Day 2 – Hokitika via Arthur’s Pass
I came with a mind set that this holiday is going to be an adventure, full of sight seeing, walks and early starts.
We were on the road by 8.30am heading to Hokitika, the only beachside town on the West Coast. The three and a half hour’s (approximately 245km) journey took us through a scenic drive of vastly different landscape of the West Coast.
Our first stop as at Arthur’s Pass, small alpine village nestled amongst the Southern Alps in New Zealand’s South Island where we stopped for coffee and a pie. Arthur’s Pass is the base to explore Arthur’s Pass National Park.
The next stop was at the impressive Otira Gorge.
Major rockfall hazard above and below the existing road (the zig zag) threatens to destroy (weathered perhaps through sun, wind, rain, storms or even floods) or at least undermine it to a point where it is not repairable, hence the Otira Viaduct was built and officially opened on Saturday 6 November, 1999.
We arrived Hokitika, a cool little town where you can easily experience the vibrant art, culture and heritage of Hokitika firsthand. Many artists have their workshops in town from jade carving, creating beautiful gold nuggets into jewelleries to glass shaping.
Indeed, Hokitika is the Jade and Greenstone capital of New Zealand. Nephrite Jade, Greenstone or Pounamu has been recovered locally in the Westland or the South Westland area. I added a beautiful heart shaped Nephrite Jade to my green jade collection.
We stopped by the motel, offloaded our bags and then drove to Westcoast Treetop Walk & Café.
Entrance fee is NZ$38 per adult for an exhilarating tree top adventure among temperate rainforest giants. Experience life with the birds high in the ancient Rimu and Kamahi tree canopy. Easy access for all to enjoy along a steel platform 20 metres high and over 450 metres long… Thrill seekers will feel their hearts pump and the adrenalin rush as they climb to the top of the tower 47 metres above the forest floor or gently sway in harmony with the forest on the Mahinapua Springboard. Look out over Lake Mahinapua to the majestic Southern Alps and Tasman Sea!
We only had coffee and a bite, visiting the Café and Souvenir Shop. Enjoyed the views but did not do the walk. I would say that if you have never been to a similar walk, it should be a nice activity to do but it is not cheap. Looks like the walk on Westcoast Treetop is longer and higher than the one we did at Mamu Tropical Skywalk during our last Cairns trip. Mamu Tropical Skywalk (entrance fee A$24 per adult) has an elevated walkway, 350 m long, rising from ground level to 15 m above the ground, meandering through the canopy of lush tropical rainforest. A 10 m long cantilever and a 37 m high observation tower with two viewing decks, providing spectacular views over the North Johnstone River gorge and surrounding rainforest-clad peaks.
The highlight of the day was a walk to Hokitika Gorge.
The walk is an easy gradient and only 15mins each way descending through podacarp/hardwood forest leading to a swingbridge which crosses the Hokitika Gorge taking you over the magnificent green/blue waters of the Hokitika River.
It was a very hot summer afternoon and we cool down with a beer, roamed around town and strolled along the beach. And what a beach ! Rough yet amazingly beautiful, strewn with driftwood and boasting beautiful sunsets and views.
Our dinner was no frills – fresh pasta with ready made sauce from New World Supermarket. No complaints from three happy travellers.
Watch out for this space for Day 3 of our trip to be continued ………….