Mountain biking in New Zealand North Island

The North Island of New Zealand has a more focused list of mountain biking tracks.

Region Track Length Track Name & Link Track Location
Auckland 13 km Forest Road (Port FitzRoy – Whangaparapara) Great Barrier Island/Aotea
Bay of Plenty 2.5 km Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway Kaimai Mamaku Forest Park, Karangahake Gorge
Bay of Plenty 19.1 km Western Okataina Walkway Lake Okataina Scenic Reserve
Bay of Plenty 2.5 km Rainbow Mountain-Summit Track Rainbow Mountain, Waiotapu and Te Kopia Scenic Reserves
Bay of Plenty 5 km Tuhoto Ariki Trail Whakarewarewa State Forest Park
Central North Island 5 km Tree Trunk Gorge tracks Kaimanawa Forest Park
Central North Island 3.9 km Kiko Loop Track Kaimanawa Forest Park
Central North Island 4 km Five Mile Bay and Awaroa Tracks Taupo area
Central North Island 13 km Waihaha and Waihora tracks Taupo area
Central North Island 620 Aratiatia Rapids tracks Taupo area
Central North Island 6 k Rotary Ride and Waikato River Track Taupo area
Central North Island 14 km Whakaipo Bay tracks Taupo area
Central North Island 9 km Kawakawa Bay tracks Taupo area
Central North Island 15 km Ohakune Old Coach Road Tongariro National Park
Central North Island 15 km Tongariro River Trail Turangi area
Coromandel 10 km Coromandel Walkway and mountain bike track Northern Coromandel
East Coast 20 km Tirohanga Dunes Trail Opotiki area
East Coast 20.7 km Pakihi Track Opotiki area
East Coast Te Waiti Hut Walk Opotiki area, Urutawa Conservation Area
Hawke’s Bay Yeoman’s Track Ruahine Forest Park
Manawatu/Whanganui 35.5 Mangapurua/Kaiwhakauka Track Whanganui National Park
Northland 11 km Pirau Ridge Track Puketi and Omahuta Forests
Northland 6 km Pandora Track Te Paki Recreation Reserve
Taranaki 18 km Moki Track Moki and Makino Conservation Areas
Taranaki Rerekapa Track Moki and Makino Conservation Areas
Waikato 1.5 km Hakarimata Rail Trail Hakarimata Scenic Reserve
Waikato Kakepuku Track Kakepuku Mountain Historic Reserve
Waikato 7 km Kaniwhaniwha: Nikau Walk and Kaniwhaniwha Caves Pirongia Forest Park
Waikato Pureora Forest Park tramping tracks Pureora Forest Park
Wairarapa 18 km Rimutaka Rail Trail

(Kaitoke to Cross Creek)

Rimutaka Forest Park
Wellington/Kapiti 17 km Burtton’s Track Tararua Forest Park
Wellington/Kapiti Whareroa Farm tracks Whareroa Farm

Mountain biking in New Zealand South Island

The multitude of mountain biking options on the South Island of New Zealand can be overwhelming…

