June 15th, 2017

Favourite Nelson Day Walks

Nelson is one of the sunniest places in New Zealand. There are many lovely hills around, so you’ll get fantastic views on a day or half day walk. Favourite Nelson day walks are high on our list, as we live here. And gosh, there are some lovely options! All in all there are about 56 Nelson walks (see Nelson Council website). But here’s just a few favourite Nelson day walks.


Favourite Nelson Day Walks

The Centre of New Zealand – Nelson Central, 30-40 minutes

There are a couple of entries for this walk that you can choose from. Either walk from the Botanical Gardens Reserve or from opposite Founders Park in Atawhai Drive. Both options are quite steep in parts and I can guarantee they’ll get your heart-rate going.  It’s often what you see on the way that really enhances a walk like this.  Sheep (and sometimes goats) grazing peacefully alongside. As you draw close to the top of this walk, remember to take the track to the left (the Kauri Track). That track will lead to the summit of the Centre of New Zealand.

The Centre of New Zealand

At the summit there is a newish platform built from where you can absorb the views from the seats around the platform. And behind you, well let’s just say it’s so worth the effort folks.


Bridges Walk – Nelson Central, 40-60 minutes

To the left of you is the Trafalgar Street Bridge and this is where you can walk alongside the river to Collingwood Street. Turn left, and cross the Collingwood Street Bridge. Turn hard right from the bridge into Shakespeare Walk and follow the river – this is such a great spot for a summer picnic. The Nelson Council have kindly provided picnic tables and benches for this very reason.

Bridges Walk

Cross the river again at the Riverside footbridge. Turn left and walk by the Riverside Pool.  This is where you follow the beautiful Maitai Walkway. At Bridge Street leave the walkway to cross over the Normanby Bridge. This is a very calming walk with the Matai River gently flowing beside you.  http://nelson.govt.nz/recreation/recreation/walks-and-walkways/walk-nelson/nelson-central-walks/2-bridges-walk/

Mitai Walkway and Lower Botanics – Nelson Central, 40-60 minutes

Take a stroll along the Maitai River path to Collingwood Street and continue along until you come to the Nile Street Bridge. From then on, an arrow will guide  you under the bridge and then up the stairs. Continue the track along to Clouston’s Bridge (on Nile Street). Walk across across the bridge and turn right to Maitai Valley Road. Follow for about 40 metres and turn left at the letterboxes. Follow the track and signposts to the playing field. Go up the track and to the left. You’ll love the native trees – brachyglottis, mahoe, lancewoods, titoki, matai and kahikatea. http://nelson.govt.nz/recreation/recreation/walks-and-walkways/walk-nelson/nelson-central-walks/8-maitai-walkway-and-lower-botanics/

Tahunanui Beach Walk – Nelson Central, 30-60 minutes

This beach is very safe and its a great place to spend a few hours just chilling. We usually walk it in the earlier part of the morning, especially summer.

Tahunanui Beach Walk

This is an easy stroll for most fitness levels. And it’s so easy to find from the main road going out towards Richmond. I love this beach. It has the most friendly family atmosphere and it really is a joyful place to be. Although it does get very busy. See what a difference a few hours can make…



Grampians Walkway – Nelson South, 45-70 minutes

This is quite a challenging walk as the track is steep pretty much all the way up. Start at the corner of Brougham and Collingwood streets or from the centre of town walk via Selwyn Place and Collingwood Street. About half way up the street move over to the left and you’ll see an easier route up some steps. At the top of Collingwood Street there is a map of the Grampians – there are numerous tracks to follow and you could spend hours walking all of them. http://nelson.govt.nz/recreation/recreation/walks-and-walkways/walk-nelson/nelson-south-walks/38-grampians-walkway/

Grampians Walkway


Cable Bay Walk – Nelson North Coast, 3-4 hours one way

On a clear day, this untouched spot is a very popular with locals and visitors. The beach is beautiful, although it is a stony beach more suited to kayaking. The walkway between the Glen and Cable Bay has wonderful rural views of tussock and a beautiful beach cove.

