Virtual Mystery Tour West Coast – Grey District, Heart of the West Coast

Well it seems an apt time to showcase our own Grey District – heart of the West Coast.  A great place to base yourself to explore north and south – east and west, no not west, you’ll be in Australia.  Come on!

Evening lights on Grey River with Greymouth township lights

I can vouch for it being a great place to base yourself for exploring the West Coast – well yes mainly because we live here but we do all our exploring from here so just goes to show how easy it is….. no bias in that statement at all.

clock tower greymouth floodwall

The Grey District has everything – it is the gateway to the Great Coast Road, named one of the top ten coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet and worth a visit on its own.

Great Coast Road with crashing seas and Motukieikie rocks and Mt Cook in distance

Numerous beaches – and they are all different.  Thanks to the power of the Tasman sea some are sandy, some are stony, others rocky or with great rocky outcrops making them a haven for starfish and mussel beds, others showcase world class rock stacks.  People come from all over the world to see these and here they are in our backyard.

13 mile rocks and iews to tasm sea great coast road west coast

Pancake rock formations with winter blue skies and sea

starfish on the rocks at Motukiekie beach Great Coast Road

While not safe for general swimming many of our beaches are great for surfing and you often see some local wildlife – seals and dolphins if you are lucky.

Rapahoe beach and surfing

Then there is our native bush – so many great walking trails, for all levels of fitness, something for everyone and most of them are in old forestry, coal or gold mining areas so filled with great West Coast and New Zealand history.  Perfect example too of how Mother Nature always claims back what is rightfully hers – you might start out walking through regenerated forest and come into virgin native forest or visa versa.  The transition is fascinating.

woods creek track greymouth

woods creek track greymouth and stairway through tunnel

Many of our walking trails are bike friendly and then we have our bike specific beauties West Coast Wilderness Trail and the newly opened Paparoa Track (first purpose built dual purpose trail for biking and hiking in NZ).  Heaven on a mountain bike 🙂

biking-sea-front-of-greymouth-west-coast-wilderness-trail

Biking Paparoa Track Punakiki West Coast

The Grey District also had a multitude of lakes and rivers – again some easily accessible, others not so but there are great boating and fishing opportunities and many are surrounded again by either short or longer walks so something for everyone.

moody reflections and mist on Lake Haupiri

waikiti river on misty winters day

What’s the old adage – don’t leave home till you’ve seen the country.  Now more than ever does that ring true.  Everything you’ve often travelled overseas for is right here – you just need to open your eyes.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised and we look forward to showcasing you the best of the West here in the Grey Valley – Heart of the West Coast.

PS most of the places above have their own dedicated blog so it is worth digging deeper into Coastingnz for some inspiration.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They love the West Coast and love getting out and exploring and sharing their favourite discoveries with their guests.

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Virtual Mystery Tour West Coast – Murchison Reefton Loop

On the road again, I can’t wait to get on the road again.  Seriously cannot wait to get on the road again, but until we can go further afield ourselves we’ll head out on another virtual tour.  This time a gorgeous loop we did last Winter.

main street reefton on a foggy morningFirst up to Reefton – probably our favourite little West Coast town.  If you’re a long time follower of our blog you’ll know I’ve sung Reefton’s praises on many an occasion.  This time we were just passing through, then through the gorgeous Rahau Saddle, one of my favourite drives as it is cut through Victoria forest and is always so lush and green – I digress, on to Springs Junction to head north through the Maruia Valley in search of Maruia Falls.

