Rumble in the Jungle – Murray Creek track, Reefton

One of our favourite places for mountain biking and hiking is the wee town of Reefton. It is just under an hours drive inland from Greymouth so one of our go-to places when we have some time on our hands and want a nice outing.

We’ve moved our blog to Adventures to Paradise as the photo allowance in our memory is almost full to capacity so we’d really love all our coastingnz blog follows to move across with us. It does mean signing up to follow that blog.

Here is the continuation of our Rumble in Jungle – hope you’ll all join us for our continued adventures and explorations of the West Coast of NZ.

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Celebrating Matariki

Today we celebrate Matariki for the first time in Aotearoa (NZ) as a public holiday. Matariki marks the start of the Māori New Year. It is the most significant celebration in the traditional Māori calendar – a time for renewal and celebration.

Matariki is the Māori name that describes the entire star cluster also known as Pleiades. You can spot it before sunrise during New Zealand’s winter, the cluster is visible as a faint sparkle of tiny dots when you look towards the northeast horizon, down to the left of Orion.

This weekend across Aotearoa there are numerous celebrations in play, communities coming together to share food, music, dance, tell stories and remember their ancestors and loved ones. Matariki is a time to spend with friends and family. It is a reminder of the cycle of life, to remember the year that has passed, celebrate the present and to plan for the next year.

2022 is the perfect year for Matariki to be officially celebrated in Aotearoa – with all we have endured post covid, borders now reopening and international travel once again an option for both visitors to NZ and for us to go further afield – reconnecting with friends and family around the world.

Wherever you are in NZ this weekend we trust you have a safe and enjoyable weekend. Happy Matariki.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the West Coast of NZ. Located overlooking the Tasman Sea north of Greymouth. They enjoy the outdoors and love getting out and about exploring the West Coast and sharing their discoveries with their guests.

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Old but New – Discovering Siberia Bay, Cape Foulwind

On a recent visit to Westport we headed out to Cape Foulwind to make the most of a beautiful West Coast Spring day. With beautiful blue skies and loads of sunshine aplenty, getting out for a walk was a must do.

We’ve done the Cape Foulwind walkway on numerous occasions and it never fails to impress us. Today though we wanted to do something different and that was walk at the bottom of the cliffs instead of the top. We knew there was a track down the bottom that lead to the beaches you can see below the walkway and around into Siberia Bay.

After a short walk on a 4WD track through thick bush it soon opens out in the grassy plains. This was an old quarry from a by-gone era. Now with regrowth of scrub and grass you’d hardly know the difference apart from the occasional relic left behind and slowly being claimed by mother nature and the weather. The 4WD track meanders along the edge of the rocky outcrops showcasing some wonderful rocks stacks and great breeding ground for NZ fur seals. Didn’t see any basking in the sun today but think there must have been some around as we could certainly smell them in certain gusts of wind…..

Rounding the corner from Cape Foulwind bay to Siberia bay, thanks to pounding surf the trail from here has been washed away so it is then a matter of a bit of rock hopping down to the sandy beach. It is such a beautiful area and the contrasts with the green scrub, white sandy beaches and black rock stacks at sea is a feast for the eyes and the senses too with all the different smells. Talk about a great day for photography – it was what we like to call a cool cloud day.

It is nice to just sit and soak up our surroundings and the atmosphere before tackling the zig zag track and – well zig zag back up the cliff face to join the Cape Foulwind walkway and make our way back to the carpark.

The lighthouse sits pride of place at the top of the cliffs and the views back down to the carpark are yet another great reward for our clamber up the hill. Make sure you add the bottom track to your list of things to see and do next time you’re heading Westport way.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Coast Road north of Greymouth, named one of the top ten coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet. They love getting out and exploring and sharing their discoveries of the West Coast.

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West Coast Wilderness Trail – Lake Kaniere to Cowboy’s Paradise

So blessed to have the West Coast Wilderness Trail at our doorstep. At around 135kms, it can easily be broken into bite size (or is that bike size….) chunks. This means we can do same, same or mix it up a bit and do a different section depending on time, mood and yes even sometimes the weather.

