Okarito – 3 mile lagoon beach walk

Gerard and Nico by Okarito lagoon outlet

ok so don’t hold me to this but Okarito is possibly one of my favourite places on the West Coast.  I know what you’re thinking, didn’t you say that about Reefton – no wait Granity or was it Cape Foulwind – hang on wasn’t it where you live…….

Jan and Nico Okarito beach with mountain views

Yeah, yeah but that’s what happens when we live in paradise!

okarito boat shed and full moon

Okarito is a sleepy little seaside village in South Westland near Franz Josef Glacier.  It has a magnificent backdrop of the Southern Alps and is surrounded by beautiful native bush.  It boasts New Zealand’s largest natural lagoon that opens out to the sea.  So yes, it has beach, lagoon, native bush and mountains – you see where I’m heading with this!

Franz Josef crew Okarito beach

For us a visit to South Westland isn’t complete without a visit to Okarito.  Our latest adventure was to walk the 3 mile lagoon beach walk.  It can be done as a loop – along the beach and back through a bush track or visa versa but we have the dogs with us and this is a Kiwi Zone so no dogs allowed in the bush or on the bush walks.

Jan and Bernie Okarito beach walk

That’s ok, who doesn’t like a beach walk and having to walk it both ways, we can cope with that.  If planning on walking the beach you have to check the tides as it can only be done 2 hours either side of low tide.  Our friend Bernie had that sorted and we had the optimum time organised for our afternoon walk.

rocky beach at Okarito to 3 mile lagoon

rocks on beach okarito to 3 mile lagoon walk

Off we headed – Stephen ahead on a mission with the camera while the rest of us just meandered along and enjoyed the scenery – puppies included.  Although we did have the tides right, they weren’t particularly low tides so we had to take care in some sections where the waves were coming up quite close and not leaving much beach to walk on – especially in the more rocky sections of the walk.

mission impossible crew okarito beach walk

We had perfect weather – gorgeous clear sunny skies, a bit chilly but nothing that jackets and a beanie didn’t fix. I love this particular photo – Mission Impossible crew or perhaps Charlies Angels, coming round the rocks…… I know my mind is warped…….

Okarito beach walk towards 5 mile

Last rocky section to negotiate and we can see the headland in the distance for 5 mile lagoon so we know the 3 mile isn’t much further.

3 mile lagoon okarito

Eventually we reach our destination – the 3 mile lagoon.  What a contrast to the rocky beach we’d just been walking.  You can continue on along the beach to 5 mile lagoon – but this was far enough for us – that is another 2 miles – each way and we had incoming tides to beat – come on – we did!!!!!

southern alps and mt cook okarito beach walk

The views here are magnificent – the expanse of the Southern Alps, Franz Josef glacier off in the distance, Mt Cook looming.

3 mile lagoon towards 5 mile lagoon Okarito

Stephen and I headed up the bush track to check out the swingbridge and get a better view of the lagoon while Bernie and Gerard stayed down on the beach with the dogs. In the photo above you can just make out a spec of red – that is Gerard still down on the beach.

3 mile lagoon swingbridge okarito

3 mile lagoon bush walk okarito

The lagoon is always changing and moving so the bridge is to enable access to continue up the beach should the lagoon be flowing out to sea.  On this visit the lagoon mouth was closed so the bridge access wasn’t necessary – just as well as with the way the lagoon was sitting it was a bridge to no-where.

okarito beach walk 3 mile lagoon

Time to start heading back – 3 more miles to hike and swells to avoid.

driving rock car okarito beach

We contemplate driving the last section but the car seems to go even slower than our legs – that and the backseat is darn uncomfortable!

seal pup enjoying the surf at okarito

This cute little fella was enjoying soaking up the sunshine until we rudely interrupted him.  He wasn’t too concerned though – thought about having a swim and then realised we weren’t going to bother him so headed back to his rock for some more sun bathing.

3 mile lagoon Okarito beach walk

okarito beach

Soon enough Okarito welcomed us back with open arms.  We stuck around for the sunset and moon to come out as it was the “super moon” and you often get some wonderful reflections in the lagoon.

