I have stayed at the Buller campground at West Bay lately (Feb. 2013) when the DOC campground at Kerr Bay (St. Arnaud) was fully booked. Of course, we would have preferred to stay at the Kerr Bay campground as it is just a stonethrow from the village of St. Arnaud and you can walk to the few restaurants and the grocery store (where you also get fish'n'chips) in the village. West Bay is an hour's walk away.
The West Bay campground is in fact two campgrounds, the Buller and the Jetty campgrounds. I did not really work out where one started and the other ended, and we found the caretaker's caravan more or less by chance LOL Just to give you an idea: it is next to the shower/toilet/kitchen blocks.
For a DOC campground all these campgrounds are well equipped, particularly Kerr Bay. You do not only find toilets but also showers and a small kitchen block. But beware, the showers at West Bay are cold water only, otherwise really good. On a hot day you get used to the cold water and I thoroughly enjoyed washing off all the sweat and sandfly repellent late in the evening when the flying pests retire ;-))
The other warning is that I have never seen as many sandflies as on the Buller campground at West Bay. Ok, perhaps at Scott's Beach along the Heaphy Track... ;-)
The sites are located between rows of Kanuka trees, and sandflies love clearings. It was atrocious.
If you want to pitch a tent, the ground is rather hard and stony, meaning it can be difficult to hammer the pegs into the ground and without airbed you will have a very uncomfortable night.
If you have a campervan, never leave the doors and windows open and have insect killer spray at hand, or you will look like a crumble the next morning. At certain times of the day it may also be sensible to take the spray to the toilet with you...
We had very noisy neighbours but their antics were quickly stopped by the caretaker without the need to complain.
Even outside the main holiday season the campgrounds in this area are very full during weekends, the Kiwis obviously are more philosophical about the sandflies. It is essential to make a booking.
On the DOC website you find all essential info about both campgrounds on the lakeside.
The cost at West Bay is minimal, just NZ$ 6 per person.
Please note: There are only unpowered sites at West Bay while you can get powered sites at Kerr Bay (don't forget to book!), the cost for these is NZ$ 15 per adult, 7.50 per child. Unpowered sites at Kerr Bay cost NZ$ 10/5 per person, and shower tokens NZ$ 1. No cost for (cold) showers at West Bay. They have grassy areas which are good for tents.
While Kerr Bay is open year-round (but in winter showers are closed and washing machine and dryer removed due to the risk of the pipes freezing), West Bay is only open from mid-December until Easter.
While the sandflies on the campground and the beaches might drive you nuts, you will be surprised how pleasant a walk along the lakeshore can be. As the track from West Bay to Kerr Bay leads through forest, there was not a single sandfly that bothered me on my one hour morning walk, and I could stand and study plants and watch birds (wonderful concert of tui and bellbirds, and I also spotted a kaka) without starting to run and dance in order to move faster than the sandflies. Outside the forest(s) you have to apply repellent all over your body - and still these tiny beasts will try to fly into your nostrils, behind your glasses, etc. Take your sunset and sunrise photos fast or you will be bitten.
One last tip: Tiger balm is the best healing agent on sandfly bites. They stop itching immediately and disappear within a few days.
As well as the Avalon Manor Motel in Motueka is no manor, this motel is no lodge as the name indicates, and it is not luxurios - as it also claims it is "affordable luxury". Just to prevent you from disappointments.
However, this old-style motel with its slightly dated interior is a charming place which we liked from first seeing it on the internet. It is also lovely to look at when you arrive at the reception, and step into your unit. It just has character.
Our unit was at the front of two rows of units built around a beautiful established garden with lots of native shrubs and trees. There is no noise because the motel is sitting on the road to Abel Tasman National Park (Totaranui), so traffic more or less stops when the sun sets. Opposite the motel is the lovely Catholic church of the Sacred Heart, made of local stone.
The first restaurant is just a stonethrow away (go early or everything is closed but this one!), the others no further than a five minutes walk.
When we were there it was sticking hot, so we closed curtains and turned the fan of the airconditioner on. There are more rooms than airconditioning units available, so ask for one immediately when it's hot.
