Monday 2nd February
Here we are again, this time back in Christchurch after a busy four or five weeks travelling around the South Island.
We arrived here last Tuesday afternoon and as we came into the suburbs of the city clouds arrived en masse for the first time since we had left and it began to rain. Earlier in the day coming down through Arthur’s Pass from Otiro, where we had stayed the previous night there was not a cloud in sight and only the tightness of the mountains around us reduced the area of blue above.
After Arthurs Pass we actually drove through a bushfire area and were shrouded for quite a way in thick smoke as helicopters buzzed back and forth dousing the fires with enormous buckets replenished from the nearby Lake Pearson.
The cloud has remained with us all the time at Christchurch and though the rain has held off mostly during the day it has looked a bit dull sometimes.
However we have been okay staying with Janis’s Mum again as she looks after us very well. We‘ve been quite quiet since arriving, generally winding down after our hectic trip. We’ve been mostly making ourselves useful around the garden helping with the different different jobs that need to be done.
Mt Cook on the right and Mt Tasman across Lake Matheson
But before then, after Haarst Township our exotic trip continued up the West Coast Road to the small town of Hokitika, situated on the River Kaniere which drains down in a braided fashion lazily across white bleached pebbles from the lake of the same name in the foothills of the mountains behind and slips across a wide sandy bar into the Tasman Sea.
Hokitika at sunset
Like many other small towns on this side of New Zealand, Hokitika began in a flourish in the early 1860’s when somebody panned some gold and the rush was on as people flocked here mainly from Australia to seek their fortune. The port became very busy and stayed that way for a long time after the rush ended just a few years later.
We stayed at a backpackers hostel above a shop selling Pounamu (the name for the native greenstone jewellery) for two nights and enjoyed the beach and the sunsets in particular.
After the Sun had gone down we made our way to the local glow worm grotto and after dark had descended I was amazed on seeing the bright pinpricks of light all around me. It was as if I was looking at the night sky in the middle of an ocean. They were so clear I could almost imagine the Milky Way just beyond.
At Hokitika too I enjoyed for the first time that New Zealand delicacy Whitebait. I had the tiny little fish fried in an omelette between two pieces of bread as a Whitebait sandwich. This omelette is the normal way of eating the delicacy and is known as a Whitebait Pattie.
The pub at Otira almost unchanged in 150 years
Beside the Model T (that’s the lorry of course)
The following day we set off inland towards Arthurs Pass and spent the night at a delightfully comfortable back packers hostel high in the foothills of the steep mountains just south of the small, almost derelict town of Otira. The hostel was like a well designed New Zealand country cottage (single story with a red corrugated roof) and on the one night that we were there, we found ourselves completely on our own. The following day we arrived in Christchurch.
We remain here till this Thursday when we set off for Queensland where we plan to stay for a while with Janis’s sister Sharon. That should be another experience to which I am looking forward.
The days pass quickly old friend and we shall soon be home. Though I am enjoying my tour it will be good to get home in early March.
Today I emailed Cheryl at Kate Boats to remind her to have your leisure batteries changed as well as give your engine a service, so soon I expect you’ll be hearing all sorts of stuff happening around you. It’ll just be Rob coming aboard to do the jobs.
I’m so busy that I haven’t managed yet to compile the set of photos that I promised in my last letter but I’m still working on it and it won’t be too long I hope before I get them them through to you.
So until the next time old chum, all the best.