 

Inangahua river reefton in the morning sunlightinangahua river picnic area swingbridge bathed in morning sunlight

Now for all the exploring we’ve done on the West Coast we had never been through the Maruia Valley so we were excited to say the least to be covering some new ground.  mmmm thick fog from Greymouth to Reefton. It did start to clear through Rahau Saddle so our stop at Inangahua Swingbridge picnic area gave us hope.  Once we got to Springs Junction though we were back into the thick fog for the drive through the Maruia Valley.  Oh dear were we going to see anything.  To be fair it was actually pretty cool on occasions and made the surrounds all the more atmospheric.

bridge through maruia valley in the fog maruia road trip

foggy drive up Maruia Valley on way to MurchisonFear not with the fog though for as the morning progressed so did the disappearance of the fog slowly revealing the promise of blue skies.

mist clearing through the mountains maruia loop road trip

fog lifts from farmland maruia valley on route to Murchison

By the time we reached our first sightseeing stop, Maruia Falls – and the main reason for this road trip, the fog had all but lifted and we could see the surrounding mountain tops.  Whew – imagine getting all this way and not being able to see anything!  We need not worry, the waterfall was mind blowing and sparkling in the sunlight.  Why had we never been here before, to say it is gorgeous is an understatement.

Maruia Falls Murchison

Maruia Falls tumbling down near MurchisonBit of history for you…. the Maruia Falls were created by the 1929 Murchison earthquake – not through land uplift as many earthquakes/waterfalls but through a landslide further up the valley diverting the course of the river and once the river had eroded the gravels the bank became the Maruia Falls.  Now your knowledge bank is enriched for the better…….

Back on the road again and after a quick detour into Murchison itself – mainly a lunch stop and it was worth it alone.  Tutaki Bakery!!!! Oh My Gosh!!! YUM – yes I’ve put that in capitals and am shouting it YUM.  If you’re passing through then Tutaki Bakery is a must stop – seriously the best pies and beautiful breads and there may be a sweet treat or two on offer too, I personally couldn’t comment. Ha! Tutaki bakery in Murchison

Ok, so with appetites satiated time to hit the road again – this is a loop roadie remember so now down through the beautiful Upper Buller Gorge with a stop to visit the historic Lyell Cemetery.  We have driven past here so many times that we thought this was as good of an opportunity as any to stop and have a wander.  Parking at the Lyell camping ground (also parking area for the start/finish of Old Ghost Road hiking//biking trail) there is a trail that heads up into the forest.  The trail meanders through dense native bush for about 10 minutes and then in the rocky bank is this gorgeous little cemetery.  The last internment was in 1900 – presumably stopped due to the steep and rocky terrain.

historic grave in Lyell cemetery Buller Gorgehistoric Lyell cemetery Buller GorgeOn the road again – I can’t wait to get on the road again, just in case you’d managed to get that tune out of your head….. onwards again heading back to Reefton and what a contrast from our travels as we passed through in the morning.  The town and surrounds are now bathed in glorious sunshine with the Inangahua River glistening in the sunlight.

Reefton railway yard in the afternoon sunshine

main street reefton late afternoon

One more stop before the final leg to home and that is the historic church on the outskirts of Ikamatua, the St Patricks catholic church.  One of our favourite churches to photograph.

historic Ikamatua churchWell there you go, our loop road trip.  Was a full day out – we were well exhausted by the time we got home but thoroughly loved every minute of it and it has been great reliving the drive through writing this blog so I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey with me.  Look forward to “seeing” you all again soon for more West Coast discoveries.

Thanks as always to our talented photographer Shakey Finger Photography – Stephen Roberts.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They love the West Coast and love to get out and about and explore this beautiful region they are lucky enough to call home.

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Virtual Mystery Tour West Coast – Oparara Basin, Karamea

I know I haven’t been around much in the blogging world of late – for some time actually.  Thought given the turmoils of the world lately it was a good time to pop back in and say hi.  Going to share our love of the West Coast of New Zealand and take you all on a virtual tour from the top to the bottom – West Coast, Best Coast of New Zealand.  Hope you enjoy the ride.

Oparara Basin is at the top end of the West Coast – end of the road so to speak or better said the beginning……  It is full of natural wonderment and great world class caving systems including Honeycomb Caves – only accessible to the general public with a registered guide.

walk through the forest to the honeycomb caving system oparara basin Karamea west coast

Access to the Honeycomb Caves starts with a walk through regenerating native forest before entering virgin native forest.  I have to admit when making the transition through the different forests I was overwhelmed with emotion – it felt a privilege to be in walking with these majestic giants.

mirror reflections in the tanin filled waters heading to honeycomb caves oparara basin karamea west coast

swingbridge across the river heading to the honeycomb caving system oparara basin karamea west coast

The rivers and creeks through the forest are a constant babble along with the bird song.  The colour of the water a deep brown from the tanins leeching into the ground due to all the decaying vegetation from the trees and leaves.  When the waters are still the reflections are breath taking.

learning about the moa bones in honeycomb caves oparara basin karamea west coastwonderment of the honeycomb caves oparara basin karamea west coast

Once you enter the caves you enter a world of wonderment. Stalagmites and stalactites coming at you in all directions, glow worms and to top it all off moa bones – if you ever wanted to visit Jurassic Park then the Honeycomb Caves is the place to visit.

lush native forest and moss oparara arches walk oparara basin karamea west coast

Back at the hub of the Basin is access to numerous short walks and easy to access caving systems. A popular walk and favourite for photographers is the Oparara Arches.  Again the walk alone is worth it, with the trail meandering through beautiful native bush and babbling brooks.  At the end you are rewarded with the aptly named Oparara Arches with the river running through.

river running through oparara arches to opening oparara basin, karamea west coast

oparara arches opening oparara basin karamea west coast

That was just a brief overview of the Oparara Basin and a visit from a few years back now.  Click here and you’ll find the original blog postings for more information and photos to showcase the beauty of the region.

Pack your hiking and biking gear for our next road trip…….

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the West Coast of New Zealand.  They love to get out exploring the region they are lucky enough to call home.

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Breakers Pancake Recipe

A favourite choice by our guests at breakfast is our pancakes.

Our pancakes are a novelty item on our menu that we offer due to our proximity to Punakaiki and the pancake rocks.   Seems only fitting.

A popular request from our guests is our pancake recipe so I thought I’d share it on our blog. We generally serve our pancakes with sliced banana on top and maple syrup (of course) but you could serve them with your choice of topping, mixed berries, Nutella (very popular with our European guests) or honey and yogurt.  The choice is only limited by your imagination.

Breakers

I’m posting this twice – on our coastingnz blog and here on our new adventuresinparadise blog.  Our coastingnz blog is almost full so please if you have been following us we’d love you to “jump ship” and come on over to our new site.  Thanks and enjoy the pancakes.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy meeting people from all over the world and sharing their love of the West Coast and the Grey District with everyone they meet.

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Woods Creek Track, Greymouth – A Lesson in History

Hard to beat a walk in the woods and when it is steeped in history it adds a whole new dimension.

woods creek track greymouth

Woods Creek Track at Dunganville in the back of Greymouth oozes history – gold mining history complete with tailrace and tunnel workings.  Worked by the Chinese in the late 1800s it is a great showcase of the power of man verses technology.  Back then they didn’t have diggers, loaders or any of today’s modern mining machinery.  It was all about grit, determination and hardwork.

woods creek track Greymouth with stacked stones from gold mining history

Walking along the well maintained DOC track, following the tailrace you have the fruits of the miners labour with the stacked up rocks that they dug out.  I don’t think I could lift one of the these rocks let alone rock on rock on rock for hours on end like they did.

