Joe and I arrived back in Hokitika late on Sunday afternoon. Joe went to put up his tent in the hostel's backyard, while I picked a dorm bed and had a shower. For dinner, I got takeaway fish and chips from the local shop, while Joe ate an entire packet of 12 fish-fingers, three lamb chops, and a huge bowl of broccoli and rice!
I checked my email (the hostel had free Internet access on one computer), wrote some postcards, then went out for dessert (chocolate cake). Joe and I did a big load of laundry, then sat around writing and talking - Joe was going to Haast the following day, to meet a friend working with the Kiwi Recovery Program and go out kiwi-monitoring.
Monday February 11th
I was up around 8.30 and had breakfast in the cafe/bakery. It was overcast and there was a bit of drizzle, but it cleared later and was quite bright.
This was a rest day and I spent it wandering around the town centre - easy because the hostel (Beach House Backpackers) was right in town. I visited the bookshop, bought a copy of Steinbeck's The Short Reign of Pippin IV in the op-shop, went to DOC to let them know we'd got back safely, booked the next two nights in the youth hostel in Franz Joseph, bought a daypack ($90), watched a video and some kiwis in the National Kiwi Centre, and saw Joe off around noon. In the afternoon I bought some jade jewelry as presents for friends, visited the museum (local history, mostly about the goldrush), bought some suncream, and wrote some postcards.
I spent the evening in the hostel (which had a bar/restaraunt) and being by myself I started meeting people. And more people here than anywhere else, as it turned out - it helped that the hostel wasn't too big. I went for a walk on the beach before sunset with a young British lad of Vietnamese/Chinese descent (Ken) and then had dinner with three women from Melbourne (Bec, Ann, and Zoe).
After dinner I sat around talking with half a dozen people in the hostel. Ken told the story of his haircut - having spent three hours failing to hitch in Greymouth the day before, he'd spent $70 on a haircut just to pass the time. Having been in Hokitika a whole day already, I had "seniority" and could tell everyone where to find things and what there was to do in town. And Claire, a 50-something woman from Perth, was giving some life advice to the 18-year old son of the hostel owner. Less outspoken (perhaps because they weren't native English speakers) were a young Dutch-Indonesian woman, a Belgian couple working in China (David and Veronica), and a German (Andy).
When packing for departure in the morning I discovered that two socks were missing - and one from each of the pairs I'd bought just for the trip, to make it worse.
I only saw the centre of Hokitika (population around 4000), but I thought it was a really nice little town. Though it had a strong focus on tourism (several backpackers, maybe a dozen jade workshops and shops, and other tourist businesses), that didn't overwhelm it and it had a relaxed feel. It also had important facilities such as banks, supermarkets, cafes, a bookshop, and so forth. (As well as tourism, agriculture, sphagnum moss exports, and mining were clearly important.)
Tuesday February 12th
I spent maybe an hour by the crossroads trying to hitch to Franz Joseph, before being picked up by David and Veronica, the Belgian couple I'd met the night before. On the way south we stopped in Whanoa, where we all booked into the guided glacier walk at Franz Joseph on the following day.
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