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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Exploring the Wonders of South Westland – Mahitahi River Valley

Stephen and I are fortunate to see and do some pretty special things in our time exploring the West Coast and a recent visit to beautiful Bruce Bay  is definitely up there and added to that list of special things we’ve done in our lives.

admiring the view of Tasman Sea from Bruce Bay

We’d been staying at the gorgeous Mahitahi Lodge at Bruce Bay in South Westland with Jacqui and John – as if that wasn’t special enough in itself!  Knowing we are forever keen to explore John gave us directions and advice to check out the Mahitahi River and valley.  Always up for a challenge we didn’t need much convincing.

mahitahi river 4WD track and mountains

Cameras, tripod, snacks and water, warm clothing (just in case), tick, tick, tick, tick, all packed, locked and loaded and ready to go.  First stop was to see the farmer and ask permission to head up the valley.  This is all private farm land and it is imperative you always seek permission before venturing on private property.  With permission granted we were off.

This is a walk of ever-changing scenery – and terrain.  It could easily be something out of a movie set.  Heading off initially on a farm 4 wheel drive track – giving the farmer the access to the paddocks right up the back of the valley.  There are a couple of detours cut through the native forest where the river bank has fallen away thanks to the encroaching river.  For the most part though you are never far away from the river and can hear it burbling as it meanders its way through the farm land and on out to sea.  The waters are crystal clear and sparkling.

mahitahi valley and mountains

Mahitahi Valley with mountains in the background

Eventually the valley opens out onto the grassy plains – cow country and we’ve been asked to be mindful as the cows are in calf.  After negotiating some electric farm fencing (shame we didn’t capture this on camera…..) and ensuring we stayed well away from a couple of cows we encountered in this particular area, we head down to the river bed.  The mountains are now towering above us – snow-capped after an unexpected early Spring snowfall.  Makes the sights and sounds all the more magical.

Mahitahi valley lunch stop on the river bank

We snack on a log by the river – well ok we don’t snack on the log but find a log to sit on and have a snack…… I’m sure you knew that but thought I should clarify cos snacking on the log would be just plain weird…… It is so peaceful sitting amongst all this natural untamed wilderness and beauty.

mahitahi river and mountains

mahitahi river and valley

Slowly we follow the river bed further up the valley towards the mountains – basically as far as we can go without having to cross the river which on a nice summers day would be a great thing to do but today on an early Spring day with the fresh snow on the mountains, we’ll give it a pass.

mahitahi valley cows enjoying the scenery

After a compulsory photo shoot it is time to start our meander back down the valley.  The cows are nothing short of hilarious – like they are the film stars, all lined up waiting for their chance at an audition – showing their best side – watching, waiting just in case today is the day they get their call up.  Not to be ladies but you enjoy your surroundings.

Walking back through the ever-changing scenery again we comment to each other how magical our day has been and just how privileged we are to be able to enjoy such beauty at our door step.

Mahitahi valley surrounded by native bush and mountains

A big thanks to the farm owners for allowing us access to their land and also to John for helping organize and make the suggestion.  Reminder to all please always seek farm owners permission to enter private property.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They love to get out and explore this untamed natural wilderness they’re lucky enough to call home.

 

 

 

 

 

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Waiting for Whitebait – Jacobs River, South Westland

Jacobs River and views to Southern Alps

We load up the whitebait gear and travel to site

Almost time to wait for whitebait

whitebait stand waiting to go down on banks of jacobs river

whitebaiter and stand on banks jacobs river south westland

The stands are lowered and secured in place

Almost time to wait for whitebait

enjoying the views and the river while waiting for whitebait

The stand is ready and nets are set

we sit and wait for whitebait

John watching the river for whitebait

We pace the stand, we enjoy the views

we sit and wait for whitebait

sitting on banks of Jacobs River waiting for whitebait

Cuppa tea time so boil the billy

we sit and wait for whitebait

pulling up the whitebait net

A possible sighting, we lift the stands

we look we check for whitebait

sitting and watching and waiting for whitebait on the banks of the river

Lower the stands again, check the water, enjoy the views

we sit we wait for whitebait

boating down jacobs river with mt cook and southern alps in the backgroundchatting with boating friend on jacobs river waiting for the whitebait

A friend visits we chew the fat and tell some stories

we look we wait for whitebait

whitebait stands with mountain backdrops jacobs river

The tide turns, we pack up for the day

tomorrow we’ll sit

sitting and enjoying the views from the beach at the mouth of Jacobs River

tomorrow we’ll wait for whitebait

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They love to get out and explore the region and spend time immersing themselves in the West Coasts Natural Untamed Wilderness.