Region Track Length Track Name & Link Track Location
Canterbury 14.5 km Ahuriri Valley Track Ahuriri Conservation Park
Canterbury Taylors Mistake – Awaroa/Godley Head Walk Awaroa/Godley Head
Canterbury 5.8 km Gebbies Pass to Packhorse Hut Banks Peninsula area
Canterbury 35 km Te Ara Pātaka/Summit Walkway Banks Peninsula area
Canterbury 14.3 km Rod Donald Hut to Hilltop Hotel Banks Peninsula area
Canterbury 20 km Christchurch – Little River Railtrail Banks Peninsula area, Lake Ellesmere (Te Waihora) area
Canterbury 9.2 to 23 km Potts River tracks Hakatere Conservation Park
Canterbury 1.5 km Mount Sunday Track Hakatere Conservation Park
Canterbury 9 km Lake Emma to Lake Camp Track Hakatere Conservation Park
Canterbury up to 15 km Lake Emily tracks Hakatere Conservation Park
Canterbury Lake Clearwater tracks Hakatere Conservation Park
Canterbury Studholme Bush Scenic Reserve tracks Hunters Hills area
Canterbury 35 km Melina Ridge Track Hāwea Conservation Park, Lindis Conservation Area
Canterbury 4 km Lake Benmore area tracks Lake Benmore and Lake Aviemore area
Canterbury 3 km Tasman River tracks Lake Pukaki area
Canterbury 10 km Braemar Road to Landslip Creek Lake Pukaki area
Canterbury 9 km Baikie Hut Track Lake Pukaki area, Ruataniwha Conservation Park
Canterbury 13 km Richmond Trail Lake Tekapo area
Canterbury Lake Tekapo town tracks Lake Tekapo area
Canterbury 10 km Dromedary Hill Track Lindis Conservation Area
Canterbury 32 km Pavilion Peak Track Lindis Conservation Area
Canterbury Mt Richardson tracks Mount Thomas Forest Conservation Area
Canterbury 3 km Wairepo Kettleholes Track Omarama area, Wairepo Kettleholes Conservation Area
Canterbury 7 km Ewe Range Track Oteake Conservation Park
Canterbury 11 km Manuherikia River Tracks Oteake Conservation Park
Canterbury Wharfedale Hut tracks Oxford Forest Conservation Area
Canterbury 21 km Hopkins valley tracks Ruataniwha Conservation Park
Canterbury 1 km Twizel area tracks Ruataniwha Conservation Park
Canterbury 4 km Lake Ohau area tracks Ruataniwha Conservation Park
Canterbury 16.5 km Stanley River Route St James Conservation Area
Canterbury 15 km Homestead Run St James Conservation Area
Canterbury 16 km Fowlers Pass Track St James Conservation Area
Canterbury 18 km Macaulay Hut Track Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park
Canterbury 25 to 32 km Godley valley tracks Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park
Canterbury Tenehaun Conservation Area tramping tracks Tenehaun Conservation Area
Canterbury 6 km Twizel Town tracks Twizel area
Marlborough Mt Fyffe and the Seaward Kaikoura Range Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Clarence
Marlborough 55 km Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia/Clarence walks Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Clarence
Marlborough Wakamarina Track Mount Richmond Forest Park
Marlborough Waikakaho/Cullen Creek Walkway Mount Richmond Forest Park
Marlborough 14 km Mt Patriarch Route Mount Richmond Forest Park
Marlborough Okiwi Bay – Half Moon Bay Track Okiwi Bay – Half Moon Bay area
Marlborough Pacific Lookout Track Okiwi Bay – Half Moon Bay area
Marlborough Patutu Route Okiwi Bay – Half Moon Bay area
Marlborough 9 km Archer Track Pelorus Sound/Te Hoiere and Kenepuru Sound area
Marlborough 27 km Nydia Track, Marlborough Sounds Pelorus Sound/Te Hoiere and Kenepuru Sound area
Marlborough 3 km Opouri Bridle Track Pelorus Sound/Te Hoiere and Kenepuru Sound area
Marlborough 71 km Queen Charlotte Track Queen Charlotte Sound/Tōtaranui area
Nelson/Tasman Gibbs Hill Track Abel Tasman National Park
Nelson/Tasman Aorere Goldfields Track Aorere Goldfields Conservation Area
