Click on the thumbnails to see an enlarged picture.

Tuesday 10th Feb
The morning began grey and misty but we were soon rewarded by seeing this extended family of California Quails just outside the cottage (see picture). Later that morning we went for a walk on the farm and although the weather was still very overcast we managed to see quite a lot of birdlife.

After lunch we travelled down to Motueka to walk round the town and visit the various public art works that they have here. These vary from glorified rubbish bins to murals on the walls of buildings and other carvings. The churchyard has a Prayer Garden with these murals (see picture).

From Motueka we travelled along the coast to Kaiteriteri and Marahau - glorious views and beaches and all the clouds of the morning had disappeared. If the weather is nice tomorrow we will catch a water taxi from Marahau and go for a walk in the Abel Tasman Park.


Wednesday 11th Feb
The full moon was shining brightly through the night which bode well for a fine day. So after an early breakfast we left to catch the 9am water taxi to Bark Bay in the Abel Tasman Park. We weren't expecting a speedboat ride - we donned life jackets and sped up the coast at a rapid rate of knots. We did however pause on the way at various points of interest including Split Apple Rock just to the south of Marahau. The Abel Tasman track runs all the way up the coast here and people tramp this over several days. We limited ourselves to 5 miles from Bark Bay to Torrent Bay. As we disembarked the clouds gathered and it began to drizzle. Within half an hour this has ceased and the weather was perfect for a walk in the shade of the trees. There were glorious views as we tramped along eventually crossing over the Falls River on a swing bridge - swinging as you walked on it, not swinging to lets boats through! Three hours later we arrived in Torrent Bay just in time to catch the 1pm taxi back to Marahau where the car was parked.


Thursday 12th Feb
Rain stopped play today! It hasn't stopped raining since the middle of last night and at times the rain was torrential. We decided to venture out this morning to Takaka which is north west of where we are staying. We were in the clouds or a heavy mist for most of the way. Not a lot to do at Takaka other than have cups of tea and visit some of the galleries and the museum. By 11.30 we had done Takaka and moved on towards the coast near Pohara. It was high tide and the water in places was lapping at the road side. The scenery - from the little that we could see - was dramatic, and as we drove through the hills on the way back to Kairuru we noticed that some of the drops beside the road were quite precipitous. A walk around the farm after dinner took us to where we could see the old marble workings down below, from where marble was quarried to build the Parliament buildings in Wellington.


Friday 13th Feb
Better weather today for driving down to the Nelson Lakes. When we left Kairuru the sun was breaking through the early morning mist over the hills. Pipit Cottage was certainly a lovely place to stay and we were sorry we didn't have more opportunity to walk around this area.

We travelled down through the Motueka Valley stopping at Tapawera for elevenses. We shared a huge delicious blueberry and white chocolate muffin. Muffins are very big in NZ (in more ways than one) and are often home baked in the local cafes. We reached St Arnaud just after lunch and after a visit to the Tourist Information site went for a walk along Lake Rotoiti where we were lucky enough to see a kingfisher.

The forest here in St Arnaud is quite different from that in the North Island - more like an English wood although the species of trees (mostly a variety of beech) are different and more densely planted. A lot of the trees have a black sooty fungus on their trunks which makes them look burnt.


Saturday 14th Feb
We began the day with a short walk near Lake Rotoiti before leaving St Arnaud on our way to Westport. The River Buller flows all the way from the Lake at St Arnaud to the sea at Westport. Our first stop was in the Buller Gorge where there is the longest swingbridge in NZ - $5 return to cross the bridge or $30 to return by the 'Flying Fox' chair suspended from a wire. There is also a third option of the Superman harness for $45 for those mad enough. The wobbly bridge was enough of a thrill for us for the day.

We drove on through the valley and lower gorge which has beautiful scenic views, eventually reaching Westport in the mid afternoon. On the way we passed a warning road sign which said SLUMPS and were trying to guess what it meant. We found out when we started bouncing over some dips in the road where the surface had subsided. On arriving at Westport we made our way out to the coast to visit the seal colony at Cape Foulwind. We were able to see the seal pups being fed and there were great views along the beach.


Sunday 15th Feb
We drove down the coast towards Punakaiki stopping off at Woodpecker Bay for a walk along the beach. This resulted in us adding another NZ bird to our list - the Variable Oystercatcher (black in this case). This coast is quite warm and sheltered and we saw the tree ferns and Nikau palms that were common in the North Island.

From here we moved on to the lookout at Irimahuwhero and then the Truman Tack just north of Punakaiki. This led down to the beautiful Meybille beach (we think this is the right name).

Just around the corner from here at Punakaiki this stretch of coast is famous for its 'Pancake Rocks' where the sea has eroded the unusual rock formation resulting in the rather bizarre shapes which give them their name. They are also famous for the water spouts which blow up through the holes in the rocks at high tide. Unfortunately this would have meant a wait of 2 hours so we moved on.

The last leg of the trip was through Greymouth to Hokitika. No great views on this section but some interesting single track bridges shared by road and railway! Further on the same railway crossed over the centre of a roundabout at a road junction. Fortunately we didn't encounter any trains.


Monday 16th Feb
Our destination today was the Fox Glacier but first we went on a couple of short walks in the Hokitika area near Lake Mahinapua. The first walk took us down to the beach through native bush and the second, which was called the Bellbird Walk, was through a wood near the lake and was aptly named. We could hear the Bellbirds singing although we couldn't see them. The lake was very calm and peaceful.

We motored on towards the Franz Josef Glacier stopping for lunch alongside the Perth River just before Whatoroa. Continuing on, we reached Franz Josef by 3pm and began the walk up the glacier valley. High above us there were groups of people being led on walks across the glacier. Even higher still the helicopters buzzed overhead carrying those who had money to burn (only jealous!). We have now reached the Fox Glacier where we are staying for the night. We will probably take a trip up the valley to see this glacier tomorrow morning.


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Page updated 22nd February 2009