July 1 - Hokitika
New Zealand - There and Back Again
We woke up this morning pretty early knowing it was Sunday and we wanted to go to mass. We weren’t sure where the church was, but we assumed if there was one the service would be at 9 AM like it was everywhere else.
We got up around 8:00 AM. We planned to stay the night again so we didn’t pack up our tent. It was freezing cold outside, but there were three little kids, 2 boys and a girl, playing on the playground next to our campsite. They obviously lived in the campground area. Just like people do in the U.S., they do in New Zealand as well. I think they were staying in cabin type buildings though. Probably kids of the milk factory workers.
It must have been 28 degrees or colder and they were not wearing gloves and acting like it was a warm summer day. They were jumping on this piece of junk trampoline that was about 4 feet wide and about 2 feet off the ground. I saw them as I ran to go to the bathroom. I saw them again as we were driving away, but this time they were playing on a swing. It looked like the girl was inside a sideways trash can connected to wooden frame being held up by two chains and the boys were standing on each side pushing her. It was hilarious.
When we drove by I said I think that girl is in a trash can. They were laughing like crazy as if it was fun. What kind of kids are up on a Sunday morning at 8:30 AM playing in trash cans? We looked on a town map in our guide book and saw there was a school in town called St. Mary’s or something like that and thought it could be a Catholic school, which meant there was probably a Catholic Church nearby.
We drove down the main road through town and passed a few small churches, and up in the distance was a large domed building with a cross on top. We thought that could be the Catholic Church based on the map we had. We drove over to it and saw that it had a fence with yellow caution tape around it. I was thinking maybe it had been damaged in an earthquake.
There was a sign out front saying mass was at 9:00 AM though. We saw an old lady walking down the street and I figured she was going to church. I didn’t think an old lady would be walking around in the cold for no reason. We pulled over to ask her about mass, but before I could ask she said are you looking for the church? I said we were and she said it was being held in the auditorium of the school next door. She told us where to park so we drove down the street.
I wasn’t sure where to go exactly, but other people were just getting there and walking through a fence towards the school grounds. I just followed them. The old lady had caught up and was with another old lady. Andy was way behind for some reason, but I was cold so I went ahead on inside. The auditorium was pretty tiny.
There was about 10 or 12 rows of chairs with an isle down the middle. Each row had may 15 chairs. For such a huge church next door the auditorium wasn’t going to hold many people. I sat on the left side in the 3rd or 4th row, most of the other people were sitting near the back. It was mostly older people in church, but there was a few families with younger kids probably between 4 and 12.
Andy found me and sat down by me. A little old lady came walking over behind us with a piece of paper and asked if we had gotten one. I said no and she handed it to Andy. It was their bulletin with lots of announcements and things on it. I don’t know why we needed that.
There was a projector set up with a laptop that they were gong to be using for the service since they had no missiles. It is strange to me that the smallest and seemingly poorest churches we go to around the world have a projection screen. Usually they have just been used to post the pages for readings and songs, but in New Zealand they have used them throughout the service for the readings and the song lyrics. The building had two small heaters on the ceilings. It was pretty cold inside to me.
The priest was Indian. They didn’t have a very good sound system and he had to hold the mircophone when talking. Although there were only about 70 people there and we could hear him fine. Maybe the older people couldn’t, I don’t know. The microphone kept going in and out when he talked in it so it wasn’t very helpful.
Right before the service started the lady that was working the computer was freaking out. There was a weird jingle happening and she didn’t know where the sound was coming from. She thought it was the computer, but couldn’t figure out how to turn it off.
As the jingle was playing the mass was starting. She turned the slide to show the song lyrics, but the jingle was still going. I don’t remember the song, but I do remember that there was no instruments being played. I also remember that the majority of the songs they sang were ones I had heard before except the tunes they sang the songs too were completely different.
Usually when a group of people sing, either with or without instruments, the songs still sound pretty good. That is completely untrue in New Zealand. The people are the most tone deaf I have ever heard in my life. I don’t even think most of them knew the songs, and those that did butchered them. The tune they were singing didn’t even flow with the songs at all.
During the first reading the jingle sound started going off again and the lady still didn’t know what it was. She was looking all around to see what it could be. Finally during the priests sermon she reached into her pocket, it was her phone! She didn’t even know her own ring tone. She went to the back and turned it off.
