Saturday, January 22, 2022

Miranda-Time for Reflection.

 A perfect hot, calm and blue sky day to visit the Miranda Shorebird Centre and catch up with Keith to hear news about the birds and Centre activities. Also to share sad notes about the loss of a great member of the shorebird team-Jim Eagles who sadly  passed away just recently.

I had many enjoyable meetings with Jim when he joined me for the Wader bird counts at Shoal and Ngataringa estuaries over recent years . We would chat over coffee afterwards and he was such an interesting and learned man to share some time with. He is deeply missed by all. 

Visiting Miranda brought that home today and it was good to have some quiet time reflecting on lost friends while enjoying the many thousands of birds some feeding but mostly roosting at high tide today. 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Camping at the Kohuroa Walkway

 We were here at a similar time last year ago van camping near the walkway. The weather is brilliant with a gentle sea breeze to keep the heat down but with plenty of swims at the nearby bay that was not problem at all. No sign of young NZ dotterel this year but fun watching two young kingfisher begging their parents for food.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

Kaipara - The Terns

The mission was to check out the white fronted Tern colony that had been displaced by recent storm driven high tides and so the birds had Island hopped to this smaller Island to continue nesting. 

We had the usual low tide drag of the the kayaks through and to the muddy channel edge but knew we would be rewarded on the way home later as the tide would be  in with a lovely paddle back right up to the boat ramp.

The birds were certainly here in large numbers we estimated between 350 -400 nesting pairs although it was difficult to ascertain if all the birds on the ground were nesting. as it was now high tide.

 Certainly we could see the heads of the white fronted tern chicks as they peeped out from under their parents protective wings. In amongst them was a SBBGull nest complete with a well developed juvenile. Predation could be a risk for the white fronted terns with such capable predators in their midst. 

Also at this high tide roost site were a mix of thousands of SIPO's, red-billed gulls. Knots and Bar-tailed Godwit all rather fidgety and suddenly they were all up except the nesting white fronted terns who just stayed on task protecting their young and eggs. 

Just before this estimated 6- 7 thousand mix of species  took off five Fairy tern with their flickering  quick direction changing flight flew in briefly but soon left heading down the eastern side of the island. Later we were able to observe one of these birds at the western high tide roost site that the disturbed birds had now settled at.

Friday, December 31, 2021

Old Year Out

 The clock is ticking to the beginning of a 2022. There are many reasons to put 2021 behind us but then for many of us its not been so bad when you consider the turmoil that exists in so many places on our shared planet Earth.

So I'm for thanking all the people who have made it an enjoyable experience and for the opportunities I have had to enjoy their company and engage with good conversations and a shared enjoyment of Nature. Sadly one of those people is Jim Eagles who sadly passed away very recently. I will miss Jim and  our  regular catch-ups when counting the shorebirds at Shoal and Ngataringa estuaries for  wader bird counts. And on other occasions at Miranda and on Cheltenham beach. Our condolences go out to Chris and their family. 

Other sadness at this time of the  year is remembering my sister Susanne who passed at Christmas time last year. My thoughts are with her family too.

So lets all enjoy what we have and the friends we value and share a toast to another year ahead.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

The Mahurangi Vision

The tide was perfect today to allow me to cross from the Mahurangi Regional park to Te Muri beach. An easy refreshing up to the knees crossing across the TeMuri stream was welcome after a steep climb above Sullivan's bay then onto  Cudlip point.

Auckland Council thinking seems to be that  Te Muri Regional park will be a stand alone park. with its own road access and car parking.  Mahurangi residents have a bigger vision that   considers Te Muri  as part of a network of reserves including Wenderholm and Waiwera with possibilities for a long distance footpath. This would  encompass all four reserves with public transport connections to bring people in or under their own steam of walking or cycling.. 

With an increasing  imperative to acknowledge our changing climate and the need to reduce our dependency on oil the Council plan appears to be 'Same old Thinking;  once again. .The Mahurangi vision seems  more about bringing people into the park by other means  acting as a circuit beaker to the way the Regional parks have previously been managed.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Mahurangi Peninsular

Still exploring  within the Auckland Lockdown boundary.

 More to follow...........

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Point Wells

Its that time of the year again. Its Christmas Party time and today Bot Soc are gathering at Point Wells for a get together..

It was great to be able to catch up with people after a long period of Lockdown restrictions. After a gentle hour or so walking around the saltmarsh edge of the estuary it was time for a splendid lunch together in the village hall with a great outdoor area to keep up our social distancing.