Cable Bay Walk

Be warned, parts of this walk are steep steep and sturdy shoes are an absolute must. Some of this is private land with stock grazing so dogs must be left at home. But the rural aspect of this walk is a great attraction for kids who may have never seen a sheep grazing in the open. Remember to use the tiles and not farm gates and stick to the tracks.


These are our favourite Nelson day walks. There are so many more to be experienced in the Tasman District.  Just gives you an idea as to why we love living in this region.

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May 30th, 2017

Doubtless Bay – Coopers Beach – Mangonui

Doubtless Bay – Coopers Beach – Mangonui are still hidden secret places in Northland yet to be discovered by a lot of visitors. We travelled here in late Autumn, but pretty much all year round, these areas remain free from hordes of tourists found in other regions.


Doubtless Bay – Coopers Beach – Mangonui – accommodation

Coopers Beach in Doubtless Bay is about 50 or so minutes drive from Kerikeri. So if you’re based in the Bay of Islands, this is a great day trip. But if you want to stay longer, (believe me, you will) there are good accommodation options. We visited Beach Lodge Holiday Apartments and I can tell you, its not always about the building. Yes, the apartments are very nice and probably have the best views in Coopers Beach.

Doubtless Bay - Coopers Beach - Mangonui - Northland

But its the owner of Beach Lodge, Margaret Morrison, who is the major drawcard. I know this is a hackneyed phrase, but people really do arrive at Beach Lodge as strangers and leave as friends. And they keep returning time and time again – to the place and the person.

After a sumptuous lunch with Margaret, who until today had never met us, we left thankful that New Zealand has such wonderful hosts. The gratitude continued on this beautiful beach in peak traffic hour.


Doubtless Bay – Coopers Beach – Mangonui – White Sand Beaches

Doubtless Bay - Coopers Beach - Mangonui - Northland

There’s more to Doubtless Bay – Coopers Beach – Mangonui than meets the eye. The little fishing settlement just a few kilometres from Beach Lodge is a lovely spot to relax. Here, we chilled out to the sound of lapping water and fish n chips down by the wharf.


If you’re staying around here and you’re looking for an exhilarating and interactive experience, I think a quad bike tour would be just the thing. Henderson Bay Rentals are much more than their name and website would suggest. Malcolm and his wife, Robyn, cater for small groups of up 10 people


Doubtless Bay – Coopers Beach – Mangonui – Activities

Malcolm had been highly recommended by other operators, so we were delighted to actually meet him over a cuppa. Henderson Bay Rentals run an extremely safe operation with Malcolm always at the helm. They offer a number of options, one of them being the Great Exhibition Bay tour. Who couldn’t enjoy zooming along endless white sandy beaches! Alternative, there’s the wild 90 Mile Beach or the coral sands of Henderson Bay to explore. As for me, right now I’m just enjoying a pleasant late Autumn sun on my back.



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May 23rd, 2017

Electric assist bicycles (e-Bikes) New Zealand cycle trails

Electric assist bicycles (e-Bikes) New Zealand cycle trails. Since the introduction of dedicated cycle trails, cycling has become very popular in New Zealand. E-bikes have become especially popular with the lifestyle crowd, so I thought, I’d give it a go as well! View some South Island travel itineraries.


Travelling New Zealand regions by e-bike


Getting prepared for the e-bike cycle trip from Nelson

Now e-bikes are still quite expensive to buy, so a I thought it would be a good first experience to rent one from a local cycle rental supplier in Nelson. This cost me NZ$99 per day (plus added NZ$3 insurance, just to cover any damage). It’s incredibly simple to use and I took to it like a duck to water! My e-bike cycle had nine gears, plus three levels of ‘e-power’ –  ‘Eco’ / ‘Medium’ / ‘Full Power’.  Everything is included in the rental – helmet, bike packs, security log, maps, repair kit plus a mobile phone back up number. The Nelson operator also does one-way rentals to Mapua and transfers back (or the other ways around). Another option is also to sail back to Nelson. Such choices!