We walked into our unit through the kitchen area. The kitchen itself was rather well equipped, with microwave and a two-plate stove but no oven, also a good-sized dining table and chairs. Cute net curtains at the front window.
The living area was furnished with one double and one single bed, two old-fashion style but very comfortable arm chairs, a desk, flatscreen TV, and good-sized inbuilt wardrobe.
Doors at the back led to a private outdoor patio area with table and chairs, bordered by a lawn.
The bathroom had a corner shower and was spacious and clean, the vanity unit had plenty of storage - which has to be mentioned as sometimes you have to place your bottles and jars on the floor or leave them in the toilet bag and carry it back to the bedroom.
All units (5 studio, 4 one-bedroom and 2 two-bedroom family units) are ground level. There is also a solar-heated indoor swimming pool which we had no time to test - as we were happy with cooling down in the sea, also guest laundry and a children's play area.
Very friendly owners.
Broadband wireless internet access, first 200 MB free.
Rates from NZ$ 150, cheaper in winter.
Charming and quiet.
Photo 2 gives a general impression of the unit. The bathroom would be to the left of the kitchen.
Photo 3 is a close-up of the kitchen.
Photo 4 is a close-up of the bedroom area.
Photo 5 displays part of the bathroom.
I have a problem with the words "luxury" and "luxurious" since living in New Zealand. Many things that are better than rubbish dumps are called "luxurious".
Do not get me wrong. I do not want to rubbish the Avalon Manor Motels in Motueka where I love to stay when visiting the Abel Tasman National Park. But I would not call it a manor nor "affordable luxury", as they call it, but a good, modern and still affordable accommodation at the gateway to the national park. I would happily stay there again at any time, and more so because the host was extremely pleasant and likeable.
We stayed in a spacios studio unit, featuring two queen beds, which had a fully equipped kitchen with microwave and fridge at the end of the unit. The furniture was average, a kind of inbuilt Mitre-10 look with nice leather armchairs, flatscreen TV, hairdryer, ironing board/iron - but no net curtains (my pet hate topic because I do not want to stay in the dark with closed curtains when I am not dressed properly and do not want to scare other guests with my inappropriate look ;-) The separate desk and breakfast table deserve to be mentioned.
The bathroom is spacious, neat and clean but nothing special which would deserve the attribute "luxurious", rather the plastic DIY look.
Outside there is a guest laundry and BBQ area.
The motel also offers various kinds of accommodation, not just studios. There are also one-and two-bedroom units and luxury spa suites available.
Wireless internet access (not free) - but here it is an "affordable luxury" LOL
Like most motels in Motueka, this one is located right along SH 60 where the main traffic flows to Abel Tasman National Park and Golden Bay. The units are set back from the street, and the noise is not too bad. It is also located at the eastern end of Motueka, so you have to walk five to ten minutes to the restaurants in the town centre.
Rates in summer from NZ$ 150, cheaper in winter.
Compared to bigger tourist places with big hotels Motueka seems a bit overpriced. Avalon Motels are at the lower end of the price range.
Check out booking websites like www.wotif.com for special deals.
Photo 2 shows the bathroom.
I have not stayed there but somehow discovered it and think it is a very interesting kind of accommodation in rural Motueka. It is a 10 minutes drive from Motueka and 15 minutes to Kaiteriteri.
They advertise with the special quality of having no traffic noise, just the sound of fruit growing ;-)
Like many alternative people and organic farmers of the region the owner of Treedimensions comes from Germany. This one (Dieter) grew up in Bavaria and has been living in NZ for more than 20 years.
The two units in the timber cottage have ensuite bathrooms and fully equipped kitchens. The tariff is NZ$ 100 for two people (as April 2007), extra person $15. Breakfast is available for $10 pp.
The organic farm is home to some cows, ducks and chicken. Depending on the season you might be able to sample some of the 700 varieties of fruit growing on the property. The farm is Demeter certified, and practices permaculture and biodynamics. Organic wines grow at the doorstep.
A stream runs through the property, and you awake to the song of the tui.
