“As The Sun Sinks Slowly In The West…”

“As the sun sinks slowly in the West, we say a fond farewell to…”

There seems to be some disagreement over who first said these (almost immortal) words, but, quite frankly, I DON’T CARE! I do know I thought it was some American commentator at the end of a South Pacific travelogue back in the fifties, but if this is not the case- such much! It is however a fair description for a special time of the day down here on ‘The Coast’. (For those who haven’t read other posts on this blog and have missed me rabbiting on about ‘The Coast’, it is the western side of the Southern Alps of New Zealand, running the whole length of the South Island from the Kahurangi National Park in the north to Fiordland in the south.)

I live in Greymouth now, having spent all the rest of my life living in various places in the North Island, and I have the good fortune to have a place on a hill with a clear view to the Tasman Sea- The West that the sun sinks slowly in.

Now it has to be said that one of the features of The Coast besides magnificent glaciers, beautiful lakes, superb coastal vistas and majestic mountains is rain forest and we all know you can’t have rain forest without rain! Naturally this phenomenon gives plenty of people living in all other parts of our lovely country the reason/excuse/justification for seriously maligning the weather down here, and they are happy to announce, generally with tons of conviction that “…it always rains on The Coast!”

Well, you make up your own minds as you browse this selection of images all shot within that lovely segment of time that is “as the sun sinks slowly in the west.” It must be said that most of these are winter photos because the geography of my situation has us losing the sun (as it dips into the sea) behind the shoulder of a hill just around the street sometime in late spring and it doesn’t return until autumn is with us. It is a source of extreme pleasure to look off my deck and see…these!

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sunset 3I love this place.

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“14 Mile”

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The point at 13 Mile looking back towards Greymouth (coincidentally 13 Miles away!!)

I had an inquiry from an ‘associate’ this morning regarding “seaside holiday baches for rent” so I thought I’d put this page together- BECAUSE I KNOW OF 1!! (Before we go any further, don’t growl at me for my spelling of ‘bach’- that’s what we call them in Godzone- bach or crib, which is normally a holiday abode at the beach or at some favourite recreation area- river, lake etc..)

I live on ‘The Coast‘ and I have made reference to how lovely this part of Aotearoa New Zealand is in a number of ways- I’m sure if you dredge through previous posts on this blog you might find some of those!! Suffice it to say it is a very special part of the country and is a place that one could do MUCH WORSE than to visit. It is served by good quality roads from the Kohaihai River north of Karamea (and one anchor point of The Heaphy Track, the longest of NZ’ Great Walks) to Jackson’s Bay, a tiny fishing village south of Haast (the point at which SH6 leaves The Coast to head east to Central Otago.) You will have heard of a number of the ‘most important’ (best known) sites on The Coast- Punakaiki, The Glaciers or any of many other ‘iconic’ places.

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“GoogleEarth” view of the bach at 14 Mile. Yes, that’s it between the road and the rocks!

And thereby I pin the tale (tail?) of the wee bach at 14 Mile.

14 Mile? That’s how far it is from Greymouth in the old steps, and relates back to when places in New Zealand were often named by just that- how far they are from a more notable centre of population. (Not infrequently this ‘other notable place’ didn’t amount to much more than a settlement but at least had permanent buildings!) Not surprisingly the place nearer Greymouth that has homes and baches is ’10 Mile’!!

The bach at 14 Mile is remarkable for one pretty notable feature- it is just metres (vertical, not horizontal) from the Tasman Sea. The narrow deck on the front actually extends over the high tide mark!

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The deck at ’14 Mile Bach’ extends over the high-tide mark….EXCITING!

Next to the bach is a fresh-water pool, achieved by the simple expedient of building a wall across the wee stream that runs out of the ranges over the road (which runs from Greymouth to Westport.)

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The fresh water pool is always bracing!