Later I took the opportunity to visit the shorebird /wildlife sanctuary behind the predator fence at Omaha. I soon cmae across at least five pairs of Variable Oystercatchers who reminded me not to come to close to their fenced off nesting sites. With NZ dotterel pairs also nearby.

Then on to meet up  with a good friend and enjoy dinner out together at our favorite Indian restaurant. Some fluffing around trying to find my vaccine certificate on my phone that seemed to have disappeared but eventually with the help of the lovely Indian lady we were able to settle down and enjoy our catch-up meal.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021


 Not one but two. Now that's unusual to see two stoats on the same day close by. We have been in Lockdown for many weeks now and the borders have been closed but we have had the freedom to explore Auckland and I never miss an opportunity to re-visit favourite reserves. One of these is on the Mahurangi peninsular. Its a great escape from the city I visit weekly. and sometimes when possible stay overnight in one of the three beautiful campgrounds.

A couple of weeks ago I had headed for one of my favorite walks up the hill to the lookout and then down to Te Muri bay . I crossed the river as the tide was good to  explore  behind the top  of the beach. keeping a lookout for any NZ dotterel nesting activity. At once I disturbed  a stoat.  It bounded away with an undulating movement. At first thinking it was a rabbit the black tail was the real giveaway. 

Heading along the back path above the beach about 10 minutes later I was aware of movement in front of me and yes there was stoat 2. It just stopped in its tracks s I did and we just stared at each other for a few minutes  I usually carry a camera but on this occasion I had left it in my bag as I crossed the river so I missed the opportunity to get a photo. Yesterday I returned this time camera in hand but all was quiet. I had passed on my sightings to the Ranger the previous week who had explained that due to Covid 19 restrictions  his volunteers had not been able to enter the park s so the string of stoat traps had not been baited for a while. Yesterday they were full of rabbit meat so maybe the stoats were wary at having a too easy  a tasty  meal served up for them.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Lockdown 4 to lockdown 3

Its the first day of lockdown 3 after five weeks of lockdown 4 following New Zealand's first community Delta Covid outbreak.. Its still fairly quiet out and about and with an 8.10am high tide I'm out to check the numbers of our newly arrived local estuary godwit. 

They began arriving on the 13th September and now the flock is building in size. The birds look in remarkably good condition following an amazing 11.5 thousand kilometre flight from Alaska. Last season 4BBRW set an amazing record of nearly 12,000 km in 9.5days.

Today these birds are fairly settled on this sand/shell bank after feeding out on the mudflats at low tide. The only disturbance was caused when a pair of  variable oystercatchers decided to take of and head for their more favoured shell bank and the godwits seemed for a moment to instinctively take off with them before returning and settling back down. Nearby a smaller group of south Island pied oystercatchers stayed settled saving their energy 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

Return to the Waitakere Ranges.

 It seems a long time since I have walked in the Waitakeres. This is partly due to Covid 19 Lockdowns earlier this year and  last year  but also because many of the tracks  in the ranges were closed to help slow the spread of  Kauri die back disease. However today it is good to be back with the people from Bot Soc the Auckland Botanical Society.

Our walk today was along the Cutty Grass track at a true Bot Soc  snails pace while examining every species of plant life around to add to the records for this track.

Toro fruiting

More to follow........

Monday, June 7, 2021

The Eels are back!

 Good to meet Josh and Kath today at the Northboro pond on a very wet morning.. They had both recently seen eels in the pond and Kath pointed out an eel while we were chatting. 

When the pond became badly  polluted and the ducks began to die the large eels some a metre long disappeared. Eels can be very sensitive to pollution and we presume that they left to survive.

I'm pleased to see that they have returned but this pond over the last few years has increasingly suffered from sediment incursions from local infill developments

Photo taken the following day 8. June 2021

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Eastern Bay of Plenty

We leave Auckland and head to the Miranda Coast stopping for a while before a quick visit to Thames then on to  Waihi to spend the night. At Katikati we visit the Bird gardens which were just beautiful in autumn colours. Butterflies too 

 Plenty to see along this wonderful coastline. Following Matata DOC campsite we are now heading to Whakatane.

Heading down Ohope beach this afternoon its great to see large areas taped off with good signage about the rare birds NZ dotterel and Variable oystercatcher that nest along this coastline. Dotterel and variable oystercatchers were present in pairs ready for the new breeding season.

