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)

Seal pup at Tauranga Bay

Seal pup at Tauranga Bay

Taking a shine to Hokitika

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

Having a rest at Shining Star

Having a rest at Shining Star

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).

Log cabin style accommodation

Log cabin style accommodation

A beach to yourself – Shining Star is next to a driftwood strewn beach that you may … 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 recreation 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.

Walk through some tunnels

Walk through some tunnels

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 need a torch to go in this shaft

You need a torch to go in this shaft

You can walk around the mine site at your leisure and enter the shafts and tunnels, you also … 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 enquiries Country music.

Country music memorabilia on the walls and on the ceiling

Country music memorabilia on the walls and on the ceiling

You don’t need to have … Read the rest

Arts Unique Wood Sculpture Garden

Update 2016: At the end of 2015 Arts Unique left Marahau and relocated to Waimangaroa (around 15 minutes north of Westport). Some of the sculptures were sold, but check out Arts Unique on Facebook to see what’s happening at the new location.

Arts Unique, RD 2 Marahau, on the edge of the Abel Tasman National Park
There’s a sign inviting visitors to walk around and take photos in the Arts Unique sculpture garden and that’s what we did as Arts Unique gallery hadn’t opened for the day. You can leave a koha (donation) in the tree.

Sculpture of Abel Tasman (1603-1659), the first European to discover New Zealand. By  Ken Blum & Woody Woodward

Sculpture of Abel Tasman

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