It is pretty much a ‘traditional’ bach in that it’s very utilitarian and has been added to on occasions- ‘indoor plumbing’ and sleepout and extra storage and such. There is the usual large communal kitchen/dining/living area with a lovely big open fireplace for the chilly nights, (and of course re-stocking the wood supply can be a fun sideline of beach walking! You’ll be guaranteed to find some driftwood if you don’t find any pounamu cobbles or pebbles!)

Have a wee browse through the gallery and see whether you agree with me- this place is SPECIAL!

(PS- I am not their agent!)

I Love This Place

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By ‘this place’ I might be meaning Greymouth, or the West Coast, or my home. I think I probably mean ‘my home’ in this instance because each of these images was taken from the deck on the front of the house.morning greymouth1It is a very roomy addition and if I’m truthful it is one of the features that sold the place to my wife and I just under a decade ago. That it sits on the hills behind Greymouth and has a beautiful view westward is just icing on the cake.sunsetI’m so delighted that the trip from my chair to the deck takes all of 3 seconds and as one of my cameras is always nearby it takes little more than that time to be snapping awayDSC04161in response to great light in our lounge, or glorious colours sneakily viewed from my lounge-chair, or a comment from my wife something along the lines of “Oh! Look at THAT sunset- isn’t that gorgeous?”???????????????????????????????Whatever the motivation the ends pretty much speak for themselves.DSC04116Any and all seasons, mornings or evenings- I love this place.

Beautiful Day A-Coming

morning greymouth1What a splendid morning to start the day in Greymouth. The eagle-eyed among you will say “But look at the cloud (on the right)!!!”

OK, it seems that way but this is one of the weather icons on The Coast- THE BARBER. It has little effect on anyone other than those who work or visit ‘down town’ and within a couple of hours it will be gone.

Full moon, no wind and the dawn colours just beautiful.

It’s often really worthwhile getting up a little early, huh!!

Arahura Marae

Some time ago I wrote about one of my most treasured possessions. The place this taonga (treasure) came from is a tiny settlement at the mouth of the Arahura River.The sub-tribe of the people who live in the area are Ngati Waewae who are providing cultural experiences for visitors to The Coast and, of course are marketing their major taonga, pounamu or New Zealand jade.

I heard that they were in the process of building a new marae on the hill overlooking their settlement and having a couple of minutes to spare on my trip from Greymouth to Hokitika recently I decided to go up and have a look.Wow!! Some development! This is an architect’s artwork of the project that is featured on the notice at the site’s entry. The dark building in the centre will be the whare nui (big house) which will be the focus for manuhiri (visitors) who will be welcomed after being called onto the marae atea (open courtyard in front of the meeting house) by the tangata whenua (local people).

The other buildings that will complete the complex will include ablutions, sleeping and very importantly, the whare kai (eating house).

I look forward to seeing this when it’s finished because it promises to be a spectacular addition to the West Coast.

THIS is a view!!

Some people people have views of really nice gardens. Others have lovely views from their hilltop homes. Some people have views from their lounge or patio. Others have views from other parts of the house.I visited friends at their beach bach today.It wasn’t a flash day in the context of calm seas and lovely sunsets.It was a spectacularly wild day on ‘The Coast’ (after all we DO have an annual rainfall figure to try to achieve, and we’re way behind at the moment!!)The bach is nestled amongst the bushes between the road and the rocks, the rocks that protect the bach from the rugged seas.

I love this place and it is a part of such the magnificent West Coast that it is easy to see why the United Nations gave The Coast World Heritage status.

No arguments here!

Golf Challenge

If there are any golfers in New Zealand who read this, maybe we will meet up in March!

I am at the pointed end of the organising committee for a new golf tournament to be held on The West Coast in March of 2013- Tuesday 5th, Wednesday 6th, Thursday 7th and Friday 8th. Each day will feature 18 holes of stableford golf on one of the four main courses- Westport, Reefton, Hokitika and Greymouth in that order. These are four quite different golf courses and offer their own special wee challenges but at that time of the year they will be in their best shape and so whatever problems arise they will probably be self created.

