On 27th February we left Wanaka for Queenstown, Otago, adreneline capital of New Zealand. The drive from Wanaka was as stunning as ever and we arrived on another glorious day, checked into our accommodation which was a hotel on this occasion (Scenic Suites) as we had found a super deal) and wandered into town.

A nice evening view of town from our hotel
A nice evening view of town from our hotel
One of the main shopping streets
One of the main shopping streets

The town stands on the banks of yet another huge lake, Lake Wakatipu, surrounded by the Southern Alps, notably The Remarkables which stand on the opposite side of the lake to the town.

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This is another town founded on mining and was originally settled by Europeans and a substantial Chinese population who came to mine gold in the 1860s. Nowadays the Central Business District (CBD) has an entire street and more full of companies selling activities from bunjee jumping, sky diving, para-gliding and white water rafting to fly fishing and multi-day tramping. The spectacular mountain scenery and stunning lake views make for some fantastic walks using hut accommodation overnight. And of course the town’s position in the Alps, like Wanaka, make it another town that enjoys a winter season with skiing and other winter sports.

All manner of water sports are available - we hadn't seen this one before.. ..
All manner of water sports are available – we hadn’t seen this one before…

Backpacker hostels/hotels, pubs and eateries abound here and its clear from the moment you arrive that this is a party town. The place was already buzzing when we arrived mid afternoon with many bars already full of locals and tourists of all ages but mainly folk in their twenties and thirties. Many of the bars and restaurants have tables on the streets which makes for a great atmosphere throughout the day and most streets lead down to the waterfront where there is always something going on with all manner of boats sailing back and forth in and out of the harbour, street entertainers and live music. And of course the audience is very multi national with an extraordinary number of Japanese, Chinese and other Asian nationalities.

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Its fair to say we didn't do too many of those...
Its fair to say we didn’t do too many of those…

We knew there was lots to do and places to visit in the Queenstown area and so we booked a full week at the Scenic Suites Hotel and we were glad we did. It’s a great town with a great vibe. Despite the availability of cheap alcohol ($4/5 beers available even outside Happy Hours) we saw little evidence of the younger fraternity getting too sloshed. One of the things I like about New Zealand pubs and restaurants, apart from the Happy Hours, the excellent craft beers and wonderful white wines, is the fact that chilled tap water for drinking is provided free of charge as a matter of course. Its available when requested at a bar and indeed many bars have carafes of iced water ready at the bar for customers to help themselves. Similarly in restaurants, water will invariably be brought to your table with the menus and there is no compulsion to buy alcoholic or any other drinks. Actually we noticed here and elsewhere that many of the younger customers sat in bars seemingly chatting and drinking for hours on end were actually drinking water or soda – we didn’t see any of the alcohol fuelled anti-social behaviour so often seen in towns and cities in the UK which is at its worst whenever the sun shines.

Now, having said all of the above, it’s fair to say that we would usually be back to the hotel before 9pm most nights and I dare say it gets messier later at night…

Our unbelievable good luck with the weather continued (have I mentioned that the NZ summer this year has apparently been the best for years ?). We had a great week with good walks at least every other day with odd hours of trout fishing here and there.

One of the top attractions of Queenstown, believe it or not, is Mrs Ferburgers Burger Shop. Whenever we passed this shop, at any time of day, there was a neverending queue of customers waiting with great anticipation and smiles on their faces to get to grips with one of the many varieties of burger dispensed from this long standing institution. Its definitely a must do for any visitor to Queenstown and it seems most did. But we didn’t! Notwithstanding the temptation of such colossal and multifarious treats I’m afraid we couldn’t face a 45 minute plus wait. But we did succumb to Mrs Ferburgers Bakery next door which offered growlers with a multitude of exotic fillings – we went for tradition steak pies which we ate whilst sat down by the lake and which were absolutely top notch.

In addition to our walks, we included a few excursions during our week, a memorable one being to Arrowtown, a historic gold mining town on the banks of the Arrow river, a 20km, 20 minute drive from Queenstown.


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Although only a tiny place, Arrowtown has a lot of history and probably deserves its own post.

A Maori settlement existed here historically but British, Irish and other Europeans along with some Americans and Chinese arrived in their droves following the discovery of gold in 1861. There had been attempts to keep the find secret but by the end of 1862 there were 1500 miners here and at one point there was a population of over 7,000.The population is now nearer 3,000.