Okarito boat shed with sun reflection in window

Unfortunately since the tide was out it also meant there was not enough water in the lagoon for the reflections.  Stephen did get the sun reflecting in the window of the historic boat shed by the lagoon which was pretty cool – with the moon high up above us and some lovely colours on the snow-capped mountain tops.

With weary legs and hungry tummies all round it was time to head back to the comfort of Holly Homestead in Franz Josef – the lovely bed and breakfast of our friends Bernie and Gerard and our home for the next couple of nights.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  Together with their faithful friends Nico and Ziggy, they enjoy getting out and exploring the many wonders of the West Coast of the Southern Alps.  Named one of the top 10 regions to visit in the world by Lonely Planet.


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Good Morning Sunshine – Mt George for the Sunrise

sunrise Great Coast Road Greymouth

Well we’ve finally done it!  Managed to get ourselves up and out of bed for a pre sunrise walk.  Our mission – hike Mt George to catch the sun rise as she comes up over the mountains.

sun up Great Coast Road Greymouth

Another gorgeous morning to awaken to so we were up and at ‘em and hit the ground running.

Great Coast Road views

views great coast road

Our timing couldn’t have been more perfect with some colour along the horizon during our climb.

hiking Mt George trail Great Coast Road

climb mt george greymouth

Just as we reached the top up and over she came.  Fantastic.  What a reward.  If the view wasn’t enough. Yie, yie, yie.

Great Coast Road views to Tasman Sea

Magic morning and magic views – the expanse of the Southern Alps including Mt Cook and Mt Tasman. There was the 12 Apostles mountain range that runs between Greymouth and Rapahoe with waves breaking off the Point Elizabeth and even the very edge of Greymouth coming from the Grey Valley.

Great Coast Road Greymouth

The Great Coast Road in either direction – looking south towards Hokitika or north towards Punakaiki. We could even see our place – still sitting in the shade but the sun catching the breaking waves out front.

Runanga in sunlight

And off in the distance the village of Runanga as the sunshine slowly hit the roof tops with the snow-capped mountains behind.  What a place we live in!  A little slice of paradise.

photographer in action mt geoge and great coast road

Magic – did I say that already – magic, magic, magic.  Could sit up here all day.  Stephen gave the cameras quite the workout – we’d had our exercise and didn’t want them to feel left out.

yoga session atop Mt George great coast road

yoga session mt george

While Stephen worked his magic with the camera, I soaked up the views and did a little yoga session.  Not a bad backdrop for some meditation.

climbing Mt George Great Coast Road Greymouth

Mt George hike Greymouth

Time to start heading back down – we had a full day ahead of us and lots to do, not to mention two boys who were gutted at being left at home and of course our rumbling tummies ready for some breakfast.

Mt George for the sunrise – definitely worth the effort.  Next challenge – to be there for the sunset and do some star-gazing…….. watch this space……

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  The Great Coast Road was named one of the top ten coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet with the West Coast one of the top ten regions to visit in the world. mmmm I wonder why.

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Out for an Old School Ride – Cockeye Creek to No-Name Loop

up the creek without a paddle cockeye creek no-name loop mountain bike ride

Up the creek without a paddle or the ride of a thousand river crossings.

cockeye creek no-name loop mtb ride

We revisited one of our favourite rides over the weekend and it proved as good as ever.

in the creek cockeye creek mtb ride

Lots of mud, water and rocks to negotiate – plenty of old school fun. Perfect.

through the forest  cockeye creek mtb ride

This is quite a technical ride with lots of variety.  Don’t they say variety is the spice of life.

riverbed cockeye creek loop mtb ride

I was trying to remind myself of that as I huffed and puffed, dipped and dived, feet in, feet out……

cockeye creek no-name loop mtb ride

Stephen had a little off, slipped on one of the creek crossings – rocks are so slimy and slippery.  Have to admit whilst I was obviously concerned at hubby’s well-being I was secretly pleased just a little – glad it was him and not me – sorry love!

