Blacks Point to Reefton via Konini Pack Track – Riding into History

The theme of our latest ride – green.  It was a symphony of colour – an explosion of blue, green and yellow but predominately green so as long as you like green you would have enjoyed our latest adventure.  Green also in the respect, we were feeling a little green by the time we got to the top of our mountain bike ride – it had nothing to do with stopping at the bakery before heading out, those treats were still in our hydro-paks waiting to refuel us.

Murrays Creek Coal tracks

The adventure in question – off to Reefton mountain biking – heading into the hills and bush. Blacks Point to be exact – just on the outskirts of Reefton, up the historic Murray Creek tracks and back out the Konini Pack Track to Reefton.  We’ve done the Murray Creek tracks many times but the Konini Pack Track section was going to be a first.  This is a new trail leading us straight back to the village.

Stephen dropped me and the boys off at Blacks Point and then headed back to Reefton to park the car and bike back out to us so we could finish in Reefton without worrying about the dogs on the main highway.  We’re “thinkers” us (no comments necessary thank you!).

murrays creek tracks reefton

This is generally a beautiful benched track, following the creek and surrounded by typically stunning West Coast native bush – ok so NZ native bush, but it’s just different here on the West Coast – rain forest like, thick and dense and oozing beauty (gush, gush, yes I love it here) – oh and did I mention green…….

swingbridge murrays creek tracks reefton

It is a steady climb before we switch to the other side of the creek – crossing over a traditional swing-bridge and then a gentle meander before we switch back to the other side again and we return to the steady climbing.  Just enough to get you huffing and puffing and let the legs know they are required to have a bit of a work out (and yes there are occasional steep bits – short and sweet though).  Eventually we enter the more historic part of the trail, with remnants of old coal and gold mines and their workings.

murrays creek mtb track reefton

Our nice benched track soon turns to more like single track snaking up the shingle tops to reach the junction point – down to the Waitahu River or a bit more climbing, staying in amongst the coal and gold mining history and heading for the Konini Pack Track.  We’re taking the climbing option – great!

konini pack track reefton

Actually it isn’t too bad, back to benched track and beautiful in amongst the beech forest.  There are some steep drop-offs so you do have to pay attention.  One final climb before a technical descent into the bush and this our lunch stop – time for those Broadway Tearoom and Bakery delights – today’s treat fresh filled rolls, yum, yum and well-earned.

dogs enjoying run in forest murrays creek tracks reefton

Now we’re into true mountain bike country – tree roots, drop-offs, switch backs – lots of good fun and great to test out our mountain biking skills.  The dogs are having a blast, ducking and diving running between the two of us so we know where they are at all times.  They get to really stretch their legs though after we’ve stopped for photo shoots – knowing they can sprint to run past Dad and catch up with Mum – check out these grins!

konini pack track mtb trails reefton

Soon enough we’re nearing the tops of the hills behind Reefton and the views to the township open up below us.  We head off for our final descent – now on the Reefton lookout track – a trail we can see as we’re driving towards Reefton from Greymouth so always exciting knowing we get to come down it and won’t be climbing up it.

views of reefton lookout track

Bikes loaded – check, dogs fed, watered and loaded – check.  Bakery stop……… check…….wouldn’t be the same now would it!

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about with their dogs Nico and Ziggy and exploring the many wonders that make up the West Coast of the Southern Alps.


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Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area – Castle Hill Rocks

Castle Hill rocks Arthur's pass

So, I’ve lived on the West Coast now for 10 years and generally a drive to Christchurch is via Arthur’s Pass, Castle Hill village and the Castle Hill Rocks off in the distance.  You can see the rocks from the road – up on the hillside.  The car park is just off the road, more often than not always filled with people BUT we’ve never stopped.  Nine times out of ten we’re on a mission to or from Christchurch.  In a hurry to get there, in a hurry to get back or we have the dogs with us.

castle hill rock formations

Well finally we made the effort and stopped.  Actually we didn’t stop, we went there specifically.  Now I say first time in 10 years for me but think of Stephen – I won’t tell you how many years he has driven past as that would be giving away his age…… other than to say quite a few more than 10!  I tell him he has made so many discoveries since he’s been with me – got to a be a good thing right :-)

rock formations castle hill

The next error of our judgement is timing.  The walk says 10-15 minutes to the base of the rocks and then there are trails in and around the rocks, so we figured oh maybe another 20 minutes to half an hour.  Wrong – seems to have been a weekend of it!

