Monthly Archives: April 2023

Murchison, Westport and a Swing Bridge

Our destination today is Westport, but we stop several times on along the way.  About an hour into our drive we pull over at the Hope Saddle Lookout.  We knew we would have wonderful views as we had been winding all around the mountains and through the forest.  The clouds were hanging low and dancing around the peaks.

This spot is famous for saving over 30,000 hectares of forest as the NZ government made an accord with the logging companies.

A sweet little church popped up seemingly out of nowhere.

Murchison and NZ Longest Swing Bridge

We arrive into Murchison which is the home to New Zealand’s longest swing bridge.  It is 110 meters long and is suspended 172 meters high over mighty the Buller Gorge.

We were lucky, there were not a lot of tourists here when we arrived.  We paid $10NZD per person and eagerly headed toward the bridge.  It was a fairly calm day, not a lot of wind so the only swinging came from our own weight.

The views were beautiful from the center of the bridge.

When we got to the other side, we discovered several trails that led to a beach and Ariki Falls.  Super easy walks that led us to beautiful places.  The top left photo shows the flood mark in 2021 – check out the white arrow – it is well over 2.5-3 meters tall.

The Ariki Falls were a really nice diversion and oh so pretty.

This is also where they did a lot of gold mining in this location.  They had a replica of a house used by the miners.


We arrive into Westport about 6 hours after we left Nelson.  It is a nice little beach town.

We enjoy a nice lunch at Donaldo’s and then head to Carters Beach Seaside (our hotel).  Next we drop our bags and make our way to the beautiful, and very long black sand beach.

We then head to Cape Foulwind where there is a nice hike to a lighthouse.  Yep, you read that right, “Cape Foulwind” and it is very obvious why this town got its name once you arrive….yuck!

This photo shows the original wooden lighthouse that was built in the late 1800’s and to the right is the newer digital, unmanned lighthouse.  I like the original one better.

Pretty views from the base of the lighthouse.

Just 5km down the road is the famous seal colony located in Tauranga Bay.  To my surprise, there really weren’t that many seals – maybe they were all out hunting.

We ended our day with a bottle of rose on the beach at sunset.  I’d say this was a good day!

  • Travel:  210km
  • Hotel: Carters Beach Seasisde

Events from this blog occurred during the last week of February.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind live events.  Check out the Abel Tasman Caves in our last blog post.

Abel Tasman Caves

Today we head to Abel Tasman, which is in the NW side of the South Island.  There are a bazillion places to explore here but we have our hearts set on four places: Rawhiti Caves, Wainui Falls, Harwoods Hole, and the Mussel Inn.

We take our time along the windy road as we enjoy the beautiful views and lookouts making this a 2.5-3 hour drive to get to Abel Tasman. 

Hawkes Lookout

Just as we enter the Abel Tasman National Park we see a look out point called Hawkes Lookout – so we stop to check it out.

A quick 10-minute walk through a forest opens up to a rather large lookout point.  Truly breathtaking views.

In the middle of nowhere we ran across a lovely fruit stand where we picked up some blueberries and apples.  I couldn’t resist taking a photo of their funny tomatoes.

Our next stop is the Rawhiti Cave.  It is kind of in the middle between the Wainui Falls and Harwoods Hole.  They say that this is a moderate hike that should only take 45-60 minutes to get to the caves.  However, I beg to differ.  The first part of the hike is a lovely, flat path that runs along the dry creek.  You cross over the rocky creek to the other side and that is where it goes straight up a small, muddy path (maybe 1′ wide).

The track is steep and rugged as it zig-zags along the mountain and cliffs.  But we all arrive safely to one of the most marvelous caves we’ve seen.

The stalagmites were spectacular with huge curtains hanging precariously off the ceiling.  We had the entire cave to ourselves as we admired the immense beauty of the Rawhiti Cave!

The way back was a wee bit easier as it was mostly downhill, but it was super slippery and muddy.  My motto: slow and low paid off more times than I can count.

Wainui Falls

We left Rawhiti Caves and pointed the car toward Wainui Falls in the Takaka region of Abel Tasman.  The trail to Wainui falls claims to be an “easy walk 1.5hr” walk round trip to the 20m waterfall.

On the way, we pass a field of young cows who were super curious about us.  We also went under a pretty cool rock tunnel.

We were so disappointed to learn that the Wainui Falls were closed.  Evidently, the last flood took out part of the trail making it unsafe.

It was fast approaching 1400 and we were super hungry so we headed to Mussel Inn, an iconic New Zealand place for green mussels.  Many of you know that I am not about to eat a mussel, but it did not stop me from dragging Matt and Wayne there for lunch!  Check out their cell phone memorabilia tree. 

One last stop at another look out and the boys just could not give me a serious photo.

  • Hotel: Beachcomber in Nelson
  • Kilometers Traveled:  420km
  • Total Travel Time:  2.5hrs each way
  • Kilometers Walked: 6.1km

Events from this blog post occurred at the end of February.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind actual events.  Did you see our last blog where we flew over the valley in a Skywire?

Nelson: Skywire Experience

One of the main reasons we came to Nelson is to do the Skywire Experience at the Cable Bay Adventure Park.  But how did we get here?

The Interislander ferry took us from Wellington to Picton, but it was really late – like 9 hours late!  So, we unfortunately, did not get to see much of Picton as we arrived at 10pm, checked into the Aldan Lodge, and left the next morning at 0730 for Nelson.  We had a short 2hr drive through more rolling, green mountainsides covered in gorgeous trees.  There were low flying clouds that added a certain air of mystery,  We rolled through Marlborough which is one of New Zealand’s famous winemaking locations.

We eagerly head straight to the Cable Bay Adventure Park.  In addition to the skywire experience, they also have mountain bike excursions, paintball, petting farm, ATVs, and more.  It is a true adventure park.  But we are here for the Skywire experience.  

Skywire Experience

This is one of the world’s longest Flying Fox experiences and is an incredibly unique one.  It is similar to ziplining, but yet totally unique.  Up to 4 people sit in a 500lb stainless steel contraption that zips us 1000 meters above the pristine native forest.  Our top speed was 85kilometers going forward and backward.

Each person has a triple harness that is padlocked.  Yep, padlocked so you cannot possibly accidentally undo your belts.  We are given protective eye glasses and sent on our merry way zipping down the cable.

It was truly exhilarating and loads of fun!  I actually preferred the backwards portion because the wind wasn’t smacking me in my face, but overall it was spectacular.  Can you see us in the distance?

Nelson Classic Car Museum

We had a bit of time before lunch so we stopped in to the Classic Car Museum in Nelson.

This private collection was super impressive with cars ranging from the early 1900’s to 2021! I really liked the old cars.  And all of the cars were in pristine condition!

So stylish and sophisticated.

And some a little odd – check out the little BMW (top right corner)!

Commercial vehicles back in the day.

Classic Jaguars!

They even had a DeLorean (like Matt’s) and a GTO Fastback (like Wayne’s)

We ended the day at McCashin’s “Stoke” brewery for lunch.

  • Hotel Picton: Aldan Lodge
  • Hotel Nelson: Beachcomber
  • Kilometers Traveled:  151kilometers
  • Travel Time: 2 hrs
  • Kilometers Walked: 6.9km

Events from this blog occurred toward the end of February.  Our blog posts run 10-12 weeks behind live events.   Did you see our blog post on the capital of New Zealand?