Hokitika, Hokitika. I just love hearing and saying Hokitika. I always listen out for it on the weather forecast here. Now I’ve arrived in person I’m staying put at least one night and have booked in to the Drifting sands backpackers not far out of town and right on the beach. I’ve met Clare who runs it who has recently come back from 10 years in London following a family illness which meant this place needed someone to look after it. No wonder she was smiling.
I have to say that today’s cycle was the easiest day ever! It was completely flat between Greymouth and Hokitika ( Hokitika, Hokitika) and only 40km away (it’s amazing that I could only dream of covering 40km when walking yet here I am considering it as having a day off!). Today’s weather was even better, the sun actually did come through the thinner cloud and if there was any breeze it was behind me. Quite a few cyclists on the road but those I met were doing the west coast wilderness trail which is mainly off road.
I had a bit of panic this morning at Neptune’s when I couldn’t find my bike lock key or the backpacker keys. I looked everywhere and repacked my gear several times, checked behind sofas and in the bath room. At one time the whole small army that woof at Neptune’s were looking (made me wonder if anyone staying there weren’t woofing!) , eventually the keys turned up in the peg basket where I must have put them for safe keeping when i did my laundry last night, after a firm gratified handshake to my French woofer finder I was hurriedly on my travels again.
Not wanting to break the emerging pattern of an easier day following a harder one I set my sights low at either Hokitika (Hokitika, Hokitika) or Ross about 20km further on.
Heading out of Greymouth I stumbled on a charity fundraiser at the local swimming pool. Teams were attempting to sit in a paddling pool full of iced water for 5 minutes. They were all having a great time and I got a big hug when I said keep the change from my sausage sizzle.
The “wild west” was a tad tame today, not that I’m complaining, it is surprisingly very flat here and a few of the gardens looked very manicured,some of the blokes and most of the women don’t even have beards!. A very twee cafe at Kumara Junction where I stopped for a smoothie and cake and I could have mistaken for being in leafy Surrey.
Being a man of “cultcha” I went to the museum which has three main themes (4 if you included the textile/ clothing exhibit which I couldn’t muster any interest in as it “wore a bit thin”). The three themes were the pounamu (greenstone or jade) which this area is famous for and was a prized possession for the Maori,the second was the gold rush which brought in thousands of settlers but was short lived and thirdly about the “white gold” which is the whitebait and many of the rivers here are still fished although stocks are declining. All very interesting for someone as cultcharred as I and I can happily impart my acquired knowledge should you, my dear reader, be similarly seeking to expand your cerebral horizons.
So now, as it has been a quiet day at the office, I can pass on “interesting” facts on NZ I picked up in a leaflet from another cultcharel visit I made to the Murchison library some days ago now.
Top 10 visitor source countries
Main import countries
Main export countries
Main export is milk powder, butter and cheese (twice as much value as the next export which is meat)
There are 31.2 million sheep, 10.2 million cows and 1 million deer (although I saw a dead one so make that 999,999)
Compares to 4.43 million people.
87% of new Zealanders are satisfied or very satisfied with their lives ( I think I’ve met most of them)
;10pm drifting sands backpackers
Ive Just come back from the glowworm dell here in Hokitika (Hokitika, Hokitika). Awesome to approach in the pitch black and see thousands of tiny little lights appearing as if you are looking at a beautifully clear starlit night sky. Old chatterbox here got talking to an American couple from El Paso, Texas who were incredibly quiet and collected for their country of origin. We talked in hushed tones about how beautiful and unspoilt the country is, they are travelling just in the bottom and central parts of the south island and had driven up (on wrong side of the road)through Queenstown, Wanaka and Haast staying in hotels. He was looking forward to Invercargill and Burt Munro’s bikes at the Hayes museum. Well,that gave me my chance to name drop and I told them I was on very good terms with the Munros clan in Wellington! They were amazed at what i was doing and warned me about the hills and tight corners to come as I head south. I have no idea what they look like nor they me so I told them to imagine Brad Pitt and they wouldn’t be far off!They even laughed at this, i liked them!
Earlier I’d run a career counselling session for two girls at the backpackers, one was Belgian who had packed up her job as an acoustics engineer because it had become too demanding and repetitive after 2 years so she had resigned to go travelling, she had spent just under 6 months in South America and loved Bolivia and Chile most. She wasn’t sure what she would do. The other girl was German and after leaving school had been a trainee working in transport logistics for over 2 years bit decided that this was not for her and she now wanted to go to uni and study maybe marketing.I talked about my job and how important it is to find something you are passionate about, that they were doing the right thing to take the time to consider what this was and to remember that there will always be difficult days at work no matter what you do and these will make the good days even better. Their eyes glazed over at this point so I went to see the glowworms!
Lionel’s thought for the day
“If you bum is suffering then spare a thought for the saddle”
Its all too real for me but I think there is a deeper meaning in there somewhere.
My superficial and shallow tftd which I came up for Rex was