20 February 2019

Close To Home

We'd heard the new NZMCA park in Motueka was up and running and as we only live half an hour away, we decided to pop over and check it out.
Lucky for us we got a park beside a couple of trees. A welcome escape from the summer's heat.

Not long after parking up, we noticed our neighbour had a little Jack Russell and a laid-back cat. The next morning, Genny (the neighbour) invited us to join her for morning tea. She'd baked some yummy pikelets. As we sat down I noticed Genny was wearing a t-shirt with an emblem 'Motorhoming With Pets'. How cool was that! About two years ago I started a facebook group called 'Motorhoming With Pets in N.Z'. Genny is a member of the group, and had messaged us when we lost Paddy!  How lovely to put a face to the name.

Oakly was obsessed with Genny's fur-babies. He spent hours peering out the window, trembling in anticipation.

Oakly, taking 'curtain twitching' to the next level.
As you drive into the park, you'll see, Motueka's Community Gardens (to your left). The community must be proud of these gardens, they're crammed with all sorts of healthy looking vegetables. Everything was thriving! I think it's fair to say, Motueka's community obviously has green fingers and along with their climate they know how to grow veggies.

After admiring the gardens and the hard work that's been put in, we found the track that borders the estuary. The NZMCA Park, is on the boundary of the walkway  - so handy. 

It was an ideal time to walk, a gentle breeze had picked up and the sun was casting a golden glow over everything.

On the side of the track was a plum tree, dripping with ripe, juicy plums. Many had fallen onto the ground, forming a carpet of yellow-deliciousness.

It's an easy-going walk, popular with joggers and cyclists. Several bench seats are dotted along the walk, providing opportunities to sit and soak in the views.

The walkway continues alongside Wharf Road, which as the name suggests, leads to the wharf, also known as Port Motueka.

Port Motueka has a main wharf for commercial use and a further three marinas. There's talk of establishing an inter-island ferry service between Whanganui and Motueka. Initially, one ferry would be used for freight, and then all going well, five years later, another ferry for passengers would be introduced. If this proposal was to go ahead, Port Motueka would be in for some massive changes and the community would benefit from employment opportunities.

Talley's head office is based at Port Motueka. The privately owned, Talleys Group Ltd, also has an ice-cream factory based at the port, a shellfish processing factory, a fish meal plant and N.Z's first registered pack house.

Before the track veers away from Wharf Road, it crosses a boardwalk, then follows the eastern side of the estuary.

After almost 4kms the track links back to Old Wharf Road, which is the road the NZMCA Park is situated off.
We arrived back at the bus in the dark, and it was still really hot! Too warm to sleep. So we flicked Netflix on and watched 'Sons of Anarchy' until early hours of the morning.
The following morning, we tossed up whether to spend another night. There were more walks we wanted to do but it was so darn hot - we didn't want to walk the dogs in that heat. It took us until after lunch to finally make up our minds to head home, with the promise to return in autumn with our bikes.

18 February 2019

Buddy Rider

It was a relief this morning, to see dew on the grass and feel a refreshing breeze. We've had a really hot summer!
I knew Oakly, would be keen for a bike ride - he never needs to be asked twice. He loves it! Once he sees me wheel the bike out, he starts jumping up and down get in his 'buddy rider'.

Fortunately, Oakly isn't a dog that licks a lot, however as we bike along, he always gives my hand a little lick in appreciation.

We often stop along the way. I'm sure, there's nothing better (for a dog!) than being able to sniff and check things out from ground level.

I bought the 'buddy rider' online, after seeing the enjoyment my Dad and his dog, Bess, had with theirs. 

The 'Buddy Rider' attaches to the bike's seat and is mounted over the centre of the bike. It's designed for dogs up to 13kgs, and will fit almost any modern adult bike. It measures 48cms between the seat post and the handle bars.

These 'dog-seats' are the perfect solution, for biking safely with your dog. You can cover long distances without worrying whether your buddy's getting tired.
Oakly & Boo love sitting in front of us, enjoying the views and smells. We make a point of stopping often, so they can stretch their legs and explore. We also found them useful during summer when the pavement was getting too hot for their paws to be walking on. 

13 February 2019

A Community That Makes Things Happen!

The Kawatiri River Trail is a picturesque walking and biking track that runs alongside the Buller/Kawatiri River in Westport. 
About eight years ago, the Buller Cycling Club came up with an idea to create a network of trails through an area of wasteland and the Westport community made it happen. What was once mud, gorse and wetland, has now been transformed into an eight kilometre bike and walking trail. And, remarkably, all this was achieved by volunteers.

