Distances between places in New Zealand are much further than many of us are used to and so the first thing we as travellers learned was to relax and enjoy the journey – after all the views are spectacular and novel, the South Island roads are virtually empty and this time round, going from Golden Bay’s Collingwood to Hokitika, was a journey of 433 km or 270 miles.
As the map shows, much of the journey is up and over mountain ranges on winding passes so speed is not of the essence and besides there is no rush when you are enjoying the journey
One more cup of coffee for the road
One more cup of coffee ‘fore I go
To the valley below
So sings Bob Dylan but our first stop was not in the valley but right on top of the world – well, on top of Takaka Hill. It’s name gives a clue to its history – The Woolshed – a real gem of a place, selling woolcraft items as well as handmade goods from their Gotland sheep. There is also a small collection of farm animals for children to enjoy.
And yes it sells coffee and cafe food too because the other thing you quickly learn as a traveller in New Zealand is that coffee stops are vital and hence the brew is always good, the welcome is warm and the ambience is inviting, and sometimes even quirky.
Leaving Highway 60 at Richmond (so many UK names, the country feels like home but with a magnificent difference), we took the long and winding Highway 6 to Hokitika. Arriving at the motel just in time to pick up our keys and breathe a sigh of relief.
Hokitika was first settled in 1860, after the discovery of gold on the West Coast. It was an important river port, but many ships came to grief on the notorious ‘Hokitika Bar’ – a sandbar that shifts with every tide.100% Pure new Zealand
With hindsight we should have booked another night and hence could have enjoyed a day looking for Pounamu or Greenstone Jade – however another journey called and so we left without a glimpse of the beach.
But we did not go far without a morning coffee call, stopping at Hokitika’s Treetop walk and cafe.
The day was misty, murky with intermittent rain showers so my camera only managed to catch a glimpse of this aerial world of West Coast rain forest.
“The surrounding bush is a mix of podocarps and hardwood species such as Miro, Matai, Totara, Rimu and Kahikatea with sub-canopy species such as Kamahi, Mahoe and Quintinia”.
After all our road travels, this treetop walk was about as slow paced and reflective as we could wish. There was time enough to breathe the air and study all the finer detail…
…before rain stopped play just as I reached the swaying cantilever over Lake Mahinapua
Aside from the temperate rainforest walk, there is a multitude of ferns and lichens to enjoy on the way to and from there. Evidently the damp and humid microclimate provides all they need to thrive
And finally as a gardener I was surprised to see so many Hebes growing in New Zealand but later research has shown this to be the largest genus of native shrubs with 85 endemic species
Next Stop: Fox Glacier here we come