 Its also good to see that the NZ Coastal Policy Statement is quoted in respect to controlling vehicles on beaches 'where damage to people, wildlife and other aspects of the wildlife might result'

Tomorrow we will follow the coastal road and explore the Opotiki side off the harbour staying at Ohiwa.

Looking forward to a good sunset this evening. Not only were we rewarded with great sunset but the  following morning a stunning sunrise too with clear blue skies that have lasted all day. 

The estuary is extensive with views to Whakari ( White Island) and Motuhora Island (Whale Island ) was one of the first Islands to become pest free in NZ. Its now a designated as a Wildlife sanctuary. Interesting to see several flocks of  oystercatchers flying in formation across the water to feeding sites. One of these flocks had 25 birds.

Ohiwa spit is a pretty little settlement to stay the night and I took the opportunity to climb the Ohiwa bush loop track to the Onekawa pa site which had stunning views all around. Now its time for a beach walk and then  watch the sun go down.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Sullivans Bay

 An interesting visit to this beautiful area with walks  to Te Muri and Mitre Bay. Interesting to meet two young people flying a drone and after I had counted  54 Variable oystercatchers, 24 South Island pied oystercatchers and two NZ dotterels resting ( roosting) at high tide just a couple of hours earlier. on the beach. That's a very good number of  Variable oystercatchers.

 I was keen to chat with the pilots of the drone and ask them if they understood that the Regional parks are no fly zones. They quickly brought back the zone from a great height and that was the end of that. The Rangers do an extraordinary job keeping these reserves in such good order but I guess the behaviour of visitors is always unpredictable.

The following day it was great to meet with and chat to Cimino and I thank him for the link to the Mahurangi News magazine just passed on.  Cimino is the editor of this magazine which is full of very interesting articles. I will settle down with a coffee to read this after my high tide shorebird count at  Shoal estuary his morning.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Kaipara return

More to follow.............. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Miranda Shorebird Centre - The Birds & the Bees..

An interesting talk by Osana about Birds & Bee keeping as part of a gathering at the Miranda shorebird centre to Farewell the  birds as they head of on their migrations to the Northern hemisphere in the case of the godwit and to the South Island for the wrybill.

More to follow.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Rainbow Warrior Matauri Bay

 It has been quite a time since I climbed the hill at the campsite end of Matauri bay to visit the memorial to the sinking of the Greenpeace ship, the Rainbow Warrior. The ship was blown up and deliberately sunk on orders of the French Government  on July10th 1985.

 This event was in direct  retaliation for the protest and anti nuclear stance that Greenpeace and New Zealand  had taken against the testing of nuclear devices in the Pacific by the French Government. 

A great find down a short gravel road the beautiful little Mahinepua bay complete with walkway out on the peninsular.

Tauranga Bay with white fronted terns diving for fish.

More to follow.....

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Back on Track !

 With the Auckland Covid 19 Lockdown 3 restrictions lifted travel plans are back on track

Motutara Reserve

The views from the top just stunning and worth the hill climb.

Variable Oystercatcher family

 8 week + oystercatcher chick

Oystercatcher chicks learning to search for food.

More to follow......................... 

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Te Muri -Are dotterel protected?

This informative sign seems to show the opposite.  That although dotterels are a  protected species  by law they are far from being adequately protected at their nesting sites. 

The message on the board is a common theme each year. Can we do better?? 

Staying for a few nights at Mahurangi West. There are some great walks around the coast and over the hills to Mitre bay and Te Muri bay.

More to follow ...........................

Friday, January 15, 2021

Kohuroa walkway

 A delightful place to stay. The Kohuroa walkway is always worth spending some time enjoying the waterfalls and kauri trees. It  now has   newly constructed kauri boot cleaning stations at either end. 

Around the rocks with their interesting rock pools from the main beach is a rocky bay and I spent some hours watching a dotterel family. Two adults and two  well developed young birds fledged but still watched over by attentive parent birds.

This seasons fledged young

Adult dotterel with worn feathers watches over two fledged young birds.

Adult bird keeps an eye out for aerial predators 

Fledged young bird with adult behind

Photos to follow.

Friday, January 1, 2021



Thursday, December 31, 2020


  What a year its been. We have been fortunate in New Zealand to still be free to move around without the fear of Covid. We are very thankful for that.

Early lockdowns taught us to appreciate where we live and enjoy' local.' 

This morning  sadly I heard the news that my sister Susanne had passed away in the UK due to cancer. We are thinking of her family today.

