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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Kowhitirangi Valley and Hokitika Gorge

Our Sunday drive was a drive less traveled – first round Lake Kaniere into the Kokatahi Valley and then going deeper inland to the Kowhitirangi Valley to finally arrive at the Hokitika Gorge.

Hokitika Gorge

Renown for its blue-green waters wedged between the solid rock face it is a draw card for many a tourist to the West Coast. For us today we didn’t quite get those nice colours as we’d had much rain of late and some dark skies above.  There were patches of colour coming through though, especially whenever the skies cleared and the sun poked her head out to say hello.

hokitka river and valley views

views to hokitika gorge swingbridge

It is a short walk through a beautiful podocarp forest, following a gravelled track initially where you come to a lookout point, looking back out into the lush farmland of the Kowhitirangi Valley and down into the deep ravine of the gorge.

Hokitka gorge walk

Then you weave your way around some curved board walks to come to the swingbridge over the water.

Rocks off Hokitika Gorge walk

Once on the other side, after a very short bush walk you come out onto the rocky outcrop that the river winds her way against.  Taking great care as the rocks are slippery, you can get out and sit in wonderment at this beautiful sight.  It is incredibly peaceful and serene – although we pretty much had it to ourselves so I’m sure it is perhaps not quite so peaceful on a busy day.

Hokitika Gorge and river

Still we’ll take what we got thank you and just enjoy the peace and quiet, listening to the running water, the trickling waterfalls and the fantails and bellbirds singing their songs.

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 of the West Coast – named one of the top ten regions in the world to visit by Lonely Planet.  We certainly know why.

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Sunday Drive – Kokatahi Valley

Sometimes there is nothing quite like taking a Sunday drive.  No walks – well none of any great exertion but just soaking up scenery, taking roads less traveled and discovering a part of the country you haven’t really seen before – even when it is in your own backyard.

kokatahi valley sunday drive

I’m sure we’re all guilty of it – those farm roads you see or back roads that might take a little longer to get you from A to B.

Our Sunday drive was down to Lake Kaniere,

Lake Kaniere reflections

around the back of the lake to Dorothy Falls

Dorothy Falls Lake Kaniere

and up into the Kokatahi Valley.

Kokatahi Valley mountain views

It was a stunning drive – a drive of contrasts with lake, river, mountain, native bush and lush farmland.  This is dairy farming country and how lucky are these farm animals!  What a place to call home.

misty mountains Kokatahi Valley

Kokatahi River and mountain views

The drive was also filled with ever-changing weather adding to the atmosphere of the views.

Forgotten relics Kokatahi Valley drive

Our ever observant photographer also found these little beauties hiding out – weathering the storm perhaps.

views to hokitika gorge swingbridge

Eventually we ended up at the Hokitika Gorge – yet another stunning area even deeper inland in the Kowhitirangi Valley.  This involved a short walk, our only real exertion for the day, but you’ll have to wait for the next installment for more on that……..

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about exploring the many wonders that help make up the West Coast of the Southern Alps, named one of the top ten regions to visit in the world by Lonely Planet – there is something for everyone.

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Doggy Good Fun on the Beach

ambling along nine mile beach greymouth

It was doggy good fun on our beach walk over the weekend.  Our friend Nina from Westport phoned to say she was going to be passing by and had adopted her first ever dog and was hoping our boys would like to meet her and have a play.  It was the boys turn to play host for a change.

Raewyn on Nine Mile beach Greymouth

Happy to meet her they were – hello Raewyn!  She is truly gorgeous, a golden lab/whippet cross.  Super adorable with fantastic manners for only seven months old.  Super happy to meet the boys who are always glad for some doggy company.

circle of fun nine mile beach greymouth

playtime Nine Mile beach Greymouth

dogs enjoyed run Nine Mile Beach Greymouth

dogs playing Nine Mile beach Greymouth

It was a blustery morning but no rain so we headed down to the beach for walk/run/play.  It was all on.  Nico our dalmatian loves all creatures that move so was happy for an energetic play date.  Going by the fact he then slept the afternoon away, I’m picking she may have worn him out!