The service lasted about an hour. At the end the priest invited everyone to stay for tea. I told Andy that we should stay for tea and donuts. I didn’t think there were any donuts, but it was wishful thinking. As we went to the back I saw a table full of food. We passed by some people and they said to have some tea and snacks.
I had been wanting free food, and today was my lucky day. I also had been wanting to go to a bakery, but now I didn’t have to. We stood in line for a few minutes and got some tea with milk and sugar. It tasted pretty good and it wasn’t scolding hot.
We also ate a lot of the food. I think we tried almost everything. We didn’t want to look like pigs taking all the food so we would only take one thing at a time then walk away and eat it. When no one was looking we walked over and took more. Most of the people still there weren’t eating anything and a lot of the people had left. The little kids seemed to be eating the most, and us.
We had two pieces of banana bread, which was really good. It tasted homemade and had butter on it. We had a small muffin roll that had cheese and green onion on it. We ate a fold over piece of white bread that had cheese melted in it with a little bit of onion and tuna. There was also a breaded sausage thing that tasted strange, but it was good.
We wanted to eat more, but felt like we had enough. While we were eating people were wanting to talk to us and they were all friendly. We talked to the priet a little bit about our travels, but he had to go do another service in another town. He said the real church wasn’t damaged at all, but because of the earthquake in Christchurch a year ago the government made them close the building as a precaution until it was looked over. They still hadn’t heard whether they could go back to the church yet and didn’t know when they could.
Church ended at 10:00 AM and after breakfast it was about 10:15 AM. Our plan for the day was to go to the Hokitika Gorge, do laundry, and have an easy relaxing day for the first time in 3 ½ weeks of traveling nonstop.
The Hokitika Gorge was actually about 20 kilometers outside of Hokitika in the middle of nowhere. The drive there was nice and well marked. The roads were flat, but curvy and we passed through a few small towns and by some farms. There were mountains to the east and south of us. Due to the roads it took about 30 minutes.
We got to the gorge around 11 AM. The hike itself was 5 minutes to the first overlook, 10 minutes to a bridge that crosses the gorge, and 15 minutes to the waters edge after a little bit of rock scrambling. The weather was just about perfect. There were very few clouds in the sky and the temperature was surprisingly warm. It was about 55 degrees maybe. It doesn’t sound warm, but compared to the 20s and 30s we had been experiencing recently it felt great.
The trail is very flat and goes through a forest. On the right side is the river and we were about 50 meters above the water at this point. There were very few steep parts along the trail so it was basically a nice stroll through the woods. There were a few boardwalks and wooden bridges to cross as well. We did a lot of gopro videos of this like usual. We intend to create videos of each hike we do with videos and pictures of ourselves walking and what we see along the way, which is why we have been filming so much.
After about 2 minutes of walking we came to the overlook. Below we could see the river and a bridge which crossed the river. I was looking for a gorge, but it wasn’t really what I was expecting to see. I was imaging a gorge that was really deep, rapids, waterfalls, or something like that. It basically looked like a very calm river with a cliff on one side that was about 20 meters high, and a cliff on the other side that was about 50 meters high, probably not even that much. For most parts it was maybe 20 meters as well.
We walked down to the bridge, which took another couple of minutes. The views from here were pretty good, but the lighting was making it hard to get pictures since the water was so dark and the sky was so bright. The water had a bit of a green tint to it in some parts.
We continued on the rock scramble area. The first part is really just a short walk to the cliff edge looking back at the bridge to our left and the river below. The rocks here were slippery and still had ice on them in some parts. I had to be careful where I stepped and to not get too close to the side. It was a straight drop off. It seemed like the type of place people would go in the summer to jump off and swim in the river.
To our right there were a few more large boulders, but down below there were smaller rocks which led to the water’s edge. Before going down I wanted to get a different view of the gorge. I climbed down a little bit, and then back up to the higher rocks. There were a couple of larger rocks in this area that I climbed on. Andy came over and joined me. We filmed each other and ourselves climbing around. There was one rock sticking up above the others so I called it “Pinnacle Rock” just like the last one we had seen at Franz Josef. I climbed up to the top of it and Andy did too.
After about 10 minutes of taking pictures and walking around I decided I wanted to go down further. The way down was a little icy and the rocks at the bottom were covered in moss. The view we had was mostly down the river in the opposite direction of the bridge, but it still looked cool. I mainly just wanted to film myself walking on the rocks.
Andy got done taking pictures at the top and he came down to where I was. We did a few gopro videos of each other coming down. Eventually he went a little further beyond the point that I did because I was busy taking pictures of myself.