Recently we had both time on our side and gorgeous weather so headed to Lake Kaniere to bike up the Arahura Valley to Cowboys Paradise, plus a little bit further to the swing-bridge and then back again.

The scenery at this end of the trail is nothing short of breathtaking with a Kodak moment around every corner. While I’m sure it is gorgeous and moody on a misty, cloudy day too, having the blue skies and sunshine, the scenery was just popping, as were our eyes at all the beautiful views surrounding us.

The first section is on gravel road – called Milltown Road heading down into the valley plains and then following the beautiful blue waters of the Arahura River.

Eventually the trail leaves the gravel road and enters into farmland, winding its way up through the farm paddocks. Looks like quite the climb but the trail has been nicely done zig zagging back and forth taking the sting out of the pinch up. The views are fantastic too every time you zag back to the zig lol

There is an ideally placed lookout seat near the top where we take a short break and marvel at the views of the towering bush clad mountains and the sparkling waters of the river below.

Pretty soon we reach the end of the farm trail and ride through Cowboys Paradise. A destination in its own right but pretty quiet on this visit so we ride through, back into a short bush and paddock section to the impressive swingbridge over a ravine and gorge. From here it is a steady climb up through the forest but for this ride, the swingbridge was always our destination for today so after a couple of photos we turn around to start the ride back.

We managed to find an ideal spot to perch up for our lunch. Strategically situated we spy a bench with bit of scrub for protection from the wind and we could sit there and enjoy our picnic lunch and soak up the beauty of our surrounds in amongst the farmland and mountains. We both comment this would be an awesome walk as well as a bike ride with lots of diversity with the climb up through the paddock and then in through the native bush section.

Back on the south side of Cowboys Paradise and we have the fun of making our way down the paddock we’d climbed up earlier. We don’t follow the zig zag this time – it is much more fun taking more direct lines down the face of the grassy paddocks – a bit of whooping and hollering ensues and grins from ear to ear – now that was fun!

The drawback of this ride is often the ride back out of the valley – usually with a change in wind direction meaning a full on head wind. Happy to report that was not the case in this instance. The wind had picked up but thankfully it was more a side wind than head on so easier to negotiate.

Riding back along the gravel road we’re constantly looking toward (note toward not forward to – yes there is a difference…..) the final hill climb to get back to the car. Without the head wind to contend with it isn’t as bad as we had resigned ourselves to, we’ve got the beautiful blue waters beside us and we were at the top before we knew it, few more corners on a fast pedal and we round the last one to see the car again.

Another excursion out on the bike on the West Coast Wilderness Trail finished with a big smile – there may or may not have been an ice cream stop forthcoming – on that I couldn’t possibly confirm or deny…….

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Coast Road north of Greymouth. They love getting out walking and biking and exploring the beautiful West Coast they are lucky enough to call home.

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Point Elizabeth Walk – Nature’s Eye Candy

Well it has been some time since we walked the Point Elizabeth walkway – why? – well even we can’t answer for sure why we haven’t done this track more often considering it is practically at our back door.

We could probably argue – justify or whatever excuse terminology we’d like to use – the fur kids. They’re not allowed on this trail so it just normally doesn’t feature in our “what shall we do today” conversation. For whatever reason Stephen suggested it and I wasn’t going to say no. Got the kids down to the beach first thing for a nice beach walk and then we filled our water bottles and grabbed a snack and we were off.

Easy 2 minute drive down the road (I know…. told you was practically at our back door!) and we’re parked up ready to go. The track starts at Rapahoe with views overlooking the Rapahoe beach before it winds its up the hillside and into the native bush of the Rapahoe Scenic Reserve.

I’d forgotten just how beautiful this walk is – the native bush is just stunning, it is a subtropical forest with oodles of nikau palms and Mamaku (black tree fern) intertwined with supple jack vines and Kiekie. There are also large podocarps like Rimu, Kahikatea and Miro along with epiphytic northern rata adding a splash of crimson during summer a nature lovers wet dream. For us today we had the native Clementis high up in the tree line adding a gorgeous tinge of white amongst the green.