For me there was a need today to seek some peace and what better way to do that than to spend time watching the shorebirds in Shoal and Ngataring Bays.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Pohuehue Falls

 Good to catch up with a friend and enjoy a Christmas walk and chat exploring the walkway to the Pohuehue falls just before Walkworth. I have driven past this Reserve so many times but never stopped but today it was good to enjoy the cool of the forest and the sound of the water tumbling over solid rocks.

Then suddenly I became concerned  that my friend would go tumbling over the falls as she tried to remove a clump of the invasive weed -Mexican devil growing at the edge of the top of the falls. But all ended well as the clump of weed came away easily..

Monday, December 7, 2020

Octopus Garden

We are heading back to Northland  up the East coast exploring the many beautiful peaceful coastal locations pre Christmas.

Watched a little shag fishing when suddenly it zig zagged at speed close to the surface chasing an eel. It was persistent and eventually caught up with it and dragged it to a sand bank and kept snapping at it to subdue it before swallowing whole.

On the Tutukaka coast was surprised to find that the two people in the roof tent nearby were Rudi and Uta from Whanganui. I hadn't seen them since we all met at Ruapehu for some walks a couple of years ago. Rudi is a bug man and it was good to catch up with news about the bio-blitz he offered his expert help with at Spirits Bay.

At a tidal creek a pair of pateke ducks were sunning themselves on the grass bank

On the road to Matapouri a weasel was in hot pursuit and gaining ground on a young rabbit. For a split second i could see the fear in the rabbits eyes and the weasel veered to the verge and the rabbit disappeared under our vehicle. I like to think that the rabbit escaped.

Then on to a beautiful farm camp site with several stunning beaches on one side and estuary on the other. Couldn't leave this place so stayed extra days. Great to have good access across the farm and around the coastline. I'm thrilled to watch a decent sized octopus moving effortlessly in a large rock pool before disappearing under some healthy looking kelp.

It wont be long before I return here to further explore  as the there were further tracks to follow through a recreational reserve at the end of this peninsular. No phone or internet reception so all rather peaceful.

Then North to stock up at one of my favourite towns Kawakawa and a visit to the new Hundertwasser gallery which was excellent. before gaining internet reception in Russell which was abnormally quiet missing its foreign tourists. A swim was essential at Long Beach as the temperature ramped up to 28degrees.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Welcome to the Godwits.

Saturday 24th was a perfect sunny afternoon to Welcome the Bar-Tailed Godwits newly arrived from Alaska to Shoal and Ngataringa bays. On the 15th of September 6 had arrived now there are 181.

This third annual event was hosted by BEAC ( Bayswater Environment Action Coalition) and RTH ( Restoring Takarunga Hauraki environmental network)).

A good group of people turned up and the godwits too, 3pm being well timed  for a 2.29 high tide roosting ( resting).flock.

I enjoyed sharing my scope and talking to the local residents who had come along to learn more about the wonderful godwits and other birds that visit our estuaries in NZ including our local Shoal and Ngataringa bays.


Friday, September 11, 2020

SOUTH- Springtime in the South Island


Ohakune and the sun is shining although there are dark black clouds over the mountain. Hoping for a glimpse of the snow capped mountain tomorrow morning. No such luck the  priorities now are breakfast and then back to the chocolate eclair shop to pick up provisions for morning T. Its great to be back.

Then  via the Manwatu scenic route. This is a beautiful scenic drive off, the main route but well worth it. Deviated from this to include a visit to Kimbolton a historic settlement. Great little camp site at Eketahuna. Woke to a cold morning with early frost but a blue sky day as if summer had been switched on. The locals told us it had been raining for the previous week.

The next morning headed to the Pukaha  for our first ever visit to the  Wildlife centre at Mount Bruce. Enjoyable walk up through the bush. Impressive trapping regime and just had to see the white kiwi.

Snow on the Tararua's. Night spent in Martinborough woke to a beautiful sunrise. An interesting bustling little town surrounded by vineyards.   Stocked  up with fresh bread and milk before heading over the hills to Wellington. Spent the afternoon at Te Papa. Also checked out the  Van Gogh live exhibition but it was fully booked so that will have to wait for a return visit.


Monday  14th - Now in the South Island. Its turned out to be a beautiful day to cross Cook Strait even though strong winds were forecast. Shot through Picton, will explore on the return journey. Now settled into Spring Creek campsite just before Blenheim. Parked next to a little stream with a pet eels and lots of them.

