Hokitika & Fox Glacier

The weather up to today has been extremely good for this time of year — sunny days with temperatures that allowed me to walk around in my shirt sleeves although the evenings were cool enough. That all changed as soon as I crossed over from the East of the Island to the West. Now New Zealand (with the exception of the Omni-present southern alps and giant fern trees ) resembled Ireland because of its relatively narrow, winding roads, greenery and driving, relentless rain. It around 5.00 p.m. before I arrived in Fox Glacier, a small hamlet of a few houses, a filling station cum supermarket, hotel and pub/restaurant. There was nothing much to do because of the inclement weather other than have a meal and go to bed early. The drive up to Fox’s Glacier would have been much more interesting had the weather not been so bad because I drove through what felt like a primeval forest for much of the way between Haast and Fox Glacier with giant ferm trees and other exotic-looking flora growing right up to the beautifully manicured grass verges along both sides of the almost completely deserted road. I really got a sense of how sparsely populated this part of the south island really is. On the way, I stopped off at Hokitika which seems to be a major centre for the sale of pounamu which is the Maori name for greenstone. Also known as nephrite or jade. There were some great bargains to be had here in the remainders bin of  the local jade superstore.

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