Saturday, 6 March 2010

Hokitika to Wanaka

I spent the day recuperating in Hokitika. Slept some, parked at the beach and wandered around the town. The stone I collected turned out to be serpentine so as I left town, I flung them into the river as I drove across the bridge. Stopped at Ross beach, a windswept piece of real estate next to a gravel pit (it's for sale!, comes with sea view, 2or 3 bedroom home etc). An old fellow his wife and two dogs drive in followed by a large camper/house truck. I think if it is aluminum or vinyl it must NOT be a house truck. Anyway the old guy comes over and we talk; kids, education, government regulations, organic gardening , where I'm from, where he's from (Nelson) quite engaging. Wonderful to connect with someone like that. As we walked back from the beach, our footprints in the sand were almost completely blown away.
I walked alone later along the tideline looking for something, and found it. Lighter than the last piece I picked up, I am weighing both literally and figuratively what I am choosing to keep. And of course on the last day...
Morning, colder and lots of condensation. I am underway, on the road by 9 heading to the Glaciers! Franz Josef has the most hype, helicopters flying up and over all day long. Some offer a view of all the local glaciers. What a trip that would be. I walk slowly up as close as they will let us get, across an immense morraine field, rivers snaking through. The massive cliffs ringing the valley have waterfalls cascading down all around. It doesn't seem possible to get it all in a photo.
I scoot (along with many others) down to the river and snag a piece of thousand year old ice to suck on as I wander back to the parking lot. I manage to say hello to most of the folks passing me by. Some even respond! Then onto Fox. The ground must be even less stable here, there are ropes and signs everywhere. Saying hello pays off, some of the same folks are here too and I manage to get a few conversations happening.
Received a text from Roo. She and David are tramping up in the hills near Wanaka, do I "want to connect tomorrow?" (of course she didn't write it like that). I spend some time and finally figure out how to text. Confirming.
So a major drive ahead of me and no camera batteries again. Oh well!
Bruce Bay had a continous line of stacked rocks along its mile or so road frontage with many stick structures sculpted on the beach itself. And people were stopping to photograph and add to the display.
Haast blows by but on the bridge, crossing the river at Pleasant Flat there is an incredible view of the mountains to the (?north?) Then the Gates of Haast and Trickle One and Two; great clefts of rock with the streams spraying down within, glimpsed as I hurtle past. Numerous waterfalls seen from the road. I stop for some food from my cooler (whoops Chilly Bin) not so cool anymore.
Wanaka seems like a happening place! Lots of folks at the sidewalk cafes and bars, a huge lake framed by immense mountains dry as dust and covered in scrub, gorse and fern mostly. I find a campground, get some takeaway and begin to catch up on the writing. I need some solid time to sort photos though so leave it for later. Get into conversation with a cyclist from north England who has been resting here for the last three days. Too windy he says. The weather looks good for tomorrow. I get laundry done, hanging in the dry night air, have a beer and fall sleep. Lightly. My foot is keeping me awake and I daren't drop my vigilance since when I arrived my nose let go again.
In the morning the starter gives me grief to the extreme discomfort of the folks who just arrived and are attempting to sleep. He gets up and gives me a push.
In town I find the library. The plug is in the ceiling. Unfortunately gravity being what it is, the plug slips out and two hours later I am not charged up. However my time in the parking is, so I go exploring. Take a picture of Mt Aspiring and discover a road leading to the Motatapu River Gorge. Along a dusty washboarded road, this place is the driest one gets in NZ. Like Utah and the Okanagon but bigger mountains, Kiwi accents and dead possums along the highway.
The gorge is quite magnificent, steep carved rocks and a narrow passage way looking down from the bridge. I find the trail down and as I am contemplating diving in, 5 local youth arrive boisterous and cocky. The are jumping in from the overhanging rocks, noting there is less water than last time and "it is cold!" I jump in once making a comment about a similar spot back home where we wear wetsuits to explore it. One fellow tells how some mates swam and walked upstream to then drift down and got sucked under a large rock and drowned. Not today thanks.
Back in town I finally connect with Roo and David and bonus! Marie who they ran into the day before so all went tramping together.
We try the local micro brewery beer all three flavours and have Indian food at 9:30. Quite an accomplishment , not much is open after 8 here. Then Marie and I drive back to the gorge, to freedom camp, David and Roo staying in the Sally Ann Hostel, housed in the same building as a bar...

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