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Striking Gold in Ross

Ross is a historic gold town just south of Hokitika on the Glacier Highway.

Gold was first found in the area in the 1860s and thus the town of Ross was established. With a population of around 300 people it is hard to believe it was once more like 4000 in the height of the gold rush days.

Totara Bridge Station Ross

Recently we had a couple of nights staying in Ross – at the Totara Bridge Station holiday park nestled at the end of Ross Beach Road.  What a location!  Literally right on the beach you’ll discover this almost hidden oasis.  With accommodation options suiting every budget – we were in our caravan, so there are powered and unpowered sites, dorm bunk rooms, double rooms or self catering units.  Now I say rooms and units but these are more like pods.  They are actually recycled shipping containers that have been converted and to say they are cool well that would be an under-statement, even down to the communal kitchen and ablution block – really tastefully done.

old rail bridge over Totara river West Coast wilderness trail Ross

Ross is possibly more known of late as being either the finish or the start of the West Coast Wilderness Trail – part of the NZ Cycle Trial system around New Zealand.  The West Coast Wilderness Trail goes from Greymouth to Ross – some 139kms through some of the most stunning West Coast scenery on offer.  The Totara Bridge Station is a great accommodation option for people using the cycleway.

ross beach with misty clouds

We weren’t here to do any biking (I know – what!) but with two days up our sleeves we had plenty of time to explore the offerings of Ross.  Compulsory would be a walk on the beach.  Predominately a sandy beach, from the Ross Beach road you can head off in either direction – literally for miles.  Nico and I didn’t venture too far but did enjoy just meandering with the sand between our toes and relaxing in the sunshine.  Stephen and Ziggy headed off to the south – out towards the point.  There is a seal colony out here so you often get seals anywhere along the beach lazing in the sunshine.

sunset over Tasman Sea from Ross beach

One thing I never get sick of are West Coast sunsets.  I know we live by the sea and get to see them all the time  but I just can’t help myself – they draw you in and each one is different and special in its own right – no matter what beach you are on.  I’m obviously not alone in my thinking as some of the locals came down both nights we were here, pulled up, watched the sunset and then headed back home for the night.

historic empire hotel ross

For us after we’d seen the sunset,  we headed into Ross for dinner at the Historic Empire Hotel.  Talk about your traditional Kiwi country pub.  This place rocked!  So much atmosphere and history – you could almost feel it oozing from the walls.  The bar was filled with locals and visitors alike.  Quite a few workmen in the area at the moment – for gold mining and tree planting apparently.  Everyone was friendly and eager with a smile.  Maria behind the bar and Christine out in the kitchen were all smiles and the bistro buffet was just what the doctor ordered.  After a cold beer or two by the roaring fire and with satiated tummies it was time to head back to base and hit the hay for the night.

My only regret during our stay was not getting out to take some night photos.  The star lit skies would have to have been some of the best I’ve seen for a very long time.  We get some awesome star lit skies at home but the two nights we had in Ross they were quite out of this world – and you’re just going to have to trust me on that.

main street Ross town of goldinformation centre town centre Ross

Next day after another compulsory short walk on the beach, we headed into Ross to the Goldfields Museum and Information Centre.  While Stephen did a walk about town, I chatted with the lovely lady in the Information Centre who was super friendly and helpful.  Nico and I then went back to base to make a picnic lunch while Stephen and Ziggy headed off to check out the historic Gold Heritage Trail.

gold heritage trail with views to lake Rosshistoric goldfields trail rosshistoric goldfields tail race track ross

This is a lovely walk in the back of Ross, following the water race as it wound its way up the hillside.  There are lots of relics and information boards with a cool old miners hut at the top of the trail before the trail joins with the historic Ross cemetery.

historic Ross cemeteryross historic cemetery with Ziggy playing peek a boo

It was here that Nico and I joined Stephen and Ziggy for our lunch.  Something about sitting in among the graves and headstones – we find it very peaceful and therapeutic.  Not bad views from up here either! Peek-a-boo I see you……

Ross cemetery with views overlooking valley

Now to give you an indication of how Ross was once a thriving metropolis (remember earlier I mentioned a population of 300 now v 4000 back in the late 1800s) well Ross has two historic cemeteries.  Knowing how we love cemeteries an investigation of the second cemetery was compulsory – aaahh I think we’re in heaven – excuse the pun.  What we did wonder is if perhaps one cemetery was Catholic and the other Protestant – they both certainly seemed of similar age historically.  The latter of our cemetery visits though is also the current use cemetery and again what a location – what a view.  Sitting atop a hill with views in all directions.  Think we’ve found our lunch stop when we next need a place to stop on route to – well anywhere…..

