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  • Writer's pictureClaire

26/03/24 Hokitika to Motueka

Did it stop raining in the night? Pft did it heck!!! Mildred got soaked, the washing blew off the line and I woke up cold! And it was still misty and raining. We decided yesterday that rather than going on up the West Coast to  Westpoint and then cutting back inland, we’d go up as far as Greytown and then head inland. We’d had a look, to see what was up there and in honesty there wasn’t much going on for us accessibility wise, so it seemed a bit of a pointless exercise.

Turning East at Greymouth, our impressions were, well, that it was very … grey, and we couldn’t summon any enthusiasm for it at all! Granted the rain didn't help with that assessment, but again, there was nothing there for us. The Brunner mine looked like it might have been interesting but it was closed, so we kept on driving until we reached Reefton. Now that's a pretty little place. We parked up in the large free car park and located another set of talking toilets, which I have to admit are starting to freak me out a bit, they give you such a short length of time before they start making threats to open the door on you. FFS mun, some things can’t be rushed!  oh, and they turn the lights out on you if you haven't moved for a while.

Reefton is another oldie worldy town, not quite a wild west one, it kinda looks like it’s out of an episode of Bonanza, it’s just cosy, welcoming and a little bit sleepy. We rumbled the grand 200 metre long Main Street, and got caught in some rain, so we stepped into a second hand store to see what treasures we could find. There was a rather splendid bowler hat, but closer inspection revealed it was a bit manky and flea bitten, so we left it where it was. Had it been in good condition we would have bought it, I'd have had my own giant version of Nik Nak! The whole shop was stuck in the 1980’s, it was more than a little retro! Without purchasing anything we left even though it was still raining. Due to that fact we did the only thing left for us to do in such conditions... we ducked into a coffee shop for a brew! And some nice bite size cakes. Which were so sweet we had to take half of them back to Ismene with us and deposit them in the fridge until a later date! I know, who the hell am I? and what has happened to the Claire of old who would have smashed them into her face without pausing to savour them. Well shwe's been abducted by Kiwi birds and had the sweet tooth knocked right out of her.... Pft has she heck!!! they were seriously sweet slices, which is probably why they were so small, and came with a diabetes warning.

Our origional intention had been to stop over night in St Arnaud, a beautiful lakeside campsite Morg and I had stayed at. When we arrived, the tranquility we experienced there the first time was no more. A substantial playground has been built, the lake shoreline had been built up, which wasn’t such a bad thing given that Morg and I had almost driven straight into the lake in thick fog! The campsite was now a paid site, with hot showers costing extra. It had been completely landscaped as well, which was nice, but I prefer it undeveloped and natural. The view was still beautiful, and that alone made the drive worthwhile. Unfortunately as soon as we got out of Ismene we could smell urine really strongly, and there was duck shit everywhere, and ducks. I decided on the spot we would be moving on after we’d taken some photos and used the facilities! The village has been extended somewhat with a snazzy backpackers now built and a ski lodge. It was still small, but I suspect if we visited in five years time it will have tripled in size.  As I say it's still very beautiful, it was just much nicer before. In my opinion.

From the very pretty St Arnaud we drove North towards Motueka. This part of New Zealand is hop and fruit central, everywhere we looked were acres of hops and fruit trees. Signs at every orchard were asking for seasonal fruit pickers to get the fruit in. On the sides of the road were little huts and carts selling apples, pears, peaches nectarines, avocados, strawberrie and tangelos. The smell of the fruit wafting in through the open car windows was mouthwatering! And we decided to stop and pick some up. It had an Honesty box were inside for payment. Although the one we stopped at was kitted out with cctv cameras. No trust anymore! The trust is gone baby.   There are lots of microbreweries dotted around the place offering tours and samples if you so desired. Sadly because Si was driving we were unable to do any tours, although I did have a look for a brewery that had a campsite but drew a blank on that one.

We’d booked into a Top 10 holiday park and decided to purchase a membership. Included in the 2 year membership is discounted Interislander ferries, a discount on all their accommodations and perks at sites that have spa facilities. Which this one did.  There are also discounts on a variety of eating establishments and selected shops, unfortunately we cant access the discounts on the app because we dont have a New Zealand phone number, but Morg can. It has actually paid for itself already in the discounts we’ve recieved, so not to be sniffed at and definately worth the money. I wish we had done it in Australia because the big four parks over there are part of the same deal. We can also leave it with Morg when we leave because it’s valid for 2 years and he can use it for weekend breaks. Besides camping they also offer cabins and dorms so lots of facilities available. Also their facilities are excellent on site and to a really good standard. It was pretty quiet when we checked in and we had the pick of the spots, which was great. It did busy up a bit later on but was far from packed, and the staff were absolute sweethearts and so friendly.

After checking in we went in search of food and one of the places in town was involved in the top ten discount scheme with 15% off their menu. It was a steak and Ribs place and Si’s mouth was watering at the thought! It was close to the site, but it was also closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. We lucked out!! Liv had asked us if we could get some biscoff hot cross buns, she’d seen them advertised in countdown and had so far been unsuccessful in locating any in Auckland. We too were unsuccessful in locating some, only finding the normal ones. Si had sped in to see if he could get any whilst I searched for somewhere to eat . I’d found a pub by the time he’d come out with a back up if required. The pub was just up the street and when we walked in we experienced the usual reaction from the locals, all went silent and turned to stare at us as we walked in. The Bar man was helpful, and said yes they do food, but not today because the chef has rung in sick! He gave us a few ideas to be going on with. Next on the list was the RSA, food served from 1730 hours, except when we went in, we were the youngest in there by about 30 years and had more teeth in our head than all of them put together! Although they outdid us on the nose and ear hair hands down!! They too stopped talking, in awe of our teeth I’m sure, so we about turned and went to plan C. The sprig and Fern. It took some finding, cwtched away in a little back alley but when we arrived it was worth the wait. The beer alone was seriously good all different flavours which I struggle with somewhat, but the taste was mighty fine!!  The food wasn’t bad, an awful lot of it, but we forced ourselves to eat it. I thought initially it was a boutique establishment so was disappointed to discover it was part of a chain. Either way it wasn’t too bad. We were glad we’d arrived when we did, a party of about 30 walked in and proceeded to order and I think if we’d have had to wait for them to be  served poor Si would have lost the will to live, he was a donkey in the edge as it was, unable to get over the disappointment of the ribs place being closed!! 

When members of the local fire brigade started walking around with quiz sheets and selling raffle tickets we decided it was time to head back to the site, we had a lovely cup of tea and put the bed together. We have decided to stay another night, and will be heading to Farewell Spit in the morning, or as close as we can get anyway!  

More driving than we’d originally planned for today but glad we decided to crack on with the miles and get up to the North of The South Island.

Much Love

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