Left Spring Creek and headed to Blenheim and then on towards kaikoura stopping  at the Ohau NZ fur seal colony along the newly repaired coastal road still being worked on following the Kaikoura earthquake.  Spent an hour or two watching the antics of the seals including the young ones carefully keeping out of the reach of the large male bull seals. 

Then realised that there was a spotted shag colony with nests at the Northern end of the seal site. 

Tuesday 15th arrived in Kaikoura with a glimpse of the mountains. I'm keen to locate some banded dotterels on the beach and soon I find a pair acting as if they have a nest site in the strand line of fine driftwood  along the beach. 

Today  Wed 16th is a stunning blue sky day . Its not cold and we have a stunning view of the Kaikoura mountain range. I didn't realise that some of these peaks are over 2000 metres high. Today we intend to explore the Kaikoura peninsular starting with a drive around the coast and a walk to the high viewpoint. There are more seals here around the coast but mainly younger animals as most of the males would be at the Ohau breeding site North.

 At high tide around 3.30pm I head back to check out the banded dotterels and soon realise that the one parent bird I find is watching out for a chick by standing on little drift wood piles to get  good viewpoint. I see only one chick. Kaikoura is an important site for banded dotterel but nesting success is not great due to predation and disturbance on the stony beaches.

 Evening sighting of thousands of Hutton Shearwaters just off the coast diving and swimming for fish. They nest in burrows on the lower slopes of the Kaikoura mountains. These have been devastated by recent earthworks and pigs.

Thursday 17th To Christchurch for a couple of days. The cathedral is indeed a sad sight. Much of the town centre has now been rebuilt following the earthquake. We spend a few hours at the Antarctica centre and have a ride on the snow vehicles over an off road course.

The following day we head to Lake Tekapo. The lakeside  views are fantastic but the expansion of the nearby campsites seem totally over the top and not sustainable even without overseas tourist they are over busy with domestic tourism. 

The following day Sat 19th we catch up with friend Dennis who left Auckland to settle in this beautiful area.

Then we are onto Mount Cook village and a walk up the Hooker valley which was just excellent. Just a little late for the Alpine flowers though.

 Spent the night in the Glentanner camp park which is a beautiful location with mountain views all around and unlike the campsite at Lake Tekapo was more sympathetic to this environment. 

The campsite trees are full of redpoll's, a pretty little European bird.

Then today to Oamaru stopping on route to look at the Maori rock art on the way. I thought this would be a guided walk but the drawings are protected by cages and you are free to enjoy they with interpretive signage.

Too early in the day  for the penguins at Oamaru but on the historic old Sumpter wharf  nearby there are thousands of roosting shags including Spotted shags and the very rare Otago shag.  There have been proposed plans to restore the old wharf but this would destroy this important roost site.

The Moaraki boulders are such a tourist magnet and that's a mystery to me so that's why I had to see them. Maybe they simply appeal to the imagination. The beach setting was great.

 This broke the drive to Dunedin where a long awaited visit to the Best Cafe was on my list of Must do's. Last time I was here was 2009. It hasn't changed and the blue cod and pile of bread and butter and the bottomless tea and coffee and plastic table cloths  make this a national treasure.

The little camp site at Portobello on the Otago peninsular was just great and well worth a couple of nights stay. Well positioned for the Albatross Centre which was so interesting with a very knowledgeable guide.

I spent an hour or two along the cliff side photographing spotted shags at their nests and the occasional Royal Albatross soaring high on the updraft winds here.

The Catlins next and mixed weather here but that's expected. Loved the walk to the Nugget lighthouse and amazingly way below the cliffs there were Royal Spoonbill preening themselves on the the rocky sheltered areas. Fur seals too. 

The little campsite at Pounawea complete with camped fairground equipment was right on the edge of the Catlin River. Through my scope I spied 10 godwit feeding on the estuary edge when we arrived along with South Island Pied Oystercatchers. By morning the tide was in and the birds had gone. There is a beautiful bush walk accessed from the campsite full of bird song which makes a change. The dawn chorus was a chorus of bellbirds & tui-wonderful!. 

Curio Bay was wild and beautiful complete with fossil forest and a cold coastal breeze. Waipapa Point light house was another stunning location.

Invergargill is a great city with Queens park which is probably one of the most beautiful parks I have visited. It also has an eclectic collection of animals here including wild pigs from the Auckland Islands and various rare rabbit breeds too. We woke to a snow covered campsite in the centre of town. It was just 5degrees. Grey clouds above delivered flurries of snow.

