Bushmen, Beaches & Green Stones…

Bushmen, Beaches & Green Stones…

We woke up at our camp near Whataroa just as people were turning up for their scenic flights which took off from the car park. From there we drove north towards Pukekura – a unique ‘town’ north of Glacier Country with a population of… (wait for it) two!! Pete & Justine – aka Mayor and Mayoress, law enforcement officers, cook and cleaner, gardener and rubbish man! They are also the owners of the Puke Pub and the bizarre Bushman’s Centre! The Bushman’s Centre was great, if slightly ‘odd’ with wild possums, pigs, stuffed deer and hunting memorabilia all on display.

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Whilst there, we watched a film about the advent of the deer farming industry in New Zealand. Despite the tongue-in-cheek music and slightly gratuitous shooting scenes, the film was really interesting. It explained how the introduction of wild deer to New Zealand created a need for hunting and later, as venison became more and more popular, a need for organised farming.

Before we left we treated ourselves to bacon and egg sandwiches and then continued driving up the West Coast towards the town of Hokitika.

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Here we had showers at the local swimming pool, which was a slightly strange experience due to the hoards of school children swarming around the building. We had the quickest showers ever, as there were no curtains or doors on the shower cubicles and we didn’t fancy being stared at by a group of seven year olds!

Once we were all cleaned up we went to the Jade Factory to watch local stone carvers at work. There are actually two types of Jade, Jadeite and Nephrite with Nephrite being native to New Zealand. The common name for it is Greenstone, named by European explorers who noted its green colour. Greenstone is very precious to Maori who call it ‘Pounamu’ and have used it for hundreds of years for weapons, jewellery and other sacred ornaments.

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After that we visited the wild and blustery Hokitika Beach which is strewn with driftwood as far as the eye can see.

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We then drove to Greymouth – the largest town on the West Coast – where we camped for the night at a free council run site by Cobden Bridge. We cooked a fantastic meal in Fred, a recreation of a pasta dish that we’d had whilst camping in Oz and then had an early night. The next day we were going to head further up the West Coast to visit the unique limestone landscape of Punakaiki.

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