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Blackball - Discovering Hidden Treasures

Posted by Jan Roberts on September 02, 2016

Totally felt like we should be in an Indiana Jones movie on our latest adventure of discovery “A Lost World Uncovered”…….

 

 

We had headed to Blackball – little mining town inland from Greymouth at the base of the Paparoa mountains.  There was plenty of misty clouds hanging in the mountains helping give a real sense of atmosphere for exploration into some real West Coast history.

Blackball is ripe with coal mining history and the last time we were here on a walk of discovery around the town, we came across a map showing the various walking options and swore we’d be back to explore them.

 

 

Well our return visit may have taken longer than planned but explore we did.  Starting out with the River Gorge walk.  Without any proper signage to show us the way we weren’t 100% sure we were on the right track.  Shown on the outskirts of the township behind the Community Centre and described as a steep descent down through the forest into the river bed and then a walk up the river and gorge.  Well it was certainly a steep descent.  With only a very basic track down through the trees it was also a very slow and careful descent.  There was a slight reprieve in among a sea of green.  So green it was almost glistening and I was waiting for a fairy or two to come out and show us the way.  Unfortunately no fairies were forthcoming so it was onwards and downwards again with great caution.

 

 

The river bed is safely reached and all I can say is – WOW!  Huge boulders covered in more of those unreal greens, steep mossy banks embedded with huge moss-covered trees erupting up into the skyline, and yes green, green, green – top that off with a couple of waterfalls and we really had landed in GodZone.

 

 

The water was flowing quite deep down through the gorge as we tiptoed our way around the edges as far as we could.  There were mining relics slowly rusting away on the river bank.  We truly felt like we were in another world – could all this really be right here at our doorstep.  Yep!

 

 

We couldn’t see anyway through the gorge other than swimming and again with not really knowing if we were in the right place and what was up ahead, we felt it best to head back the way we came.  It was a fun hike back up the bank – clinging onto tree roots and hauling ourselves up – good full body workout, who needs to go to the gym.

 

 

We were parked up at the Community Centre and knew there was another hike within walking distance that would loop back to the car – the Blackball Coal Mine and Kings Knob track.  I’m going to cover it in separate blog as it is another piece of significant West Coast history and a great exploration in its own right – deserved of a bit more blogging space……..

 

 

By the time we stumble back to the car after completion of the loop track we are well and truly ready for a late lunch and you can’t come to Blackball without a stop-in at the Formally the Blackball Hilton.  With tummy bugs rumbling noisily we ordered our lunch and had a nice chat with Cynthia the publican.  She informed us that the River Gorge hike is exactly what we suspected it might be – a hike/swim/hike and best left for a return summer visit.  Lunch arrived and I’m happy to say it would have satisfied Indiana Jones himself after a morning of exploring.

Our bellies may be full now but we weren’t done with our day of exploring Blackball just yet – we had one more area we wanted to explore – the old tunnels under the town. Yes I know – tunnels under the town.  Again – doing Indiana Jones proud we ventured down the obscure trail in the back of the footy field.  With our gummies on and armed with our flashlights two intrepid explorers headed into the undergrowth.

 

 

After a short scramble down through the bush and tree roots we found what we were looking for.  Hidden nicely in the bank with hanging mosses and twigs, it would have been easy to overlook if not for the little stream emanating out from the tunnel.  It was a crouch down affair to start with – an ominous looking tunnel entrance with a very watery bottom.  Shining the torch in though we could see it was worthy of a little explore, we were guessing this was the tunnel mentioned.

 

 

Well only after about 10 metres it opened up so we could stand and then it just kept going.  Stephen was ahead of me (with a better flashlight I might add!) and all I could hear was wow, oh wow, wow, oh wow.  Ok wait for me will you.  We probably walked for about 100 metres or so and the tunnel just kept going.  There were lots of side tunnels that had been blocked off – I guess for safety reasons ensuring no-one gets lost down here.

 

 

I may joke about being intrepid explorers but we’re not stupid (keep your comments to yourself please) so we didn’t want to venture too far since we hadn’t left our intentions with anyone to know to raise the alarm if we didn’t return by a reasonable time.  So out we headed again – back into the light of day.

What a day of discovery – so much wonderful West Coast history surrounded by some incredibly outstanding scenery.  I don’t think I’ve seen this much diverse beauty in one small area.  I probably say that all the time – we are just so blessed with all the things the West Coast has to offer.

We’re not done with Blackball yet though.  There are water race tracks still to explore – we need to get further into that river gorge and then of course there are those tunnels to explore deeper into too.

