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Celebrating Matariki

Posted by Jan Roberts on June 24, 2022

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

Breakers Boutique Accommodation


Tairea - A Pounamu Legend

Posted by Jan Roberts on April 22, 2021



The Tairea is one of the famous waka in Ngai Tahu storytelling and recounts a pounamu creation legend.

The Tairea belonged to Tama Ahua, who lived at volcanic Tuhua (Mayor Island) in the Bay of Plenty with his three wives Hine Pounamu, Hine Aotea and Hine Tangiwai.

The wives deserted Tama Ahua and hurried away from Tuhua in Tama Ahua's Tairea waka, now captained by their new suitors. They set sail southward, eventually reaching Rangitoto (D'Urville Island) at the top of the South Island.

When Tama Ahua realised what had happened he set off in hot pursuit, aided by his slave Timuaki, hoping to win back his beloved wives. Using a magic dart to divine the path they had taken, he cast it high into the air until it stopped and pointed to Rangitoto. He immediately set sail but arrived only to find the blackened remains of their fire.

Casting the dart again, it pointed this time to Onetahua (near Motueka), but again he was too late. Once more the dart flew through the air, this time turning and showing the way down the Tai o Poutini, alighting at Pahautane (near Fox River), and then with another throw, at Kotorepi (Nine Mile Creek and beach).

The Tairea, meanwhile, was leaking badly and began to take on water as it passed by here (Punakaiki). The fugitives furiously baled out the leaking canoe but eventually were forced to make landfall at Kotorepi to effect urgent repairs. They then carried on under sail and paddle around to the next bay, Rapahoe, meaning the 'blade of the paddle'.

They pushed on southward aboard the Tairea, with Tama Ahua and Timuaki following days behind in their wake. When the Tairea reached the Makawhio River tragedy befell Hine Aotea, who was drowned and thereby turned to stone.

Onwards again till the waka made Piopiotahi (Milford Sound), where again they were struck by tragedy and Hine Tangiwai drowned and was also turned to stone.

Bereft, they turned the Tairea around and headed north again, until reaching the Arahura River, which they crossed and continued upstream to hide in case of pursuit. On they went till the mountains narrowed the valley and river into a dangerous rapid. Here the Tairea foundered and sank, drowning Hine Pounamu, along with the three captains. All were turned to stone.

Tama Ahua meanwhile, after following his dart to Makawhio, then Piopiotahi and back to Arahura, ventured up the river until he came upon the sail of his old waka clinging to the mountainside Whitiaketera. Looking into the deep pool below the rapids he saw the Tairea and its crew all turned to stone, including Hine Pounamu.

However, a certain karakia gave him the chance to restore his wife to life by making an offering to the atua, of birds cooked in the umu. Heading back downstream to find the birds, Tama Ahua instructed his slave to prepare the umu but the birds emerged overcooked. Worse than that, as Timuaki lifted them off the hot rocks he burnt his fingers and instinctively licked them, thereby immediately breaking the tapu and the karakia.

Distraught at having lost his only chance of reviving Hine Pounamu, Tama Ahua turned his rage on Timuaki, whom he turned into a small hill on the spot. The mountain alongside he named Tuhua as a memorial to his and Hine Pounamu's northern home, and the mountain opposite Whitiaketera he named Tara o Tama. Tama Ahua then returned to the north, leaving behind Hine Pounamu, who became the mother lode of pounamu in the Arahura.
 


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.

Continue reading about Bruce Bay Wonderland

 


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.

Continuing reading about Lake Matheson Walk


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

Posted by Jan Roberts on July 04, 2020

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.

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.

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

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.

Learn more about Grey District, Heart of the West Coast - 5 short walks

 


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.  

Learn more of the Grey District, Heart of the West Coast

 


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.

Continue reading our Virtual Mystery Tour West Coast - Murchison Reefton Loop

 


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.

Continue to read our Virtual Mystery Tour West Coast - Oparara Basin, West Coast


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.