2015-03-02 13.29.01Within a couple of years of the rush, the gold had become more difficult to extract and many of the European miners moved on to the West Coast goldfields for easier pickings in 1865. But by now a comparatively large town had become established and this exodus of folk impacted on the Otago economy. The Chinese were considered good workers and in an attempt to maintain the economy, more Chinese were invited to travel to New Zealand to work the mines abandoned by the Europeans to earn money to send back to their families. A small Chinese settlement of tiny cottages built of sods and stones developed on the outskirts of town, quite separate from the rest of the community. Whilst they scratched out a living with most gold being found by panning the Arrow river running by the settlement, it was a difficult existence made doubly so by ill-treatment racism and persecution by the Europeans. The Chinese population reduced over time and was gone by 1928. A reconstruction of their settlement remains as a historic reminder and nearby Dudley’s cottage offers an opportunity to learn the skills of panning for gold which can then be put to the test in the river nearby.

An opportunity to learn to pan for gold
An opportunity to learn to pan for gold
and in the river nearby,an opportunity to put your skills to the test.
and in the river nearby, an opportunity to put your skills to the test.


We arrived at Wanaka 24th February and checked into Lake Wanaka Lodge, dropped the bags and went for a stroll.

We had a good feel about Wanaka even when first arriving on a nice sunny day..
We had a good feel about Wanaka even when first arriving on a nice sunny day..

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It was a glorious day and town was busy with lots of people about, pavement restaurants and bars full. Kids were playing on the beach and swimming in and jumping into the lake from the jetty. There are rivers and lakes everywhere in New Zealand and its normal to see folk bathing in them – this took some getting used to coming from the North West of England where it’s definitely not the norm.

Kids playing in the lake - not something often seen in the North of England
Kids playing in the lake – not something often seen in the North of England

There was a really good vibe about this place. It’s very laid back and like everywhere else in NZ, people tend to have a smile on their face and time to have a friendly conversation. We liked it immediately and even more so when we discovered a number of budget friendly bars with Happy Hours. With judicious planning it was possible to drink, responsibly of course, at happy hour rates from 4pm to 7pm.

Sleights Ale House - our favourite watering hole during our short stay in Wanaka
Sleights Ale House – our favourite watering hole during our short stay in Wanaka

Our first late afternoon and early evening was spent in Speights Ale House and then, too tired to bother with a proper meal, it was cheeses and biscuits back at the ranch – a regular light repast when its too much trouble to cook.

Lake Wanaka
Lake Wanaka

The next day, we decided on an easy lakeshore walk to Waterfall Creek which took us past the Rippon Vinyard. We packed a picnic and set off directly from Wanaka around the lake shore and passing the winery to Waterfall Creek. It was nearing harvesting time and as we passed we watched nets being laid over the rows of vines to protect the grapes from birds. We had seen these nets covering vines and fruit trees all over New Zealand and thought what a big job it must be and sure enough even with a machine to draw the net along and over the rows of vines, it still took three people to get the job done.

Rippon Vineyard - we resisted the temptation of entering the cellar door on this occasion
Rippon Vineyard – we resisted the temptation of entering the cellar door on this occasion
Netting the grapes.
Netting the grapes.

The following day we set off in the car to do the Rob Roy Glacier Walk which is apparently a fantastically scenic walk, quite tough in places but leading to the most picturesque view points of the glacier. Annoyingly, having driven quite some distance and with many miles still left to drive, the road became unsealed and corrugated and so we gave up on this walk for fear of wrecking the car. Instead, we drove back towards Wanaka to do the Diamond Lake Walk. This wasn’t a particularly long walk in itself but we then continued above and beyond the lake to a viewpoint high above Wanaka providing fantastic views of the surrounding area. Truly stunning!

Diamond Lake
Diamond Lake

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Wanaka Lodge was a very pleasant motel owned by a very nice Japanese family. Breakfast and dinner could be taken at the motel but the rooms have no cooking facilities – a real pain.

The general quality of the motels we have used so far has been very good, even excellent in a couple of cases. However the accommodation usually consists of a single en-suite room often not particularly spacious and often without any outside space. There may or not be a kitchenette and even if there is, facilities often comprise only a microwave and toaster.

As much as we love bars and restaurants, eating out becomes quite tiresome – not to mention expensive – after a few weeks of travel but we were also beginning to feel the confines of a single room motel accommodation a bit claustrophobic – a good job we decided against travelling by camper van!

