Share it

Monday, 19 December 2011

New Zealand Tour. October 5th/6th & 7th 2011. Rotorua and Kaitiaki Adventures, Whitewater Rafting and Sledging The Kaituna River.

I did not know that The Kiwi Fruit grew on vines, I do now! Driving from Papamoa Beach to Rotorua on the SH 2 through the town of Te Puke, and passing the large Kiwifruit Country theme park with a giant Kiwi fruit at its entrance, I have not doubts about how the fruit are grown; I just had not expected so many acres of them. It was a fast journey to Rotorua so we went on up to the Waiotapu Thermal Area, and arrived in time to see the Lady Knox Geyser be set off at 10:15. Yes I did say the geyser is started, this is done with a bar of soap and after that the geyser performs for a good 45 minutes. Next to the geysers is a hot waterfall and a secret hot pool to sit in if you want to, its good fun. I loved the Champagne Pools with their fantastic colours the best, but the whole place was fascinating. Next we drove to the Mud Pools to watch mud boil, and on to Kerosene Creek, a hot river with hot pools to wallow in.
Following all this thermal activity we went in to Rotorua itself, the town had an air of Las Vegas about it, I think it’s the straight roads with Motels lining them. So many Motels it’s hard to choose, but we chose the Best Western Capri Court, and it was a good choice. The accommodation was very clean and spacious. It had a sitting room that could sleep two, a kitchen area, bathroom, a double bedroom with a king-size bed and a back yard with its own thermal spa pool. The accommodation was very quiet and the owners very helpful and friendly. It was a great choice and I would recommend this Motel.  


The next day we had booked to go white-water rafting on the KaiTuna River. I am not really an adventure but do like to try out new activities. We were picked up by Jezza (Jeremy), one of the guides, he said ‘Hi’ then commented on my age and size, I am over 50 and a UK size 10. He asked if I really wanted to go rafting? As we drove to the river he informed us of how dangerous this river was, not to keep any jewellery and that this was not an activity to be taken lightly. I was having misgivings and thought about changing my mind, but this bloke was a bully, he said any pussies could pull out as could the chickens, wimps and old has-beens, well! I have never given in to a bully in my life and was not about to do so today. At the base we were met by a very professional team led by Rana. Rana safety talk was very good; he told us what to do if we ended up in the water. We then changed in to wet suites with fleeces underneath. A well fitted life jacket and a hard hat. You had to leave valuables at the hut in an open bench, I would have preferred lockers. Jezza sorted out who was to sit where in the raft and off we went, I did not like the first waterfall and got a full whiplash as we went over it. Again we pulled up at the bank so that ‘any chickens could do the walk of shame’. I stayed on, a big mistake; all I remember is crouching in the back as we went over the 7 Meter Waterfall, gripping very hard with my legs and holding on to the handles very tight. Then I was at the bottom of the waterfall, underwater being bounced about, something hit my head very hard, it was a rock or the end of one of the paddles you were given to row with. I surfaced took a breath, then was plunged to the bottom again. When I came up for the last time the rescue squad was there with a canoe for me. Lovely boy! He told me my face was bleeding, but I was not bothered, it was my hand that was the problem it was twice its normal size and hanging limp by my side! Now I was not bothered by any of this, if you do these things then you may have an accident, it goes with the fun. It was the next bit that I have issue with. As we got to the end of the course, Jezza told me to sit at the very front of the boat, and proceeded to dunk me under the water at least 5 times, if he thought he would beat me he was mistaken, I may have been ½ drown but I did not flinch. I think the others on the raft were more traumatised that me. Back at the hut Jezza did patch my face up with steri strips and give me an ice pack for my hand. So impressions, I think that this river really is dangerous, I have found out that people have been killed on it. This is a difficult concept for Europeans to grasp, as we live in countries obsessed with Health & Safety, we end up not really believing that you will be allowed to participate in really dangerous activities and this gives us a false sense of security. It is a dangerous activity and I did get hurt doing it, unfortunately because of my job I deal in masses of adrenalin each day, It is getting harder and harder for me to have adrenalin rushes! And even though I was in the river I had no Adrenalin...strange but true.  There have been very few occasions in my life where I have wished that I had not done something and this is one thing I wish I had never done.

The next day I was really sore and very stiff, but we had a chill out day walking round the lake, having fun on the luge, and visiting the excellent Rotorua Museum. The Hot Pools of the Polynesian Spa in the evening were very welcome on my sore bones.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

New Zealand Tour. Dig your own spa on a Hot Water Beach, Fun thats Free.