Nelson/Tasman Farewell Spit and Puponga Farm Park tracks Farewell Spit and Puponga Farm Park
Nelson/Tasman 78 km Heaphy Track Kahurangi National Park
Nelson/Tasman Knuckle Hill Track Kahurangi National Park
Otago 10 km Lake Roxburgh Walkway Alexandra area
Otago Otago Central Rail Trail Alexandra area, Clyde – Middlemarch area
Otago 11 km Gibbston River Trail Arrowtown area
Otago Lake Hayes Walkway Arrowtown area
Otago 7 km Bannockburn walks Bannockburn area
Otago 15 km Cloudy Peak Track Dry Creek and Neinei i kura Conservation Areas
Otago 17 km Dry Creek Track Dry Creek and Neinei i kura Conservation Areas
Otago 6.5 km Tomahawk Lagoon/41-Peg Track Dunedin area, Otago Peninsula area
Otago 5 km Buskin, Highcliff and Paradise Road tracks Dunedin area, Otago Peninsula area
Otago 17 km Government Track Dunedin area, Waihola – Taieri Mouth area
Otago 11 km Dingle Burn Peninsula Track Hāwea Conservation Park
Otago Lake Hāwea Track Hāwea Conservation Park
Otago 18 km Grandview Mountain Track Lake Hāwea township area
Otago Cluden and Lauder Basin Conservation Area tracks Lauder Basin Conservation Area
Otago Lindis Valley tracks Lindis Valley area
Otago Isthmus Peak Track Matatiaho Conservation Area
Otago Oteake Conservation Park tramping tracks Oteake Conservation Park
Otago Little Criffel Track Pisa Conservation Area
Otago Rock Peak Track Pisa Conservation Area
Otago Pisa Conservation Area tramping tracks Pisa Conservation Area
Otago Lake Dispute to Moke Lake Track Queenstown area
Otago Lake Dispute Track Queenstown area
Otago Seven Mile Track/Wilson Bay Track Queenstown area
Otago Bob’s Cove Track & Nature Walk Queenstown area
Otago Twelve Mile Delta to Bob’s Cove Track Queenstown area
Otago Devils Creek Track Queenstown area
Otago Arawata Bridle Track Queenstown area
Otago Jack’s Point Track Queenstown area
Otago Moke Lake Loop Track Queenstown area
Otago Glenroy Water Race Track Remarkables Conservation Area
Otago Wentworth Track Remarkables Conservation Area
Otago Mt Rosa Track Remarkables Conservation Area
Otago Nevis Valley tracks Remarkables Conservation Area
Otago Atleys Track Skippers area
Otago 38.5 km Grandview Ridge Track Wanaka area
Otago 11.5 km Deans Bank Track Wanaka area
Otago 2.5km Butterfields Wetland Walk Wanaka area
Otago 12 km Newcastle Track Wanaka area
Otago 21.5 km Upper Clutha River Track Wanaka area
Otago Minaret Burn Track Wanaka area
Otago Mt Judah / Heather Jock Tracks Whakaari Conservation Area
Otago 18 km Mt McIntosh Loop Track Whakaari Conservation Area
Southland Eyre Mountains/Taka Ra Haka routes Eyre Mountains/Taka Rā Haka Conservation Park
Southland 50 km Mavora – Greenstone Walkway Mavora Lakes Conservation Park
West Coast 9.5 km Charming Creek Walkway Charming Creek area
West Coast 8.4 km Te Weheka Walkway/Cycleway Fox Glacier area, Westland Tai Poutini National Park
West Coast 8.7 km Te Ara a Waiau Walkway/Cycleway Franz Josef Glacier/Kā Roimata o Hine Hukatere, Westland Tai Poutini National Park
West Coast 5.5km Point Elizabeth Walkway Greymouth area
West Coast Kaniere Water Race Walkway Lake Kaniere Scenic Reserve
West Coast Lake Kaniere Walkway Lake Kaniere Scenic Reserve
West Coast 85 km The Old Ghost Road Lyell area, Mokihinui River area
West Coast Mananui Tramline (Mahinapua Walkway) Mahinapua Scenic Reserve
West Coast 55 km Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track Paparoa National Park
West Coast Ross Historic Goldfields walks Ross area
West Coast 6.5 km Moonlight Pack Track Southern Paparoa Range
West Coast 18 km Croesus Track Southern Paparoa Range
West Coast Big River tracks Victoria Forest Park

Horseback Riding in New Zealand: List of Tracks

Few places in the world are more appropriate for horse trekking than New Zealand, with its rugged, beautiful wilderness. Whether you choose to horseback ride along the coast and on the beach (ie Pakiri Beach near Auckland) or seek snow capped peaks (ie Queenstown/Wanaka) – you will great options on both the North and South island.  If you are not traveling with your horse, you may need to join a tour, many of which are available throughout the country. Typically the price will range from 80-150 NZD for a 1.5 hour to half day trip. What follows is a complete list of Department of Conversation (DoC) tracks suitable for horseback riding.

Region Track Length Track Name & Link Track Location
North Island
Coromandel
Maratoto: Wires Track Coromandel Forest Park
North Island
Wellington/Kapiti
Whareroa Farm tracks Whareroa Farm
South Island
Canterbury
9.2 to 21 km Potts River tracks Hakatere Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
14.5 km Ahuriri Valley Track Ahuriri Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
30 km Snowy Gorge Creek – Maitland Stream Ahuriri Conservation Park, Ruataniwha Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
11 – 20 km Manuherikia River Tracks Oteake Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
3 – 10 km Tasman River tracks Lake Pukaki area
South Island
Canterbury
6 or 12 km Twizel Town tracks Twizel area
South Island
Canterbury
up to 23 km Twizel area tracks Ruataniwha Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
Temple valley tracks Ruataniwha Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
4 – 16 km Lake Ohau area tracks Ruataniwha Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
16.5 km Stanley River Route St James Conservation Area
South Island
Canterbury
18 km Macaulay Hut Track Te Kahui Kaupeka Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
10 km Dromedary Hill Track Lindis Conservation Area
South Island
Canterbury
7 km Ewe Range Track Oteake Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
16 km Fowlers Pass Track St James Conservation Area
South Island
Canterbury
6 km Hideaway Hut Route Ahuriri Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
21 – 35 km Hopkins valley tracks Ruataniwha Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
4.5 km to 43 km Lake Emily tracks Hakatere Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
9 km Baikie Hut Track Lake Pukaki area, Ruataniwha Conservation Park
South Island
Canterbury
up to 10 km Lake Heron tracks Hakatere Conservation Park
South Island
Otago
Cluden and Lauder Basin Conservation Area tracks Lauder Basin Conservation Area
South Island
Otago
Oteake Conservation Park tramping tracks Oteake Conservation Park
South Island
Otago
Minaret Burn Track Wanaka area
South Island
Otago
Otago Central Rail Trail Alexandra area, Clyde – Middlemarch area
South Island
Otago
Mt Judah / Heather Jock Tracks Whakaari Conservation Area
South Island
Otago
Nevis Valley tracks Remarkables Conservation Area
South Island
Southland
Eyre Mountains/Taka Ra Haka routes Eyre Mountains/Taka Rā Haka Conservation Park
South Island
West Coast
40 km Kirwans Track and Waitahu Valley Victoria Forest Park
South Island
West Coast
Big River tracks Victoria Forest Park

How to prepare for your first campervan trip to Western Australia?

Why Australia is the perfect destination and what you need to know before going

Bay by Cape Naturalist lighthouse
Bay by Cape Naturalist lighthouse

Australia, or the “lucky country” as it is justifiably called, has over 25’000 kilometers of coastline and a landmass larger than Europe, but only a fraction of the population at 23 million. It has been a destination for immigration for over 200 years (initially forced immigration) and still today more than one in four Australians has been born in another country. These elements as well as the open and friendly population make the continent a perfect destination for travel with a focus on nature, sports, and adventure. As we have discovered and can confirm, it is also a perfect place for doing a campervan or camping trip. Australia offers amazing landscapes, forests and beaches with plenty of unique and out-of-the way spots, which can be best explored while cruising around for days or weeks with your tent or motorhome. Public infrastructure is top-notch and ensures that in your secluded dream spot by the lake, you will still have a good access road and toilet facilities. Even roads with very limited traffic in remote areas will be in good condition with all appropriate signs (we take this for granted, but it’s not the case everywhere). Finally down-under is safe, with very low crime rates, while the Aussies are a friendly bunch, happy to chat with a stranger and share a few tips about your current or past destinations.