Thinking of coming to the West Coast – slow down and allow plenty of time.  There is so much to see and do.  Trust us we live here and we’re still discovering…….

 

 

 

 


Fat Biking Rapahoe Beach, Great Coast Road

Posted by Website Admin on September 02, 2016

There are lots of great mountain biking opportunities on the West Coast and with the right bike that includes mile after mile of pristine beaches.

What’s that song Freddy sings “fat bottom girls you make this rock’n world go round” – well in this case it is fat bikes!  Stephen and I both have fat bikes and we love them.  We take any excuse to go for a ride on them and they are ideal for exploring the numerous West Coast beaches.

 

 

 

Lucky for us is that many of the accessible beaches are really close to home – one being the Rapahoe beach just a little to the south.  With a quick ride down the main highway we’re soon pedaling along the water’s edge.  From the eight mile to Rapahoe is usually stony but once across the seven mile creek it’s a flat sandy beach into the corner of Point Elizabeth.

 

 

A beautiful winter’s day cries out for a fat bike ride on the beach and who are we not to oblige…….

 

 

Sun is shining and it feels more like a summer’s day than middle of winter.  The sea almost looking inviting enough to go for a swim – I did say almost.

 

 

There are some fun rocky outcrops to muck about on and I want to say test your skill but with the fat bike you just roll over everything….. well just about everything.  Nicely captured hubby!  Actually no human was hurt in the making of this blog – I had actually stopped already and my foot slipped out from under me and… the rock was wet with a coating of slippery sand………. it did – it was!!!!!

 

 


Exploring the Blackball Coal Mine and Kings Knob Walk

Posted by Jan Roberts on September 02, 2016

Recently we headed to Blackball  to explore some of their well hidden history all within walking distance of the “local”.  We’d already done the River Gorge trail (see blog) and continued on a little further down the road to explore the original Blackball mine site.

 

 

First up is the old bathhouse sitting on the roadside.  Now just the concrete shell of what was once a huge complex and stated as a requirement by the union of the day.  The information board along side tells us the story of how rewarding a hot shower was after a hard day’s work down in the mine and children were sent to the bathhouse for their weekly clean – my how things have changed!

 

 

 

From the roadside it is deceptive as to what is hidden further in from the huge brick chimney stack towering up from the bedrock.

 

 

The Blackball Coal Mine was in fact one of the West Coast’s major producers in its day so there is much history to see from the mine entrance and return airway, fan-house remnants (and this thing is huge!), remains of an old dam and drainage lines.  The mine was in operation from 1890 through to its final closure in 1964 in some form or another.

 

 

Leading off from the mine site there is a basic trail heading into the mountains.  Known locally as Kings Knob track, the trail follows a cutting through the hillside and heads deep into the bush.  It is amazing how quickly you are surrounded by the native bush.  There is a small creek burbling along side and the bird song is gorgeous.  Why wouldn’t they be happy in these surroundings.

 

 

Following the trail we head up the fern and tree-clad hillside – surrounded by….. yes you guessed it a symphony of greenery.  It is steep in some places – basically clambering up tree roots.

 

 

It is so worth the effort though as you pop out of the trees into a clearing – complete with picnic table to take in the surrounding views of the Grey Valley and over the Blackball township.

 

 

We take a few minutes to soak it all in and catch our breath before carefully negotiating our way down the other side – back into town.  Time for lunch and Formerly the Blackball Hilton is calling our name.  A great place to start and finish your Blackball explorations – with a delicious venison pie and pint of their best.

Now time to find the old gold mining tunnels that go beneath the township – where did that map have them starting from…….. so much history, so little time……

 

 

 

 

 


Lake Mahinapua Sunset Reflections

Posted by Jan Roberts on September 02, 2016

On a recent drive back from Franz Josef Stephen suggested calling into Lake Mahinapua just south of Hokitika.  It isn’t somewhere we visit often as not dog friendly and well it isn’t often the boys aren’t with us.  Not this time though – we’d just dropped them at their God Parents in Franz Josef for their annual holiday.

 

 

It had been a typical winter’s day on the West Coast – lots of blue skies and sunshine and our stop at the lake was timed just on sunset.

 

 

With not a breath of wind the reflections were outstanding. Just a light dusting on the mountain tops emitting a pretty pink hue and reflecting over the native bush and into the lake – pure magic.

 

 

 

It was lovely to sit out on the wharf and enjoy the peace and tranquility – reflect on the reflections……

 

 

A young couple were arriving just as we were leaving and it was nice to see them sitting there and soaking up Mother’s Natures gift.  A wonderful memory of their holiday to New Zealand and their visit to the wonderful West Coast one winters evening.