Jan and Nico enjoying a beach walk at RossNico, Jan and Ziggy at the beach Ross

Our afternoon excursion saw us taking a drive further south from Ross (about 15kms or so), turning down Beach Road off SH6 just before the Waitaha River bridge, passing through the little settlement of Kakapotahi and coming out at the river mouth of the Waitaha River.  The beach was strewn with driftwood – as far as the eye could see.  It would be a driftwood sculpture’s idea of heaven – talk about untamed natural wilderness.  The boys and I were content to find a nice log and sit and relax and enjoy the views while Stephen took some (more tee hee) photographs.  Watching the surf pound in against the shoreline is rather mesmerizing to say the least.

sunset from lookout seat Totara Bridge Station at Ross beachsunset reflections at accommodation at Totara Bridge Station Ross

Back to base to feed the boys and catch another stunning sunset.  Once again some of the locals turned up – like us they just sat and watched and then headed off again.  I could watch a sunset every night of the week and it was great to see I wasn’t alone in that thinking.  The sun setting into the sea should not be taken for granted, not every one is so lucky. This one set the sky on fire – so much so it made it look like the holiday park accommodation was on fire with the reflections in their windows.  Rest assured a call to the local fire brigade was not necessary.

Empire Hotel Ross under night lights

With the boys tummies satiated – yep our turn and it was back to the Empire Hotel for a traditional country pub feed.  Something else I could do every night of the week – but then I’d be the size of a house so while watching a sunset whenever you like is allowable – and even advised, eating pub food too often is definitely not.  We enjoyed it while we could though and then back to check the boys and settle in for the night.

reflections on the Totara River Ross

Another day dawns and all too soon it is time to pack up and head for home.  Our little break away to Ross has been fantastic.  We couldn’t have asked for better weather and the people of Ross – from Sue & Andy at Totara Bridge Station, to Maria & Christine from Empire Hotel and the lovely people we met at the Information centre and the locals in the pub, all helped make our experience all the more enjoyable.

kisses with Nico and Ziggy on Ross beach

On a more heartbreaking note – we want to dedicate this blog posting to our beautiful boy Nico who recently passed away.  Our family chain has broken and our hearts are broken with it.  He was one super special dog – our big fella, our gentle giant, so full of love and joy.  So glad to have had this final road trip with him – he loved coming on our adventures, loved meeting new people and exploring new places.  Rest easy our beautiful boy – you will remain forever in our hearts. xo

Nico enjoying the beach

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  Together with their much-loved faithful companions Nico and Ziggy they enjoy getting out and exploring the region they’ve been lucky enough to call home – The Untamed Natural Wilderness West Coast.

 

 

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Rarotonga – From one Island Paradise to Another

There is a recurring theme from many of our guests at Breakers Boutique Accommodation when I ask them how long is their holiday – three weeks, four weeks, even six weeks in NZ but finishing with a few days on a Pacific Island, predominately Rarotonga.  Well say no more – for us this is a no brainer, we have to check it out and make sure it is the right thing to do…… it’s a hard job but really someone had to do it……

blue callings of rarotonga lagoon

Flying in we get an immediate sense this was the right thing to do.  You can see the whole island from the plane window at only 32 kilometres round and surrounded by crystal clear lagoon waters with the reef protecting it from the crashing waves from the sea.  Oh this is going to be bliss.

enjoying the views in Rarotonga

Now your trip to Raro can be as relaxing or active as you like.  Best thing is you don’t need to pack much.  Remember though it is an island with towering mountains in the middle so you can expect rain and in fact should expect rain at some stage.  You may not get any but I like to work with the rule of thumb – have a rain jacket and you won’t need it, don’t take one and it will rain.

Lyas bungalows in the evening light at Rarotonga

This is our third visit to Rarotonga so we know our way around pretty well.  We like to be self-sufficient and book our accommodation through Rentraro.  They have properties all over the island that they manage and there is something for everyone and every budget.  This trip we chose a little one room bungalow – called Lyas on the South side of the island in Titikaveka and the sub-village of Tikioki.  This area has possible the best beach for swimming and is a renown snorkeling area – well just along the road anyway.  We made a point of lazing in the waters every morning and every evening.  A great way to start and finish our day.