Cycling to Richmond on the Tasman Rail Trail

After a slow start heading out of the inner city of Nelson I approached the Tasman Rail Trail – and it started uphill! Well, there was no stopping me. I switched to the Eco setting and glided effortlessly up the hill. Michael was in awe. He says that in all the 15 years of cycling together, this was definitely a first. It was also the silence – no complaining at all. When I overtook him, he began to suspect I’d switched the setting to ‘high’ – his word against mine! View some South Island travel itineraries.


Electric assist bicycles (e-Bikes) New Zealand cycle trails


From Richmond toward Rabbit Island

The cycle trails in the Nelson-Tasman region are often quite flat, which makes it a great cycling region. We enjoy stunning weather but sometimes biking can be challenging in a head wind, especially for lower fitness levels.  In this respect, the e-bike opened up a whole new world to me.

Electric assist bicycles (e-Bikes) New Zealand cycle trails

I met an elderly gentleman, who’d just bought himself a new e-bike. He was now able to enjoy day trips with his whole extended family and guess what, he was leading the pack.  No one needs to miss out. We stopped for a quick breather. It seemed as though the whole region was at the Jellyfish Cafe in Mapua that day.

Electric assist bicycles (e-Bikes) New Zealand cycle trails – Bespoke tours


The owner-operated ‘Wheelie Fantastic Cycle Tours’ offer bespoke tours. Rather than you having to collect the bike from a shop, they’ll actually deliver the bike to you. They don’t integrate groups, so its just you and your chosen itinerary to enjoy to your heart’s content. Remember, we have some great vineyards around here.

Bespoke cycling tours in Nelson/Tasman

Flexibility is the key here – you can be self-guided, guided and opt to have vehicle support along the way.  These guys are keen cyclists themselves so guess what they do on their days off?



Owners, Nicki and Lisa, are also keen triathletes and their knowledge of the region and bikes are legendary.  We have also used their bespoke service and loved the security of knowing they were never too far away. I loved their beautiful e-bike pictured to the left in the photo below. Their high quality trail bikes are designed for comfort and performance on the trails and back roads. Besides all that, they’re just such lovely people to deal with.

I completed a 40km trip on an eBike. I hadn’t biked for over a year and it was a breeze. Honestly, I can’t imagine how I ever managed the hillier parts before. New Zealand now has a sophisticated network of Electric assist bicycles (e-Bikes) New Zealand cycle trails and its such a great way to see the country. View some South Island travel itineraries.


Happy travelling!

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May 15th, 2017

Kerikeri accommodation options – Paihia Dolphin Encounter

Kerikeri in the Bay of Islands is a place most of us would definitely revisit if given the chance. Today we discovered more Kerikeri accommodation options – Paihia Dolphin Encounter and a challenging walk to Haruru Falls. Some cottage stays we’ve experienced, set the standard for all others. If you can imagine being immersed in a beautiful rural setting, you can understand why this cottage is called Peace & Tranquility Cottage.

Cottage Stay in Kerikeri

Cottage stay in Kerikeri Bay of Islands

Its a rare thing to have the use of your own private lake and rowboat. The morning activity of Paradise ducks and graceful black swans create quite a spectacle here. We’re at the tail end of Autumn, yet there is still plenty of colour in the garden. View some sample New Zealand travel itineraries.

I’m so impressed with the generosity of the Kerikeri locals. These cottage owners supplied us with freshly laid eggs, Kiwi Fruit and mandarins. I’m always touched when accommodations add special touches to their havens of rest.

Self-contained Lux Accommodation Kerikeri

We’re very excited by our latest find on the peninsula between the Kerikeri Inlet and Te Puna Inlet. Harakeke Gardens Guesthouse is a self-contained luxury villa owned by artist, Jan Stevenson. Best described as a couples retreat, its a great base for exploring the Bay of Islands. And nothing could be finer than coming back to this special level of style and comfort.