So at this point we started to re-look at all the accommodation that we had pre-booked (but not yet paid for) for the weeks and months ahead in New Zealand and Australia, the idea being to cancel any bookings for accommodation which didn’t include cooking facilities and book new places which had. Also, whilst we had pre-booked most of our accommodations for a minimum of 3 nights to give us at least 2 days in most locations, we did have some two night bookings and the odd single night booking made to break up a long drive. We decided we should try where possible, without changing our basic itinerary, to find alternative self-catering accommodation, ideally holiday houses or apartments and book for a minimum of 3 nights.

Back to Wanaka, we had two full days at here and loved it. We would have been happy to stay a week.

The town is quite small but has some nice shops, bars and restaurants and is clearly an affluent place. The main street overlooks the lake separated from it by a road and then gardens and grassy areas. As everywhere, the gardens and grass are lush (they do get a lot of rain in NZ), well manicured and the streets are litter free. The Main Street is lined with shops, bars and restaurants, many with tables out on the street and overlooking the lake – a great place to sit and enjoy watching the world go by.

The restaurant and bars, like most places here, depend a great deal on youngsters who are working their way around the world and many are Brits or Irish. The ambience is great and in such a friendly convivial atmosphere conversations are easily struck with locals and visitors alike whilst enjoying a pint or two or a meal.

This is a very very pretty town where activities, as ever, are of the outdoor variety. Tramping, cycling, climbing and watersports dominate the tourist activity but of course there are plenty of opportunities to shed £s on other activities – boat trips scenic helicopter or aeroplane flights and the like. In the wintertime this is a winter sports resort with skiing, snowboarding, snow-trecking and the like all on offer and so its a place that has an appeal in all seasons.

Wanaka is most definitely one of the highlights of our trip so far and definitely a place we would re-stay for a week or longer if we get chance to return.

En Route to Franz Josef Glacier

On,20th February 2015, following our visit to the far north of South Island, we left Takaka to continue our anti-clockwise tour.

Our next destination, another “must see” location, was Franz Josef Glacier and it was a must see for more than one reason.

Firstly, Franz Josef is on any visitor’s bucket list due to the simple fact that it is a glacier; not something you see everyday. It is located in an area of outstanding natural beauty but also remarkably, it’s a glacier that runs from ice-capped mountains down into lush, temperate rainforest at less than 300 metres above sea level. This phenomenon apparently occurs only in two other places, one being Fox Glacier a few miles south of Franz Josef, the other being the Perito Merino Glacier in Argentina! The second reason why it’s a must see is that global warming is having such an effect that the glacier is shrinking quite rapidly to an extent that it’s quite likely that it will be impossible to see in the future other than from the sky.

But we had some travelling to do before we reached FJG. The drive from Takaka to FJG is over 500Km and almost seven hours of driving with few notable places to stop en-route other than the Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki.

When building our itinerary we tried to limit any drive to three hours whenever possible and so we had decided to break the journey firstly at Westport, named after one of our favourite towns in the West of Ireland (like many of the towns and streets in the south island that don’t have a Maori name) and then again at Hokitika which would leave us with an easy final stint of less than two hours to FJG.

All or at least most of our journeys from area to area have been truly scenic, but the drive from Takaka to Westport is the best so far. Starting with the return journey back over Takaka Hill we then hit Motueka and travelled along the lush Motueka Valley, a very pretty valley, through agricultural land growing grapes, apples, hops and other fruits.

A beautiful stretch of water on the River Gowan but alas no fish.....
A beautiful stretch of water on the River Gowan but alas no fish…..

En-route we stopped to wet an unproductive fly in a lovely wilderness trout stream (Gowan River) and called at Lake Rotoroa intending to walk a few kms and cast a few more flies but we were bitten mercilessly by the dreaded sandflies and beat a hasty retreat to the car, leaving within minutes of arrival.

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Apparently great brown trout fishing if you can get past the sandflies...
Apparently great brown trout fishing if you can get past the sandflies…

Our next stop was Murchison, a town founded in the gold rush but now apparently famous as the Whitewater Capital of NZ and a fishing and tramping centre. It comprises a couple of streets only in the middle of nowhere but isn’t unattractive. Ann would and did call it a One Horse Cowboy Town.

From Murchison the journey continued through the truly awesome Buller Gorge. This provides fantastic scenery with a seriously big river running through a deep deep gorge with the road winding along its length high above the river. The river runs for 170 km to Westport and in parts the road is a single lane literally cut into the rock of the mountain side. We stopped at one viewing point to look down; like many of the rivers here the water is gin clear and even from a distance of perhaps 50 metres above we could see large trout in the river. Awesome. A memorable drive.