As it is now the 2nd of October and we are on the North Island I expected better weather, but it was another dull rainy day and that was a shame as the drive from Auckland to The Coromandel Peninsular looked good even on this horrid day. Leaving Auckland early Sunday morning we took the Pacific Coast Highway looping around The Firth of Thames, or The Seabird Coast; everything has a strap line in NZ! The land in this area seemed to be made up of seashells with a small covering of topsoil. The best thing was the roads were straight, well as we passed Miranda anyway. We had breakfast in the ex gold mining / logging  town of Thames,  at a very good place called Food for Thought, it seemed to be a veggie cafe with a knitting theme, it had many hand knitted 3 D pictures on the walls, as well as knitted tea cosy's. Refreshed we followed the SH 20 up to Coromandel, the road hugging the spectacular coastline. Even though it was a dull, rainy day the coastline was spectacular with Blue water, small islands, coves filled with white sand, small bays and lots of views that made driving distracting. It was business as usual as far a winding roads go, I had to drive as I was feeling car sick as a passenger. It was pouring with rain and blowing a gale as we drove across from Coromandel to Whitianga on the 309 road so did not get out to do the popular Kauri Loop walk but continued to our destination, Hot Water Beach. I had booked Ocean View Cottage over 18 months ago and it did not disappoint. Ocean View Cottage, 30 Pye Place, Hot Water Beach, RD1, Whitianga is the physical address the web site is hotwaterbeach.net.nz . Its located opposite the famous Hot Water Beach. Has two bedrooms, one with a king size bed and the other a twin. A fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, sitting room, BBQ and outdoor shower.
As we arrived the tide was just going out, perfect timing as the hot water on the beach is accessible two hours each side on low tide. The cottage had shovels so we grabbed one and in the pouring rain found a hot spot on the sand, dug a hole and sat in the private spa for a long time. In fact it was so much fun that we did it the next day as well. Over hyped? Over touristic? And overcrowded it might be, but it is still a unique, free attraction that you should not miss if you visit this area. The water that bubbles up is scalding hot in places you have to mind that you don’t burn you bum! But its great fun. 
Danger....The Water really is HOT!
  
Join The Rush to get the 'Best' Spot?

Dig you feet in to find the hot water.

Dig your self a hole

And relax!
Whilst exploring this area we also had a good day walking the tracks around Cathedral Cove and Shakespeare Cliffs, also getting the ferry over to the town of Whitianga. After two very relaxing days we were on the road again driving towards The Bay of Plenty. Following a very relaxed lunch at Mount Maunganui we continued to a Top 10 Campsie at Papamoa Beach. Here we rented a Holiday Unit, the unit was large and could sleep six, as with all the accommodation in New Zealand it was very clean and comfortable. The site itself relied on its beach front location and would not have been very good if you were camping, for instance it did not have a large communal kitchen, it did not have a kitchen area at all. It was also the most expensive campsite we stayed on. By now the rain had stopped we walked miles along the pristine beach, the wind that was blowing made walking hard work. It was this same storm that contributed to the ship The Rena running aground on the Astrolabe Reef the next day and subsequently covering the beach in oil.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

New Zealand Tour, England V Scotland Game RWC 2011, Shame on you English Rugby Squad!

It only took about 3 hours to drive from the peaceful town of Kawhia to Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city. Once we go off the winding roads onto the SH1 it was easy driving.
It was time to say ‘goodbye’ to this campervan, so we drove to the Britz HQ at the airport. The offices were all decorated for the Rugby World Cup, and very busy with Rugby Fans. Britz provide a fixed fee taxi back into the city, this journey took almost as long as the drive from Kawhia to ALK had taken. 

