Published: September 22nd 2008September 21st 2008
Day 541 (20.09.08)
Since we've got plenty of time at the moment we start each day with no definite plan as to what we'll do but normally a basic plan as to where we'll end up. We planned to reach Hokitika today and were there by about lunch time.
On the way we made a stop at Hari Hari where we found our way to the 'landing' site of Guy Menzies a young chap who was the first person to singlehandedly fly across the Tasman Sea from Australia to NZ. After a successful but slightly stormy crossing he wasn't in quite the right position when he arrived and had to look for a place to land. He saw what he thought was farm pasture and decided to use that as his landing strip only realising at the last minute that the land was actually swamp. The plane took a nose dive into the swamp on landing but the pilot was safe and there are some great pictures at the landing site of him with local crowds proudly surrounding the upturned plane. There is also a replica of the plane that Guy used in a little plastic building just on
the main street in Hari Hari.
Once we arrived in Hokitika we looked around for aplace to stay. After a couple of nights in DOC camps, washing and cooking on the back of the van we wanted a place with a shower and maybe a living area for us to relax in for a while but the place we found was closed for one day for carpet cleaning. We decided to rough it for one more night and then treat ourselves the following night - we'd really need it then!
The sun was out so we drove out of town to the stunning Hokitika Gorge where we marvelled at the still, deep turquoise waters beneath the smooth sides of the gorge. The water really was an amazing colour and we spent a while wandering the area and clambering over the rocks by the shore.
We headed into town, famous for jade but also home to many other talented artisans and plenty of craft shops. We spent a happy time catching a talk on jade mining/carving and pottering around the shops before making our way out to another DOC site we'd found at Goldsborough not too far from
town. This was at another old gold mining site and we were pleased to note that amongst the facilities listed on the sign at the entrance it showed 'gold panning' - probably the only campsite we'll ever stay in where that's the case!
We were the only people at the site so we took a walk along the river and Mark began collecting some wood for the fire he'd been itching to build for a few days. Accompanied by a local Weka (one of NZ's flightless birds) we did manage to get a little fire going but unfortunately the wood was a little damp so it never became the roaring balze that Mark had envisioned - good fun though!
Day 542 (21.09.08)
After a leisurely start to the day the rain that had been promised set in with a vengeance. After doing a few jobs in town we went back to the accommodation we'd found the day before, now reopened, and decided to book into a room for the night as a real treat. Birdsong backpackers is right on the coast and on a good day would have lovely beach views. Owned by local artist it's a
great little place with her paintnigs of native birds on the hostel walls and a large stuffed toy sheep keeping our bed warm for us! Outside it was blowing a gale and hammering rain so we contented ourselves with a well needed shower and spent the afternoon lounging on huge beanbags in front of the wood burning stove in the common area.
We made a nice dinner using more than one pot (a luxury after our one pot dinners on the one ring burner on the back of the van). We did our usual trick and cooked up some bags of vege pasta that would be easy to reheat over the next couple of days and then grabbed some hot water bottles and headed to bed glad of the comfort with the weather still raging outside.
There are more photos below