Up into the hills

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February 8th 2014
Published: June 21st 2017
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Geo: -42.9061, 171.549

This was an overnight brief visit, after climbing up with lots of zig zags to the treeless pass and down in the morning. There is barely a settlement these days at the top, just 30 permanent residence, two of whom we stayed with. This was an a-typical overnight stop for us, a B and B, re-named now as Home stay. We barely recognised the tiny house on School Lane from its published photo since Geoff was repainting it in lurid colours.
He invited us to his home, which was small and chaotic, so we had to feel immediately at home. The iron bedstead had nice white sheets and white fluffy towels were provided but the down side was having to walk through the living room and attached kitchen to get to the shared bathroom, shared with the other gests - a couple from Taiwan. Everybody was very friendly but it took a while to work out who everyone was. There was a French and a German girl, both helping with the house painting for 10 days or so and improving their English. The French girl was moving on to a homestay above Milford Sound where she was going to be helicoptered in, such is the remoteness of properties in South Island. The Taiwanese couple were very smiley but spoke little english. We saw little of Rennee but her homemade jams took up much of the dining table. Geoff explained how he wrote reports for an NGO on minerals in the Anarctic and frequently took a bus for 2 hours to Christchurch airport and few out to Wellington for meetings. So the challenge of managing remoteness is just different but not dissimilar to dealing with getting to Heathrow.
The historic tour took us to the railwayman's cottages demonstrating the bigger population when the railway linking East to West Coasts { Christchurch to Greymouth} was constructed and then repopulated when the road was improved with a viaduct and the school re-opened for worker's children, now closed again. After a hearty homecooked breakfast we left for an wander in the morning wind and sun and then drove on to the West coast , stopping at Hokitika.
This is the town where Eleanor Catton has set her nevel Luminaries, the Man Booker prize winner 2014. We learned all about its history as a Gold minig town at the small community Museum, and wandered along the beach front, populated with drift wood constructions with another tasty NZ icecream.

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