WA will exceed your expectations

Campervan overlooking the beach in Gnarabup, WA
Campervan overlooking the beach in Gnarabup, WA

Being a particularly large country (sixth in the World) there is huge variety between areas which are as far as 4’000 kilometers apart. Our experience described below will focus on Western Australia where we had the pleasure to spend an amazing holiday of which 10 days were spent cruising around in a comfy campervan discovering amazing spots every day. Western Australia, or WA as it is commonly referred to here is the largest of the seven regions and its capital Perth is the most remote big city. Indeed the next closest big city is Jakarta, 3’000 kilometers away (Sydney is a little bit further away). Very friendly locals, blue skies and sunny weather, a wealth of natural sites guarantee a successful holiday. This part of Australia is somewhat “under the radar” for travelers with Sydney and Melbourne getting most of the attention. Although large parts of Western Australia are made up of a dry desert-like landscape most appropriate for mining minerals, there are also beautiful green forests, a breathtaking coast and the Margaret River valley popular with surfers and wine connoisseurs alike. Chances are that WA will exceed your expectations.

Preparation and Planning

4-wheel-drive with tent on top
4WD with tent on top

As you plan your first camping trip, you will have to decide if you prefer to go camping with a tent or in a campervan. If you want to sleep in a tent, them you can choose a smaller car (a car is essential in any case) for getting around. A smaller car is easier to drive and in some situations you may be able to park your vehicel and hike to a more remote location to setup your tent, which would otherwise be unaccesible by car. However the obvious inconvenience is that you have to setup your tent every time you arrive and then pack it before leaving. The campervan will require some basic preparations before leaving, but it’s a faster than packing a tent. Also, the campervan provides more protection at night – from the cool weather, rain and possibly bugs. There exists a hybrid solution with some four-wheel-drive cars offering the option to setup a tent on the roof.

Hitop Campervan
Hitop Campervan

A campervan is usually the more comfortable option – especially if you move around quite a bit you avoid the daily setting up and packing of the tent. You will then need to think about the type of campervan you would like to use during your trip. The classic campervan for a group of 2-3 people would be a hitop minibus – something similar to a converted Toyota Hiace shown here.

Hitop campervan - day and night layout
Hitop campervan – day and night layout

It has a mini kitchen, with a sink, fridge, gas stove, microwave and closets. There are a clean and one waste-water tank that you have to fill-up/empty every day or two (the only regular maintenance you’ll have to do really). There is also a foldable dining table and a foldable double bed, which once opened occupies most of the back of the van. You have the option of opening the back hatch and looking at the stars (which are really amazing in Western Australia and you can see the Milky Way) before falling asleep. You will only be able to use the microwave when connected to an external power source, but the fridge and water pumps use the car battery and work all the time. A gas tank in the back of the car connects to the stove. I would say this is the base setup for most couples or small groups. It is very comfortable for two people, although could also accommodate up to three, with the third person sleeping on a seperate bed under the roof of the van.

Motorhome
Motorhome

There are two alternatives to the Hitop – each alternative gives you access to certain sites, which are otherwise inaccessible. The first is a bigger campervan with a toilet (some even include a basic shower). Certain camp sites in Australia only allow “self-contained” vehicles, which means ones with their own toilet. We have come across several farms with animals and attached wineries, that we were unable to stay at due to not being “self-contained”. On the other hand, having the toilet means that you have to empty it and clean it – not your dream job. Also the vans with built-in toilets (sometimes called “motorhomes”) are bigger and tend to be more expensive. The other feature worth considering is going for a four-wheel drive car. Certain remote sites are only accessible to these 4WD vehicles, and in general you will be more confident on a variety of dirt or sandy roads. As far as I know these 4WD vehicles are generally smaller and don’t have toilets, so these two options are mutually exclusive. A road trip in a 4WD van will make certain remote spots accessible for camping and overnight stay. The choice of campervan is also somewhat related to the types of places you will be looking to visit. Broadly we could divide the types of camp sites into two groups – very close to nature but with limited facilities (ie only basic toilets) and the typical holiday camping sites with all facilities (hot showers, laundry, electricity, kitchens) but ultimately with a more holiday resort-like feel. The latter category of camp sites is typically larger and attracts families for a holidays whereas the former will usually be smaller and will attract nature lovers who seek a day or two in the wild.

campervan_interriorFinally depending on the length of your trip, you may consider if you would rather rent or buy your campervan. If you are planning a trip of more than 6 weeks and are somewhat flexible on the dates, it may be worth considering a purchase. Renting is more straight-forward, but is not cheap. For instance a Hitop van will cost A$ 5’500 – 6’000 for a two-month trip (with an extra A$ 2’000 if you wish full insurance – otherwise you need to post a A$ 5’000 bond) from Britz, while there are plenty of such campervans available for sale in the A$ 15’000-25’000 range, and some more basic ones below A$ 10’000. In the case of purchasing a vehicle you may need to pay for some additional equipment, maintenance and insurance that would be included otherwise, but with a bit of luck you should be able to recover most of the investment when you sell the vehicle at the end of the trip. We rented a van from Britz and it came fully equipped and included bed sheets, towels, plates, cutlery, curtains, a power cable, a hose for refilling the tank etc. You can simply show up with your personal belongings, sunscreen, mosquito spray and you are ready to go!

Our 10-day campervan route in Western Australia: starting and ending in Perth

Day 1: Potters Gorge, Wellingtom Dam

Facilities 2/5
Scenery  5/5
Overall  Rating 5/5

A road close to Potters Gorge
A road close to the camp site

Potters Gorge at the Wellington Dam is managed by friendly rangers/caretakers from DPAW/national parks and has been recently refurbished, located about half way between Bunburry and and Collie in the heart of the Wellington national park. The 54 sites are on a beautiful forested area, very close to the artificial lake created by the dam. There are barbecue pits, picnic shelters, drop toilets (essentially toilets without a flush). There are no showers, but the lake has crystal clear water and is perfect for a swim. The site is peaceful with great birdlife (we fed ringneck parrots by hand) and the camp sites are far enough apart to give you space. There is a scenic tour worth doing along a nearby creek (rapids, big rock, little rock) and stopping for a swim on the way. Gnomesville – a village of thousands of gnomes left by visitors is also a short drive away.

Lake view from Potters Gorge Camp Site
Lake view from Potters Gorge Camp Site

Day 2: Greenbushes Free Camping, Corner South Western Hwy & Blackwood Road, Greenbushes

Facilities 2/5
Scenery  3/5
Overall Rating 4/5

Greenbushes Pool (between Donnybrook and Bridgetown) is a small, free camp site and mini nature reserve that features a playground for children, a small lake suitable for swimming and several walking trails – long and short. There are normal toilets and sinks (but no showers) and there is one electric barbecue pit. As the site is free and maintained by the local community, it doesn’t offer access to electricity, but it is possible to refill your water tank with your own hose. A mine lookout is located within a few minutes’ drive from the site. It allows you to see the 300-meter deep mine pit of a tin and lithium mine from above. The mine is in operation and as you wake up in the morning you may hear a faint sound of machinery.