The dog-friendly walk starts (or finishes, depending which end you begin) beside the NZMCA Park, at North Beach. The track winds through native bush, amongst many shades of green flora.
NZMCA Park, North Beach.
Start (or end) of the Kawatiri Track.

Old hockey turf or weed mat forms the base of the path with a covering of gravel. The track twists and turns, towards Shingles Beach (a small sand beach on the Buller River). It's a place that holds fond childhood memories for Bernie. He spent many of his younger years at Shingles Beach, swimming, surfing and riding waves. When we got to the beach, Bernie bailed on the rest of the walk, deciding instead to sit and reminisce. So, my furry friends and I continued on, unchaperoned.

Swimmers at Shingles Beach
Looking down the Buller River towards the river mouth.

From Shingles Beach, we headed towards the Lost Lagoon. The track became more open, with a change in vegetation.

Weka territory!
Lost Lagoon

After two years of planning, followed by three and a half months of building, a bridge materialised over The Lost Lagoon. All credit must go to the enormous effort and support from the community, making what had started out as an idea, turn into a reality. The bridge was aptly named 'The Volunteer's Bridge,' honouring the people who made it happen.

Volunteer's Bridge over The Lost Lagoon

Further along, we came to the 'Floating Basin Boardwalk', which is 200 metres long! Again, the construction of this challenging project was achieved by locals. A crew of up to 15 volunteers, spent 10 weeks making the boardwalk, which was financed through fund-raising. Contributions were made from DOC, Holcim, Westport's Mitre 10, the Council and community-funding. Locals lent diggers, chainsaws, compactors and tractors, along with their expertise and many hours of hard work. Everyday, for two months, lunches for the volunteers were supplied by a local cafe. An impressive community effort!

We turned back once we'd crossed the boardwalk, it wasn't the end of the walk but the dogs were hot and in need of some water. After walking over the floating basin (heading away from the port), there's a short walk called the 'Harbour Loop Track', which provides fabulous views of the port and mountains (when they're not hidden in cloud). On a day without wind, the reflections in this sheltered haven are stunning, making it a popular spot for photographers. 

In 1988 the Government made a decision to remove itself from operating Westport Harbour. The port and assets (such as the Kawatiri dredge, wharves, jetties etc) were offered to the Westport Borough Council and the Buller District Council, which they accepted.

But alas, in July 2016, the port lost it's biggest customer when Holcim Cement Works closed down and shipping cement from Westport finished.

The remains of an old cattle wharf can be seen alongside the track. 

The photo below shows the old cattle wharf and the stocks yards behind.

Photo supplied with permission

Part of the old cattle wharf has been revamped into a fishing platform and is the result of another community project. Not only is it a popular fishing spot, it also preserves a special bygone era. 

The new fishing wharf - to the left you can see some of the old cattle wharf.
Looking over the old cattle wharf towards the port.
The track ran beside the Buller River back towards Shingles Beach, where I'd left Bernie. We'd taken longer than I thought so I was surprised he was still waiting. Maybe all the memories of the good old days had made time stand still for him.

Swimmers at Shingles Beach

The photo below shows the two breakwaters on each side of the Buller River, which were completed in 1892. These structures were made as barriers to improve access to the port. They were extended by another 300 feet in 1966/7. 

The walk back was nice, with wild cherry trees providing some welcome shade.

We wandered through Les Warren Park, passing flowering pohutukawa trees, and then arrived back on North beach.

And, to make my day even better, there was a driftwood teepee. I love seeing these.

During warmer months, North Beach is a sought after spot for swimming and is popular all year round for fishing and surfingThe beach seems to change each time we visit, sometimes it's smothered in piles of driftwood, dumped by thunderous surf. Other times, coloured stones appear and the sea is calm and peaceful. 

Oakly still had some energy left, and was excited to be on the beach again!

 The perfect place to dig big holes.

DOC manages a freedom camping area, right beside the beach. Both nights we were there, it was full. There aren't too many beaches in New Zealand that still allow camp fires, fortunately North Beach is one of them. 

As evening drew to a close, a warm glow of golden light appeared. It was time to get the camera out and take the dogs back to the beach. 

A creative person had made a rustic tree.
As the sun disappeared behind clouds, Bernie tried his luck with a bit of fishing. However with an outgoing tide, conditions weren't ideal, so there wasn't any fish for dinner that night. But wow, what a beautiful place to hang out.

Westport will always be a special place for me. I look back with fond memories of the brief time I lived there. The people were (and are) friendly and welcoming, and as a community they're truly the best ... quick to rally around to help those in need, or to fundraise for a worthy cause. 

Yes, it does have it's fair share of wet weather, but this little West Coast town also has many sunny days (particularly in February). It's rich in history and proud of it - and to top it off, it has some of New Zealand's most stunning scenery.