Finally, we’re schedule-free for a while! After an amazingly magical week exploring Stewart Island, having heaps of fun and adventures, we’re back on board (!) NZAreandare parked up at the NZMCA campground in Invercargill. We intend to catch up with blog posts by the end of the week – so apologies in advance to email subscribers who may feel a touch ‘bombarded’ with correspondence from us during the next seven days or so.
In this post, we’re winding the clock back almost three weeks, to Monday 15th February, beginning at Kumara.
Kinship, Gold and Cycling at Kumara
Hearing we were close to Kumara, Marilyn got in touch to ask us to drop in to see her friend Fiona there. The message suggested we give Fiona a hug – sadly we’d just gone into Level 2, so an elbow touch was as close as ‘allowed’. I was rapt to walk into Fiona’s super shop called ‘Masala‘. A paradise chock-full of treasures close to my heart.
Unwittingly I found myself buying a gorgeous purple wrap-around fairy skirt – and a pair of rainbow leggings made in Nepal! Bless Barry, who spent half an hour avidly reading brochures about nearby history, as Fiona and I chatted amiably. I called Marilyn on FaceTime so we could all chat and they could catch up. Marilyn asked if Fiona could show us HER campervan while we were there.
Oh. My. Goodness. I thought the shop was amazing. The van was incredible! It’s an as-yet-unfinished work of art, after several years of hard work and thoughtfulness. Quite unique. She has a colorful koru picture painted by a grandchild years ago above the shower-room. Stairs up to a heavenly double bed. A back storeroom for motorbikes and kayaks. Wonderful wooden storage. I’m not sure I’d want to drive it – I choose not to even drive ours, so this one would be a definite no-no! But amazing nonetheless.
I took a few photos of the van, which you’ll find below. Tiny snippets of quaintness from my eyes. Barry’s are far superior in his slide-show at the end of the post.
Moonshining and Gold
Kumara isn’t pronounced like the sweet Maori potato kumara – pronounced koom-ra. The town is pronounced Kum-ahh-ra. A much more guttural sound. It’s a settlement steeped in the history of the Gold Rush years and pioneering families. It was one of the last of the rushes. On the large green are many information boards sponsored by local companies and individuals, recounting stories of the past. It’s a place I’d recommend planning a half-day stop at, rather than rushing through.
If you’ve got time, read the information above to see how Barry could relate so well to Kumara!
The all year round 132km ‘West Coast Wilderness Trail‘ begins at Kumara beach, a short distance away. Thanks to this, new life has been breathed into the town, as cyclists obviously need somewhere to stay. And eat. Maybe shop a little! It’s described as “… one of the country’s smoothest and most accessible cycle trails“, and sounds like a brilliant ride even for people like Barry and me who rarely cycle. Maybe we’ll revisit one day and do it? Who knows …
Highs and Lows In Hokitika
Our next stopping place was Hokitika – famous for its greenstone, gorge, and driftwood sign on the beach. Apparently stunning at sunrise. We didn’t manage that shot, as there’s no free campground anywhere nearby sadly. In fact, it seemed that camper vans weren’t allowed to even park near the beach.
Ah well, we got some cool shots anyway – of each of us by the sign instead! Barry is above. I’m featured in the slideshow below.
Needing to sit still for a couple of days, I booked and paid online for two nights at the DoC campsite at nearby Lake Kaniere. Mike and Carolyn had recommended this site. Unfortunately, when we arrived, we discovered there was hardly any internet signal. Damn! It was such a beautiful location and would’ve been perfect to sit and gaze in between working. I had to postpone a scheduled call that evening, so we could stay.
Later on, we witnessed another sublime sunset. Barry excelled himself with superb shots – which again you’ll find in his slideshow.
The following day, Tuesday 16th February, we drove back to Hokitika (via the Hokitika Gorge), and parked up in an all-day free park for camper vans not far from the town center! Wow, thanks Hokitika council. No free camping, banned from the beach, but fabulous generosity for this parking which we took full advantage of.
A Gorgeous Gorge
Hokitika Gorge was astounding. Luminescent turquoise water cascades coolly along and through rolling rocks and crevices. A well-maintained walk offers frequent viewing platforms as you gaze in wonder. I dare anyone not to be astounded by nature’s beauty here in Aotearoa. Someone talked recently to us about ‘Stendhal syndrome‘, “… occurring when individuals become exposed to objects, artworks, or phenomena of great beauty”. We’ve not quite got to the stage of fainting, rapid heartbeat, confusion, or hallucinations, but there are undoubtedly times when we’ve both been overcome by the magnificence of the scenery and experiences we’re having on our travels.
The recipe for the colour of the water is 1/ rock water, 2/ melted glacier ice, 3/ river water. Simple aye? All you need to do is make the rock flour by grinding down ‘schist’ and ‘greywacke’ rock into a fine powder. Combine rock flour with a dash of melted ice and minerals from ancient glaciers. Continuously add to river water. The result is a gorgeous milky, turquoise-coloured river.
I’m getting surprisingly brave walking over swing bridges almost nonchalantly now. Otherwise, sightseeing would be rather limited. Thankfully these were sturdy ones – not too swingy if you know what I mean! Well strung by enormous wire ropes.
What a stunning place. Highly recommended to anyone traveling the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand – put it on your itinerary.
From Hokitika, we continued along the ‘Glacier Highway’ to our next destination. No prizes for guessing what that was …
Barry’s Stunning Slideshow
Here’s Barry’s view of Kumara, Hokitika, Lake Kaniere, and Hokitika Gorge. As usual, click on the first image to start the stunning show: