Off we go on another road trip – it’s a hard life but someone’s got to do it! We left home little later than anticipated, why oh why does it always take us so long to get ready? We should be experts at this by now! It didn’t take us too long to travel up SH1 to Sanson – and what’s that away in the distance? It’s my favourite mountain, Mt Ruapehu. Not always visible this far south, but obviously the conditions were right to view it today. Still a little hazy, but clear enough to see in the distance.
Mt Ruapehu from Sanson
After a quick stop for fuel we were soon on our way again. The number of rental motorhomes all travelling south was tremendous – presumably all those rugby mad Lions supporters travelling to Wellington for the 2nd All Black Test. We decided to stop for lunch at the Sugar Plum Café, just north of Marton. And what a popular place it was, buzzing with customers and the food was great too. With a warm fire burning, a great menu and a cabinet full of tasty items, it was a lovely welcoming place indeed.
Lunch at Sugar Plum Café
Oh look – here’s another well photographed sight from our travels up and down this road. Non other than the 72 metre high Makohine Railway Viaduct. We weren’t lucky enough to see a train crossing over as we drove underneath, but it is still an impressive sight.
Makohine Railway Viaduct
A little further up the road at Ohingaiti we pulled off the road onto an area of parking for trucks, to wait for our travelling companions to arrive. Before too long Geoff and Eileen pulled up behind us, and then we were on our way towards our stop for the evening, Flat Hills.
Waiting for our travel companions
Flat Hills Café is a popular stop on SHI and is on the tourist bus route, which must do wonders for their turnover. They have recently developed a small motor camp so we decided to give it a try. And with the advantage of a winter discount, the camp fees were very reasonable indeed.
On site at Flat Hills
The Pod Cabins dotted around look like little Hobbit Houses. I peeped through the windows and they look nice and comfy, but without bathrooms. Guests have to use the nearby campers ablution block. And with a campers lounge and kitchen facilities available, campers are well served.
Cozy little cabins
There is plenty of wildlife around. Behind the cabins we saw a large group of pukeko feeding on the banks of the small lake. Pukeko often live in permanent social groups and defend a shared territory that is used for both feeding and breeding. Social groups can have multiple breeding males and females, but all eggs are laid in a single nest and the group offspring are raised by all group members. That’s certainly communal living at it’s best.
Pukeko by the lake
I had to go and say hello to the herd of pretty alpacas – all too busy munching away on their hay to bother with me.
Alpacas at Flat Hills
There was one other campervan in camp when we arrived, and several others came in during the evening. The hosts are very obliging, and will provide an evening meal, delivered to your van, if required. That is good to know for future occasions – although we had “something I prepared earlier” for our dinner. Perhaps we will take advantage of their “Big Breakfast” in the café tomorrow morning before we move on.