We headed to the centre of Auckland, where I had booked The Mercure Windsor Hotel for two nights. Auckland was Rugby Ready! Everywhere was decorated, and a Fanzone had been created on the quayside. This fanzone was outstanding. The large rugby Ball, we had seen it in Paris in 2007, had come home and inside was a fantastic 3 D film of New Zealand, made better by the fact that we had already visited many of the locations. I loved the sheep and winding roads...so very true! The large screens available for fans to watch matches were the best quality screens I have ever seen and the atmosphere inside was as good as being at the game! I was regretting spending thousands of pounds on tickets as this place was free, warm and dry!
Unfortunately the The Mercure Windsor Hotel was not as good. I booked this hotel during with Expidia, and as the England v Scotland Rugby Match was on I knew that the prices would be high, however at £300.00 per night this is one of the most overpriced hotel rooms I have ever booked, and is most certainly the worst value hotel room I have ever had. The room was small, it had two small ‘double’ beds in it. The two beds did not match the single headboard, the mattresses were old and too large for the bases! I was surprised to find a fully equipped kitchen area, Due to the kitchen area the occupants in the rooms on each side of me chose to cook, the smell of food cooking was evident on all floors of this hotel and was not a good look for a Hotel. The bathroom had only a shower and neither the towels or soaps/ shampoos ect were replenished on day two. The hotel corridors and room looked in need of a major refit, The curtains were old, did not fit and shabby looking. To use the Spa /Pool you had to ask a member of staff to unlock the door, and due to the rugby all the staff were run off there feet, so I did not want to add to there burden.........But the worst thing about this Hotel is that it is very noisy, I was repeatedly woken on both nights we used the room, in fact this was the worst sleep I had in our 8 week tour of New Zealand. But I was not going to let the poor quality hotel spoil our stay! We enjoyed Auckland and its waterfront, eating at all the very overprice restaurants there.
On Saturday 1st October it was the big event, England V Scotland. Auckland pulled out all the stops, the sound of bagpipes filling the air along with the Scottish dancers...where were the English Morris Men or Flag-Crackers? http://www.folk-now.co.uk/directory/teams_west.html the train transport to Eden Park was free and there was loads of entertainment on all around the stadium. To start us off we watched the fantastic match Tonga V France, with Tonga winning and all the Tongan fans in the Fanzone going wild! Then set off up to Eden Park on the train. Hoping, really hoping for a good display of Rugby (like we had just seen, Rugby played with passion!), not the boring stuff England had subjected us to so far, I was beginning to wonder if some of the England players were actually proud to pull on the white shirt, or was that left up to us fans? Also, we had started to hear disturbing stories about Ball Tampering, Dwarfs and lude remarks made in hotel rooms? What the hell was going on?
So we were nervous but hopeful as we sang our Anthem, interestingly many of the ‘Scottish’ supporters in the Stadium did not know the words to Flour of Scotland, they read them from their i phones! Plastic Scotsmen I feel? By the 10th minute it became clear that we were once again watching a team (England) who did not appear to understand the rules of the game that they were playing. Whilst Scotland played with commitment and passion we had to endure over 80 minutes of totally boring, dull rugby, and it cost us a lot of money to watch shit such as this.......I am thinking of of switching and watching Rugby League if this keeps happening, it is disgusting. At the end of the match, the last game in this pool, the English Rugby Team did not even come out onto the pitch to acknowledge and maybe 'thank' the fans that may be going home now. I found the behaviour of the England Rugby Squad 2011 both on and off the pitch to be very arrogant, unprofessional and deeply disturbing, they seem to be treating the Tournament a some jokey school Rugby Tour who obviously do not need the support of people like us!  I will be surprised if we beat France next week....in fact I have seen a nice French Rugby Shirt in the RWC shop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Scottish Rugby Fan

England Rugby Fans.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

New Zealand Tour. 28th, 29th & 30th September 2011. Wellington to Kawhia and food for free!

The only plans for this week were that we had to be in Auckland on Saturday for the England v Scotland Match, so basically we were heading North. But what route should we take? It was a choice between heading for Napier , Taupo or go the long way round New Plymouth. Andy wanted to visit Wanganui, so the New Plymouth Route won. We left Wellington early and it was a very pleasant drive on the SH 1 and SH 3 to Wanganui.
The town of Wanganui is located on the banks of the Wanganui River, the town looks like it was once a boom town, it has a lot of very historic looking European buildings, but the town had an air of faded glory, rather like many of the towns found in the North of England, old centres that once were the home of the of the coal mining and textile industries. The Whanganui River is a dominant feature and a restored paddle steamer The Waimarie was just pulling out into the river as we arrived. The museum dedicated to the history of the restoration of the paddle steamer was very interesting. There also looked to be a lot to do in the Whanganui National Park, walking, canoeing and jetboating were all on offer. The area looked very interesting and once more we wished we had more time to spend getting to know yet another part of this fascinating country.