Woods Creek track is a loop track – an easy trail just over 1km long weaving its way through some stunning native bush following the tailraces and dams created by the miners.

woods creek track and wall of moss following the creek bed

You are never far from the creek that was used for the mining slicing – redirecting the water flow when needed – a marvel of man-made creation and such an important part of our history.

woods creek track greymouth and the tree ferns

There are numerous stairways that lead you up and down and through the forest both regenerating and virgin native forest.  There is plenty of birdsong and the size of the fern trees have to be seen to be believed.

woods creek track and tunnelswoods creek track greymouth and historic goldmining tunnel

The remnants of tunnels give you a great insight to the working life of the miner of the day.  Their diligence and skill and ability to leave something almost untouched by nature in time that follows.  You can see the niches in the rock wall along the way where they sat their candles for lighting.  Today we have the aid of our flashlights and when turned off you can sit and watch the glowworms light the rock ceiling.  Thankfully we didn’t come across any cave wetas – well not that I know of anyway…….

woods creek track greymouth and signage for history

As with most DOC tracks there are some great information boards as you meander around the track giving you some of the history and explaining the procedures the miners used and their reasonings behind it.

woods creek track and swingbridge across to tunnelled stairwaywoods creek track greymouth and stairway through tunnel

Woods Creek track would have to be one of the best examples on the West Coast incorporating a stunning bush walk with some fascinating mining history and if you ever have a chance I highly recommend adding it to your list of “must dos”. For directions check out the DOC website.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They love to get out and about exploring the many wonders of the West Coast.

 

 

 

 

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Auckland Highlights

Auckland is the main gateway to NZ and the start of many of our guests holiday. It is New Zealand’s largest city and known as the City of Sails.

auckland city scapeauckland city scape and architectureauckland city street art

We’ve just had a few days visiting the big smoke for business and while for the most part were busy with our appointments we did take the opportunity to have a bit of a look around the city centre. It is great for people watching and for architecture. We are spoilt with our landscape and scenery at our back door but we did really enjoy the contrast of the city and all the buildings – was great for photography with the different lines and light.

auckland city at night

auckland war museum at night

Our accommodation was in Parnell (Quality Inn Parnell) perched on the hillside and affording fabulous views out over the city and harbour. Some friends who live in Auckland said it is also known as the City of Light and thanks to the views from our hotel room we soon discovered why. Many of the buildings light up at night in vibrant colours – even the odd crane or two.

auckland city views and habour

Auckland often gets a bad rap for the traffic but at the end of the day it is a major city with a large population and with that you are always going to have traffic issues. We negated the traffic issues for the most part by ensuring our appointments were outside of peak traffic times – worked a treat although I’d be lying if I said we still weren’t a little anxious that we might not make our appointments on time but I think that was possibly more a matter of finding our way – which Rosanne (our GPS unit) ensured wasn’t a problem at all (well for the most part…..).

auckland wynyard precinct

auckland viaduct and wynyard precinct

auckland viaduct area

auckland harbour views from viaductAuckland city and harbour views with cruise ship in dock

There are lots of things to see and do when visiting Auckland and with our limited free time we just took in a couple of highlights. The Viaduct and Wynyard Precinct is a great place to get a real feel for downtown Auckland and the harbour. It is very pedestrian friendly with a huge array of cafes, restaurants and bars making it a great place to visit during the day and in the evening. It is a great opportunity to check out the habour scene and views.  We even had a huge and I mean huge cruise ship in – saw it come in to dock from our hotel room. For us, we also enjoyed our evening walks down Parnell Road to find somewhere for dinner. There were plenty of choices from Indian, Thai, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, burger bars and steak house – something for everyone.

auckland war memorial museum and galleryfighter plane auckland war memorial museumauckland war museum and pacific artauckland war memorial museum and maori gallery

Our final day we spent the morning at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. What a wonderful asset for the city – and for New Zealand. A couple of hours wasn’t enough to do it justice so we only really just touched the surface. There was a Butterfly Exhibition on which was popular with the children and school holidays but for us it was the War memorabilia and the Pacific Arts and Culture that featured as our highlight. Highly recommend any visitor to Auckland dedicate a few hours to checking out this museum – and the views and spectacular location are an added bonus.