The trail meanders around pretty near the cliff tops but you’d never know as you’re in standard dense NZ native forest – the very reason we’re taught from an early age not to leave the track or if you do to only go 1 metre and leave your pack or bag on the trail. So easy to loose yourself in NZ forests if you leave the trail. Not an issue for us though – we’re staying on track. The sun is shining through the tops of the giant fern trees and Nikau Palm trees. Can’t be too google eyed – have to remember to look where we’re going.

The track is initially following an old water race built by 19th century miners to sluice their gold claims. The trail has been altered a bit since then and you can see some of the old trail at the creek crossings go further back into the bush and coming out again the other side of the creek.

After about 30 minutes we come out of the dense tree line to the cliff tops and the Point Elizabeth lookout point affording views to the north and the south. South towards the glacier region and you can see the expanse of the Southern Alps. Bit of cloud over the mountains today so can’t quite make out Mt Cook and Mt Tasman but on a good day they loom proudly at the end of the line up of the Southern Alps. To the north you can see the expanse of the Rapahoe beach right through to the 8 mile and even the Motukiekie rock formations way off in the distance. Some serious nature’s eye candy.

After a quick bite to eat, soon enough we have to turn back and head for home. Seriously, there are times we just have to pinch ourselves at the beauty of this untamed nature wilderness that is our backyard we are lucky enough to call home.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Coast Road north of Greymouth. They enjoy getting out and about and exploring and sharing the beauty that is the West Coast of the Southern Alps.

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Cycling the Paparoa Track

We are so lucky to have the most recent Great Walk, The Paparoa Track as part of our big backyard. It is New Zealand’s first purpose built dual purpose hiking and cycling track. Just up the road at Punakaiki – an easy 20 minute drive and we’re parked up at the start of the trail, bikes unloaded and ready to go.

The trail is 55kms in length in total with most riding it from Blackball to Punakaiki. It is a well graded trail for the most part but is Grade 4 as is narrow in parts, has steep and long climbs and descents but the scenery is magnificient.

For us being able to ride from the Punakaiki end means we can pop out for a morning or afternoon pedal – or the case may be a slog. The only drawback is it does start with a hard climb as it heads up and over from the Punakaiki River valley to the Pororari River valley. Once into the Pororari Valley though it is a fun ride – undulating following the river up into the river gorge passing through beech forest and subtropical nikau palm trees. There are avenues of Rimu trees as it climbs up with views to dramatic limestone cliffs and the river below.

We’ve been up to the Pororari Hut a couple of times but for an afternoon jaunt we generally just go to the gorge to soak up the views before heading back out again. Makes it a good 2 hour ride for us – well removed from our beachfront location at home and fully immersed in lush NZ rain forest.

So lucky here on the West Coast to have the best of both worlds – all worlds really with beautiful farmland, rolling hills, snow capped mountains, NZ native bush and miles and miles of beaches.

While the ride starts with a grunty climb it does mean it finishes with a fun downhill back to the car. With big smiles on our faces another ride done. Time to head home, put our feet up and watch the sunset.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Coast Road north of Greymouth and just 30 kms south of Punakaiki. Beachfront location overlooking the Tasman Sea. They enjoy getting out and about and exploring and sharing their love of the West Coast – their big backyard they are lucky enough to call home. We have a great Package deal at Breakers on offer for anyone wanting to hike/cycle the Paparoa Track adding a touch of luxury for your pre and post accommodation.

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Coal Creek Falls Waterfall Walk in the Rain

Singing in the rain just singing in the rain, what a glorious feeling to be getting soaked by the rain……

One of our favourite walks on a rainy day is the Coal Creek Falls Waterfall walk in the little village of Runanga – an easy 5 minute drive from Greymouth or 5 minute drive from us here at Breakers

Coal Creek Falls walk on a rainy day, Greymouth, West Coast
Coal Creek Falls waterfall track on a rainy day with a few muddy patches underfoot Greymouth West Coast

We’d had a fair bit of overnight rain but this track generally holds up pretty well. Still some damp patches under foot so wanted decent footwear and if you had comfy gumboots well they might even have been a good idea. It is a good rainy day track as you get the protection of the trees although Stephen did comment you get wet no matter what – if not from the rain then the drips off the trees. Nothing that a good rain jacket doesn’t fix though.