Wanganui Art on its Art Trail...its the river.
We headed to New Plymouth, driving through lush farmland, the sheep of the South Island seemed to have been replaced by Cows on the North. New Plymouth is located on the Tasman Sea and overlooking the town is Mount Taranaki, a massive cone like dormant volcano. As it was quite late when we arrived we booked into the first Campsite we found, The Belt Road Seaside Holiday Park. This basic campsite had grassy stands overlooking the Sea, a kitchen block, toilet blocks, a BBQ area and was in easy walking distance of the town, we just chilled out in the van after the days driving.

The next day the skies were clear revealing Mount Taranaki in all its glory, it was spectacular. Following the SH3 we headed to Tongaporutu to see the ‘Three Sisters' Rocks and Tongaporutus boulders, but the tide was in when we got there...bad timing! And the walk we wanted to do was ‘closed for lamming’ it was a shame as the area still looked great and gave us a glimpse of what we were missing! At Awakino we turned inland to the Waitomo Caves where once again I was underwhelmed by a 'Major'  tourist attraction.
The Waitomo Caves, the area has many caves to visit, you can go Black Water Rafting in the caves, we chose to visit the cave that offers Glow-worm Trips. In the Waitomo Glowworm Caves a silent boat gilds across the dark cave with just the light from the Glow-worms above, that bit, the Glow-worms’ were good, but the caves were over hyped and rather disappointing. Also no photos allowed, so sorry no pictures!
After leaving Waitomo we drove on the Te Anga road and visited The Mangapohue Natural Bridge Scenic Reserve, this was a good antidote to the mass tourism found at the caves. We followed a short track that led over bridges and suspended wooden walkways to a stunning limestone archway, then over muddy fields to giant oyster fossils. A little further along the road are the Marokopa Falls, again a walk through rainforest to the falls with only us in attendance..magic.
Campervan at Kawhia Beachside S-Cape
In my book NZ Frenzy, North Island by Scott Cook I had read that the West Coast had a ‘Hot Water Beach’ at Kawhia and after a long drive along a narrow and very winding road we arrived at Kawhia Beach. The tide was out and according to the book the hot water is located at the surf line. You could smell the sulphur and the black sand was hot in places, we dug with our feet as we had forgotten a spade! At this point a 4x4 pulled up and asked if we needed any help, unfortunately the Guys did not have a spade, but we got chatting...about Rugby & the World Cup, and they offered to take us in the 4x4 along the beach to Aotea Beach to gather mussels. The drive along the beach was a lot faster than it would have been if we had gone by road, and we spent a fascinating afternoon gathering Green Lipped Mussels, as large as my hand, with the local Guys.
Driving back into Kawhia, a beautifully located town, as its on the edge of a large sheltered lagoon called Kawhia Harbour we found the Kawhia Beachside S-Cape, a campsite undergoing renovations. It was great, the large kitchen block was so well equipped that I had no problem cooking the Mussels for our tea, and the showers with their free hot water were just what I needed. So once again, after an eventful day, it just goes to show that the best things in life really are free.

New Zealand Tour. 27th September 2011. Wellington.

For a capital city Wellington is very easy to get to know. it was clean and very accessible. In no time we had visited the Waterfront and paid a very fleeting visit to the excellent Te Pap Museum, I would have liked to spend a lot longer here but time was an issue.  Walked over the bridge from the Waterfront to the City, rode the Cable Car to the Botanical Gardens, seen the Beehive and other official buildings. I especially enjoyed the New Rugby Sculpture that had been created to celebrate the Rugby World Cup 2011 and thought that the Rugby Pitch in the City was a great idea.
We ate at The Matterhorn on Cuba Street. This was a little hard to find, down a small ally, between two shops on Cuba Street. Once inside subdued lighting hid what looked like polished concrete pillars and walls, that could have created and odd, bunker type look but surprisingly the whole concept worked well, creating a cosy ambiance. The food we had was really good quality, I had the gourmet Pork done in three ways, whilst my partner had the Beef, we were both delighted with our choices. It was expensive, but then I found that eating out in New Zealand was expensive, and to be fair, Wellington is the Capital City. I would recommend you eat at The Matterhorn if you like good food. That night we stayed in The Southern Cross Serviced Apartments in Wellington, small rooms but once again very clean and excellent value for money., as well as a good location near to Cuba St.

New Zealand Tour. 25th to 27th September 2011. Picton to Wellington.

