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Monday, March 20, 2017

Hokitika, New Zealand

TRAVEL QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.” - Lawrence Block

Wow, what a great day! Not at all what I expected when I got up but it turned out great……

Woke up at 7 with the alarm but it was so hard because the sun wasn’t up yet...sigh. Finally stirred around about 7:30 and got dressed and had breakfast (cereal for both of us - I’m conserving bread so no toast for me...sad day). We got cleaned up and took a look at the situation: weather was cloudy, not too cool and it looked like rain at any minute. So decided to drive 20 minutes further north to Hokitika, a nice sized town we’ve passed through before and just take a look around. I had heard of a jade carver who taught you to carve your own jade piece and I was toying with the idea of checking into that maybe.

Made the drive just fine and arrived at Hokitika about 10:40. Parked in a nice big parking area at the i-site in the town and went in there for some advice and brochures-we always need more brochures! LOL. Then we walked down the street looking in some shop windows; Hokitika is the jade capital of NZ and has plenty of shops selling already carved pieces and artworks of it. We popped into a nice souvenir shop that had good stuff and I found several things to get. Picked out a nice wooden trivet that has NZ in paua on it and then the names of loads of NZ cities/towns on it and I think we’ve been to them all! So that will be our artwork for this trip ($35). Got a small something for Julie and a small something for Mom. Walked a bit more and went into the Fabulous Sock World It was actually pretty interesting. They make sock knitting machines there and also knit socks too. They have yarn too and I almost got some wool yarn but then saw some acrylic that I fell in love with and so I bought 3 skeins of that for a future project - I’ll have a lot of fun figuring out what to do with it! The yarn was $4.90NZ each skein so not too bad a price at all.

It was about 12:30 and we were trying to decide on lunch and found the Stonz and Bonz shop I mentioned earlier. We decided to pop in and ask him about how to polish our stones from Gemstone Beach when we get home and for me to look at the jade situation and see if I wanted to get into carving something. Well, Steve is the man and he was very nice. Art went back to the van to get our bags of rocks and brought them in. I picked out 4 I was interested in polishing and Steve said you want to do it here? He had 2 customers back in the workshop making jade pieces but had room so he said come on back and meet them and you can polish your rocks too. So met a gal from California and another Kiwi guy. Their pieces looked nice but not outstanding; I think jade carving might be harder than bone carving like we did several years ago in Nelson. Anyway, Steve’s helper got us started using a special sandpaper you use under running water. About 10 minutes with the heavy grade then 10 minutes with the finer grade. It was amazing what a difference it made! I was so happy with how they were looking; I had started with 4 but narrowed it to 3 because they were looking the best of the bunch. Art had a couple he was working on too; one was a white/greenish light colored one that was cool and the other was a speckled one that is just gorgeous - reminds me of my countertop at home.

Then we moved onto the finest grit sandpaper and it made a huge polishing difference - this was so exciting! Steve came around and even he was impressed with how the stones were looking too. Finally, he showed us how and left us to buff them with a buffer machine that really put a polish on them - outstanding! I couldn’t decide which I wanted to see about putting a hole in to make a necklace - so I asked him if we could do that too and he showed me how and then I drilled holes in all 3. Dried them off and the beauties were ready - Steve even put them on cording to make them into necklaces; it would have taken me days to Youtube how to tie those things and he did it effortlessly. I am much happier to have my own rocks and my own handiwork than an actual piece of jade I think; maybe jade next time. We admired our work and Steve did too; enjoyed chatting with him about his family back in the Solomon Islands where he’s from. He also is going to Washington state in July or August to a trade show so we talked about the US too; he even made a joke about using orange cord for my necklaces - just like Trump. LOL. People here love a good Trump joke…..So we finally were finished at Steve’s at 3:45 and needed to settle up with him. For 3 hours use of the workshop and his tools plus tying the cords on the stones for necklaces, he charged us the princely sum of……….$12NZ. That’s it - basically $9US. What a deal!! I was pleasantly surprised as was Art and we left there VERY happy campers!

But starving campers as we had completely missed lunch. Walked around the corner and got a real fruit ice cream cone each for $6NZ each (same price as our stone polishing!) and I got strawberry and Art got boysenberry. They were ok but not as good as the one in Cromwell. Back to the camper and we drove out of town to the Hokitika Gorge. The sun had come out while we were working on the stones and it turned into a good afternoon which surprised us. About 27kms out towards the mountains, it was a nice drive through dairy country. Then a dirt parking area and 15 minute walk to the “gorge”. It was not that huge but had a very pretty river running through it with blue-blue water like Pukaki from glacier silt. They had a swing bridge we walked across and then took the path a little further to a viewing platform and some rocks. But the sandflies found us and so we didn’t linger, except for Art to film me back on the swing bridge for our video.

It was 5:30 now and seriously time for dinner so drove back to Hokitika town and went about 6:15 to Fat Pipi’s Pizza. Yes! An actual restaurant dinner! It was busy but seriously - Paul and I need to move down here and open a pizzeria. This was the most popular one in town and it was arguably about like school pizza at home. Not awful, edible for sure but not GOOD, you know? Still, starving people leave no pizza remains and we polished off a large 14” pepperoni (it’s salami but who’s quibbling over meat monikers here?) and 2 Speights beers. Tab came to $37NZ and I was thankful for it because it was 1) not made by me in the camper and 2) it was pizza. ‘Nuff said.

Back to the camper and pulled up alongside a Spark free WIFI booth and updated the journals onto the web. Checked emails and looked online a bit then we figured we better hit it to the campground. Drove to Hokitika Holiday Park about 6 minutes outside of town to the north and pulled into there right at 8. It’s a really new park and was nice. We got a nice corner spot to ourselves and there were about maybe 6-7 other small campers there; no others like ourselves. We pulled in, plugged in and were all settled by 8:15. Then it was off to showers; this was much more successful than last night! It was my own small room with shower, toilet and sink all in my own compartment. It was nice and hot and best of all, no timer! And no motion light so I was in the light for the whole bath! No power there so it was back to the camper to use the blow dryer but no worries - it was overwhelmingly a more positive experience than

Made a cup of tea and Art made a hot chocolate. Caught up on today’s journal and admired our souvenirs of the day. What a great day! It was serendipty that we got to polish our stones and make them into something beautiful here in Hokitika; now we have our own pieces of NZ that we found, fashioned and fell in love with - just like New Zealand herself. If I can’t have her permanently, at least I can take a few pieces home! Turned into bed about 11:30.

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