After 2 days with Steve Gwaliasi at Bonz’n’Stones in Hokitika, where we carved our own jade, it’s time to hit the road again! We first meet by chance Jules and Charlène with who we walked down Mount Taranaki, and then François and Younn, 2 french friends in holiday in New Zealand for 3 weeks; and with who we’ll travel during a few days. Together, we start exploring the area, that is little known to tourists, but which nevetheless hides one of the finest treasure of south island…
Hokitika : its beach and its glow worms
In Hokitika, New Zealand jade capital, there is mostly some greenstones jewellery shops. But there is also its beach, famous for its incredible breathtaking sunsets, and its glow worms cliff. The town also hosts a few festivals like the Wild Food Festival that will take place in march when we’ll be away, and the Driftwood and Sand Beach Sculpture Festival which was at the end of january. Bad luck for us, we are in the middle of february!
The guy who picked us up in Arthur’s Pass told us about the glow worms cliff… We didn’t forget it! Indeed we wanted to see some since a long time, but most of the time you must pay quite a lot of money for it. Here it’s free! We agreed to meet Jules and Charlène at dawn, and to go together for an adventure in the dark woods to find those little glowing fellows. While walking along the main road, the sky turns into a deep orange burning fire. Breathtaking! Perfect to take a picture on the beach! Unfortunatly we are on that ugly road, on our way to the glow worms cliff, which also means quite a long way from the ocean… A pity! But the glow worms show was definitely worth it, lightning up the dark gloomy rainforest with thousands of little living stars.
The following evening we try our luck on the beach, cameras ready, impatient to see the sky taking fire again, as it happened yesterday. But unfortunately Mother Earth never plays the same show… Tonight, a bit weary maybe, she simply offers us one of her classical cloudy sunset… We are a bit disappointed! However, we still manage to shoot some pretty pastel colours. We also admire the remaining scuptures of the Driftwood festival, monstrous creatures of dead wood wandering on the sand, escaped from the imagination of the artists. In the dim evening light, they give to the beach a fairy unreal atmosphere.
At 33km from the city, following a narrow country road, you will be able to reach one of the gem of South Island: the Hokitika gorges! A bit remote, they are still preserved from mass tourism. This magical place has been highly recommended to us by our benevolent driver from Arthur’s Pass: « They are the most beautiful gorges of New-Zealand. You must absolutely get there! If you don’t, I will find you wherever you are, and I will bring you there by force!! » Ok, so this place must really be awesome, right?
We manage to convince Younn and François to make a detour from their holiday route to have a look on these apparently unmissable gorges. The little country road we take crosses green healthy fields where fat black cows graze peacefully, guarded by the tall Southern Alps mountains in the background. The bitumen steps over broad cristal-clear rivers coming directly from the snowy summits, remembering us that we really are in the south now!
At the car park, we barely came out of the car that we are attacked by a squadron of aggressive sandflies. New Zealand n°1 nuisance, dreaded enemies of tourists and campers, those tiny bloodthirsty gnats try by every way to get to your vital fluid, biting you painful on any square millimeter of bare skin! But the true nightmare reveals itself the day after, when on your skin appears all those tiny red spots that itch abominably and continuously for not less than three weeks!! The unfortunate Younn becomes their new favourite meal : a gigantic bearded steak! Covered from head to toe, we make our way down through a narrow path, soon offering breathtaking views on the gorges. We understand now why that guy insited that we so really needed to get there. It is truly unbelievable… Through the rain forest, a blue river flows quietly, looking like a delicate and precious liquid glacier. Dumbfounded, mute, we can only admirate this pure wondrous gem!
We follow the 20 minutes path, passing over a suspension bridge, through the forest, to finally arrive on a rocky platform on the bank of the river, from where we take time to contemplate this stunning panorama!
After this epic day, we spend a nice evening together at the Doc campsite of Goldsborough, an old abandonned city from the Gold Rush (a 4H walk brings you there… So we prefered to stay at the campground). Our next destination for tomorrow morning : the famous Franz Joseph glacier…
See you soon
Tintin & Riette
To do, to see in Hokitika :
Carve your own jade stone with Steve Gwaliasi master carver since more than 10 years at Bonz’n’Stonz
16 Hamilton Street
- Visit Traditional Jade in Tancred St. A wonderfull jade carving gallery own by maoris.
- Relax on the beach at sunset with a nice picnic !
- Have a walk in the Glow Worm Dell after dark. Don’t forget your head torch 🙂 And it’s free !
- Drive to Hokitika Gorges, one of the most beautiful short walk of New Zealand.
Caution ! After big rains, the water is not blue, but grey !
- Go to Wild Food Festival or Driftwood and Sand Beach Sculpture Festival if you’re around at the right time.
Camping in Hokitika :
- A rest area is situated 18k, north of the city. You can sleep there, but be aware that cars passing on the road like to horn during the night or early in the morning…
Exact location is 1753 Kumara Junction Highway
- Goldsborough DOC campground, is 17k north of Hokitika on SH1.
- Hokitika Holiday Park, is the cheapest camping around. Its a good B plan for hitchhickers or people who cant drive to the two campsite above.
12$/adult in low season.
15$/adult in high season.
(Beware, the website says that this price is for the 2 1st adults, but that’s actually what we paid for 2 people !)
242 Stafford St
Hitchhiking in Hokitika :
It’s not really complex, there is only one road going out either north and south : the SH1. Just walk outside of the city and put your thumb up 😉