Reading about the Port of Picton in the Tourist Bibles (LP &RG) you don’t really get a feel for the place. ‘its a busy port as its the main access point for the South Island’...so I’m thinking Dover? And due to this,  I am also thinking, I don't like busy Dover so let’s stay in Haverlock or Blenheim??? How wrong can you get!
Europeans don’t be put off, don’t confuse the lovely town of Picton with our own busy Port towns, for example, the above mentioned Dover, Piraeus, or Hamburg may spring to mind! It is not like them.....Picton is a sleepy hollow, New Zealand version of a Port.
Picton is picturesque; the town is a good place to stay. It has a lot of very reasonable priced accommodation, good restaurants, a variety of companies offering day trips to the Marlborough Sounds or the Queen Charlotte Track and I think it is the perfect base for exploring the whole Marlborough Region. So don’t overlook it, like we almost did.  
Our plan was to do lots of the available activities, but by now all I wanted to do was relax, so we turned up and booked into The Apartments on the Waterfront, 45 Beach Road, Waikawa Marina, Picton... and for £60.00 we got........a fully self contained apartment that could have slept 5 people in two bedrooms. The complex had a pool and Spa. The flat had the two bedrooms, a bathroom and a laundry on the ground floor, a large sitting room with 2 balconies, a fully equipped kitchen and a cloakroom on the upper floor. It was clean and a real home from home. From here we enjoyed a relaxing three days that consisted of not doing very much to enjoying a day out in the Marlborough Wine Country, tasting the wines and eating a decedent meal at the Highfield Estate.

 

The Malbrough Wine Trail leaflet can be picked up at the i Site, on one side is a map and on the other a list of all the Wineries and the facilities they provide. I saw some wines I knew in this area, The Brancott Estate, Wither Hills, Cloudy Bay and Highfeild. We ended up at Highfeild as it was easy to find.
When it was time to leave the South Island I was sad, I loved it. I really liked the town and area of Nelson.
The ferry had been pre booked by Britz the Campervan company. It was the Interislander. There was another company in the harbour, Bluebridge. If I had had the choice I would have booked Bluebridge as the Interislander ferry was old and looked very poorly maintained, it was making the Greek Vessels we used on our Greek Island Adventure look like luxury liners. http://moira-moirasdailyblog.blogspot.com/2010/09/greek-island-hopping-adventure-paros-to.html I did not think the Ferry looked Seaworthy, just one example of this was that the chains holding up the lifeboats were rusted, and I mean thick with rust, if the lifeboats were needed I don't think the chains would move, the whole ship had a faded, dilapidated, uncared for look to it. I did not relax one bit on the 3 hour crossing to Wellington and despite being very sad at leaving the South Island I was glad to get my feet on the firm soil of the North Island.

New Zealand Tour, 24th September 2011. Able Tasman Park with Able Tasaman Sea Shuttle.

One of the reasons we had previously tackled Takaka Hill twice in one day was that we wanted to spend a full day walking in the Able Tasman National Park. By staying overnight in Kaiteriteri we were able to book the Sea Shuttle at the booth located on the beach and get the 09.15 boat into the park. The small boat was packed, the crew were great, very attentive to the passengers and friendly and informative about the park. We were then dropped off at the top of the park at Totaranui and walked back to Bark Bay. The walking was easy, on well marked tracks. This was a perfect day out, very relaxing and I can see the attraction of doing the 3 day walk of the whole park.
Split Apple Rock.
We Choose Able Tasman SeaShuttle, and had a GREAT Day out!
Able Tasman Beaches.
We made our way back to Nelson and booked in at a Motel , Beaches. As it was the England v Roumania Match as well as the New Zealand v France showdown we needed to be in a Bar to watch the matches! We found a great one, Smugglers Bar in Nelson. The food was great, with portion sizes to feed an army never mind one, big TVs to watch the games and very stressed out All Blacks ready to take on France in the Pool games. 

New Zealand Tour. 23rd September 2011. Up Takaka Hill to Golden Bay and beyond!

