Journal of a visit to New Zealand, via Singapore

The Land of the Long White Cloud
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This page last updated: 29th November 2005.
Day 7: Christchurch to Hokitika Map

Day 7 At 9 a.m. our hire-car is delivered by a very nice young lady from Budget Car Rental. The car is a black Ford Falcon, only four months old with automatic transmission. We check out of the hotel and the porter brings down our luggage. We set off on our adventure. It takes a little while to get used to the car, especially as the stalks for the indicators and the lights are the opposite way round to the ones on my own car.

Our first stop is at Darfield, where we find The Topiary Cafe. Now we begin to discover the different menu items to be found at eateries in New Zealand. Burgers, for example, are not just a beefburger with maybe a piece of melted cheese and two slices of tomato. Here they come with a variety of fillings and always with lots of crisp salad and lettuce that is never limp. The varieties of pie differ also. Whilst they don't seem to have chicken-and-mushroom, they do have steak-and-cheese.

Suitably refreshed, we carry on over Porters Pass, stopping near Castle Hill to view some limestone outcrops that remind us of the Yorkshire Dales. On then past Flock Hill and Arthur's Pass to the Otira Gorge Lookout, where we'd stopped two days previously. Whilst I am stretching my legs, a kea jumps on the bonnet. Christine shouts at it and it flies on to the top of the camper-van parked next to us.

Past Otira we take a recommended diversion to Lake Brunner. At Moana, we pull into the Station café. It has a wonderful view across the lake. We order a bowl of ice-cream each. How delicious it is. This is the first of many ice-creams we shall come to enjoy during our stay. Whilst we are eating, the Tranz-Alpine train on its way back to Christchurch from Greymouth pulls in to the station.

On the road between Greymouth and Hokitiki are two combined road and rail bridges. These are single track road bridges with the railway track running down the middle. You have to actually pull across on to the railtrack before you can see whether or not anything is already on the bridge coming in the opposite direction. There is a gap you can pull into if necessary, but this and having to actually drive on the railway line I find most disconcerting.

We arrive in Hokitika around 5 p.m. and get directions to the home of Erica and Ian McLeod, with whom we are staying for the next two days. Erica shares Christine's enthusiasm for making bobbin-lace. They both subscribe to the Arachne Lacemaker's Mailing List. It was through this that they got to know each other and hence we received an invite to stay. In the evening a group of local lacemakers come to the house to talk to Christine about lace and share their experiences. As well as making lace, Erica makes knitted and crochet garments for Sasha Dolls

Meanwhile, I am sent off to Trappers Restaurant where the Hokitika Live Poets Society are launching their new book "Wild Food From Old Souls". During one of the intervals I introduce myself to the committee and am invited to read a couple of my own poems. I have with me a few copies of my collection The Rainbow and Other Poems so I read the two most humorous pieces therefrom. They go down really well. Several others read both from the book being launched and work of their own. During the frequent intervals various goodies are served and I cannot resist the lovely bacon-and-chicken kebabs. It is a good night and though some people want me to read again, I'm tired and decide the best bet is to follow the old dictum of always leaving 'em wanting more.

Christine has been teaching Erica how to tat. She hasn't brought any lace with her to New Zealand as there are limits to what you can carry on an aircraft, but tatting takes up very little room. Before going to bed we have to fill in Census forms. Being temporary residents we are at least excused from answering some of the more sensitive/embarrassing questions.

Journal - Day 8 Photographs - Day 7