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The end point of this section of our journey, Westport, sadly bears little resemblance to its namesake in West of Ireland. Maybe the inhabitants enjoy weekend shindigs at the local RSA Club (Returning Services’ Association) every bit as good as a night at Matt Molloy’s in Ireland but I doubt it, although in all fairness, as of yet, I’ve still to persuade Ann to risk a visit to an RSA Club. It has to be done though…

We didn’t find Westport NZ a particularly pretty town although there is a modern art deco style civic hall and what is apparently an excellent coal museum – which wasn’t open at the time of our visit. The town, like many NZ towns, was established fairly recently in the 1860s following the discovery of gold in them there hills. Subsequently, good quality coal was discovered and is still mined here. The town is also well known for its Seal colony nearby.

We enjoyed a take away and a beer and retired early.


Our journey continued the next morning via the Great Coast Road, named by Lonely Planet as one of the top 10 drives in the world. The scenery is varied all along the coast down to and beyond Franz Josef and seems to change every five minutes; up and around narrow and winding mountain roads, limestone cliffs, long deserted beaches and dense ancient forest.

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Greymouth is the next town south after Westport but after the briefest of stops we drove on. Greymouth’s attractions are the activities that are available in the area, white water rafting, cave rafting and other adrenaline-charged activities but also gold panning, an attraction that is on offer at various places along this coast and many places in South Island. Otherwise, unless we were going to avail ourselves of such attractions, Greymouth had been described to us as dull and so it seemed during our briefest of stops.

Our next stopover before we finally hit Glacier Country was Hokitika but on the way we would stop at the world famous Punakaiki.

Punakaiki is a small community on the edge of Paparoa National Park and is a very popular tourist destination due to the existence of the Pancake Rocks. As far as we can tell the community has come to exist only to service the National Park and to feed/feed upon the constant flow of tourists visiting the Rocks.

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The Pancake Rocks is an area of heavily eroded sandstone where at high tide the sea bursts through vertical blowholes. The rocks comprise layer upon layer of limestone formed by the immense pressure on alternating hard and soft layers of marine and plant sediments. The rock formations are indeed fascinating but sadly our visit didn’t coincide with the high tide necessary to see the blow holes in full force!


We arrived Hokitika early afternoon. Hokitika is another town founded on gold mining in the 1860s and at one point was ranked the premier port in New Zealand, a fact which seems incredible when you visit the place today. By now the town’s economy is tourism-based but the carving of greenstone (pounami) remains an important local industry. The town was really quiet with many of the shops closed but as usual a couple of gaming bars doing good business.

Hokitika Clock Tower.The first shops that can be seen on either side of the road are Pounami ( Greenstone ) Centres
Hokitika Clock Tower.The first shops that can be seen on either side of the road are Pounami ( Greenstone ) Centres

The town comprises a small complex of uninteresting, pretty characterless streets of mostly modern one storey construction with the usual collection of day to day and tourism shops including those selling marino wool and possum derived products, a very large gold shop or two and several Greenstone shops. Our tour of the town was done within an hour and following a brief visit to the beach, we then killed time before a so-so Indian meal by stocking up at the Four Square Supermarket ahead of our visit to supermarket-less Franz Josef next day.

Franz Josef

We arrived at Franz Josef Village early afternoon on Sunday 22nd February after yet another scenic drive. We were a tad earlier than anticipated but thankfully were able to check in to our room at the Alpine Glacier Motel.

FJ Village (population less than 400) seems to exist solely to serve the hordes of tourists wanting to visit the glacier. It’s a very small town of only a few streets with the main street comprising wall to wall tour operators offering guided walks, scenic helicopter flights and Heli-hikes to the glacier. The helicopter trips offer the punters, fitted up with the appropriate boots and gear, a short flight to the glacier landing to complete a walk on the glacier. There is a an almost constant whir of helicopter engines throughout the day.

The glacier is quite remarkable in that it passes from ice capped mountains down to temperate rainforest within 300 metres of sea level. However, whilst the glacier continues to move forward, fed by snow and ice melt, it is actually retreating at a fairly rapid pace due to climate change.