Today we drove from Nelson to Golden Bay. To do this we had to climb the famous Takaka Hill.
Takaka Hill is the only way in or out of Golden Bay and the winding road that you have to drive to access this region road helps to maintain an air secrecy and isolation to this beautiful area. The region has an idyllic unspoiled coastline, the large Kahurangi National Park and the Pupu Springs. Takaka Hill was a challenge for the campervan and its driver, but the views of Nelson and the Tasman Bay from the top of the hill were worth the drive.
The Pupu Springs are the largest spring system in New Zealand and among the largest in the world. The water is the clearest water I have ever seen and it pumps out of the ground at an amazing speed. It was a shame that due to the waters being of cultural significance that you can not swim in the springs. The water is always 11.7 degrees Celsius and the underwater plants looked fascinating.
The Pupu Springs are the largest spring system in New Zealand and among the largest in the world. The water is the clearest water I have ever seen and it pumps out of the ground at an amazing speed.
We stopped for late breakfast at the Mussel Inn, but found that they only had Carrot Cake. The place looked a bit run down and in need of some good dynamic management..it did not live up to its Rough Guide reputation of ‘ you can always get a simple, fresh and wholesome meal’, I got a piece of slightly stale Carrot Cake!

We made our way to what I think was the best beach in New Zealand, Wharariki Beach. To get to this beach you have to walk, and its a lovely walk. There is a mapboard in the Wharariki car park that shows you the tracks you can follow, there are a few options and I chose the long track through fields of sheep and lambs, and a small wood before ending on the idyllic beach. The Wharariki beach is over a mile long and it is filled with dunes, rocks, caves, sea arches and islands...its a photographers dream.
We then drove a short way to pick up the walking track to Cape Farewell /Piller Point, this walks countryside was just like being in the South of England, and we did get a good view of Farewell Spit. This arc of sand is the longest natural sand bar in the world (they love these facts in New Zealand, longest, deepest ect). I then enjoyed a cup of tea and company of the owners at the Paddlecrab Cafe. We were going to stay overnight in the Golden Bay Area but due to it being out of season it was very quiet and many places were shut, so we headed back over Takaka Hill to the gateway to the Able Tasman National Park, the village of Kaiteriteri.
Here we booked in at the very large Kaiteriteri Beach Motor Camp. This camp is located on the beach, and as with all the Motor Camps in New Zealand had a choice of Cabins as well as places to put the campervans. There were large bathrooms, but you had to pay for hot water, a large kitchen and a few restaurants. However all the eating places shut at 17.00, in fact the whole place shut at 17.00! so we didn’t get to watch the rugby on TV or find a bar that was open...a quite night in then with a few ducks for company!

Friday, 2 December 2011

New Zealand Tour. 22nd September 2011.From the West Coast to Nelson.

The weather was not as nice today, gone were the blue skies, replaced by dark grey clouds. But, it was not raining, and in that respect we had done well as this stretch of coast is one of the wettest in New Zealand. In the popular guide books, the ‘must sees’ on the West Coast are Cape Foulwind and the Pancake Rocks and Blowholes at Punakaiki. 'Punakaiki is a spectacular  must see when visiting the West Coast. The drive up the coast was great despite the grey clouds, but I have to say I was underwhelmed by both the walks to Cape Foulwind, it was a very long drive to look at a lighthouse and two New Zealand Fur Seals! At The Punakaiki rocks, we did get the tides wrong, the tide was low that may have been the problem.
The rocks are supposed to look like large stacks of pancakes and are a major NZ attraction. The rocks were formed over 30 million years ago from fragments of skeletons and shells. the facilities to look at the rocks were good, with steps and boardwalks leading you to the best viewing spots and looked like you could get a wheelchair along them, but I was disappointed...sorry!
However I was very impressed by a walk just 2.5KM North of the Pancake Rocks, The Truman Track, signposted from the road. This easy walk led us down through Westland Rainforest to a beach with a small waterfall pouring from massive wave eroded limestone formations down onto the black sand beach, this was very impressive.

Now we turned inland a drove on the SH6 towards Murchison and the Buller Gorge. The road follows the Buller River, the coasts largest river. The road winds it way through scenic gorge after scenic gorge between Westport and Murchison. There are many adventure activity companies located in this area and many walks to do. We only had time to visit The Buller Gorge Swingbridge. This is New Zealand’s longest swingbridge, over the bridge (you have to pay to cross) there are a few walks, the best one was to see the White Creek Fault line, the epicentre of the earthquake in 1929. If you don’t want to walk across the bridge to get back to the road you can use the ‘Flying Fox’, a zip wire type thing.
From Murchison we followed the SH6 through the Richmond Ranges, countryside that looked increasingly like rural England. The small towns also had English names, Wakefield, Belgrove and Hope for example. It was late in the afternoon when we arrived in Nelson.