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.
Bruce 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.
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.
Our 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.
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.
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.