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Previous Day: Day 27 – Alexandra to Haast

Day 28 – Haast to Hokitika

After tumultuous rain overnight, we left Haast with a soaking wet drivers seat (guess who left a half-inch of window open) and in brilliant sunshine. This was a bit of a surprise, as I’m sure the weather forecast was for rain.

The West Coast Road

There are a number of places to stop on the West Coast (like the Glaciers – see later) but the real main tourist attraction is just the drive itself. The land on either side of the road is just thick with lush bush and rainforest. There are plenty of photo opportunities on the way, including a beach where all the driftwood and stones that have been washed up have been very artistically arranged by what must be hundreds of tourists.

We seem to have a couple of germans in our photo

Fox and Franz Josef Glacier

The main big ‘attraction’ on the West Coast are the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers. There are other glaciers on South Island, but none are as big or as accessible as these two. The start of Fox Glacier in particular is a short walk from the car park – and it is quite spectacular. The ice towers above you, and is a beautiful aqua blue. There is an ice cave under it.

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier Ice Cave

The general public can’t walk up to the glacier itself, but you can book to go on a glacier tour, with a guide. We decided that this was probably not very sensible, given Arts dicky ticker, but he managed the short flat walk half-way to the glacier, and I completed it to the face.

Franz Joseph Glacier as seen from Peter's Pool

Hokitika

We’ve decided that we like staying in backpacker lodges over holiday park cabins – mainly due to the fact that you sleep in the same buildings as the showers and kitchens, and also we’ve found them to be a bit friendlier. It probably has something to do with the fact that Art seems to get on well with the young female backpackers too! So tonight we’re booked into the backpackers above the Jade Factory. This is in the centre of town, and a very short walk to everything.

Hokitika seems like a nice little town. It has a beach, and a high street, with a couple of good bars, and a New World supermarket. Another thing it has are jade shops aplenty, and other jewellery shops that use local stones and gold.

There are many areas in NZ that had gold rushes at the end of the 19th Century, and the area around Hokitika is one of them. In all the areas you can still pan for gold, and there is one shop in particular that uses the gold to make jewellery.

Now you may remember that Art and I got married in Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia. And we bought wedding rings that had gold nuggets from the local river. I still have mine, but Art managed to lose his when he was gardening. He was very upset at the time, and I’ve always said (to myself) that if we went back to Queensland I’d buy him another ring. Well, ‘The Gold Shop’ had some rings made with NZ gold nuggets. It was too good an opportunity to miss – Art now has a wedding ring back, this time inlaid with Hokitika Gold. Quite apt, really!

We’ve also decided to stay on in Hokitika for an extra night so we can go to the Food Festival on Friday night and Saturday. We’re going to have to move though – accommodation is like Hens Teeth, so we’re going up-market to the only room available, a B&B down the road….

Hokitiki Beach

Sandflies, not too bad

Next Day: Day 29 – Hokitika (well, more Ross)

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