Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Clutha Valley Autumn Festival Rally


We had an awesome time at the Clutha Valley Autumn Festival Rally in Arrowtown last weekend; our second time at both this particular rally and the Autumn Festival. We don't usually 'do' rallies, mostly because we're always on the move but when they coincide with an event it's great because usually the rally is held close to the event and it's so much easier for transport and parking. And it gives us a chance to meet new people and catch up with others we've met on the road previously.

This year, the rally parking had shifted directly across the road and was located up a narrow track on top of a large plateau. The previous site had been purchased by Millbrook Resort and was in the process of being developed- last time I was asked if I'd like to take a helicopter ride over the site to take photos of the rally (like I'd say no). If you click on that link above you'll see more of the helicopter photos- this one shows the old site and the plateau with the track up the side.

Our friends, Amanda & Paul arrived with their 5th-wheeler ahead of us but were a little unsure of the track. It looked quite narrow and steep, although that wasn't so much of a problem as what was happening at the top- whether it opened out or had a tight bend in it. So we went ahead of them to check. Once we gave them the ok, they proceeded through the gate.

They then had to wait while a couple of vans left the site; Genny giving me a big wave on her way down (you'll see her pets further down). 

A small traffic jam formed as vans arrived and departed.

I took a few photos of Paul & Amandas' rig for them, as they came up the track.

As you can see their rig is just a little bit bigger than ours! With our doors facing each other we had a great little communal area between the two vans.

The site parking was great- flat, level and firm with lush grass but with a good dose of dried sheep poo (unlike the last time though, when I reckon the sheep were the size of cows going by the large and wet poo piles!) We managed to shovel most of it under the van so we didn't inadvertently walk it over the mat or inside when 'someone who shall remain nameless' forgets to remove their shoes.

There was plenty of space as we formed a big U shape- 59 vans at the last count but I know a few more arrived later in the evening and early on Saturday morning. 

The plateau overlooked Millsbrook Resort and part of the golf course, and across the Arrowtown Basin to the Remarkable Mountains behind which formed a beautiful backdrop to a stunning location. Behind us Coronet Peak rose above the pine forest; paragliders, having launched of the peak, drifted down on the thermals to land close by.  And all for $15- who needs one of those $3-4 million homes below!

There was no mucking about after 'Happy Hour' on the first night, once the sun dropped below the range a cold chill set in. Most retired to their vans for the night, with just a hardy few trying to keep warm below the gas heaters.

Heavy rain was forecast for Saturday but the weather Gods looked down on us. It rained hard for a few hours in the early hours and the morning dawned overcast, cold and wet underfoot, but rain free. And it stayed that way all day, brightening up by lunch time.

Our 'shuttle buses' were the same ones that transported us to the festival two years ago. They have quite a bit of local history attached to them; they were brought to New Zealand in 1942 and were part of a fleet of 6 that belonged to Routeburn Valley Motors, one of the first tourist operators in the region. They were taken to Kinloch at the head of Lake Wakatipu by the steamer SS Earnslaw where they transported trampers and visitors to the Routeburn Track (now a Great Walk).

The buses pulled out on their first round trip just after 9am, with just a short 3km trip into Arrowtown village.  

Two buses, three trips each and we were all delivered and ready to explore by the time the festival started at 10am. 

We were off-loaded in the dead centre of town. And promised a special surprise if we walked up the short path ahead of us- having been before I knew what to expect.

This was the view that awaited us at the top of the hill and beside the cenotaph (which must be the most scenic site in all NZ for the ANZAC service in 2 days time). Overlooking the tiny, historic village of Arrowtown in all its autumnal beauty. (The next blog will be on the the festival)

Many of the NZMCA members attending the rally had their pets (fur babies) with them. Alot of them live full time on the road with their masters too.

Here are photos of a few pets that were near our van- all well behaved and adorable to boot! The first two are cabin mates as are the last two...along with two cats!

I take my hat off to you Robyn & Ross, travelling with four pets takes dedication and a special kind of person. 

After the festival and the buses had delivered us all safety back to the site, we gathered for 'happy hour'...

...and the Clutha Valley guys cooked us BBQ sausages and chops. It was a pity the sun had gone down by the time everything was cooked, it was only a hardy few that stayed and ate their dinner outdoors. The rest scurried back to their toasty warm vans.

Many of the vans left on Sunday with just a few staying on until Monday, us included. We had a great evening with Amanda & Paul on Sunday night; polishing off another Pedros House of Lamb takeaway (we'd both already had one during the week prior, while waiting to shift to the Arrowtown site) It was just as delicious, if not a little more so, because we were sharing it with friends. No leftovers this time though!

By the time we had decided 'where to next' on Monday morning, there were just a couple of buses, a caravan and us left up on the plateau. 

We were both in two minds about where to head to after we left the rally. We had tentative plans to finish exploring down Lake Wakatipu to Glenorchy before heading west to the lower West Coast.

It's a first for us, because even though David always says "Ask me tomorrow" when anyone asks where we're heading, we usually have a sketchy plan or place we have to be within a certain time which can dictate in which direction we need to head. After a bit of debating, and too-ing and fro-ing, we headed off down the track...

And south across the rickety one way bridge over the Kawarau River, with the Remarkables behind...

...stopping for lunch on the shores of Lake Wakatipu just south of the Devils Staircase...

...before pulling into a windy and bleak Lumsden NZMCA Park for the night.

We pulled out the next morning...

...stopping briefly to collect doughnuts and pies for lunch (from Lumsden's award winning bakery), and continued on heading south...

And that is how we found ourselves parked in our Winton family's driveway once again! Well, it is school holidays, and we were only a couple hours away, and once we leave this time, we might not see them for quite some time. 

Camera-phone shot- blurry! 
So much for heading north for winter!


  1. Wonderful as usual Shellie...I do so much love reading about your travels and would love to be on the road full time....but living on a farm that is impossible!! to be able to see it through your eyes is great!

    1. Glad you're enjoying the blog Mary, it makes it all worthwhile knowing people are following along on our adventures.

  2. Great to see the little ones again isn't it? Say hello to them and hope you'll post some of their new photos soon. We miss them too :) I was a bit confused when you mentioned Glenorchy but kept heading south. I asked myself if there is a secret route to Glenorchy by going down to the southern tip of Lake Wakatipu and then up the western shore to Kinloch...haha I can't find any fit for the fifth wheeler. When Lumsden appeared, bingo! - you were going to Winton. How nice!

    1. No secret route to Glenorchy offstone, unless of course I walk from Mavora Lakes! The family is well and the children were pleased to see us again. They're back to school this week and we'll be on our way shortly. But where to? Ask me tomorrow :)


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