Alas, we woke up to rain this morning. Hokitika isn’t too far to drive, so we had planned to stop at a few view points and do some short hikes on the way. With low cloud at the scenic stops and periods of tropical rain we ultimately decided those would be no fun.
We made a quick stop in Ross. It’s a small gold mining town established in the 1860’s during the West Coast gold rush and was an important center for miners. New Zealand’s largest gold nugget, weighing 3.1 kg, was found in Ross. It was given to King George V as a coronation gift in 1911.
Pounamu/greenstone or jade is found mostly on the west coast of the south island. Hokitika is known as the Center for jade – every second store in town sells jade items.
Kris got a special birthday present today, a pounamu “open koru” – a spiral shape based on the appearance of a new unfurling fern frond.
The koru is an integral symbol in Maori art, carving and tattooing where it symbolizes new life, growth, strength and peace.
As we arrived in Hokitika early this afternoon, we spent some time wandering around town.
The town has some funky public art doubling as public seating.
The entrance to the Hokitika River was once used as a harbour during the West Coast Gold Rush; however, the sand bar at the river mouth created a treacherous and often fatal obstacle resulting in many shipwrecks.
We saw some Hector’s dolphins feeding just off the beach. We only caught photos of a few dorsal fins, but they were fun to watch for a while.
Tomorrow the weather should be better and we are off to do some exploring.