Greenbushes Mine Lookout
Greenbushes Mine Lookout

Day 3: Barrabup Pool, Brook Rd, Barrabup

Facilities 1/5
Scenery 5/5
Overall Rating 5/5

barrabup-pool2It’s a one-hour drive from Greenbushes to Barrabup Pool. You will pass through Nannup – a nice town amongst hills and forest with many heritage buildings, several cafes and a great pub. Barrabup Pool is a small, magical lake in an extensive forest about 10 kilometers west of Nannup. On days with good weather (and it’s almost always good weather in the summer) there is no better place for a splash from the boardwalk, a swim to the other shore, a bit of sunbathing on a water mattress or chilling at the shore and admiring it all. The camp site is a 5-minute walk up a narrow path (or by car on a dirt road) and only has sites for 5 campers, making the experience very exclusive. This area used to be a major center of timber production at the end of the 19th century and  a nice trail in the forest along an old rail line begins here. There are drop toilets but no showers but I can recommend a swim in the lake instead. A trail along the old Timberline Trail starts by the lake. It takes you to another camp site (Sleeper Hewers Camp), which is only accessible by foot.

The unforgettable Barrabup Pool
The unforgettable Barrabup Pool

Day 4: Turner Caravan Park, 1 Blackwood Avenue, Augusta, Tel: (08) 9780-5633

Facilities 5/5
Scenery 4/5
Overall Rating 2/5

We stayed here for one night, and despite its facilities (warm showers, electricity, laundry) and incredible location (on the Blackwood river riverside, close to the river mouth) we thought it was too crowded and there was little space between campers – or I should say holidaymakers. Maybe the experience would be better during the low season.

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse
The nearby Cape Leeuwin lighthouse

Day 5: Canebrake pool – Rapids Conservation Park, Crossing Rd, Treeton

Facilities 1/5
Scenery 5/5
Overall 5/5

After a very civilized camp site in Augusta, we wanted to get back to nature and chose Canebrake pool, which is a 30 minute ride east from Margaret River. Admittedly the last 5 kilometers are somewhat uncomfortable as the road is very uneven (but 4WD is not required) and the entire contents of our campervan was trembling dangerously on that stretch of road. The camp site is in the forest and has limited facilities but you can find total peace and a nearby pool (lake) suitable for swimming. It only has 9 sites.

cane-break-pool
Cane Break Pool Camp Site

Day 6 & 7: Gracetown Caravan Park, 744 Cowaramup Bay Rd, Gracetown, Tel: (08) 9755-5301

Facilities 5/5
Scenery 4/5
Overall Rating 4/5

Gracetown Caravan Park is a compromise between a busy city camp site and a more peaceful location. It is located on 13 acres of bushland, provides good facilities (warm showers etc) and some privacy from other campers. It is also strategically located a few hundred meters from Caves Road, which makes it and excellent base for exploring Margaret River vinyards, wineries and other attractions. It’s also 2.5 kilometers away from the beach. Two kangaroos walked up to our campervan in search of food during the stay, which was a pleasant surprise.

Margaret River mouth
Margaret River mouth is a short ride away

Day 8: Point Picquet (parking lot by the beach)

Facilities 1/5
Scenery 5/5
Overall Rating 5/5

Point Picquet is not a camp site – indeed, it is illegal to spend the night there and we were reminded about it at 6:30 am as we got a knock from a ranger who gave us a verbal warning. Even if you are not not going to stay here overnight, it is a beautiful spot for a day trip or stop on the way to or from Cape Naturaliste. This beach is sandwiched between Eagels Bay and Meelup beach and features large, brown rocks on the sand leading into the water. It’s also a great point for whale watching during the September-December period.

Point Picquet Beach
The beautiful beach next to which we spent the night

Day 9: Logue Brook Camp Ground, Scarp Rd, Hoffman

Facilities 1/5
Scenery 5/5
Overall Rating 4/5

On the way from Point Picquet we stopped in Busselton – a relaxed seaside city which features the iconic 1.8 kilometer long jetty. Logue Brook is another great forested camp site with limited facilities (long drop toilets and BBQ pits – no showers), but the setting more than compensates for the lack of luxuries. The caravan park is located on the shores of lake Brockman – an artificial lake, the dam is visible on the far left. It is quite peaceful – even during the Australia Day week-end when we were there – and apart from the very pleasant swims in the lake it offers walking trails, cycling trails and an opportunity to relax in the shade with the pleasant sounds of the forest and birds. Water skiing is possible on the lake if you bring your boat (it’s quite common in Australia to take one’s boat along on a trailer for a week-end trip apparently).

