Pounamu and possums

Sad to leave our lovely accommodations at Steeples Cottages. Bruce was such a great host and the place was extra comfortable, the garden restful and I loved the open window view of the garden from my shower! I guess that’s why when we were a couple of hundred metres down the road Jim was hunting for his sunglasses just so we could go back for one last good-bye. Bruce was in the driveway with sunglasses in hand.

Downtown Hokitika where the possum-merino wool products are incredibly soft.

Downtown Hokitika where the possum-merino wool products are incredibly soft.

We headed south on highway 6, passing Punakaiki without stopping, and made our way to Greymouth, the largest town on the west coast at 13,500 people…huge! There we had our cappuccino with savouries or sweets and chatted with a local on the Mawhera Quai about the history of this gold mining town turned to coal mining. The coal that is not used in New Zealand is shipped to Japan via Auckland.

Isn't that a structurally interesting tree?

Isn’t that a structurally interesting tree?

Onwards we passed through pastureland once inhabited by sheep or deer, now occupied by cows to export milk to China.   Between Greymouth and Hokitika, pounamu or greenstone, also known as nephrite jade is found along the beaches by people who know how to discover it. In Hokitika, the setting for the good novel, The Luminaries, we checked out shops that sold jade items and wool made of merino and possum, but we were loath to part with any money. By the way, NZ possums were introduced from Tasmania and are thriving in NZ. Efforts to get rid of them have reduced the population from 50 million to 30 million. They are much cuter than the rat like version we have in Ontario, and their fur produces soft wool; so, at least somewhat useful.

We crossed many rivers of a glacial blue hue.

We crossed many rivers of a glacial blue hue.

Up into thick rainforest, we stopped at a historic survey site for our picnic lunch before continuing into Te Wahipounamu South West New Zealand World Heritage Area, featured in this month’s National Geographic.

We will soon be having barbecued steak at the Lake Matheson Motel where we have a two bedroom apartment. It’s nothing like our last accommodation but it is central to Fox Glacier walks and helicopter tours. We are hoping the rain forecast for Friday won’t happen.

Much chillier in the mountains. I got to don my new down filled jacket for the first time.

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