Coal Creek Falls Track with a sea of green on a rain day Greymouth West Coast

The other great thing about rainy day walks are the colours – everything just seems to pop and this track is all about the green, all so vivid you’d think someone had been through with a colouring pen. Forget shades of grey this is shades of green.

Mystery waterfall Coal Creek Falls waterfall walk greymouth west coast

There is a mystery waterfall on this track – not the main event and often just a trickle of a waterfall so hardly worth stopping for but today oh my gosh today it was stunning. Definitely the best we’ve ever seen and certainly worthy of a stop and a photo.

Coal creek falls waterfall after heavy rain greymouth west coast

Then finally, the main event Coal Creek Falls in all her splendid glory. You could hear her well before you saw her. Feel my power, hear me roar was all that was going through my head.

So if you’re looking for a rainy day walk in the forest then look no further than Coal Creek Falls waterfall walk – Ballance Street, Runanga. Fabulous walk rain or shine.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Coast Road north of Greymouth. They enjoy getting out and exploring the region and sharing their explorations for others to enjoy.

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Bruce Bay Wonderland

Recently we had the good fortune to spend some time at beautiful Bruce Bay in South Westland staying with our good friends Jacqui & John from Mahitahi Lodge.  A fun few days filled with good food, good company, exploring beautiful beaches and bush walks.

lagoon-bruce-bay-beach-and-native-bushBruce Bay is in Glacier Country approximately 40 minute drive south of Fox Glacier and an hour north of Haast.  Bruce Bay is exactly that – a bay of the Tasman Sea bordering the main state highway and named one of NZ’s favourite beaches.  It is often photographed as it has a bank of Rimu trees lining the foreshore making a great contrast of sea and forest.  It is also the first place in New Zealand where Maori landed from Hawaii so has some fascinating history.

mountains peaking out behind clouds Bruce Bay South Westland

We couldn’t have asked for better weather.  After initially starting with a little bit of low cloud that soon started to clear with the mountain tops appearing through the clouds and the sun coming out.

Fox Glacier looming out from behind the clouds South WestlandOur first day started with a trip to Fox Glacier township and walk around Lake Matheson.  More known for its reflection photographs it is actually a really stunning bush walk in its own right.  Great cafe there too that has to be set in one of the most idyllic locations making for a great pre or post walk lunch stop.

lake-matheson-walk-with-views-through-the-forest-to-the-lake-fox-glacier
bush-reflections-lake-matheson-walk-fox-glacier-lake-matheson-1

Day two and John rowed us across the Mahitahi River so we could spend the day exploring the beach on the south side of the bay.  After a short bush walk and then clamber over a mass of washed up driftwood we meandered along the beach.  It was surprisingly tough going as was thick with pea gravel.  We’ve walked over here three or four times and the changes on this trip were amazing thanks to some rather big tides over the last few years changing the landscape and the foreshore.

A wonderful piece of history still holding on and not letting nature take her away just yet is a little steam engine used to take the timber out of the forest when there was a sawmill over here in the 1930s.  We eventually made our way up into the bush to follow the old tram line out to the point.  It has become a bit overgrown with some small slips so involved a little bit of bush bashing but eventually we came out at the point and flower pot rock where before there were roads there used to be a flying fox and derricks for loading timber on the barges for transport.  Some of the relics from that era still lay in the bush with mother nature slowly covering reclaiming her territory.

flower pot rock bruce bay south end south westland
views north from bruce bay south end beach

With tides nice and low we decided to walk back along the beach rather than back through the bush.  The water was glistening like diamonds in the sunshine – almost looking inviting enough for a Spring swim – I say almost, and the views in all directions were a feast for the eyes.