Nine Mile beach walk Greymouth

Ziggy, our German Short-haired Pointer has had a sore paw of late so he spent most of the walk restrained on a lead so as not to aggravate the injury again – much to his displeasure.  Actually he is pretty good as he knows we are just looking out for him.  He had a bit of time off lead to play with Raewyn and was happy to run around too for a while.

Nine Mile Cave Greymouth

Everyone enjoyed the outing and I know Nina is going to make a great “Mum” to Raewyn.

Look forward to seeing you both back again real soon.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  Together with their two dogs Nico the Dalmatian and Ziggy the German Short-haired Pointer, they enjoy getting out and about exploring and sharing the wonders of the West Coast of the Southern Alps.


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Craigieburn Ecological Area and Forest – Mountain Biking Unchartered Territory

aaaahhhh, biking through native forest into plantation forest and back into native forest.  Sun shining high in the sky above the mountain tops. Sometimes our job sucks, working in our outside office, but then someone has to do it I guess……….

Craigieburn Road mtb ride West Coast

Our latest assignment was exploring in the Craigieburn Ecological Area and Forest.  Situated inland from Greymouth on the Eastern side of the Paparora mountain range, heading north towards Reefton.  We’ve talked about doing this – well for years really.  Great to finally make the committment and head off on an adventure on our bikes into some unchartered territory.

Craigieburn Ecological area mtb ride West Coast

We really didn’t know what to expect.  We were hoping we could do a loop and looking at our map it kind of looked possible.  I say kind of as our map was about 8 years old and being that some of this area was forestry roads you can never be sure if the roads still exist or where they’ll actually end up.  Sometimes it can be quite frustrating as you know it is only a matter of a few hundred metres but if the road hasn’t been cut it can be dense forest you have to bash through and you just don’t really know for sure so best to stick to the formed roads.

mtb Craigieburn Ecological Area West Coast

It was a 4 wheel drive road/track the whole way starting out going through some farm land, then into the native forest and finally into plantation forest.  The section through the actual Craigieburn Ecological Area ie the native bush was absolutely beautiful.  With the sun filtering through the canopy of the trees and glistening on the foliage and undergrowth, it looked quite magical.

The track was a gradual climb – a nice gradient that slowly took us higher up into the valley towards the Paparoa Ranges. Leaving the native forest behind we soon entered the plantation pine forest.  There were some side tracks and we were continually consulting our map, fairly sure we were to just keep going up.  Eventually we met a track off to the right and the track we were on became quite overgrown with gorse bush.  After getting poked and prodded just a little too much we left our bikes and walked to see if this was actually going to take us anywhere.  It appeared we were heading back into native forest which did seem right according to the map but this track obviously hadn’t been used by vehicles for some time and not wanting to risk getting too many punctures – if any, we decided to head back the way we came.

mtb craigieburn road west coast

Heading down we spot one of the other tracks to the right (now on our left) and with vehicle tyre marks it looks like a good option for an explore.  Coming out of the trees it soon opens up into previously logged areas and towards the native bush again and closer to the Paparoa Ranges.  I have a good feeling…. I think I know where this is coming out….. yey, back at the top right before we headed into the gorse part of the track.  Now that was a nice little loop – not quite the loop we were looking at on the map but a good workout all the same, gradually climbing up again which means now we get to coast back down.

One more side track – this time to the right as we’re coming down.  Again looking on our map, assuming we’ve got the right track, this should bring us out further down the road closer to the car.  Why not – we’ll have a look anyway, just five minutes, ok five minutes more – surely…….. ok so maybe not.  Starting to run out of time now so better head back to where we at least know we are for sure on the map.  Two little boys are waiting “patiently” at home for their dinner……

forgotten relics craigieburn road West coast

A nice easy coast down, back into the native forest, passing a couple of forgotten relics along the way.  Not your usual forgotten relics – Stephen likes to call them bush art and these guys are huge!  Still they add to the atmosphere of the area and to the interest of the ride.

abandoned truck in the forest

It’s been a great day of exploring some unchartered territory – a great sense of adventure.  We only got lost a couple of times so we’ll deem that as a success! Home time now to feed the puppies and relax while watching the sun go down. Life’s hard living on the wonderful West Coast ……………….

Sunset off Breakers Boutique Accommodation Greymouth

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 of the West Coast of the Southern Alps.  Named one of the top ten regions in the world to visit by Lonely Planet – we certainly know why!






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