Date: Friday 8 March 2013
Route: Whataroa to Hokitika
Accommodation: Amberley Bed and Breakfast – recommended
We managed to leave nice and early this morning at 8am, as we had a long ride ahead. A thin blanket mist hung over the ground with the mountains showing clear above.
We had a hill to climb in the first 20km, before Harihari, where we stopped briefly to look at displays about Guy Menzies who undertook the first solo flight across the Tasman from Australia and landed in a swamp near the town, in 1931.
As we approached Lake Ianthe, the farmland gave way to thick rain-forest with some huge trees and many ferns. The second climb of the day was just before Ross. We were interested to see some earthworks just before we got into the Ross township, assuming they were quarying for nearby roadworks. However we were informed in town that this is indeed a gold mining operation!
With only about 25km to go to Hokitika, we stopped at a Ross cafe for coffee and scones. We got talking to the man who runs a small motorcycle museum next to the cafe. He is a real enthusiast and has painstakingly restored several old motorcycles on display. Most of the cycles are Triumphs from the 1960‘s and 70‘s. Also some old Harley Davidsons. The oldest was from the 1920‘s.
The final stretch into Hokitika is totally flat and quite boring. We were lucky to find accommodation here tonight as the Wild Food Festival is on and 12-17 thousand (depending on who you talk to) people have descended into town. The festival itself is tomorrow and you have to pay $35 to get into a big tented area where you can buy strange foods (we are not attending).
We spent some time this evening walking around. There are two different tent cities on each end of town. The streets are closed off and there is a significant Police presence (they have been shipped in from all over the S Island – the one we spoke to was from Blenheim). There are also groups of young people roaming the streets – girls dressed to kill and young idiots driving around in souped up cars.
We ate some excellent steak sandwiches from a street stall plus a selection of other take-aways. We also tried a couple of the bars. It is a glass-free zone for the festival, so they serve you your beer in a plastic glass.
We ended up involved in watching the very exciting Super 14 game between the Hurricanes and the Crusaders. The Hurricanes (Wellington) won by 1 point. Luckily there were some fellow Wellingtonians in the bar (dressed as the Blues Brothers), so we could cheer the Hurricanes on together.
There was also a lovely blues band that started playing during the game. The guitarist had a handlebar mustache and the lead singer was wearing shorts. Kris enjoyed dancing around with the Blues Brothers before beating a retreat.
The last excitement for the night was seeing a youngster (in a leg cast) get arrested by the Police. He was dropping his pants to traffic. Funny, we had just been dancing to brown eyed girl played by the live blues band.