We have already secured over $11500 worth of competition prizes but guarantee there will be much more on offer. I am determined to make this a promotional opportunity for ‘The Coast’ and as such we will be featuring artists and craftspeople from all over, and hope to send many of our golfing friends away with a memento of their enjoyable visit to ‘The Coast’.

If you are interested do visit the West Coast Golf Challenge website here and also visit our Facebook page here. (-don’t forget to ‘like’ the page and perhaps leave a friendly comment or two!)

You will find all the information you need about the tournament, things to do (other than golf) when you’re on ‘The Coast’, and a range of quality accommodation establishments choose from to stay in while you’re here.

I look forward to making your acquaintance in March!! Tight lies!

GREY BY NAME ONLY

A lot of New Zealanders have a perception of ‘Coasters’ that can only be said to be ‘wide of the mark’. One of our past Prime Minister is reported as uncharitably calling them a bunch of ‘feral in-breeds’. If you come from anywhere other than ‘The Coast’ you will doubtless have an opinion of the people who live there (and I am quite certain a decent chunk of these opinions are made without actually ever having met someone from The Coast, let alone having ever actually been there!)

By the way, it is one of my abiding loves that ‘Coasters’ have a term for anybody who doesn’t come from ‘The Coast’. Irrespective of whether you come from Christchurch, Dunedin, Wellington, Auckland, Sydney, Moscow, Beijing or The Moon- if you have your origins anywhere that is ‘over the hill’, meaning the other side of the Southern Alps, ie. not that narrow strip of land that is known as ‘The Coast’, you are from AWAY. That is all.

…and another wee note about ‘The Coast’. That term only applies to this ‘The Coast’ when it is used by Coasters whether home or away or if you are actually on this ‘The Coast’ even though anybody living between Wairoa and East Cape refers to their territory as ‘The Coast’. Don’t be confused between the two!

…and the term ‘Coaster’ applies only to any person born on the West Coast. There is a fondly held belief that if you have come from ‘Away’ and live on The Coast for many, many MANY years you will be a Coaster. Nup! Won’t happen. The generous locals will make you feel like one of their own, they will include you in all things, they will never exclude by giving you a label to identify you as different in mixed company, BUT you won’t ever be a ‘Coaster’.

But to the purpose of this post. A few years ago a topic was (briefly) re-visited by our local Council in response to a few locals having a bit of a grizzle about the name of our town. GREYMOUTH! “Oh no! Grey! People from Away think it rains all the time here anyway and we have a town with boring colour grey in it!! We’re not achromatic or boring!! Re-name our town!!” Of course it’s not to the colour grey that the name refers but to Governor Grey, New Zealand’s first Governor but that did generate a WEE bit of discussion and I’m sure some crazy names were suggested.

However despite what general perceptions are of The Coast or the people who live on it, this article appeared in the papers the other day. Read it and believe it. The people on The Coast are among the most generous, the most honest, and the most welcoming I have met. When my wife and I decided to move here some nine years ago it was just one of a number of places I would have been happy spending my retirement in but was ‘somewhere new’. I had seen most of the South Island including The Coast but had never lived in Te Waipounamu (the South Island) and my wife had spent a couple of weekends down South- a family visit to Christchurch as a child and a wedding in Blenheim in the seventies. We decided that following our kids may not be all that clever as there were no guarantees they would be wherever for ever and it wasn’t all that far from The Coast to visit Wellington where they currently were anyway, so here we are.

