Morning/ evening everyone!
Yesterday was a bit of a long one for us, we drove the long route to Greymouth from Blenheim, stopping at a few places on the way to see some amazing views.
Today has been a bit more fun, we got up early this morning to go to a few places en route to the Frank Josef glacier. First stop was a small family run Jade carving shop, here we had a lovely chat with the owners who showed us how they carve the Jade and explained about Mauri traditions. The man on the machine, Garth, had some very expensive and fine machinery. The only machine he would use to cut his Jade was a diamond ended one. Fun fact: the Mauri own all of the Jade on the land bar which washes up on the beach, it is a crime to take Jade from the land if you are not a Mauri. The man that owns the shop is part of a Mauri tribe with his great great grandfather being a Mauri chief. They only take the Jade from the land which has been ‘gifted’ to them, meaning that they don’t cut rock from a mountain, they will wait until it falls off naturally to collect it. They also only take enough to sustain their business.
Next, we arrived in Hokitika which had a gold shop that we briefly looked around, we got to hold a huge nugget of gold which was pretty damn heavy! We grabbed a couple of sandwiches and headed to the gorge nearby which we heard has amazing views. That it did!
The gorge was spectacular, you have to cross a rope bridge to get over to the shore line, where you can put your feet in the water if you dare to do so. The water is beautiful but freezing, it’s a combination of rock dust, river water and water that has melted from the nearby glaciers. Sam dared to have a very brief swim and it literally took his breath away! On the way back we saw a few people jumping in from the rope bridge… crazy!
We stopped in the mining village of Ross where we decided to go panning for gold, literally panning for real gold in a real river with real gold in it… not like the ones you do with your parents when you’re younger. You could see flakes of gold in the river but not enough to really collect… they must have taken all the gold nuggets in the 1800’s.
Ross itself is a really charming village with a lot of history, it still has a working gold mine today.
We finally arrived at the Franz Josef glacier town where we decided to treat ourselves to the local hot pools which were a treat to end a long, but lovely, day. We’re planning on exploring the glaciers tomorrow and maybe moving further south to see more.
Pictures to come later.