I found a pretty good spot to rest the camera, but didn’t really plan where I was going to stand. I saw some rocks out in front of me and felt like they would be fine. I had just walked through this path a minute before so I thought I could get there fast enough.
I stepped down with my left foot onto a small rock, and then my right foot into the mud. My entire right food sank like I had just stepped in quicksand. I quickly pulled my foot out and yelled. The spot I stepped didn’t even leave a foot print. It just closed right back up. It was part of the shore and out of the corner of my eye I thought it was just a muddy patch of ground.
Andy said he had done the same thing earlier in a different spot, but he didn’t step so deep. I didn’t want to do that again so I walked to another part. The mud actually came right off after a few minutes and didn’t stick at all. That was the main thing I was worried about, having a dirty shoe.
I tried to do another self portrait in a better location. The first couple of times I wasn’t fast enough to get over to the spot I wanted to stand because it was farther than I thought and there was no way to get there without going through the water.
The next time the rocks were wet so I couldn’t go fast. In the process some kid walked up, but he didn’t stay very long. He was the only person we had seen on the trail that even bothered to come over to this area even though it was the best part of the trail.
We spent at least 45 minutes playing on the rocks before we left. We passed a couple of people on the way back and saw a few on the trail, but there couldn’t have more than a dozen people the whole time we were there. It was a nice area, but a little out of the way for most people. In the summer it’s probably pretty popular though since it’s such a short hike.
Instead of driving straight back to Hokitika after we were done we decided to take a detour. I was looking at the map and saw that there was a lake and a few waterfalls nearby. I was hoping that at the right angle we would be able to see the mountains reflecting in the lake especially since it was such a clear day.
We weren’t exactly sure how to get to the lake since the map didn’t show road names for the smaller streets, but I had a general idea of the direction to go. We were really low on gas so we were hoping it wouldn’t be too far. The map made it look like it was about 20 kilometers to the lake, and another 20 kilometers back to Hokitka, which was basically the same as if we drove straight back from the gorge.
The lake we were trying to get to was called Lake Kaniere. The drive was similar to the one we took to the gorge. We had to back track a little using the previous roads, but then turn off in the other direction of Hokitka. The road was very well maintained like all the rest we had been driving on, but after about 20 minutes the road turned to gravel. It wasn’t terrible, but it was the worst road we had been on so far.
It was really narrow in most parts and seemed like it was a one way road and that nobody ever used it except the local farmers. We pulled over at one point along the lake to take pictures. It was an ok spot, but not great. We wanted to get further around the lake, but before we could do that we wanted to do a short hike to Dorothy Falls.
The hike itself was only 2 minutes, it was actually closer to 30 seconds. It was about 75 yards from the parking area to the falls. We were the only ones there when we arrived, but there was another car parked near us. There was a 5 minute trail along a creek on the other side of the road. We didn’t do that one since we thought it just led to the lake.
The waterfall was pretty cool. It was only about 25 meters high, but was the best one in the Hokitika area. It spilled over into a pool below which then led into a creek. There were a lot of rocks to climb around on here. I was busy taking pictures of myself while Andy was taking pictures of the waterfall from the middle of the stream. As I was taking pictures two ladies walked up, so I got out of the way so they could take pictures. They were gone in less than 2 minutes.
I saw a perfect spot to get my picture in front of the waterfall. It meant walking across a few rocks in the river, over a small log, and onto the rock I wanted to be on. It wasn’t too bad at first, but the log was really slippery. I almost fell, but was able to keep my balance. Andy wanted the same picture so he went after I was done.
We then thought it would be neat to do some gopro action shots. We sat down one of the gopros along the shore and just walked around. We walked on the left shore as far as we could, then hopped around on a few rocks. There was one that was about 2 feet away, but the closest one to the falls. I wanted to get to it, but Andy said it was too far. I stepped back a little and jumped. I made it! That was the easy part, getting back was much tougher.
The rock I had to jump back to was smaller and much slipperier. Andy was standing on it so he had to step back. I had jumped up slightly before because the rock was larger, and now I had to jump down. I jumped and landed on the rock, but started to slip. Andy was able to grab me just enough to keep me from falling in.
Now it was his turn to try. He also was able to make it across. He made it back fine too. We walked back down a slightly different direction than we had come up. We crossed near the point where we had our picture taken before near the slippery log. It was a tougher route, but it was more fun that way.