standstone and limestone rock formations castle hill rocks

We were probably here for over two hours at least.  mesmerizing is the first word that comes to mind, awe-inspiring, jaw dropping – you know all those good adjectives.

rock climber castle hill rocks

To start with we pretty much just stopped, sat and took in our surroundings.  It was so peaceful – despite the number of people.  Not really into exploring places that have too many people but these rock formations are so huge you can easily disappear and have some time out to yourself.  Also it seemed most people followed the trail to the right so naturally we went to the left. (look carefully in the photo above and you’ll see two rock climbers off to your left)

climbing the rocks castle hill arthur's pass

rock climber castle hill rocks arthur's pass

The rocks are a popular destination for rock climbers and boulderers and being only an hour or so drive from Christchurch there was a continual stream of people coming to test their skill.  This was a great spectacle to watch, there is something about the whole man against nature thing.

castle hill rocks walk

Kura Tawhiti Conservation Area has special significance to Ngai Tahu. To help better explain the significance here is a link to the Department of Conservation regarding the same.

limestone formations castle hill rocks

enjoying the views from top of the rocks

Meanwhile back at the rocks.  Someone I know quite well was in photography heaven.  It really is a photographer’s paradise, there’s a Kodak moment around every corner – or should I say boulder.  We lucked out too with some awesome cloud formations just to top it off.

relaxing amongst the rocks Castle Hill

It is a very peaceful place here at the rocks.  Some took advantage of that peace and came prepared with a picnic lunch, others were happy to just sit on the rocks and enjoy their surroundings and the views.

views castle hill rocks

For us I’m glad we finally made the effort to stop here.  It was definitely worthwhile – a very pleasant surprise on just how interesting and absorbing the area is.  Highly recommend it should you be passing sometime…… “Climb every mountain, swim every sea” – I’m getting there, I’m getting there…..

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoying getting out and about exploring the region and beyond so they can offer advice to others on things to see and do in this beautiful land they get to call home.




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Devils Punchbowl Waterfall Walk – Arthur’s Pass Village

Don’t you just wonder sometimes where these lovely names come from or who thinks them up – Devils Punchbowl – a little bit bizzare.  The name is where the bizzare stops though, this is one hell of a waterfall – hey, there it is maybe – devil, hell – maybe…..

devils punchbowl waterfall and beech foresst

Anyway the Devils Punchbowl waterfall is on the edge of the Arthur’s Pass village in the Arthur’s Pass National Park.  As you enter the village from the West you can see her tumbling down the mountain.

devils punchbowl waterfall

We were lucky enough to be here on a gorgeous day but after some rain so there was certainly a good fall of water to be seen.

view of devils punchbowl waterfall from picnic lookout

It is a lovely walk across the valley, crossing two creeks via bridges to get a great ground level vantage point of the waterfall.  For some this is as far as they go and it can be enough when short of time as you at least can see the scope of the waterfall from down here and it actually gives you a really nice perspective.  There is a gorgeous little sitting area so you can relax and take it all in.

tree top walkway devils punchbowl waterfall walk

If you have more time available though, it is definitely worth continuing on up through the bush to the base of the waterfall.  The bush walk alone is worth it – like a tree top walk with wooden stairs leading you up through the forest and high into the canopy of the trees.

climbing the stairs devils punchbowl walk

The smell is gorgeous – something about the smell of a beech forest.  Don’t worry, you will be stopping to catch your breath – oh I mean to enjoy your surroundings and take it all in……. lots and lots and lots of stairs!

spray from devils punchbowl waterfall

You are soon well rewarded for the effort though as all of a sudden there she is in all her glory – the Devils Punchbowl waterfall.  Now even though  it was a beautiful day, being at the base of the waterfall was like standing in a rain shower, so very hard to photograph without trashing your camera gear.  I’d definitely recommend wearing your rain jacket – we got soaked.  Thank goodness for hiking clothing, quickly dried out.  We tried hard to get some photos – each time there was a lull in the wind but just when you thought you were safe, another spray would hit you – it was actually kinda fun.

views of creek and waterfall devils punchbowl

Meandering our way back down – lovely having time on our side and not having to be anywhere – we took a little detour to the side where you could sit practically in the water fully emmersed amongst nature.  Very serene and peaceful. Just in case you are wondering re the beanie – no it wasn’t a cold day, I just got wet at the waterfall so was keeping my head warm!