scooter power rarotonga

One thing we have noticed during our visit to Raro is an increase in tourist population – this meaning an increase in vehicles on the road.  The first year we came it was predominately scooters – the favoured choice of transport for the locals and used to be for visitors too.  Unfortunately there are now numerous car hire options – can’t say I’m a fan and don’t think it is necessary.  Part of the appeal of the island is riding around on your scooter – with a speed limit of 30kms and 50kms you don’t really need a car to get anywhere.  That would be my main recommendation – hire a scooter, be like a local.  They are super cheap to rent and the price of petrol is bordering on ridiculous.  Think it cost us $5.00 to fill ours.

soaking up the views as we bike around Rarotonga

We also hire a mountain bike when we visit.  The roads are generally flat, if you head inland you might find a hill or two but the main outer road is flat the whole way round.  It pretty much follows the lagoon waters too so you get great views and can stop anywhere you like for a cooling dip in the waters.

There are plenty of eateries on the Island – again something for every budget but generally pretty inexpensive.  A popular item on most menus is a fish burger of some sort – think I’m in heaven.  We were lucky enough to be based right across the road from Charlies – a popular eatery with locals and visitors alike (you’ve seriously got to try their fish sandwich).  You can also hire paddle-boards and snorkeling gear here too.  There are other places dotted around the Island so options aplenty.

muri night market at Rarotongaofferings at muri night market Rarotonga

Another must do eating option would be the Muri night markets.  A great selection of local fare often complete with local entertainment.

descending the needle hike in Rarotonga

We’re not big into fishing trips, pub crawls, diving, snorkeling, island nights or other tourist based activities.  That’s just us but there are plenty of those options for if you wish.  For us it just about a slow pedal around the island on our bikes or a walk along the beach – or a hike up the Needle.  Personally I think a hike up the Needle is a must do for everyone.  It is portrayed as strenuous but it isn’t really that bad.  Oh sure you will be huffing and puffing and probably taking lots of breaks on the way up but that’s ok, you’re on island time, there is no rush.  It may be super slippery after rain so do take good care – is very tree rooty, so much so in places it’s more like climbing a ladder…. I’m probably not selling it to you so far.  But we get to the top in less than 40 minutes – so take deep breaths and go for it.  The views are worth it – although in saying that follow the signs to head down the other side – but only for five minutes – literally to the top before you start the real descent.

views of the needle from the needle walk in Rarotonga

You’ll know where I mean when you get there – there the views really open up for you.  You can carry on down to the waterfall if you want – it is was our plan this year but we’d recently had heavy rain making the ground super slippery and last thing we needed was a visit to the hospital so we played it safe and went back down the way we knew (town side).

spotting the little reef fish off the wharf at Rarotonga

So this isn’t our usual “this is what we’ve been up to” blog posting.  This is more an information based blog – hopefully helping you make an informed decision about what to see and do if you visit Rarotonga.  In summary:

beaches of Rarotonga

The island is around 32kms round – split into West, North, East and South – easy eh!  West side is sunset side with coral based beaches.  We stayed this side first visit and while loved it for the sunsets didn’t find it the best for swimming as quite windy and a rocky shoreline. North is the more touristy side – home of Muri for all your water sports and main tourist based activities.  Huge amount of accommodation and eateries.  East side for the sunrise and possibly least windy side.  Renown side for snorkeling – the tourist trips all end up bringing their groups out to this side.  South side – possibly least rocky side of island, less touristy/busy but prettier for walking/biking as predominately following water line for duration and best side for swimming.

Accommodation:

Self booking/self catering check out Rentraro.  We’ve always dealt with Eddie and he is super informative and helpful.

Hotels:

West side – Edgewater Resort, Sunset Resort; North side – Club Raro (between town centre and Muri), Pacific Resort – right in the heart of Muri; nothing really more residential and holiday homes with exception Little Polynesian but super expensive – if you can afford it though I’d be going there for sure – what a spot!; South side – The Rarotongan.  If we were going to stay in a hotel style accommodation I’d be opting for The Rarotongan due to its location on the South side of the Island.

There are numerous other options, the above are just a small selection of the main hotels.

Transport:

Hire a scooter but if you have to hire a car…… hire a mini convertible – you might as well look cool!  We use Polynesian Bike Hire for both our scooter and mountain bike rental.