Auckland city from Ponsonby

All too soon it was time to put Rosanne back into action and make our way out to the airport to catch our flights back home. But one final mention before signing off would have to be the friendliness of the people. Stephen and I both mentioned on numerous occasions that we could see why it was voted one of the friendliest cities in the world (after scoffing at that fact when we first saw it). We had cars stop to let us cross the road, drivers let us out of tricky intersections, into or out of parks, change lanes unexpectantly (remember country folk in the city…..) and people walking down the street say hello. It was very refreshing and left us feeling really good about our visit to the city – so thank you Auckland and thank you Aucklanders.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They are true Kiwis and love the region they live and enjoy visiting other areas.

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A Visit to Invercargill – Heartland New Zealand

water tower invercargill at night

I’m a Southland girl through and through – originally from Invercargill in the deep south of New Zealand.  NZ’s southern most city and the largest town in Southland. We do our best to get back down to Invercargill at least once a year to visit with friends and family.  In typical Jan and Stephen fashion though we can’t go anywhere without exploring – must be in our DNA.  I could go through and give a blow-by-blow of our recent visit down south but it would be pages long and for those of you with short attention spans like myself – well no more needs to be said.  Soooooo……. this is my Must Dos – in no particular order.

A Drive Through Coastal Western Southland

For an easy day trip follow the Southern Scenic Route signs on State Highway 99 out through Riverton to Orepuki (you can go further but that was as far as we went on our day trip).  This is the coastal route heading towards Fiordland – Manapouri and Te Anau, gateway to Fiordland National Park.

port of riverton

Riverton is the main coastal town on the Southern Scenic Route heading North West.  It is a popular seaside holiday resort and is known as the “Riviera of the South”.  It was one of the earliest European settlements in NZ so steeped in rich history in an idyllic coastal setting.

cosy nook western southland

cosy nook village western southland

 

cosy nook rocky shoreline

Call in at Cosy Nook, a cute little seaside hamlet set in a rocky cove with a sprinkling of fishing boats and holiday homes (known as cribs).  I’m not sure if the fishing boats are still used or they just dream of days gone by.   In its hey day there were 12 fishing boats based here that fished Foveaux Straight.  It is truly an idyllic looking location.

gemstone beach western southland

Onwards to Gemstone Beach just beyond the little village of Orepuki.  We were expecting a very stony beach – similar to what we have at home but it was very sandy.  It may be we had the wrong tide – was pretty much high tide on our visit so we’ll just have to come back to do some foraging for gemstones.

Back to Orepuki and the Orepuki Beach Cafe for our lunch stop.  What a little gem of a place – highly recommend for lunch or dinner, well worth the drive alone.

monkey island western southland

Then we started the drive back to Invercargill first calling in at Monkey Island.  The Island itself is just off the bay and can only be reached at low tide. There is an impressive stairway leading to the top of the small island and giving great views in all directions. Again so much history here – who’d have thought that in the late 1860s it was a town with numerous houses, three stores, a hotel and a butcher’s shop!  Now it is more of a secret hideaway with camping and picnic area.  Ok so guess with camping options it isn’t so secret but we pretty much had it to ourselves.  We didn’t stop for long – with the tide practically right in there wasn’t much beach to take advantage of.  As Arnie says so well in Terminator “we’ll be back”.

We did a quick drive through Colac Bay but time was against us so we didn’t linger.

Day Trip Catlins – Waipapa Point and Curio Bay

Waipapa Point lighthouse and beach Catlins coast

Another easy day trip from Invercargill is the Southern Scenic route towards Dunedin.  First up Waipapa Point and Lighthouse. You often get to see sea lions lazing in the sand.  The power of the surf though coming in and pounding off the rocks is a sight to behold.  After a compulsory photo at the foot of the lighthouse we headed off towards Curio Bay.

