A three or four hour drive south west took us to the wild and rugged West Coast area. Enroute we were sidetracked by a sign that said “Buller River Swing Bridge – Longest Swing Bridge in New Zealand”. We stopped to investigate and decided that $10 was worth walking across the longest Swing Bridge in the country. “Swing Bridge” in New Zealand means a rope bridge that swings a lot due to its instability, not a bridge that pivots (which is the Wikipedia definition). Anyway we crossed said bridge.
After the wobbly crossing we started a 15 minute woodland walk before bumping into a strange Kiwi guy called Mike who was the driver of a jet boat. Through his charm (and large discount off list price) he persuaded us onto his boat for a 40 minute “spin” down the river. He clearly loved the Buller River and stopped periodically to tell us about the gold mining history of the place.
After the drenching and white-knuckles we drove on to Paparoa National Park, stopping briefly to admire the pancake rocks and the power of the swell of the South Pacific. There was no land to our west until Patagonia so the waves had time to build.
We finally made it to Nigel and Karen’s Airbnb. To say that they were characters is an understatement. Pre-arranged, they cooked for us. And Nigel plied me with his home-brewed beer. They have an after dinner ritual of getting Google Earth up on their big screen in their lounge and getting guests to show where they live and explain their lifestyles. Recently they had Somalian guests so I think East Grinstead may have been a little tame for them.