Seals, Crayfish & Albatross – South Island Wildlife

There are quite a few accessible wildlife colonies in the South Island, some are free, although DOC always appreciates donations to help with upkeep of tracks and facilities.

Fur seals – Tauranga Bay & Cape Foulwind, Westport
A short walk from the car park at Tauranga Bay takes you to a viewing platform to see fur seals. As the name foulwind implies, you may well smell the seals before you see them. A zoom lens helped us get the best photos. For a longer walk, take the Cape Foulwind Walkway. (Seal viewing free)

Fur seals & crayfish – Point Read the rest

Taking a shine to Hokitika

There are a list of reasons why I took a shine to Hokitika ………

Shining Star beachfront accommodation – It was camping with the animals that appealed to me – Highland cattle, alpacas, ducks, and a goat. A visiting free range rabbit made it an Old MacDonald’s Farm of sorts without the noisy sound track. We parked the caravan on a grassy site but there’s also log style accommodation (some of it beachfront).

A beach to yourself – Shining Star is next to a driftwood strewn beach that you may get to yourself, particularly in moody weather. The town sits … Read the rest

Curious in Kumara

I didn’t get to share my Kumara pronunciation with the locals, I heard them say it before I could call their place a vegetable. Ku-mar-a (stressing the mar) is how they say it on the West Coast of the South Island.

Kumara developed after gold was discovered in nearby Dilmanstown in 1876. According to information at Shantytown, the Kumara – Dilmanstown area is known as the place of New Zealand’s last gold rush*. The rush is said to have been started by two moonshiners who went bush to set up an illegal still.

During their preparations Cashman and Connor … Read the rest

Cheers Bookme – Shantytown, & Monteith’s Brewing Co in Greymouth

Bookme is an online tourism site advertising activities and attractions at discounted prices. We checked out the West Coast deals and booked Shantytown, $10pp (usually $31.50pp); and a Monteith’s Brewery tour $10pp (usually $20pp).

Shantytown Heritage Park, 10km from Greymouth
Shantytown is a re-creation of a gold rush town and has 30 shops and buildings. A ride on a steam train is included in the admission fee. Pay $7 extra to pan for gold, Mike brought home a few flakes. You may be able to have an old time photo taken in Golden Nugget Hotel (see our Shantytown tip below). … Read the rest

Mitchell’s Gully Goldmine and the coastal road south to Punakaiki

At Mitchell’s Gully Goldmine, 20 minutes south of Westport, I received the most concise description of gold extraction I’ve heard yet, it was worth visiting just to hear it.

Mitchell’s Gully is a family owned mine, a sign says it was last worked in 1914, I didn’t get the chance to ask whether the family still chip away at it, I’d be tempted if it was in my backyard.

You can walk around the mine site at your leisure and enter the shafts and tunnels, you also get to hold a heavy handful of gold. Take a torch if you’ve … Read the rest

Curious about Country Music?

As an ex Country music show host Barry Skinner’s happy to play requests, if it’s Country, I bet my virtual cowboy boots that your song is in his extensive music collection.

Barry’s spent decades collecting vinyl, signed photographs, posters, badges and other Country music memorabilia. He’s been a judge at the Gold Guitar Awards in Gore, and in 2011 he was inducted into the Gore Hands Of Fame, in other words Barry is one of NZ’s “go to guys” for all things Country music.

You don’t need to have a personal interest in something to appreciate someone’s dedication and that’s … Read the rest