We took a few more pictures and then left the falls. We stopped a few more times along the lake to get pictures. The first spot was good, but we still wanted to see a better reflection of the mountains. A little further down was a much better location. This spot actually looked like a pull off.
There was a huge pile or rocks in a pyramid shape in the middle of the road. We didn’t drive around it, but instead just parked in front of it. On the other side was another car, and an old lady sitting in a chair painting. She was painting the scenery. I could see it well enough to know that it was pretty good. I was tempted to ask her how much she wanted for it.
To avoid blocking her view we crossed a small rocky valley that looked like it was built for drainage purposes to a shore a little further down. The water was really calm and we could see all the mountains in the distance, and there was a good reflection. We spent about 20 minutes taking pictures. I even was able to do some of myself. Andy took a few of himself also.
It was about 2:30 PM and we still wanted to do a few things in town. We drove down the road to the end of the lake for one more stop. This was probably the best spot for pictures. There was a random bench overlooking a small cliff with the lake below and mountains in the distance. We got a few pictures by the bench, and then walked down to the river.
I took a few more pictures and then was done. Andy wanted to skip some rocks. He turned on his gopro to film himself throwing rocks at the water. The first couple he did just hit the water and sank. I told him to let me try and to show him how to do it. I picked up a pretty good looking rock and it just hit the water and sank. I decided I didn’t want to skip anymore rocks so I walked back up to the car. About 5 minutes later Andy showed up and said his next few rocks he threw were really good.
We drove back to Hokitika and arrived around 3:00 PM. We still had a little bit of gas so we decided to drive to the town center and take pictures of a clock tower and look for souvenirs. We were hoping to find something made of Jade or a glass blown sculpture. We had seen glass things from other places that were made in Hokitika and the area is known for Jade.
The town center looked deserted. It was a Sunday so the majority of the stores were closed. There were a couple of Jade stores open and a glass place. We went into a Jade store that only sold New Zealand Jade, some of the places sell Jade from other areas. The place looked really nice. All the jade was in glass cases on display. It looked more like a museum and everything was way over priced.
Most of the jewelry was over $300 NZD and the smaller carvings were $500 NZD. I don’t know how it could be worth that much. I don’t think Jade is that uncommon of a mineral. I think the designs cut into the Jade are the reason it’s so much. It was cool, but not in my price range. I was thinking $25 for some Jade. I only paid $50 for Jade in China and it was much bigger.
We decided we would try another store. The Jade Factory was right across the street and was recommended in Lonely Planet. They have areas were you can watch the people carving in action. This place was even more expensive. Pretty much all of their stuff was in glass cases too.
Some of the things were much bigger though. They had a lot of Jade carved figurines, masks, and Maori tools. The things were really neat, but again way over priced. We looked around for awhile, but couldn’t afford anything.
In the back of the building there was a small display area that told the history of Jade in New Zealand by the Maori people and had some displays. There were also Maori stories about how Jade was developed. The story basically said that some guy liked some girl and stole her away from someone else. They ran for safety until they couldn’t run anymore. The guy that took her killed her and her body turned to Jade in the river since she was so beautiful. He figured if he couldn’t have her than no one could. Something to that effect.
Some of the displays were of Maori weapons. One was a club that looked like a small paddle that could be used as a cutting blade and another was a carved wooden stick with a piece of jade attached to the end. This particular thing wasn’t a weapon, but something that was passed down in the family. The carving changed based on who owned the item, but the jade was always the same.
We spent long enough in the Jade areas and thought we should check out some glass. The glass store was also way too expensive. The artwork is neat, but not for the prices they were asking. Some of the things I felt were reasonably included a set of 3, which made them even more expensive. If I could have just bought one for 1/3 of the price than I thought it may be worth it. In the end we didn’t buy anything.
We had read that there is jade at the beach and that we could just get our own. For such an abundant and easy to find mineral it seemed ridiculous to me that it would be worth so much. We decided we would walk down to the beach, but before then we needed some lunch. It was about 4:30 PM and we were hungry.
There was a popular pizza place in town and we had been wanting some pizza anyway. I just wanted normal pizza, but Andy wanted something called Whitebait Fish. The guy said to another couple ordering if they couldn’t decide they could get half and half. We tried that, but with the Whitebait Fish they only make one size, medium and it can’t be split in half.