Headed to Te Anau through a snow blizzard just beyond Lumsden. Pleased that this cleared and we made it with out incident to Te Anau which looked spectacular in the snow. 

Stayed for two nights waiting for the Milford Sound road to open. Snow ploughs had cleared it by Wednesday and we had a beautiful drive in with clear skies snow covered scenery and sunshine, The Mirror lakes were worth a stop.

Enjoyed a boat ride around the 'sound' and out into the Tasman sea penguins and fur seals along the rocky edge.

Tomtits near the waters edge singing their rythmic tunes.

 Staying  at the Milford lodge rainforest complete with some very smart Kea

The  trees, mountain beech were full of tomtits, bellbirds, grey warbler and robins.

And weka too.

It was time to leave and head back to Te Anau , a very different drive out with much of the snow thawed as the temperatures had increased. It was enjoyable to spend further time walking along the edge of Te Anau lake and I again visited the DOC sanctuary with moorpork, kakariki, and takahe.

Queenstown I think has been totally spoilt by overdevelopment. Arrowtown too seemed to be overly commercial rather than historic now. We took the opportunity here to cast our  Special votes which was actually easier than we thought it would be.  I preferred Arrowtown  when I last visited some 15 years ago. 

Wanaka was better although this town too has increased in size dramatically. However the Mount Aspiring road along lakeside  to Mt Aspiring is still as beautiful as I remember it and we just  had to stay at the  beautiful lakeside campsite. Quite a temperature change now at 26 degrees which beats the -5 degrees we had experienced at lake Te Anau.

On the road again and the Haast pass was simply stunning all the way to Haast on the West coast. Then onto Fox glacier where this morning we are waiting for the rain to stop to be able to explore and voila dead on 1pm the taps have been turned off. Before that I enjoyed the glowworm walk in the saturated bush setting nearby. We stay another night to enable time to walk up the side of the river valley to get a glimpse of the receding glacier in the distance. 

Franz Josef not too far away was on my list to visit the excellent wildlife centre there. This is run in a partnership with DOC and has the rare Rowi kiwi and tuatara  which we were able to see. A night at the Rainforest campsite was worth it just to watch kea in this bush setting and also to enjoy the fabulous restaurant here.

Okarito was not far from Franz Josef and this little West coast settlement is a delight. Its the home of the Rowi kiwi and nearby Whataroa is the only place in New Zealand that the white heron nest. The Okarito lagoon is the largest unmodified wetland in the NZ. I'm lucky enough to get quite near a white heron fishing as the lagoon is their feeding area. 

The next day we join the white heron tour to see the nesting site of these birds. Its an excellent tour by a family run business and I can thoroughly recommend this experience.

Banded dotterels are near the campground. The locals tell me that they nest on the beach nearby.

Ross is our next destination complete with cherry tree lined streets.  We arrive just in time to to view some old cottages and the church at the heritage area. The caretaker re-opened the church so we could look inside. Its a beautiful old catholic church. We stay the night parked up near the beach. During the night the wind gets up and we wake to a wet misty morning.

The drive to Greymouth is a wet one but the Tree tops walk was amazing even though I am not that keen on height. The bush looks great in the rainfall from over 20 metres up. Next stop Shantytown which caught my imagination. It was very entertaining and the ride on the steam train reminded me of steam travel so many years ago. We drove on in the rain to Hokitika which was such an interesting small town quite vibrant on a Saturday morning. Some interesting old buildings and a bakery to die for selling 'Jenny Craig' donuts- certainly the best donuts I have ever tasted..

The night was spent in Greymouth that looked rather forlorn in the rain with many closed up shops. This town is doing it hard and needs help. 

The next day we head for the Punakaiki pancake rocks and a cafe selling wonderful pancakes. Both were excellent and beyond expectations.

 Then a hang on to the edge of your seat drive to Westport in 6o knot winds and rain. The coastal sections were particularly challenging with huge gust of wind. The Foulwind Cape was worth a walk.

The Buller Gorge was stunning the river foreboding with such a volume of water. Murchison was an ideal place to stay on a beautiful traditional campsite overlooking the river. Probably one of the best sites we have stayed at.

From Murchison to Nelson to catch up with people before moving on to another traditional Kiwi campsite at Cable Bay. Loved the walk up the hill to overlook the causeway and Pippin Island.

Queen Charlotte Sound is just stunning and would be great to get out on the water on the Mail boat or by kayak.

All too soon we are back on the Blubridge ferry heading back to Wellington from Picton.