Until 2012 it was possible to get onto the glacier by hiking to it from the town but that’s no longer possible; the glacier tail is now unsafe with regular falls of ice and rock. The only way to get onto the ice now is by helicopter. This was disappointing, albeit no surprise following our research. My vertigo doesn’t allow helicopter flights and whilst Ann would have liked to do the ‘copter trip, she didn’t want to do it on her own. It was to be a guided walk for us and we booked it for the following morning.

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Sunday afternoon was spent walking one of the DOC tracks, the Callery Gorge, a fairly short but interesting walk through the bush to a look out point. The walk was interesting in terms of the vegetation: lush dense forest within a few hundred metres of the glacier and ice capped mountains. We finished the afternoon with a few welcome beers during happy hour at the very agreeable Alice May Bar/Restaurant. Our walk the following day involved a fairly early start and so an early night was called for with dinner of the eat-in variety – quiche with salad and a very acceptable bottle of Pinot Gris…

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We did the glacier walk the following morning. We had decided to take the guided walk even though most of the route was accessible to all (and so we could have done it for free) simply because we thought we would learn so much more about the glacier and the fauna and flora of the region than we would by self tramping. And we were right; the guide was both amusing and knowledgable and we thoroughly enjoyed the three hour tour and in the event got fairly close to the glacier with some good snaps taken.

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Next stop, Wanaka!

Golden Bay and Farewell Spit

On Saturday 14th February we arrived at Collingwood, a small seaside town in Golden Bay which is at the end of State Highway 60 in the north west corner of the South Island.

Golden Bay is part of the Tasman Sea and access is on foot via the multi day Abel Tasman Track to the East or Heaphy Track to the North, by water taxi or plane or for most folk by road over Takaka Hill.

I must admit that I was a bit fearful of the drive over Takaka Hill which is a steep and windy road over from the more populated Tasman Bay to Golden Bay. I’d seen many references to Takaka Hill in my research and it didn’t sound a particular safe or pleasant drive with many hairpin bends up to a height of 791 metres above sea level.

The hill, known locally as the Marble Mountain, is formed of marble and limestone and over the millennia has weather into many strange shapes like karsts with many sink holes and caves. It was the location for a number of the Lord of the Rings scenes.

In the event the drive was less fearsome than I anticipated and Ann loved it as the weather was good and the views are spectacular. As everywhere here in N.Z., stopping places and viewing points are provided frequently to give some great photo opportunities.

Golden Bay is sparsely populated but is a popular holiday destination for Kiwis because of the climate and the beaches which come one after another as you drive along after the descent from The Hill and through the small town of Takaka –  it’s not difficult to find your own beach for an afternoon.

One man and his rod. It isn't difficult to find a beach to yourself here - this is Milnthorpe Quay
One man and his rod. It isn’t difficult to find a beach to yourself here – this is Milnthorpe Quay

Takaka (population about 1,100) and Collingwood (circa 250) are the two main townships in Golden Bay and, as they were quite different, we had decided to stay for a few days in each place starting first with Collingwood.


Collingwood, which is the most north westerly town in the north of South Island is a former gold town of the 1850s. It is a tiny town  but is an ecotourism destination being at the mouth of the Aoere River, gateway to Karurangi National Park, the last town before the beginning of the Heaphy Track (one of the Nine Great Walks) and the base for catching an Eco tour to Farewell Spit.

The town is pretty and very old fashioned and, like many of the small towns here, has an Old England feel to it. There are a number of hotels and motels, a pub/diner, a number of cafes and takeaways and the usual tourist shops and all, or most, are timber built. There are very few old buildings as a number of fires in the late 1800’s and 1900’s devastated the town.

Station House Motel, Collingwood
Station House Motel, Collingwood

We stayed at the Old Station House Motel (originally the old police station) where we had a lovely room with French doors which opened out into to a lovely garden area with BBQ facilities. Very old fashioned but clean and with the all important decent WiFi.

Like everywhere in New Zealand, tourism is largely based on the outdoors whether it be land or water based; tramping (hiking), hill climbing, fishing or watersports. Elsewhere the more  adventurous pursuits such as bungee jumping, skydiving, canyoning and the like can be done.

We were blessed with great weather during our stay and managed to complete some great walks and an excellent guided excursion.

Whaririki Beach – Awesome!

Wharariki Beach
Wharariki Beach

One of the highlights of our stay here was a visit to Wharariki Beach. This is son Matt’s favourite beach and is on a stretch of spectacular coastline with a long stretch of white sand with sand dunes and backed by forest. There are huge cliffs and rock karst like formations off shore which over the millenia have been eaten away by the sea, creating arches, stacks and caves. The beach  can only be accessed by foot; a short walk through sand dunes from a farm paddock or a longer walk via farmland and forest. We chose the longer forested track and although we managed to get lost and walked twice as far as needed, we were rewarded with some stunning scenery and the sight of black swans and other unidentified bird life.

No experts on birdlife but even we could identify these as black swans....
No experts on birdlife but even we could identify these as black swans….
Wharariki Beach
Wharariki Beach

Whilst Wharariki was definitely the beach walk of all beach walks,  we completed a number of  other interesting walks including Waikouropuu Springs where the largest cold water springs in the Southern Hemisphere can be found.

A scene at Waikoropupu Springs ;the water is said to be amongst the purest in the world
A scene at Waikoropupu Springs ;the water is said to be amongst the purest in the world

Farewell Spit

Our Farewell Spit Special Purpose Vehicle
Our Farewell Spit Special Purpose Vehicle

The other highlight of this area was a bus  tour to Farewell Spit. This is a narrow sand spit at the extreme northern tip of the South Island which stretches more than 30km into the Tasman Sea. It is the longest natural sandbar in the world and an internationally renowned bird sanctuary. It is protected by the DOC and access is only permitted for this organised tour or for research purposes. Sadly, Farewell Spit appears on international news from time to time because over the years it has been the scene of a number of mass strandings of pilot whales. The whales become beached at low tide for reasons not really understood. Only a week or so before our trip, there was a mass stranding of almost two hundred whales which we thought might scupper the tour. Hundreds of people from the area flocked to try to help re-float the animals but whilst a few were rescued, most died.

In the event, the whale carcasses were removed by the Authorities in a matter of days and Tourism resumed and our tour went ahead. Our tour, on a specially constructed vehicle to ride the sands, started with a visit to Cape Farewell, the most northerly point on the South Island. It was discovered by Abel Tasman and named by Captain James Cook in 1770 – the last land seen by the crew as they departed on their homeward voyage. It provides some stunning views over clear blue sea in which we spotted sting rays and baby seals during our visit.

Cape Well Views ( the darkspots in the sea are stingrays
Cape Farewell Views – the darkspots in the sea are stingrays

Our trip continued along Farewell Spit to the end where there is a gannet colony – unfortunately we couldn’t get too close on the day but we did see many breeds of birds and fur seals en route and the trip included a visit to the  historic lighthouse.

A bit of homework for you: Google Farewell Spit lighthouse history for the interesting story of the lighthouse and the people who manned it.

Seals on Farewell Spit
Seals on Farewell Spit
Farewell Spit Lighthouse
Farewell Spit Lighthouse

This was a great  6 hour outing with an excellent driver/guide who was very knowledgable and very entertaining which made for  a very enjoyable experience.


Shady Rest, Takaka
Shady Rest, Takaka

After 4 nights in Collingwood we moved back along Highway 60  to Takaka to spend a couple of nights of bliss in a B&B, the Shady Rest. Takaka is  another place close to Matt’s heart and he has a number of friends in the area including his former landlady Pauline and friend Mark, an Englishman who owns and runs the Shady Rest, a fabulous old house originally a doctors house and surgery which Mark has lovingly restored to its former glory over a period of years. The rooms are amazing and there is a fantastic garden to enjoy, including an outside bath in a secluded part of the garden if that sort of thing appeals. Breakfast is served in the big open plan kitchen which is great and leads to a very convivial atmosphere – Mark is a great host.

Our fab room at Shady Rest
Our fab room at Shady Rest

Takaka is a very interesting and pleasant town with a very different feel about it. It is more laid-back than even your average laid back New Zealand town due to the fact it has a long established community of alternative lifestylers (aka hippies) and there are lots of little arts and craft type shops, whole food and organic food shops and it a very bohemian feel. Notwithstanding it seems quite an affluent place.

Our two days here flew by in very pleasant fashion visiting various local beaches and sights but happily we got chance to have a cuppa and catch up with Pauline, who we had met previously in the UK and we also enjoyed an hour or two of post pub craic and excellent home brew with Mark. This was our first catered stop in New Zealand where we enjoyed proper beautifully  cooked breakfasts on two consecutive days! We can highly recommend Shady Rest and hopefully we will get chance to return before too long…

Mark and Peter at Shady Rest
Mark and Peter at Shady Rest