Camp site overlooks Lake Brockman
Camp site overlooks Lake Brockman

Day 10: Woodman Point Holiday Park, Corner Cockburn Rd & Magazine Crt, Munster 6166, Tel: (08) 9434-1433

Facilities 5/5
Scenery 2/5
Overall Rating 3/5

On our last night, before returning the rental campervan and heading to the airport, we played it safe and chose a location close to Perth. It’s a large camp site with full-fledged facilities (hot showers, barbecues and kitchen, 220v electricity connection). It is located on Woodman Point – a small peninsula surrounded by beaches and several kitesurfing spots  – frequented by local kiters.

Kitesurfing in Woodman Point
Kitesurfing in Woodman Point

When is the next trip?

We don’t know, but the mobile home experience, being able to choose where you to spend your night instantly and discovering unique, under-the-radar places has left us with a desire for more. Australia is a big country, and this trip only covered a tiny, albeit very attractive, part of it. We will be back!

Best Biryani in Singapore

Singapore’s society is famously multi-cultural and around 9% of it consists of people of Indian origin. Within that bracket about half are Indian Muslim and this group has a distinct cultural heritage and spices up the culinary landscape of the city-state with a few traditional dishes. Although it does originate from North India, Biryani can be found all over South-East Asia and even in some African countries. In fact it can be found in most places which have an Indian Muslim presence – like Singapore.

Nasi Biryani is being served at A One
Nasi Biryani is being served at A One

I would like to bring one Bryani shop to your attention, which you are unlikely to find by yourself – even if you live in Singapore. It’s not remote nor is it hidden, but it’s inconspicuous, on a small street, surrounded by hardware shops  and frequented almost entirely by local Indian patrons. I have been many times over the years and never saw any westerners. This only adds to its authenticity in my opinion, but the real reason I like to go back regularly, is the extraordinary Bryani that is served there.

A One Restaurant

Chettinad food and meals on display
Chettinad food and meals on display

The A One Restaurant on 17A Birch Road is where is happens: every day from 10:30am to 4pm and from 5:45pm to 10:45 pm. It advertises itself as a restaurant that serves Chettinad food (from the South-Indian state of Tamil Nadu).

As you walk in, there is a large display of dishes on the left along with two large pots containing the precious yellow rice. The two large pots contain two variants of the Biryani dish – chicken and mutton. In addition various add-ons and starters can be selected from the display, such as shrimps, squid, fried fish, fish-paste buns (similar to falafel), as well as a dish of chicken or mutton with sauce. These come in small portions, which can easily be shared. Biryani is not the only meal served here – you could go for any of the dishes on display and combine it with prata, chapathi or a dosai and wash it down with a mango lassi or teh tarik (a kind of spiced up tea with condensed milk).

Biryani (or Briyani as it is spelled here)

However in my mind, the main attraction of this shop is the Biryani rice, which I will invariably order upon each visit. The way the rice is cooked – with spices and vegetables – gives it a unique color, texture and great flavor.  In combination with the salad and gravy that are served alongside it,  you get a great mix of flavors. In addition the chicken or lamb meat is tender and delicious.

Chicken Biryani: let's dig in!
Chicken Biryani: let’s dig in!

The prices at A One are higher than at hawker stalls, but quite reasonable compared to many non-hawker options in Singapore. The chicken and lamb Biryani are $8 SGD and $8.50 SGD respectively.

And if you would like to prepare the dish yourself, there goes the recipe – for 800 people 🙂

biryani recipe