Day three and we take the drive south to Lake Moeraki for the Munro Beach walk. Now considering the number of times we’ve driven this section of road topped with our numerous visits to beautiful Bruce Bay this is one walk we hadn’t yet done. Why oh why!! Wow oh wow!! Absolutely stunning. Think this may be my new favourite walk. The walk through the ancient rain forest is jaw dropping and I gave myself neck cramps from looking up at all the Kahakitea and Rimu trees towering above us.

Then as if that wasn’t enough we eventually came out to the beach – gorgeous golden pea gravel, crystal clear deep blue seas glistening in the sunlight and gorgeous rock stacks. Munro beach is also home of the Tawaki (Fiordland crested) Penguin and while we were there our friend Jacqui was lucky enough to see three come into shore but we were too busy gorging ourselves with the views of the rock stacks and sea shore. Gives us a good excuse to come back again.

After three most amazing days it was time to head for home. Thanks Bruce Bay and thanks Jacqui & John from Mahitahi Lodge – we say farewell but not goodbye – we’ll be back!

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Coast Road north of Greymouth. They enjoy living on the West Coast and getting out and about and exploring from one end to the other. Hope you enjoy your travels with them.

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Lake Matheson Walk, Fox Glacier, South Westland

Lake Matheson is possibly one of the South Island’s if not New Zealand’s premiere short walks and arguably the most photographed. Most photographers go there in the hope of capturing the picture perfect reflection of Mt Cook and the Southern Alps. We commonly call it the elusive million dollar photo. The conditions have to be near perfect often meaning an early start to beat the onset of wind for the day.

The most unfortunate thing with all the hype about the reflection photo is many miss the actual beauty of the walk itself.

On a recent visit to South Westland we took the walk around the Lake Matheson and were continually commenting how under-rated it is as an actual walk. We saw many people at the beginning coming back from the first lookout point. For us we continued on and were not disappointed. The forest is spectacular with Rimu and Kahakitea trees towering above us.

For the most part it is a gentle meander around the edge of the lake although once on the northern side there is a short incline to keep the heart rate honest. While we may not have got the mountain reflections, in closer to the edge of the lake it was still enough to get some reflections of the vegetation.

The overcast day also meant the greens of the forest were popping.

So next time you find yourself in Glacier Country don’t say no to walking around Lake Matheson if the wind is up, just take it for what it is a really lovely walk in the native bush – I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Coast Road north of Greymouth. They enjoy getting out and about and exploring the West Coast and sharing their discoveries. Thank you to Jacqui and John from Mahitahi Lodge Bruce Bay for outstanding hospitality during our recent visit and Bernie & Gerard from Holly Homestead in Franz Josef for looking after the “kids”.

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Grey District, Heart of the West Coast – 5 short walks

The Grey District is known as the Heart of the West Coast.  An easy 2 hour drive south to the glacier region and to the north we have Buller with The Great Coast Road, numerous beaches and gorgeous bush walks.

Evening lights on Grey River with Greymouth township lights

Possibly the best thing about getting out and doing a bush walk is they are free, all you need is time.  Remember the golden rule though – take only photographs, leave only footprints.

beach walk rapahoe beach

This little blog is to showcase some of our bush walks and we’ve put together a little piece of five of our favourite.  Now these are in no particular order.  Each time we visit these areas we say “this is our favourite walk” – until we visit the next spot again and then  it is our favourite walk. They all have something different to offer be it just beautiful scenery, peace and tranquility, birdlife or history.

So first up:

Brunner Mine Site

Brunner mine site historic area Greymouth

Located on the banks of the Grey River accessible from either side – Dobson or Taylorville. Brunner Mine site is a most fascinating piece of not just West Coast history but New Zealand history.  It is the site of NZ’s worst industrial disaster, back in 1886 when 65 men/boys tragically lost their lives in a coal mine explosion.

Brunner mine site historical area with relics and information boards Greymouth

Aside from gorgeous views there are numerous relics and remnants of a bygone error and heaps of information panels explaining the history with photos to showcase the once bustling industry.

Brunner mine site bush walk Greymouth

If the history, relics and river views weren’t enough there is a gorgeous short bush walk too.  A must for all visitors to the Grey District.