Marahau itself is already a haven of peace, as it is at the end of the road to the Abel Tasman National Park. When the water taxis - which you nearly do not hear anyway - stop operating in the evening and the birds go to sleep you can only listen to the sounds of silence. This place is so incredibly relaxing and quiet. Hang out there for some days and you are as new.
The Ocean View Chalets are probably the most spectacular accommodation in Marahau, certainly for their location. They are situated near the end of the road in the little town at the end of the road... Those nice and cosy natural timber chalets, situated on a fifty acre farmlet, are sitting on a hill side, nestled along the bush line. From their elevated position they offer fabulous panoramic views over the Tasman Sea. The start of the Abel Tasman Coastal Track is just some metres away.
You can chose from five spacious one bedroom chalets with private Bathroom, kitchen, living area and balcony (NZ$ 138 for two people), one two bedroom chalet with two bathrooms (NZ$ 205.00 for four people) and two studio units with ensuite Bathroom and coffee/tea making facilities (NZ$ 98 for two people). Extra persons in the one or two bedroom chalets cost $20 each per night.
You can get cooked breakfast (buffet) for $11.50 and packed lunch for $11.50 per person.
Those log cabins a five minutes walk from Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park are located in very peaceful surroundings, you hear the bellbirds sing, and surprisingly they were sandfly-free when we stayed there although we got bitten everywhere in the St. Arnaud area if we did not use lots of insect repellent.
The log cabins - now called St. Arnaud Motels - are adjacent to the Yellow House which is the backpackers accommodation, and have some shared facilities like the laundry and the same reception. As St. Arnaud is not a hob of nightlife and restaurants it is quite handy that they sell simple (canned) foods etc. at the reception.
We had just a studio but there are also one- and two-bedroom cabins available. They are rustic and rather basic, with slightly dated and simple bathroom facilities. As our studio was wheelchair-accessible we walked over wet towels on the flower in the bathroom at all times. To protect the environment the towels were changed every second day but if you wish they will be changed daily. The daily service does not include the beds, they just empty the rubbish bins and stock up the courtesy coffee and tea.
Some shelves for clothes, a second bedside table and a coffee table near the sofa would make the stay more comfortable, and it was a pity that there were no chairs and a little table on the verandah, and apart from two bar stools there were no comfy chairs in the studio that we could have used to sit outside.
The kitchen was equipped very well. It had a two plate cooking stove (no oven), microwave, toaster, fridge and a lot of tools, cutlery and crockery etc.
We would go there again and just take some folding chairs with us, so we could enjoy sitting outdoors. The accommodation is not luxurious but matches the surroudings perfectly, and it is absolutely fine for a tramping trip.
You are charged for using the spa pool (NZ$5 per hour) and have to make reservations for it.
Rate for the studio unit was NZ$99 (March 2007).
This rate is below average in St. Arnaud.
If you have read some of my accommodation tips you know that I would love to always stay in flash new hotels and motels but that I have a soft spot for old-style motels because normally they offer such a lot of space and full kitchen facilities.
The Riviera Motel in Tahunanui (Nelson) is such a motel but it has been fully modernised, so you should not be disappointed. It has just 6 units (2 studios, 2 one-bedroom, 2 two-bedroom), a heated swimming pool, a spa pool and BBQ area.
It is not directly located on spectacular Tahunanui Beach but this is only a five minutes walk away.
Rates (as March 2007) are from NZ$85 to 125.
My funniest memory about this motel is that one day we were super hungry and decided we should cook two packs of spaghetti instead of one, ignoring that the spaghetti packs contained 500 grams each. So we had 1000 grams of spaghetti for two ladies... Of course, there was no suitable container for them, so we mixed them with the sauce on a baking tray. When we were satisfied they tray still looked like untouched, so we went to the courtyard with the tray and asked all the kids if they wanted to have a free dinner, but not a single one dared to eat our spaghetti LOL So we had food for three days ;-)
This motel is modern - with the disadvantage that you cannot really cook and struggle to find a nice place for having breakfast. You have microwave, fridge, toaster, plates, cups, cutlery etc. but there is only a small rattan table with two chairs where you can not place more than your coffee and two small plates. So you should prepare your toasts or whatever you want to have for breakfast at the small working space before you sit down.
