tasty, and the efforts of the owners were appreciated.
On the Interislander for our crossing on Sunday, we enjoyed the Premium Lounge, and I must comment here as well that the food on offer was brilliant. The majority of it is vegetarian-friendly as well as being protein-rich. The quality of the food on the ships has improved a lot from say five years ago, and with the NZMCA discount, it’s a viable option for sure if you eat and drink a few items on the trip.
The following week we jumped on a plane down to Queenstown for a brief two-day break to visit friend Rona, son Ben and Maura. The flights had been on sale for $35 from Wellington, so a rush of organisation had seen the time scheduled on the calendar in between magazines. We enjoyed the Skyline dinner experience; the food really was fantastic – especially being a buffet. They can be pretty ordinary at some places, but as expensive as it was, the views were fantastic and the gondola ride is always fun.
We had a tour of Nugget Point Resort with the manager, who is a Martinborough friend. Wow – it is impressive on a big scale. Eclectic, grand, stunning and sexy were some of the adjectives that came to mind.
Rona and I enjoyed a fabulous afternoon in the Spa enjoying the luxury swimming pool, and the steam and sauna relaxation area. Its mosaic tile work has to be seen to be believed, as does the Romanesque-style bath, with its sculptures and mountain views. It certainly felt like we were in a special upmarket place, if you like that sort of thing, as apparently Rona and I do!
Mid-May saw us celebrating with the Rock’s daughter, Shannon, and hundreds of other Victoria University students as they graduated. What a great day this is for students and families. We hadn’t been involved in a graduation before this, so went with the flow, meeting tutors, walking with the parade to the centre of town, listening to speeches from Wellington mayor Justin Lester, before later that night joining in the official presentations at the Michael Fowler Centre. Such gravitas to the proceedings.
We loved every minute of it, especially when a couple of separate family members stood up and sang a waiata to their family members on stage, and the gentleman who performed a haka in honour of his family; this really got the tears going. There was so much pride in that building it was inspiring.
Over Queen’s Birthday Weekend we had another luxury treat. It was the Rock’s birthday and a night at the local exclusive luxury lodge, the Wharekauhau Country Estate, was booked – our first visit to our local Wairarapa rich persons’ stopover. Visitors like Prince William arrive by helicopter, but unfortunately we couldn’t stretch to that indulgence, so we drove from home. We had a lovely night though – canapés and cocktails in the drawing room darlings with the other guests, then onto the dining room for a multi-course designer dinner, vegan for the Rock (a bit too small and designer for his size, but delicious).
The executive chef, Mark Soper, sorts out the best local produce and the menu changes daily. Breakfast was great as well, which was included in the overall price. We did have lunch when we arrived and found the $18 to $30 menu more than acceptable, but the wine starting at $28 per glass was a bit more of an eye-opener!
I won’t make you choke with some wine prices on the menu – suffice it to say one glass was all we had. Back to our luxury room, which was spacious with gas fire and huge wardrobe area, and if the weather had been kinder, it would have revealed the fantastic Cape Palliser Bay views we already know so well. The bathroom was big and fancy, and the bath was large enough for two. We read the menu that was by the bath, which offered bubble bath starting from $45, and at $395, you can enjoy bubble bath and champagne bubbles – nice!
We elected to pour shampoo in and create our own bubbles for nothing, enjoying our soak with a cup of lovely herbal tea and a piece of chef-made shortbread. It’s so interesting to stay in this level of accommodation at over $1500 per night. The villas are a good walk of a few hundred metres, in the open, from the main house/lodge area for meals. Your luggage will be taken to your room by golf-cart it’s so far, but guests get to enjoy walking in all weather. Wonder how that goes for the more affluent guests in the gale force winds and sideways rain that are common to this coast?
A couple of weeks later, we loaded up the motorhome and headed to Mystery Creek Fieldays – neither of us had been for over 20-years, so we pushed ourselves to make the effort. And an effort it really was – that site is so huge it took us an hour to find the media centre to get our passes and get ticked off the list. We did manage to find one small RV set up, but we couldn’t find any of the RV displays that we know were there somewhere, but we did run into the legend mountain man Davey Hughes.
I kicked his butt for you readers, because he hasn’t been able to supply a Unimog-build story for months. I’ve had a lot of enquiries from readers when Davey will be back, and I can now confirm that he will have some action for the next issue of RV Travel Lifestyle. The build is back in action, and Davey has stopped running around the world doing dog sled racing and hunting – we all look forward to his update next issue.