We were doing this ride as a loop – Cockeye Creek first – probably the most technical part with all the creek crossings and then a gravel road section to join up with No-Name.  Previously we’ve done both of these sections on their own as in and out rides.  It is always nice to join up as a loop though.

views over mountains cockeye creek mtb ride

The road section seemed long – just enough grunting hill climbs to tire out the legs.  Worth it for the views though.  The road section is through a forestry block that has been felled recently opening up the views to the mountains – some of them still snow-capped.

sea of yellow no-name mtb ride

Then we’re onto No-name – basically a 4WD track.  This had been closed back in April due to a cyclone that came through and toppled many of the trees making the track impassable.  The forestry boys had been in here though and done a great job to clear it out and open it up again for recreational use.  Thanks team!

no-name mtb ride

no-name mountain bike ride

One final climb to pick our way up through the rocks and we’re onto the final downhill back to the car.  The last downhill is in the native bush and it is a beautiful way to end a day out in the saddle.

cockeye creek no-name loop mountain bike ride

Cockeye Creek – No-Name Loop – an old school ride.  Great weather, great trail, great fun.  Apple turnover here I come…..

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about and exploring the many wonders that help make up this beautiful region of New Zealand.  Easy to see why The West Coast was named one of the top ten destinations in the world to visit by Lonely Planet.




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The Looney Tune boys from Breakers Boutique Accommodation

Gorgeous day so we headed down to the beach for some playtime with the boys………

Posing for the camera 9 mile beach Greymouth

Looney Tune boys were in fine form

Looney Tune faces 9 mile creek Greymouth

high five 9 mile beach Great Coast Road Greymouth

Practising their ballet moves and silly faces

the boys Breakers Boutique Accommodation Great Coast Road Greymouth

Nico 9 mile beach Great Coast Road Greymouth

Ziggy 9 mile beach Great Coast Road Greymouth

Posing for the camera

Nico playing 9 mile creek Breakers Boutique Accommodation Greymouth

Generally just having a good time in the sunshine playing in the creek bed.

playtime in the 9 mile creek Great Coast Road Greymouth

Although I think even Nico was wondering just how luney his brother was.

Ziggy and Nico playing Breakers Boutique Accommodation Greymouth

Good fun had by all – always nice to be out in the sunshine, especially on a winter’s day.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  Together with their faithful companions Nico and Ziggy they enjoy getting out and making the most of this wonderful region they live in.


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History in the Hills – 10 Mile Valley

cliffs 10 mile valley

10 mile valley is probably our most common “go to” walk.  Nice and close to home – just down the road actually since we are at 9 mile.  Easy valley walk following the 10 mile creek basically set in a shallow gorge with towering limestone cliffs surrounding us and native bush.

abandoned coal bins 10 mile valley

I say easy walk – the first 3kms up the valley is very easy and then you have the option of going up the hill or turning around and heading back out.  Up the hill – yes I said up and I mean up – up, up, up, up and it is steep in places! Just ask my legs – although they may not be able to answer as they are too busy trying to catch their breath – no wait, that is me……

10 mile valley hill walk

abandoned truck 10 mile valley

Doesn’t seem to matter how fit we are or think we are, this is always a slog.  A good slog though – coming back down you feel proud as it really showcases just how steep the walk was. Worth it for the views too.  Can see back down the valley we walked up and get great views of some of the abandoned coal mines, the beautiful native forest and those towering limestone cliffs.

abanded coal bins in the hills 10 mile valley

sluce run abandoned coal mine 10 mile valley

10 mile valley is coal mine valley – heaps of history in the hills with abandoned coal mines and their respective relics.  There was a hive of mining activity up here in the 1950s through to 1980s – just small private operations but around 5 different mines in all.

abandoned sluce run 10 mile valley

The wonderful thing about West Coast bush is that she soon reclaims her space and the relics and mining paraphernalia is quickly buried amongst the undergrowth. In one respect it is a shame all this was left here to rot but on the other hand it lets us see our history and get a sense for what was and how things were done in the past.  It also opens an area for us to explore and appreciate and to access an area and views we perhaps wouldn’t get to experience otherwise.  There always has to be a positive don’t you think! All-ways look on the bright side of life, da da, de de de de da da…….

10 mile valley walk

snow capped mountain views 10 mile valley

For us though, time to head back down and out the valley.  Always great to get out for a walk, always great to walk the 10 mile valley – hills of history.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about and exploring the many wonders that help make up the West Coast of the Southern Alps.  Easy to see why it was named one of the top regions in the world to visit by Lonely Planet.