Curio Bay and petrified forest catlins coast

Curio Bay Catlins coastline

We had our timing perfect as it turned out, completely a fluke but the tide was still out enough that we could actually see the petrified forest in the rock formations.  Also there were the most amazing colours in among the rocks.  Mum and my sister Sally spent ages fossicking in the rocks for beautiful colourful tiny little shells.  You could lose so much time just here – but remember to look up now and again and watch for the incoming tide!  Evenings you might be lucky enough to see some Yellow Eyed Penguins but remember to stay a respectful distance from them so as not to disturb them.

Bluff

views from bluff hill invercargill

We love Bluff.  It is the southern most port town in NZ and home of the famous Bluff oyster.  A popular stop for visitors is Stirling Point with its famous signpost and some nice walking tracks.  Another must do is Bluff Hill.  If you’ve got a good day the views here are hard to beat – you can even see Stewart Island.

Bluff hill mountain bike trails

Bluff Hill mountain bike trails with views

views from bluff cemetery

We also love Bluff for the mountain bike trails.  A nice little network in the back of town up on the hillside.  That does mean climbing but you are rewarded with the downhill to get back to your car.  Also worth a visit is the Bluff cemetery.  Sitting high on the hillside again the views are to – well to die for!  I know, sorry about that…….

Petrol Head Heaven

Texaco truck transport world invercargilltransport world invercargill collectiontruck heaven transport world invercargillmotorcycle mecca invercargillmotorcycle mecca invercargill displaymotorcycle display invercargill

New to Invercargill and two must dos are Bill Richardson Transport World and Motorcycle Mecca.  Even if you’re not a petrol-head these museums are fantastic.  You do need to dedicate quite a bit of time to these – I’d suggest a full morning for each or full afternoon.  You may even end up going back again for another look – there is so much to take in.  Each museum has a great cafe too – especially Transport World, can highly recommend their mushrooms on toast.  Sounds simple but oh la la – delicious!

Grandpops school bus from woodlands run transport world invercargill

Transport World has special significance for me as there is a very special vehicle being housed – a 1946 Bedford bus which was Invercargill City’s first transport bus – more so it was my Grandpops and he used for the Woodlands school bus run up until 1982.  Great memories as a kid out at Gran and Grandpops farm playing in the bus.  Have to admit there were a few tears when I climbed aboard this time – the smell of the leather seats, it really did take me back in time.

E Hayes & Son bike display

E Hayes & Son automobile display

E Hayes & Son motorcycle display

Finally a visit to Invercargill isn’t complete without a visit to E Hayes & Sons.  I hear you – why would we want to visit a hardware store – well this isn’t just any hardware store.  It is like taking a step back in time – a hardware, homeware, gift and engineering store all rolled into one.  It is also home to E Hayes Motorworks collection.  This is a collection of classic motorcycles, automobiles and engines including Burt Munros original World’s Fastest Indian motorcycle.  It really is a must do and we visit every time we come down as the display items do change. Not only that the staff are simply awesome – some true Southern hospitality.

Oreti Beach – Otatara

oreti beach invercargill

Speaking of Burt Munros Fastest Indian….. you have to check out Oreti Beach.  Follow the signs for Otatara and just keep going.   The road takes you right to the beach – right onto the beach that is, 26 glorious kilometres of smooth sandy beach that you can drive along.  This was my childhood playground and was also Burt Munro’s racetrack where he did his testing and racing and set the NZ open beach records.  A lot of history and I never even knew it growing up – now the whole world knows.

Bushy Point Reserve walk OtataraOtatara Reserve walk InvercargillStead Street boardwalk walk

Ok so that’s our must dos when you visit Invercargill.  There is so much more to see and do – I haven’t even touched on the numerous walking opportunities, particularly out at Otatara – Otatara Reserve, Bushy Point, Fosbender Park, and Sandy Point – just to name a few, the Stead Street Wharf walk – gosh so many options.  OK so now I have touched on them.  Each one unique in their own right and worth a visit.  In typical fashion when visiting any region of NZ make sure you allow time.  You can’t see anything in a day…….

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about exploring where ever they go.

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