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Category Archives: Nature

Bruce Bay Wonderland

Posted by Jan Roberts on November 25, 2020

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.

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Lake Matheson Walk, Fox Glacier, South Westland

Posted by Jan Roberts on November 23, 2020

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.

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

Posted by Jan Roberts on May 10, 2020

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!

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.

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.  

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Virtual Mystery Tour West Coast - Murchison Reefton Loop

Posted by Jan Roberts on May 03, 2020

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.

First 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.

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Virtual Mystery Tour West Coast - Oparara Basin, West Coast

Posted by Jan Roberts on April 27, 2020

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.

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Nine Mile Creek Waterfall

Posted by Jan Roberts on July 23, 2019

Breakers Boutique Accommodation has the good fortune of being truly beachfront.  This however is only one of our many natural attractions.  When checking in our guests we show our guests where the beach access is and point out it is a rugged West Coast beach with wonderful coloured stones and strewn with driftwood.  Not only that though, running down the side of the property is a waterfall - our very own (well not really our own but seems like it given our small population base :-)  ).  Often on mention of the waterfall our guests eyes light up - there is just something about waterfalls eh.

With much rain of late the waterfall has been very impressive with huge flow and incredible noise.

Take a listen for yourselves, although on this occasion I think the sound of the gushing water may be drowned out by something else dear to our hearts here at Breakers...... do you know what it is?

Breakers Waterfall in Flood

 

 


Sharing our Backyard - 10 mile Valley

Posted by Jan Roberts on January 18, 2019

One of the little pleasures of running Breakers Boutique Accommodation is meeting people from all over the world and having the opportunity of sharing our little slice of paradise and our backyard.

Lately we had a lovely couple from Sweden, Lena and Lars staying four nights.  Staying longer than one night gives us the chance to showcase more of the region and get a little off the beaten "touristy" track - as lovely as some of those spots are.

A personal favourite of ours to take some time out is up 10 mile valley.  It seemed the perfect place to share with Lena and Lars for an afternoon outing.

The 10 mile valley is a gorgeous valley of contrasts and diversity with towering cliffs, lush green vegetation and the meandering creek.  The first section of the trail gently winds it way up the valley following the creek before it then heads sharply up hill giving outstanding views back down the valley below.

The 10 mile valley is not only stunning scenery but packed with coal mining history as well.  Lately Stephen has been doing some off track exploring and discovered more of the mining history including long abandoned mine entrances and old rail-line relics.  It is fun to be able to share some of the history of the area with our guests first hand and it gave Lena and Lars a real sense of the history that the West Coast was founded on.

To top off the afternoon Lena and Stephen - and their trusty guide Ansel had a lovely swim in the refreshing water of the creek.  A great way to end their explorations up the 10 mile valley. Thanks Lena and Lars for giving us the opportunity of sharing this unique part of backyard with you.


Auckland Highlights

Posted by Jan Roberts on August 05, 2018

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.

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.

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 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…..).

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.

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.

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.

 


Exploring the Wonders of South Westland Mahitahi River Valley

Posted by Jan Roberts on October 06, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

 


Striking Gold in Ross

Posted by Jan Roberts on September 06, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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……

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…..

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.

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.

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.

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

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.