I decided since it was a local fish and worth a lot of money that we could try it. It was $26 NZD for a medium pizza, pretty expensive. The pizza had egg on it and fish. The crust was similar to the dough you would get on a Schlotzky’s sandwich. It was actually really good. It was 4 slices for each of us, and they weren’t very big, but it was still really filling.
After our lunch we walked down the street to the beach to look for some jade. There were two girls on the beach that were either picking up their own jade or collecting shells. I’m not sure. Every rock we saw that was green we thought was jade. I picked up a few shiny pieces and put them in my pocket. Andy did the same. As I looked at them a few minutes later after they had dried out they just looked like gray or black rocks. I don’t know how to tell if something is jade or not.
We were hoping to do a portion of the beach trail and then go over to the wharf before it got dark. We had about an hour to accomplish this, but we were going kind of slowly along the beach. I was taking pictures of the sunset and Andy was picking up useless rocks and taking pictures too. I felt like it would be easier to walk on the dirt trail rather than the sand so we walked to a point where we could climb up the grassy embankment onto the trail off of the beach.
There were lots of people out walking with their dogs. We walked down the trail a little ways watching the sun go down over the sea. There was a big rock that I decided would be good for taking a picture on. I was doing jumping poses while Andy took my picture. Some of them he didn’t get perfectly so it looked like I was doing a karate kick. I took pictures of Andy jumping too.
By the time we finished the sun had just about gone down. We walked a little further down the trail to a large cement boat with an anchor that was a monument of some kind. We took some pictures, but it was kind of dark. We started walking back to the car around 6 PM. We needed to get groceries and the New World closed at 7 PM.
We had seen a postcard with a picture of the clock tower at night so we stopped and got a few pictures of it. A lot of cars were driving through the town center, which was weird since everything was closed except a few restaurants. I don’t know where these people were going.
We got back to the car and drove about half a mile to the store. It was pretty busy. We loaded up on food since we were getting low on breakfast and lunch items. We bought more salad items, chips, milk, hot chocolate, oreo cookies, lamb stew, a bag of potatoes, banana bread, and a frozen pizza since it was really cheap.
We left the store right before 7 PM and went back to the Holiday Park we stayed at the night before. We left our tent up, but hadn’t paid for the night. We stopped at the reception and I ran in and paid for a second night.
We went back to the tent to check on it and then went to the laundry building. I got out all of my clothes that needed to be washed. I had two small packets of detergent and Andy had one large one. We looked at mine and discovered they were only for sink washing. It was useless. Had I known I would have bought some at the store.
Andy gave me a small portion of his in addition to the tiny amount I already had. The laundry was $3 to was one load and $2 to dry for an hour. It wasn’t too expensive for the amount I needed to wash. We each did our own load since the machines weren’t very big.
While our laundry was going we went back to the kitchen to make dinner. We wanted to have the frozen pizza with a fried potato. The pizza finished cooking just as the laundry was done washing. I stayed in the kitchen with all of our things while Andy went to move the laundry to the drier. He came back and we ate the pizza.
It wasn’t the best pizza, but it wasn’t the worst either. It was fine for the price. It was only $5.99. We wanted to try it since we had access to an oven and we didn’t know if we would in the future. It had ham slices, onion, and some other things that had no real flavor. It was a supreme pizza.
After dinner we decided to go to the TV room across the street. It had a better heater it seemed and a better TV. The TV we watched the night before in the kitchen had 4 channels, and 3 of them were the same thing. The heater barely worked and I was cold most of the time unless I stood right under it. The chairs weren’t great either.
In the TV room there was a couch, a flat screen TV, and a portable heater right by my feet. The couch was much better than the chair, but the heater didn’t really work that well. I had it about a foot from me, and I could barely feel anything. The TV had a few more channels, but not much. We watched some show called “The League.”
Entertainment Tonight came on afterwards and they spent an hour and 20 minutes talking about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes’ divorce. It was a little ridiculous to talk about something so pointless for so long. Obviously she wanted a divorce because she was tired of the Scientology stuff, but they never mentioned that at all as a reason. Morons.
I typed in my journal until about midnight. It was the latest I had stayed up all trip. Due to my sleeping schedule at home I was thinking I would be staying up late lots of nights, but since it gets dark around 5:30 PM and there is really nothing to do after dark I haven’t had much reason to be up past 9 PM on most nights unless I’m typing.
I left my camera battery in the room to charge over night. We went back to the kitchen area and filled our water bottles and then drove about 100 yards back to the tent. It was pretty cold out, but no worse than what we had been experiencing.