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Mountain biking Franz Josef – The Faultline Track

When visiting our friends in Franz Josef it is hard to go past a quick blat on the local mountain bike track – Faultline.

Faultline mtb track

This is a blast of a trail – ducking and diving, swooping and swaying.

Franz Josef faultline mtb track

Starting with a gentle gradient up through Franz Alpine Resort subdivision just north of the glacier village to skirt the top of the trail. Head down, pedal, pedal the top is near – let the fun begin.

jurassic park mtb track franz josef

Straight into the forest – dense NZ native rain forest with towering Rimu and Rata trees, ferns galore and all those good things that cling to our forests making them resemble something out of Jurassic Park.

onto bridge faultline mtb track  franz josef

This is a short trail but she packs a real punch – fast and flowing with trees to duck around and under, little bridges to negotiate and for the brave amongst us, a couple of structures to test you on.

Stephen on ribcage faultline mtb track frans Josef

ribcage faultline mtb track

Stephen flies over these with ease – me, well I haven’t quite plucked the courage to give them a go just yet.  It is silly as they’re not really that hard – I’ve biked worse, but I get to the top and perhaps if I just went for it instead of looking I’d be ok but given that the downward slope is slightly askew I chicken out each time – one day though, one day……

silly faces ribcage faultline mtb track franz josef

Just to prove a point Stephen makes faces at me as he comes down – cheeky!

in the bush franz Josef mountain biking

A few more swoops and we’re at the bottom ready for another lap – three laps in all for this ride and then it is time to head back to our friends to refuel the legs – nicely satiated after a ride amongst the dinosaurs.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about exploring the West Coast and the many things it has to offer which is part of the reason it was named one of the top 10 destinations in the world to visit by Lonely Planet.



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Reflecting on a Great Walk – Lake Matheson

lake matheson reflections

With a recent visit to the glacier region of South Westland we headed out to Fox Glacier to do the walk around Lake Matheson.

Lake Matheson is possibly one of New Zealand’s most photographed lakes.  Renown for its reflections of Mt Cook and Mt Tasman, this photo appears in many New Zealand guide books.

reflections in lake matheson

I call it the elusive reflection photo or the million dollar photo.  To get those great reflections you need little or no wind and limited cloud over the mountains so you can actually see them.  Get it right though and yes she is a wowsy, a fantastic backdrop.

walking lake matheson track

admiring view lake matheson

It is a beautiful bush walk in itself, even if the reflections aren’t working on the lake.  There is something peaceful about walking through NZ native forest – our majestic trees – the Rimus and Ratas  high above and surrounded by numerous species of ferns.  The backdrop of the layers of bush and mountains  looming in the distance just all add to the atmosphere, reflections or not.

mountain reflections lake matheson

snow capped mountains lake matheson

Initially we didn’t think we were going to get the reflections with a little breeze creating just enough of a ripple.  Our timing was pretty much perfect though – late afternoon as the wind was dropping off – we just had to wait it out.  All good, we’ve got plenty of time and Stephen assures me he’s brought a head-light with him just in case……

mirror reflections lake matheson

The headlight wasn’t needed, we just stood and watched and waited.  The cloud formations were fantastic fanning across the mountain tops and toppling down the other side.  There had been a huge snow fall on the East Coast and you could tell with the colour of the clouds high above the mountains it was definitely snowing up there somewhere.

sundown lake matheson

evening reflections lake matheson

As the wind dropped we just had to contend with the bird life.  Who’d have thought!  Ducks enjoy this lake as much as the tourist traffic it would seem – but this is their home and they obviously had things to do and places to be, sliding gracefully across the water – leaving….. yes, a trailing ripple.  Thanks guys!  As the sun began to set though they found their nesting spots for the evening in amongst the reeds and the water turned more mill-pond like – just what we were waiting for.

sunset reflections lake matheson

The moon came up over the mountains – not quite the super moon but spectacular all the same.  Then as the sun set the colour started coming through and reflections were aplenty.  Click, click, click, click.  Going to be hard to choose which photos to use for this posting – oh the dilemmas we have LOL.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and exploring the many wonders of the West Coast.  With so much to see and do it is easy to see why The West Coast was named one of the top 10 regions in the world to visit by Lonely Planet.  Make sure you add it to your itinerary and take your time to soak it all up.


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