Thursday, 21 November 2013

Day 19. Hokitika Gorge

Today has been interesting. After a lovely relaxed start to the day, where we sat on the veranda having a, free, cup of tea, we set off down to Hokitika. It’s an incredibly tiny ‘town’, I hesitate to use that term, but it’s cute and it had two things we wanted to stop off and see on the way down to Franz Josef.

First stop was the Jade Gallery.  Recently me and George have been looking into what sort of Jade we wanted to buy by going to different galleries and we decided we wanted to buy out pieces in Hokitika. Jade’s an important stone for the Maoris and New Zealand has some of the most beautiful types of Jade in the world, it’s also a bit of a symbol for the country. Hokitika is one of the best places to buy New Zealand Jade as the source is close by and it is known as the place to buy jade.

After perusing what was on offer for a while, armed with leaflets telling us what the different symbols and carving meant we made our purchases, and pushed ourselves way over our daily and weekly budgets…
I bought a Fishhook which is meant to bring prosperity and encourage strength and determination, while George bought one in a Toki shape which should encourage strength and courage.

 Next stop was the one we were really looking forward to having read about it in the guide book. Ready? The Sock Knitting Machine Museum.
 The Sock Museum!
I don’t really have anything else to add to it, it was an… interesting stop. (the video they had playing was weirdly hypnotic though and we stood staring at it for way too long)

Another hours drive brought us to Hokitika Gorge.

I should probably mention, as this blog is to give me something to look back on to remember by time travelling New Zealand, that we very almost, nearly crashed and died at this point. I’m sure I’ve mentioned, on the odd occasion, the state of the roads in some parts, well here tarmac suddenly stopped and became... I want to say gravel but that’s too nice a word for what it. Basically we skidded, a lot. The scariest bit was that there was a sheer drop on the side we were skidding towards while the other was a high fence… It’s a bit of a miracle George somehow got the car under control.
(before you hyperventilate mum it’s fine, I’m fine)

Aside from that minor speed bump, which left us both white faced and shaking, the Gorge was beautiful. A 15minute walk took you to a look-out where we got to see the shockingly icy blue river and the stunning white rocks which line it. We only spent a few minutes on the lookout though before George looked down, squeaked, and then started squatting at his legs. The Mosquitos hit again.

Although I’m not entirely sure they were mosquitos this time, or maybe just a different type, as they left little cuts all over our ankles… We ran back to the car to get the insect repellent, smothered ourselves in the stuff, and then set off towards the swing bridge.

The bridge was a similar size to the one in Able Tasman although this one felt much safer as it didn’t rock so much and the view, if possible, was even more beautiful! This was probably one of my favorite sights I’ve seen so far.

Once again we ended up making a speedy exit off the bridge though as a group of 6 tourists decided to come onto the bridge all at once… despite there being no less than 4 signs warning no more than 6 people to be on the bridge at any one time…

And after that things went a little bit downhill as me and George started to really not feel too well. George is now putting it down to the high altitude that the drive was at but regardless we spent the next leg of the journey feeling sorry for ourselves. My head felt funny, I could barely keep my eyes open while I was convinced I was about to faint and be sick all at the same time. Considering our longest drive was 8hours and this was a measly 3 it felt like the longest, by far.
Aside from how rubbish we felt, the drive was incredibly beautiful. It was described as a very scenic drive and it certainly lived up to its name.

I haven’t really mentioned on here how beautiful many of the drives we’re doing are, some are literally jawdroppingly stunning, but obviously since we’re driving, I can’t take photos so I wasn’t sure there was much point telling you how beautiful the views are when you can’t see them! 
(I did force George to pull over on the side of a few busy roads while I jump out to take photos a couple of times yesterday though…)

We finally go to Franz Josef, checked into a hostel (we both have bottom bunks!) and I think we’re just going to relax and try and stop feeling so sick this evening. And cross our fingers tomorrow’s activity isn’t cancelled as the weather forecast isn’t too promising! 

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