Hire a mountain bike.  We opted for the jumbo bikes – fat tyres and while you’re not doing any off-road as such the roads are in such poor condition for the most part the fat tyres give you more comfort.

missionary church at Rarotongaback road in Rarotonga

Church – a must do when visiting Rarotonga is attending a Church service.  Aside from beautiful buildings these are wonderful to attend and listen to the locals singing – nothing short of heavenly (I know but it couldn’t be helped).

leaving the church service Rarotonga

Finally.  Explore – take the inland route, especially round the south side of the island, so lush and green.  Take the little gravel back roads – they usually eventually end up back on the main outer route but you’ll get to see where all the fruit/veges come from, get away from the traffic and can even discover some seriously cool rock-pools ………..

rock pools Rarotonga

or hidden hideaways to just sit in wonderment.

soaking up the views off the rocks Rarotonga

Most importantly – relax, it is the very reason you’ve come here.  Take off your watch, turn off your phone, unplug, get outside, immerse yourself in nature – you will be more connected than ever 🙂

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy sharing their experiences with their guests and helping ensure they make the most of the travels to this part of the world – no matter where the Island paradise…….

 

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10 Mile Valley – Valley of Mines Becomes Valley of Waterfalls

Drip, drip, drip, plop, plop, plop

gurgle, gurgle, gurgle, swoosh, swoosh, swoosh

cascading waterfall amongst the native forest 10 mile valley walk

That’s the sound of the rain slowly turning the 10 mile valley from the Valley of Mines into the Valley of Waterfalls.

dripping water against the mossy rockface 10 mile valley

Many people curse the rain but for us here on the West Coast we embrace it and all the joy and beauty that it brings with it.

10 mile creek and waterfall 10 mile valley walk

The 10 mile valley after rainfall comes alive with the fast flowing creek waters and the sounds of nature changing.  The native bush and moss shimmer as the water flows over it and the greens are intensified – so vibrant and lush.

hanging waterfall amongst the lush green bush 10 mile

What was once merely a pretty rock face soon becomes a cascade of water reminiscent of a new bride’s wedding veil – it is don’t you think……  It springs to mind as good friends in Germany daughter is getting married today.

waterfall and green native forest 10 mile valley

In Hindu culture they say rain on your wedding day is good luck because it signifies that your marriage will last.

“A knot that becomes wet is extremely hard to untie – therefore, when you “tie the knot” on a rainy day, your marriage is supposedly just as hard to unravel! ”  I love it – just another reason to love a rainy day.

We dedicate this blog to Nadine & Artur and wish them all the best for their special day.

Next time you go to curse a rainy day – look around you, you may be surprised by the beauty that is uncovered.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They love getting out and about exploring the many beauties that make up this gorgeous region.

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The Road Less Traveled – Taking a Drive through Untamed Natural Wilderness

It is so easy to get caught up with following the mainstream – be it in everyday life and including a road well-traveled.  Sometimes we like to get in the car and just go for a drive – nowhere in particular.  Recently we decided to head out for a drive into the Grey Valley – Heart of the West Coast back country.

waikiti downs back country roads

Can’t confess to be completely on a “let’s just drive mission” – we did have a general plan – sort of.  We headed out the Grey Valley turning off towards Nelson Creek and out to Lake Haupiri and beyond.  The road just keeps going – on and on deep into back country farm land.  There was just us and lots and lots – did I mention lots,  of dairy cows.  Their backdrop isn’t bad though – surrounded by natural untamed wilderness with hills covered in NZ native bush and intertwined with gurgling rivers and streams.  Almost seems unfair for them to practically have this backdrop to themselves.

waikiti river on misty winters day

Eventually, given the rainfall of late the road got a little mucky even for us – we sure didn’t want to risk getting bogged down out in the middle of no-where.  Oh we had passed a few farm houses but still feels like the middle of no-where.

rainbows and reflections lake haupirimoody clouds reflecting in Lake Haupiri

We turned back and made a bee-line for Lake Haupiri which we had driven passed on route.  It was spitting the first time round and now – well I can’t say the skies had cleared but it wasn’t spitting.  In fact it was picture perfect.  Not a breath of wind affording us fabulous reflections – both of the surrounding untamed countryside and the moody clouds hovering above the mountains.

moody skies and their reflections in Lake Haupirimoody reflections and mist on Lake Haupiri

Was one of those moments in time where you could just stand there and reflect – excuse the pun, on the fortunes of life bringing us to this little slice of paradise.  Many say we are lucky to live here – in fact we often say it ourselves but in retrospect we choose to live here, we love the West Coast, we love the Grey District – we love the untamed natural wilderness and that doesn’t mean getting lost in a dense forest or climbing a mountain but untamed and natural – a wilderness almost as God created and where when it has been touched by man, nature soon returns to her natural beauty.

Next time think about taking that road less traveled – you never know the journey it may lead you on and the beauty you will discover.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They love nothing more than getting out and about and exploring the region and everything it has to offer.

 

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