Devils punchbowl waterfall bush walk

Back down through the bushline – back down all those stairs.  You’d think it would be easy but Stephen and I passed comment to each other on the rather large gap between each step.  I figured it was to ensure you went slow and took in your surroundings – sounded plausible anyway and seemed to be working for us.

bridge to start of climb devils punchbowl waterfall

One last stop back on the bridge to admire the view.  Something about waterfalls and native bush – just can’t get enough of it.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  Rated #1 on Tripadvisor for the area, they enjoy getting out and about exploring the many wonders that make up this beautiful region – named one of the top ten regions to visit in the world by Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel. 



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A Ride in the High Country – Hogs Back Track

It is always nice to get out and explore new terrain and this is one of those adventures. With a weekend away to Arthur’s Pass and childless (no dogs) we used the opportunity to discover some new mountain bike trails and hikes. Hikes to follow later….

High country views Craigieburn Forest Park

Our latest ride is in the high country, on the drive across Arthur’s Pass to Christchurch in an area called Craigieburn Forest Park. This is pretty much ski field country but in the warmer months there is a great back country track up in the mountains of the Craigieburn and Broken River ski fields.

Thanks to a very dedicated group of volunteers predominately from the Canterbury mountain bike club and Castle Hill community and with the generous help of Ground Effect Clothing Company a new network of trails have been built to link the Park tracks with the small village of Castle Hill.

views to castle hill rocks Hogs back track

After seeing postings on Facebook showing the progress of the trail and reading of their efforts we thought we’d use this opportunity of checking the new trail out. Hogs Back – here we come.

Parking up in the Castle Hill village – basically at the end of the road our day’s adventure began. We didn’t really know what to expect, both of us for some reason under the impression that this was a bit of a flat valley ride – a ride for the family.

climbing the high country hogs back mtb track

hogs back mtb track castle hill

Oh dear how wrong we were. Heading into the beach forest, the trail immediately started climbing – that was pretty much us now for the next two hours. I’m the first to admit, this hurt. I biked where I could but found myself walking more of the first section than I was biking. I could see if this continued it was going to be long day for me out “with” my bike.  The trail sign said intermediate – technical wise yes, fitness wise – rather large question mark.

tussock land hogs back mtb track

Soon we came out of the bush-line and onto tussock land. Stephen made the comment “this should be pretty much flat riding from now on” …….. mmmm famous last words.  We met three lovely ladies hiking in the hills who I only just found out after the fact, made the comment “oh you guys are keen”.  Stephen thought they meant the climb we had just done – turned out they meant the continual climbing we were about to do.

high country mtb ride hogs back track

high country riding hogs back track

The trail gently continued to climb at a slight gradient up, up and up – with orange marker posts our calling points which in some respects was actually more demoralising as you could see them off in the distance – or more like up in the distance. 

hogs back mtb track to the river bed

Eventually we came to some downhill as the track dropped off the ridgeline and down across a river bed flat and into the bush again.  Again climbing ever so gently – enough to know you were working.

in the forest hogs back mtb track

The sections in the bush were good fun, ducking and weaving between the beach trees.  I often think the NZ Rimu is my favourite of our native trees until I’m in a beech forest and then I think no it is the beech tree. This is predominately mountain beech covered in a black lichen.  I think it is beautiful and the smell is gorgeous too.

views down Craigieburn Forest Park Castle Hill

Out of the forest and along another river bed, out again and up again and along again…. you get my drift.  I have to say though the countryside sure is beautiful and since we were going so darn slow we had plenty of time to take in the views and appreciate our surroundings.  Often we could see the Cheeseman ski field access road down below, meandering its way up the valley to the mountain.

views back towards castle hill and the track we just rode hogs back

After a stop at the Picnic Rock lookout – where we could see most of the trail we had just ridden, including the hill climb we would have to do to get back out, we had a final couple of knobs to go up and down before it seemed we started the decent to the ski field access road.  We could see some other bikers climbing up and thought it really wasn’t necessary for us to stand at the sign at the end saying we’d made it, when we could see it from here and would only have to climb back up again – we’d both had enough climbing by now.

hogs back track craigieburn forest park

I say enough climbing, there was still the knobs to be done again this time in reverse but they actually seemed easier riding in reverse.  Perhaps it was just the mental knowledge of knowing the real climbing was finally over.

picnic rock lookout hogs back mtb track

Back at the Picnic Rock lookout we decided to wait for the other riders and let them go past us.  They soon rounded the corner so we were able to have a quick chat.  We thought they must have come over from the Craigieburn Forest Park and been on a mission but no – they were doing the same trail as us but just one way – downhill.  Turns out they biked from the village, along the main highway, up the access road with the little climb we saw them on to now have some extreme downhill fun.  Thanks for telling us guys – we know for next time!

climbing hogs back track castle hill

high country scenes hogs back mtb track

So down we went – and it was fun.  What took us around 2 hours to ride up – and that did of course include lots of stops for photos….. it did…….. took us, ready for it – 20 minutes to bike back out.  Yes 20 minutes and that included the climb from the river bed back up to the tussock!  The final section down through the bush from where we met the ladies way back at the start of our day was steep – fun but steep.  No wonder I couldn’t bike up it or most of it anyway.  I didn’t feel so bad after going down it.

weird tree hogs back mtb track

Mission complete and all in all a good day out in the saddle.  Note for self though – if want a challenge do the ride in and out, if just want some fun, ride the access road and out.  Moaned as I did at times, and as hard as it was to breathe sometimes, it was a great ride in some amazing back country, in this land we call GodZone.  We sure are lucky to have it and I’m glad we did it as an in and out.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about and exploring and sharing their discoveries and adventures.

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Greymouth – 150 years in the town with a Heart of Gold

The celebrations continue in Greymouth, celebrating 150 years.  The latest celebration was also in aid of Breast Cancer Awareness – the inaugural Mackay Street Mile.

mackay street mile men in heels entrants greymouth

Held in the main street of “downtown” (big word for a little town) Greymouth in conjunction with a buskers festival and stalls to help draw the crowd.

greymouth mackay street mile kids race

kids race mackay street mile greymouth

First up the children’s race.  Lot of heart in this race and some of our future marathon runners in the making I think.

warm up men in heels mackay street mile greymouth

Next up the “men in heels” race.  Not the mile race like the others, a shortened version – we didn’t want anyone breaking their necks!  Some dodgy looking characters turned up for this event…….. but heaps of fun and hilarity.

men in heels mackay street mile greymouth

The warm up was almost funnier than the actual race.

men in heels race mackay street mile greymouth

mackay street mile men in heels race greymouth

mackay street mile race men in heels greymouth

Soon they were off though – without too much argie-bargie – but they sure were taking it serious.  Quite the honor to be crowned the inaugural men in heels winner!

mackay street mile 150 year celebration greymouth

mackay street mile greymouth

Finally the main event – the actual Mackay Street Mile and again some serious competitors in this race.

main race mackay street mile greymouth 150 year celebrations

They were off – racing past the spectators and by the second lap it looked to be a race between three main contenders.

mackay street mile race greymouth

The eventual winner came up from behind though with a last dash for the line – well more like last 50 metre dash and won easily.  Well done to all the competitors and organisers for this fantastic event.  Hoping it will become an annual event as it can only get bigger and better.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about, supporting local events and sharing this lovely region they get to call home.  Named by Lonely Planets Best in Travel as one of the best regions in the world to visit – come see why.

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Pancake Rocks and Blowholes – a Rock n Roll Day in Punakaiki

With a full moon of late and wonderfully huge swells and tides we headed up to Punakaiki to check out the blowhole action at the Pancake Rock walk.

pancake rocks punakaiki

It was a drizzly start to the morning but not particularly cold so armed with our rain jackets and just a little bit of camera equipment (!!??) we headed off on the walk around the rocks.