Harakeke Gardens Guesthouse

Jan is not afraid of using colour and I think her artwork is very special. What a great base for exploring Kerikeri! View some sample New Zealand travel itineraries.

Now just further down the road from Harakeke Gardens Guesthouse is Opito Bay. This is a lovely underpopulated spot to have a picnic lunch and just simply chill for a while.

Kerikeri accommodation options – Paihia Dolphin Encounter

But time is marching on and we have an appointment with a couple of friendly bottle-nose dolphins.

Big game fish region ex Paihia in the Bay of Islands.

Big game fish region ex Paihia in the Bay of Islands.

The journey from the Paihia wharf is fairly uneventful. It’s just simply nice being out on a boat for a while.

Dolphins work to their own schedule and sometimes you won’t get to see any. But when you do, there’s a fluttering of hearts – these boys are big and they’re curious!

Kerikeri accommodation options - Paihia Dolphin Encounter

Swiming with dolphins in the Bay of Islands

There are a number of things to keep in mind. Do avoid touching the dolphins while you’re swimming with them.  Bacteria can be passed from your hands. Once you’re in the water, make as much underwater noise as possible.  Flap your arms and legs around. These guys love a good time and are attracted to party animals. View some sample New Zealand travel itineraries.

Kerikeri accommodation options - Paihia Dolphin Encounter

Don’t be offended if they don’t hang around for long.  We humans can be a boring lot.

Happy Travelling

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May 10th, 2017

Tutukaka Coast Northland – Diving – Coastal Bush Walks

Unless you’re a keen diver, chances are you won’t have heard about Tutukaka. In fact, a lot of New Zealanders haven’t visited this pristine paradise We’ve lined up our bucket list. Tutukaka Coast Northland – Diving – Coastal Bush Walks. A drive along the Twin Coast Discovery Highway will take you around the Tutukuku Coast. You probably won’t notice the winding road – the scenery is so spectacular. Even in Autumn, the water is still warm enough to surf in.

Tutukaka beautiful beaches

Tutukaka beautiful beaches in Northland

Tutukaka Coastal Walks

On the way in, we stopped at Whale Bay Scenic Reserve to take a short walk. It was a wow moment when we reached the end.

Whale Bay Scenic Reserve

When we proudly announced that we’d done this walk, some of the locals scoffed at us.  “That’s not the most beautiful around here” they said!  How on earth could you surpass these views?

No photo can really do these scenes justice.

Tutukaka Coast Northland – Diving – Coastal Bush Walks

At Tutukaka village we finally got to meet Kate Malcom, owner of Dive Tutukaka. Kate presides over the best diving company in the Southern Hemisphere. Divers from all over the world come here to discover the iconic Poor Knights Islands. Dive Tutukuka offer a wide range of PADI dive courses. No one needs to miss out, as snorkeling is also on offer. The boats are modern and the whole check-in process takes about 15-20 minutes. More details.

Kate is a force of nature. She’s already added ‘Marriage Celebrant’ to her long list of achievements.

Dive Tutukaka – Lodge 9 – boutique accommodation

Dive Tutukaka has just built a modern B & B Lodge. The area will benefit so much by having this type of boutique accommodation. Lodge 9 is perfectly located right next door to the Dive Tutukaka headquarters. Each of the 6 bedroom suites have an electronic locking system, as do the external doors. You gotta love the stylish organic vibe. There’s a very clever use of recycled timbers. I fell in love with these handmade ceramic cups.

That evening we meet three other guests from the Netherlands and had a great chat over a wine and hors d’oeuvres. Lodge 9 serves a continental breakfast which can be delivered to your room if you like. Or just head downstairs to the communal breakfast table. You’re sure to meet other interesting travellers.

I have to mention a great cafe to have lunch. Schnappa Rock Cafe provided the nicest lunch I can remember.  The middle-eastern flavours in my chicken salad were sensational!

It’s time for another walk.  There’s always a price to pay for that extra bit of carrot cake.  But I might just put my hoodie on and chill out just a wee bit longer.


Happy Travelling!


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