Woods Creek Track

woods creek track Greymouth with stacked stones from gold mining history

This gorgeous track is often overlooked but is a real must do.  It is a bit of a drive to get to but totally worth it and a great way to see some West Coast back country.  Head out towards Shantytown at the southern end of Greymouth and then just keep going – is about 20kms further on from Shantytown – in farming, pine planation, gold mining country.

The trail itself is only short at just over 1 kilometer but what a kilometer – absolutely packed with wows.  Gold mining history from a bygone era.  Don’t complain about any steps or hill climbs in this walk, these miners were hardy and worked here day in day out no matter the weather conditions.

woods creek track greymouth

woods creek track greymouth and the tree ferns

You are basically following the water and tail race the miners dug including tunnels for the more adventurous so make sure you take a flashlight.  The trail starts out in regenerated native forest before dropping down into the most gorgeous virgin forest before climbing back up into regenerated again.  The size of some of the fern trees have to be seen to be believed.

woods creek track and stairway through native forest to swingbridge

woods creek track greymouth and stairway through tunnel

Finishing off with a flurry across a swingbridge and into a miners tunnel back up to the tops.  Amazing piece of gold mining history – both West Coast and New Zealand.

Coal Creek Falls Waterfall walk

Coal creek falls waterfall walk Runanga Greymouth

Located just on the outskirts of Greymouth heading north in the little village of Runanga. A stunning bush walk on the edge of the village, gently meandering down through the forest filled with beech and podocarp trees and following the babbling creek before coming to the main event – Coal Creek waterfall.

coal creek falls waterfall walk greymouth

coal creek falls waterfall

What a spectacle.  There is a seat at the top where you can sit and relax and be mesmerized by the flow of the water over the rock face.  On a rainy day this is a must do walk – the smell of the forest and the waterfall roaring.

 

spider orchid coal creek falls walk

A great walk for fungi hunting April through July and if you look really close you can often see the little NZ native orchard.

Coal Creek falls is popular with the local children in the summer for swimming – for us we just love to sit and look and reflect.

Arnold River Dam walk

This is a little beauty.  Take the turn off on Stratford Road off the Arnold Valley Road towards Lake Brunner, parking is up to the right of the Arnold River power station.  The trail starts with a open air picnic area before crossing the Arnold River and heading into the lush green native forest.

arnold river dam walk heading to the bush

arnold river dam walk and lush green forest

We call this walk our treetop walkway as soon you are heading up through dense native forest of rimu, miro and kahikatea.  Near the top is a lookout over the dam and river and a lovely contrast to the dense forest.

arnold river dam walk admiring the tree tops

arnold river dam walk and blue fungi in the bush

Again a great fungi hunting walk from April through July.  Along the top terrace the trail continues through totara and rata trees taking you onto boardwalks protecting the undergrowth of sphagnum moss and other forest floor treasures before heading back down to river level and following the fast flowing river back towards the power station.

Point Elizabeth Track

point elizabeth track and views to Great Coast Road and Rapahoe

Point Elizabeth track is a clifftop, coastal bush track running from Cobden through to Rapahoe or visa versa….. The “Point” itself is a headland that juts out to sea and can be seen as you come down the Great Coast Road towards Greymouth.  There are sea stacks out off the point and you often sea seals basking on the rocks below or dolphins in the summer swimming in the surf.

point elizabeth track and natural vegetation

The trail meanders along the cliff tops through one of the finest remaining  tracts of mixed coastal forest in New Zealand including flax, ferns, rata and rimu trees.  The Rapahoe end through to the point you are in the native bush but can often hear the roar of the sea.  It is a relatively easy trail as you follow the old water race that the miners used to sluice their gold claims.  The Cobden end is more open and tettering on the edge of the bush line. It is a great walk of contrasts.

Point elizabeth track with views to Southern Alps

So there you have it, five of our favourite short walks in the Grey District.  No excuses now for not getting out and exploring and there is still so much more on offer.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They love to get out exploring and sharing their explorations with anyone looking at visiting the West Coast.

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