We were pretty sure we were going to be slightly too late for any real blowhole action as we couldn’t get away from home until right on high tide and the best time for blowhole action is usually about 1 hour before high tide as you need the pressure of the surf to be pushing the swell in.

surging waters pancake rock walk punakaiki

Well as it turns out, it didn’t matter.  The swell was good enough and big enough that even on full tide and outgoing tide there was still plenty of rock n roll action happening.

chimney pot pancake rocks walk punakaiki

chimney pot blowhole pancake rock walk

Chimney pot blowhole was working the best I’ve ever seen it perform.  Luckily the wind was blowing back out to the sea otherwise those coming across the bridge would have got soaked – bit of a shame really  ha-ha.

surge pool pancake rock walk punakaikki

surge pool punakaiki pancake rocks

Then there is the surge pool – talk about mesmerizing, felt like could stand and watch this for hours.  It was awesome – the power of the surf is a wonderful thing and I’m just glad to be watching from above.  It seems like you’re watching the inside of a washing machine – our poor clothes, they do take quite the tumble! Not to name names at all but someone with a camera was very taken with it……

blowholes pancake rock walk punakaiki

punakaiki pancake rocks and blowholes

Then it was round to the main event.  It was a matter of just biding our time to get the right swell come through to push the water out for this blowhole action.  Definitely worth waiting for.  I was hooting and hollering at the spectacle but others seemed more content with just watching – boring!

monsters lookout pancake rock walk

surging water monsters lookout pancake rock walk

The pancake rock walk is a lovely walk in its own right out around the rocks and cliffs taking you on a nice loop.  The blowholes are to the south and then around to the north you have what I call the Monster lookout.  A rocky outcrop with shapes in the rocks resembling monsters and other creatures – if you look hard enough and use your imagination.  Mine can be quite warped so I really enjoy this spot.  Great for capturing the pounding surf as it breaks against the rocks too.

punakaiki coastline pancake rock walk

It may have been a bit of a grey old day but I always advise our guests that for the blowholes to be working in all their glory it can be a weather trade-off.  If you have bright sunny skies chances are you’ll also have calmer seas and not much of a swell.  There is always a positive spin to stormy or rainy weather – it is just weather at the end of the day, you don’t melt and as one of our guests once said to me “no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing” so don’t let the weather stop you getting out and enjoying the sights – you never know what you might be missing otherwise.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  The Great Coast Road has been named one of the top ten coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet with the West Coast named as a top 10 region to visit in the world by Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel.

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Greymouth Sunset and Night Lights

Climb every mountain, swim every sea…..

walking substation walk greymouth

ok so maybe not but sounds good.  As good as our sunsets are here at Breakers, we decided to head into town to capture the sunset over Greymouth.  That did mean a little hill climb to get up behind Greymouth where we could get uninterrupted views of the town.

southern alps views from sub station greymouth

Not just the town actually, we could see all the way down to the south following the curve of the land meeting the Tasman Sea with fantastic views of the Southern Alps including Mt Cook.

views of Greymouth

We headed up the hill – a gravel 4WD road behind the Greymouth substation and then a grassy dirt track that lead to a nice grassy knoll for our views.

watching sunset over Greymouth

It was very peaceful sitting up here – feeling like we were on top of the world and could let all our worries drift out to sea.  Bit philosophical – maybe, it was very serene though.

sunset over greymouth

sunset over greymouth from sub station walk

Unfortunately the sunset turned into a bit of a fizzer – well actually everyone seemed to light their fires creating a haze over the township so we made our way back down before it got too dark, although we were well prepared for a change with flashlights and headlamps but they weren’t needed.

night view of Greymouth

With the change in daylight saving it did mean it was later than anticipated and with tummy bugs rumbling we decided to get take out for dinner.  Stephen dropped me off to order and while I waited for our dinner he drove around Greymouth to see if he could capture the night lights.  Turns out that was the right thing to do and he got the best photos of our entire outing.

Geymouth at night

Greymouth by the street lights – very pretty.

oh and dinner was delicious too – just in case you were wondering tee-hee (if you follow us you’ll know eating is a very important part of my day…….).

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about and exploring the region and sharing their adventures.  West Coast of the Southern Alps - easy to see why it was named by Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel as one of the top 10 regions to visit in the world.

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