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This page last updated: 29th November 2005.
|Day 8: Mahinapua Creek||Map|
In the morning Erica goes off to her work at Westland District Library.
Ian takes us on a tour of the town. First stop is the airport. It is so small that we can park by the entrance and watch the morning flight to Christchurch take off. We go down through the town and along to the beach. Where the Hokitika river enters the Tasman Sea, there is a lookout tower on a spit of land overlooking the sandbank. It was this sandbank, together with the winds, that kept many a ship in the goldrush days anchored off-shore for days.
Today the beach area is beginning to fill up with campers who have come for the annual Wild Foods Festival held here this coming weekend. The festival attracts upwards of 20-30,000 visitors to this town of 4,000 population. I scour the beach for interesting shells and pebbles and observe the fascinating shapes of the driftwood.
Moving away from the beach, we visit New Zealand Ruby Rock where we see gems being cut. The town is famed for its gemstones, jade and greenstone. In another factory shop Christine buys a piece of greenstone in the shape of an egg.
She and Ian go off for a coffee, while I visit the Westland Visitor's Centre to book our afternoon tour and accommodation for the following day.
To round off the morning we take the road out to Lake Kaniere. There is a road encircling the lake but a dense forest cuts off views of the lake from the road. Along the way is Dorothy Falls, an exquisite little waterfall despite the recent lack of rain in the area.
We take Ian home for lunch and then head back over the bridge to the Mahinapua Creek for a trip on a paddle-boat. The only other people taking the trip are an elderly couple from the North Island. This is the only genuine stern drive paddle boat in New Zealand. It travels along the Mahinapua Creek and into Lake Mahinapua. As we travel through the lush but tranquil rainforest, it is hard to imagine the industry that existed here in the days when paddle steamers carried gold prospectors through the area. Halfway along the creek we see a white heron on the bank. Further on a grey heron is perched on a tree. As we approach the lake, there are huge swathes of water-lilies.
In one stretch of the river is a reproduction steamer which has apparently been built solely for use by the BBC for use in connection with a film about the Amazon rain-forest. On the return journey a log gets jammed in the paddle. The boat stops. The boatman lets it drift towards the banking and then somehow forces it to spin round and eventually the paddle restarts.
Back on dry land we head home to the Mcleod's. There we are joined by Gwen and her husband. Gwen is from Australia and like us, presently touring New Zealand. She is also a lacemaker. Whilst the three women talk about lace, I download the photographs I've been taking onto Christine's laptop.
In the evening, Ian gets his car out and takes us round to the Glow Worm Dell. Whilst most of the well-known glow worm colonies are found in caves, this is the largest above-ground colony in the southern hemisphere. It is only a short walk up a path from the main road. It takes a little while for one's eyes to acclimatise to the dark, but then we see them. It is a weird sight. These tiny creatures glow to attract a mate. They then spend all their time reproducing themselves before dying the following day.
|Journal - Day 9||Photographs - Day 8|