The Coast has many issues that many might imagine would impact of the state of mind of people who call it home. Isolation, of course is something that has made Coasters what they are- resilient, hard-working, gregarious, helpful, generous and thus isn’t seen as being a negative but it DOES mean that much that Kiwis in other provincial centers take for granted such as retail and service options aren’t as good as they might be. Traditional industries on The Coast are being impacted by conservation imperatives- mining, milling, fishing have all been somewhat strangled and to establish new operations is more and more difficult, so work is harder to find and the economy is challenged. But dairying is alive and well, quality arts and crafts proliferate, tourism is a jewel in the crown given the natural beauty of The Coast is world renowned, and if only the government would make good on their promises about delivering top quality internet to the provinces The Coast could become a mecca for IT based innovation and development given that it is such a wonderful place to live.

So any reason for Coasters not to be happy? Not really. I know I am.

See also https://kutarere.wordpress.com/the-coast/
and https://kutarere.wordpress.com/shit-hot-places-in-new-zealand-aotearoa/

Honest Sign!

It’s always refreshing to see honest advertising, isn’t it? This sign is at a petrol service station in Ikamatua, a tiny rural village about 50kms up the Grey River valley from Greymouth. Rather than showing the price per litre of petrol or diesel, it indicates it costs an “Arm and a Leg”. Love it!

(Greymouth is one of just three substantial towns on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. See “The Coast” or “Favourite Places In Aotearoa, New Zealand.” elsewhere in this blog.)

DUNGANVILLE, Greymouth, NZ.

Dunganville– get your attention and prick your inquisitive side a bit? I love this area and it is a popular place for locals to go for a leisurely bush walk at the historical Woods Creek gold field. Nowadays it’s a sparsely populated area about 25kms out of Greymouth on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand where I live (Greymouth, not Dunganville.) The Woods Creek walking track meanders through old gold-mining workings and is a fascinating window on this 19th century activity. Not only is the walk educational it is also restful the path passing through areas of logging operations (for building lumber for the establishment of the nearby town) and virgin native bush. There are birds aplenty, with tui, kereru (wood pigeon), various tits often seen. If you feel so inclined have a bit of a fossick in the streams that flow through the area, but remember that this is NOT a public prospecting area and anything you find you are not legally entitled to remove. Bugger! The track is very well formed and sturdy steps and bridges make getting around very easy. The walk is neither long nor difficult and would suit wanderers of all ages amd fitness levels. The workings (which are liberally serviced by information boards) show a variety of processes. It was clearly very hard work winning the gold-bearing gravel for sluicing, and digging out the tunnels to provide further sluice material as well as water channels to power the sluicing operations. The stream that winds through the area gurgles gently in the background and the steep banks are festooned with ferns of many kind. The colours are vibrant greens and the plants range from tiny fungi and ferns to hundreds years old native giants.There are numerous tunnels of various sizes (width and height) and one can only imagine how difficult it must have been both initially excavating them and then working in the tight spaces to win the gold-bearing spoil. Take your time passing through these tunnels (and it’s a good idea to go armed with a torch as some of them are very dark). Don’t be afraid- you may come across cobwebs, but the spiders won’t harm you. You may see some cave wetas but they are more afraid of you than you should be of them. If you are adventurous enough revisit the track at night and you will see beautiful glow-worms.
As mentioned there are numerous information boards along the track and it is worth the time to read the stuff that’s presented.But, sad to say, New Zealand has its share of bloody idiots, people who have no respect for the property around them, and even scant regard for the safety of others.  Look closely at the image above. This is a section of the main information board at the start of the track, and you will notice the bullet holes on the top quarter. Many New Zealanders love their hunting, and the vast majority of them are very safety conscious, but it is a sad fact that there will be the numbskulls around who just HAVE to shoot something. How much of a hero do you think this drongo would have felt having shot a large information board. Whatever greater being there be, please protect me from these idiots.
These last two images show the processes used then and now to extract the valuable yellow metal from our earth. Above is a typical sheer face that is formed when high-pressure hydro-mining is used to wash down the gold bearing gravel for sluicing while below is how it’s done today with heavy duty machinery able to move in minutes what it would have taken our forebears days. Pretty ugly but those licensed to mine are required to return the land to its original state when they have finished working the claim. 
I hope I’m around to see THAT happen!