The first time we stayed at this place I even had breakfast sitting on the bed and placing the coffee cup on the floor and the plate with the toast on my lap. The second time I was better organised, and rearranged the furniture - which also made the really big room better usable. Although the studio unit was spacious and superbly furnished, there was no space for the luggage as on one wall was a sofa and on the opposite wall the already mentioned tiny rattan table and the chairs. So I moved the table and the chairs to the sofa, so this became a nice sitting area, and the now empty area on the other side became our luggage and shoe storing area.
Another minus is that there is no real storage space for clothes. A 50cm wide gap in the wall beside the bed, displaying four clothes hangers, is meant to be the wardrobe.
The bathroom and all its amenities are fabulous. Everything flash, new and clean.
The units face a side street of the main road, so they are quiet.
It is a 10 minutes walk from the motel to the town centre where all the restaurants and shops are.
The best I can say about this hostel is its location. It is only 200m from the Takaka towncentre.
My husband had said we should have a change and stay at a YHA hostel, and so we did. We could not have made a worse choice, and there are seemingly so many nice hostels in New Zealand. Some things might have changed in the meantime, but when we were there at the end of 2003 it was horrible.
They call it friendly, relaxed and homely atmosphere. Yes, they were friendly and relaxed. We were not. We had a double room in a dark former garage, covered in cob webs and spiders walking around the two oldest beds you can imagine, the covers looked like historic sleeping bags. The shelves were too disgusting to place something on them, so we left everything in the suitcase and slept fully clothed because of the spiders LOL
Another pleasure was a dart board attached to the outside of our garage wall, so we had the eternal bang-bang and could share the joy of those who threw the darts until we left for dinner.
When we woke up at 3.30 or 4am we laughed and said, let's leave. So we took a shower in the middle of the night, and we were happy that we did this when nobody else disturbed, as the sliding door was only hanging on some notches, giving insights. At least the water was clean ;-)
Had we not left that early we would never have enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere of NZ at dawn, before sunrise and before the starting chorus of the birds. Thanks, Annie! (BTW He was a guy!) If Nirvana is Nowhere and Everywhere, this hostel is definitely a place we will not go back to, whereas lovely Takaka will always be on our map.
Spiders, cob webs, dart board on the wall.
This is accommodation for people who do not get sea-sick easily. AquaPackers is a floating accommodation on the waters around the Abel Tasman National Park. The company has two boats that are anchored in Anchorage Bay which is a stop-over on the Abel Tasman Coastal Walk Track.
So either you just walk on the track and then get onto your hotel boat, or you take a water taxi from Marahau or Kaiteriteri, or you join a guided kayak day trip and stay with Aquapackers as part of a package deal. Pick-up from the beach is by inflatable boats.
The accommodation is not luxurious but specifically designed for backpackers. One boat is a 13m catamaran, the other one a 22m Navy patrol boat from World War II. They have 4 private double cabins and 26 dorm beds, meals and bedding are included, and they have good facilities (hot showers, flush toilets).
Costs (as Jan. 2007):
Dorm bed NZ$ 60
Private double cabin NZ$ 175
Really a unique type of accommodation which is nice for one or two nights, just for a change. Friends of mine have stayed there even in heavy rain... That would not be my cup of tea... ;-)
Apart from camping ground, they also offer a range of rooms/huts. Quite & comfortable, but a little run down in one of the room we had. Can't complain too much with the price you pay.
Close to the beach... so you can take a stroll along the beach and feel the sea breezes.
Very pleasant stay in a homely B&B.
Rooms: spacious, we had a balcony with a fantastic view (picture), television and tea and coffee making facilities
Breakfast: every morning just waiting for Diane's muffins
Hosts: you will like Martin and Diane
(Martin has a license to make private boat tours)
and the muffins !!!!
finally I can offer a place only for women, who travel alone, like the be with women and or just wanne have a time out from what ever
great location, nice and secure enviroment, easy walk to the Town Center, Cafes and Restaurant
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