A Week In Hokitika

Shirl and I had a week visiting Hokitika on the Wild West Coast with our walking group and went on some nearby walks around the town and a little beyond. 

The day after we arrived and settled in we visited the Hokitika River gorge. Doesn’t sound much but this part of the gorge is really something special. It’s the colour of the water, a sort of azure blue. Sort of but much more stunning. It’s typical of a glacier fed river with the ice grounded rocks producing  a powder that gives the water that tender pastil colour. You really have to see it. At the start of the track to the gorge lookout point parking was in short supply and much more crowded when we came out too. They want the tourists but they will need to pull their finger and provide for them! There is a good podocarp forest along the track to the bridge over the river and along a little upstream to come to another view point. One tourist even had a drone flying upstream taking photos. Back to the overflowing carpark and along the road to a memorial  to those that died at the hands of E. S. Graham. This tragedy occurred in 1941 when during World War 2, the government required people with firearms to surrender them for the war effort. Police were sent to seize his firearms but Graham turned violent  and in the end he murdered seven police and Home Guard personal. 

Hokitika Gorge

On to Ross a few kilometres South. When we last passed by this little village they had dug a large hole with a road running around the sides to the bottom extracting gold, but now the large hole has been formed into a small lake and no doubt it’s very deep. Up a little from the lake on a grassy bank a  young lady was offering for $5.00 a small container of ‘golf’ balls and a golf club and if one landed one of the balls onto a small floating barge on the lake I guess you received a prize. The golf balls floated and were collected later. 

We went for a walk along the Ross Water Race Walkway, and all to do with gold. We passed some old gold mining relics here and there and followed the old water race with still some remains of structures standing. We stopped for lunch by an old restored miner’s hut. The track finally comes out into the open again through an old cemetery and back to our cars. Gold mining was done here from the 1860’s until 1910. Gold mining might not be over yet for Ross as they say the township is resting on $700 million worth of gold! One wonders if there are any secret tunnels under the village quietly extracting more gold. Maybe there’s only $600 million under it now?

How many weevils can you count on this bush at Ross? – I can count 11.

A wander around the village inspecting a museum which was an old house fitted out with furniture as in those early days. The hotel/tavern was worth a visit too. With its old cash register, presume they did have EFPOS, and money notes tacked to the ceiling over the bar. Was this a way to entice patrons to hang around just in case one of the notes fell down? A sign on one of the hotels on our travels: Free Beer Tomorrow

Local hotel/tavern.

On the way back to ‘Hoki’ we called into Lake Mahinapua. DOC have a camping ground here and quite a nice location but they are just too hungry with their overnight costs. Nearby the lake edge though were two White Herons. Attaching my new long camera lens I was able to take a few photos but the herons were disturbed by inconsiderate tourists. One in a kayak just paddled right up to the birds pushing them to flight. 

Hokitika has a name for sunsets so we went out on the beach, which was only about a five minute walk from our motel, several nights to watch the sun go down on the sea. One night we went down to the river mouth to watch the sun go down on an incoming tide. A number of fishermen were trying their luck and going by the bending rods and sea birds flying about, both the fishermen and birds were having a feed. 

White Heron.

On another day we went out to Arahura Road to Blue Spur Road and stopped at another old gold mining area called Blue Spur. This was mined in the 1860’s and from the old water races, maybe it was sluiced? Or perhaps the water races were to just drain the heavy rainfall away from their mining activities. Anyway, there are lots of drainage channels and a number of tunnels all along the  track. In places rocks were stacked up and in one place the track went through a very narrow and very deep channel. This was an old water race all dug by hand and it now formed part of the track although at first we weren’t too sure if it was the track! It was from 4 to 6 metres high or deep, 700 to 800mm wide and about 50 to 80 metres long. 

No Explanation Needed.

Later we drove out to Lake Kanieri and walked along the Water Race Track for awhile returning to the lake for lunch. 

We were a little surprised at the number of tourists for this time of the year. At least the shops in Hokitika are mostly locally owned and not one of those damned franchised shops in sight! 

Formerly The Blackball Hilton.

On our way home we called into Blackball. Gold once more in this area. There is also a hotel The Blackball Hilton but that international chain found out and threatened financially, so taking a cheap option (sign writing costs money you know)  they put up a small sign in front of the original with the word; Formerly

We drove on past the Formerly The Blackball Hilton to a shop that makes Blackball Sausages and in our area, these are much better known that any Hilton hotel. We drove around slowly looking at the old houses and huts. I guess some people still lived in them. 

A Hokitika Beach Sunset.

We hadn’t had any real rain for about ten weeks and when some did fall just before Christmas, I rushed outside to see and feel what it felt like. I had just about forgotten how wet it was actually.
Rainfall at our place for the year 2017 was 1174mm with our yearly average being 1356mm. 2015 had our lowest rainfall over 18 years at 830mm. The last couple of months of 2107 had November rainfall of 26.5 mm (November average 90mm) while December 2017 rainfall was 25mm (monthly average 150mm).  

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