Charming lakes and a groovy little town

As we moved further south we had spent a few nights in Greymouth parked right by the ocean. The weather was a bit stormy while we were there and watching the huge waves pounding in on the beach was a great way to pass the time. In the end we decided that waiting out the weather just wasn’t possible here, so we headed in land slightly to Lake Brunner. It was only a quick half hour drive there with an interesting stop at the Brunner mine site to stretch our legs on the way. It seemed somewhat hopeful we may leave the rain behind as we arrived at our spot at the lake amidst actual sunshine. So even though we didn’t really do much in our day here apart from a little bush walk and a look around the sleepy little lake side town we really enjoyed our time here.

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We wound our way around the lake the next day stopping on our way to walk up to Carew Falls.

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Once we left the lake behind we headed to a DOC camp called the Goldsborough campsite. It was right next to a river where you could pan for gold and had plenty of walking tracks to explore from here as well. We tried our hand at the gold panning but no trace of gold lingered in the bottom of our pans at the end. I fear we are destined to be unlucky miners. The next morning we were up early and headed in to Hokitika to find a base for the next two nights. The forecast was telling us that although the sun was out in full force it was not meant to last, so we really wanted to make the most of it while it was here.

Ever since we passed through Punakaiki we had noticed an ever growing number of tourists had joined us at all the places we were exploring, this morning after we dropped the bus we headed to the Hokitika Gorge and it was clear that it was no longer the off season, we would have to get used to sharing our travels with a whole lot more people. The gorgeous blue of this river is worth putting up with some crowds to see though. It is so vibrant a colour it’s almost hard to believe its natural.

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After snapping a few pictures of the gorge we left most of the crowds behind and took a drive around Lake Kaniere. We stopped to take in a waterfall and have a stroll down to the lake edge, found a great little DOC camp that would be a wonderful summer spot to camp and then headed back in to Hokitika.

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We absolutely fell in love with Hokitika, a small town but it just had such a nice feel to it and the locals have done a very good job of making it visitor friendly. The waterfront is easily accessed from town and there are a few food trucks right by the beach. We wandered along the beachfront a bit then headed to the Hokitika wildlife centre for a bit of kid friendly entertainment. This place far exceeded any expectations I had for it, we fed and touched eels, saw kiwi being fed and had a ball in a great little area where you could catch a crawly – a fresh water crayfish. To top it off if you found a picture of Nemo on your way around the kid’s (big and little) got a chocolate fish on the way out. To top off this perfect day we wandered to a glow worm dell and waited until it got dark and the bush came alive with all the little glowing lights. Oliver walked home after this babbling happily about how great the glow worms were and all the other things he’d loved that day. Like he does at many places he enjoys Oliver asked if we could stay longer and this time I have to say I agreed with him. This is one of the greatest things about travelling your own country so extensively, finding towns like this one and building a long list of places that hold a little piece of our heart.

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Revisiting an old favourite

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Before we head off to explore lots of new places we really want to spend time at some of our favourite local spots while they are still on our back door step. So after spending a wonderful xmas day with my family having a picnic at the beach we decided a quick get away was in order.

Roughly an hour and a half from where we live is a campsite beside Lake Tarawera at a spot called the Tarawera outlet. It’s a spot we have camped at many, many times and is a spot that never disapoints. Stunningly beautiful lake, crisp clear swimming water in the lake and in the river and a relatively easy walk to a nearby waterfall. Really what more could you ask for?

It is a little bit of a drive in through unsealed forestry roads and was quite late by the time we arrived. But the joy of our new way of travelling is that within 15 minutes of arriving I was serving up xmas day leftovers to my tired wee boy and with no real set up of camp required we had time for a stroll down to the lake before bed to wind down from our very busy day.

We woke the next morning to rain and a learning experience of having parked sideways on a sloping site and spent the night slowly sliding out of bed. So after breakfast we shifted to a slightly flatter spot where we could park where the front of the bus was pointing downhill and not the side. A much more comfortable position. With the bus sorted we decided to head off for a little walk along the river.

DSC05610There is a track that follows the river until it goes through an underground tunnel and comes out at the Tarawera Falls, very beautiful with a neat swimming hole enroute but for this walk we decided just to go until Oliver had had enough and wanted to turn around. It’s rather lovely walking through the NZ bush on a rainy day, cool and damp but sheltered from the worst of the wetness. We found a spot for morning tea on some mossy boulders and hung out for some photo’s.

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Luckily in the afternoon the weather cleared and we managed a crisp but refreshing swim in the lake and the river. It was the perfect little getaway after the excitement of xmas day, a great way to shift the focus from presents and over indulgence to family and nature. And the start in a way of our farewell of to our old home and old life as we ease our way into our new one.