Lake Mahinapua by Star Light

Posted by Jan Roberts on September 02, 2016

Would you like to swing on a star, carry moonbeams home in a jar…..

 

oh Frank I love you serenading me on this beautiful star lit night.

 

 

We have been blessed with some stunning winter days of late – clear sunny skies meaning fabulous star lit skies come evening.

 

 

Making the most of the perfect conditions we took a drive south of Hokitika to the beautiful Lake Mahinapua to check out the skies.

 

 

With snow-capped mountains and surrounded by native bush, Lake Mahinapua was an ideal place to just relax and make the most of night sky.

 

 

Playing the perfect model (as always I might add!) there was one final photo shoot before it was time to head home for the evening.  Thanks Lake Mahinapua – it was a pleasure swinging on your stars and now I’m taking moonbeams home in a jar – rather that than be a mule…….  See you again soon.

 

 

 

 


National Dog Day

Posted by Jan Roberts on August 30, 2016

So apparently today is National Dog Day.  Don’t know if just New Zealand but given saw posting on Facebook from Australia – perhaps it is the Southern Hemisphere.

No matter where you are though let’s give a shout out to all the dogs.

Here’s our boys – doing what they do best…… one in particular – the goof-ball…….

Happy Dog’s Day everyone!

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  Together with their dogs Nico and Ziggy they enjoy getting out and about and exploring the region.  The boys especially love to run on the beach and explore the bush.


Nine Mile Valley's Hidden Coal History

Posted by Jan Roberts on August 30, 2016

 

There’s gold in them there hills – black gold!

 

 

Stephen had the pleasure of playing tour guide recently and taking a photographic artist into the hills behind Breakers to explore some of the fascinating coal mining history hidden away in the forest.

 

 

Chris Corson Scott is an artist based in Auckland and currently working on a project involving NZ history.  We met Chris and his partner Amanda on a recent walk up the 10 mile valley – turns out they found the 10 mile valley and its history thanks to our blog – now that puts a smile on my face.

 

 

There is much history in the Nine Mile Valley and loads of relics to photograph.  To top it off it would have to boast some of the most stunning West Coast native bush (yeah ok NZ native bush but we have the best here on the West….. no bias).

 

 

The sense of history oozes out from all the various relics and mine entrances – trying their best to tell their own story.

 

 

The Nine Mile valley is also a great example of nature reigning supreme with the bush slowly but surely reclaiming her space.

 

 

 

So love having the wonder of the Nine Mile Valley right at our doorstep – one minute we’re by the seaside with the pounding surf and the next we’re immersed in lush green forest and discovering some of the secrets of our heritage. That’s the West Coast for you.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about exploring the region and sharing their discoveries for others to enjoy.


West Coast Wilderness Trail - Camerons to Kapitea Reservoir

Posted by Jan Roberts on August 30, 2016

Oh it feels good to be back on the bike.  We’re not long back from an overseas holiday and while we did take our bikes with us we didn’t do a whole lot of biking – four days in total over three weeks. What we did do was a lot of walking, and feeling like we’d built up a good fitness base we wanted to continue on that theme now that we’re home.

 

 

Well how is it, considering we exercised at least 3 hours EVERY DAY for three weeks, now we’re home we don’t feel any fitter.  We thought we’d get out on our bikes and the ride would be a breeze – let me tell you now Categorically NOPE.

 

 

In fairness the thing with this ride is it is actually a gentle incline the entire way from Camerons just north of Greymouth to the Kapitea Reservoir in behind Kumara.  Also and this one is important – we rode like cut cats.  Seriously I had to say to Stephen can we button back a bit on the pace.  He of course said he was just trying to keep up with me which was so incorrect cos I was just trying to keep up with him……..

 

 

Moaning aside this ride is gorgeous.  Crossing the clip-on attached to the Taramakau road/rail bridge reminded me of our ride across the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco – ok so maybe couple of slight differences – not as high, not as long and nowhere near as many people to negotiate with on the way across (make that none!).

 

 

The Kumara tram-line was so green – I know we have lots of green but I’d almost…. almost forgotten just how green everything is here – all shades of green in all directions.  Just beautiful.

 

 

It was generally quite an overcast day making the skies a bit wishy/washy but the views of the snow-capped mountains and reflections in the Kapitea Reservoir were still spectacular.

 

 

Made the mistake of eating far too much for lunch at the Theatre Royal Hotel – but it was delicious.  That’s my excuse for feeling a bit sluggish on the ride back to town.  All in all though it was nice to be back on the West Coast Wilderness Trail – it’s a great asset for the district and a great way to see some diverse West Coast scenery.