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Hokitika Time

After a very long day of traveling including the ferry crossing we finally made it to our home in Hokitika on the South Island’s west coast. The Keogan Road Retreat Air B& B in Hokitika turned out to be a perfect place for us. It would make a wonderful home for a family as well. It was actually a bit large for the four of us but the price was right and the location was spot on! It’s not located right on the beach or within walking distance of town but at just two miles away, nestled in a farming area with lots of land and animals around, it really was a special find. And, the hosts made it so easy. We definitely recommend this spot.

My new friend, Mahere!

We were here but a few moments when Mary and I immediately went to the fence to pet this wonderful, woolly creature. We were calling it a her until Jack and Dan came over and Dan said, “Her? This is clearly not a her! Have you seen the size of the kahunas on this thing?” No, we didn’t. We were concentrating on the sweet face, not the lower end of the beast. And since the horns were clipped and hidden under the woolly coat we just assumed it was a female. We peered at the undercarriage and Dan was right. The gonads on this sucker were the size of small basketballs! HOLY COW! I mean RAM! Seriously! I’ve never seen anything quite like it before and hopefully never will again. It was a bit frightening!

Once we ascertained the sex it was time to come up with a name and given the large junk we decided “Stud” was a good name but we wanted to stick with something that sounded a bit more Māori-esque so we translated stud into Māori and it’s Mahere! And that’s was that!

Mahere loved us being there. Whenever we came out to the fence he came from the furtherest corners of the field. He loved being petted and talked to and I felt bad for him. He was sequestered in his own field. Yes, all by himself! The best reasoning we could come up with is that he probably is the “stud” of the flock and has to be kept from the women folk at times. I tried to keep him from being lonely by visiting him regularly throughout the days and of course I fed him every extra scrap of food we had. I found out that he loves peanut brittle and strawberries and other fruits but ironically enough he did not like salad. Maybe it was the dressing. And, he really didn’t like cooked beets but seriously, who really likes cooked beets? I couldn’t hold that against him.

We spent three days here in Hokitika and the first full day we were here it rained all day so we stayed in and just enjoyed the beautiful home, played games and relaxed. After five days of going hard it was nice to sit and enjoy a little down time. When I got tired of being inside I’d head out in the rain and walk the country roads. When you have good foul weather gear, rain is nothing and sometimes it’s really enjoyable. I saw a very cool entrance to someone’s house on one of my walks. I particularly love the stone tiki at the end of the drive.

One day we took a drive out to Hokitika Gorge. It’s one of the few FREE attractions we found on our journey and WOW WHAT A PLACE! The walk to the gorge is truly beautiful and very accessible with a wide path, boardwalks and stairs where you need them most. The walk to the first viewing area is less than five minutes and can be reached by even the most out of shape person. From there we walked another fifteen or so minutes and crossed a long suspension bridge over the water. Mary is not a big fan of these things but with a little coaching and some humor we were able to coax her across. She’s a true champion for facing her fears head on! This part of the walk was pretty much downhill and easy but if you aren’t in at least decent shape you probably would be better off to stop at the first overlook as it was steep in some areas and not nearly as easy to traverse on the return trip. But, if you do take the walk all the way to the end you certainly won’t regret it as the walk and the views were truly wonderful.

The water in the gorge was a milky grey color that day. Sometimes it can be a brilliant, icy blue. How does this happen? Well, it’s a combination of “rock flour” which is actually ground schist and greywacke rock produced by the shifting of the rocks and mountains. Then the glacier water that streams down the mountain meets with the river water. The three combined produce amazing color results. It had rained pretty heavily the two days prior to our arrival so we got the silky grey color. Wold have preferred the icy blue but either way it was spectacular!

Once you’ve visited the beautiful gorge and enjoyed a wonderful and refreshing walk through the woods you can stop back by the little food truck at the entrance to the trail for some lunch or coffee. We had plans to eat in town but we did stop in and have a cup of java and enjoyed the views of the valley.

Another afternoon we headed into the town centre that’s located right on the beach. It was pretty windy but sunny and nice. They were hosting their annual Hokitika Driftwood and Sand Festival. While you will see some pretty cool driftwood sculptures if you click the link above, we certainly didn’t see anything like them. This is probably because it rained and blew like heck the day before. Any statues that had already been up were likely knocked down by the 30-40 knot winds and/or the huge waves beating on the black sand beach. And, even though we didn’t get to see a beach full of artistic masterpieces we enjoyed our stroll along the beach and through town. Jack even found a special purchase. Yes…it’s so Jack!

Mary’s just chilling and taking in the view.

Hokitika is a great little beachside town to stop and visit. We enjoyed a wonderful, rainy day relaxing at our B&B and still got a chance to see some of the nice things this area has to offer. I’m sure there’s a lot more to the area than what we had a chance to see but the time has come to move on to Queenstown. We’ve still so much more to see on our trip.

Hope to see you down the road!


Jilly & Dan

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Wellington Or Bust

We were all a bit sad to leave Janet and Theo and the Tutanekai Cottage in Te Kuiti. One day there just wasn’t enough for any of us but we’ve got a lot more miles to cover on this road trip so we were up early and back at it. This was to be a much longer drive than any we’ve done so far. From Te Kuiti to Wellington it is close to a six hour drive. It’s a good thing Dan enjoys driving!

Along the way we shared many laughs and enjoyed some stunning scenery. We stopped in one small town and had a quick bite to eat and after that Jack even enjoyed a quick nap in the backseat while Dan drove and Jilly navigated. And if you’re wondering….YES! He does snore!

Arriving in Wellington near rush hour was a bit crazy. Wellington has the second largest population of any city in New Zealand at close to a half a million people. Auckland ranks first with 1.5 million. Needless to say there was a lot of traffic and we were all pretty exhausted from the long drive but when we arrived at our house for the night we were all brought back to life by the stunning views. This Air B&B is called the Art Gallery. It has several pieces of artwork hanging on the walls that are for sale but I wouldn’t really call it an art gallery. Most of the pieces are okay at best. But who needs art in a place that has a beautiful balcony and picture window views like this?

Yeah, right? This place is something. The inside is clean and it has pretty much everything you’d need. It’s a bit dated but like we keep saying, we aren’t buying it and the views make up for any shortcoming it may have so we’re so happy we chose this place.

While we’re a bit rejuvenated by the view we are still tired from the early morning and long drive so Jack, Dan and Jilly head back into town to pick up some Chinese food and we enjoy an evening in. Jilly spends the evening taking photos of the sunset and moonrise over Wellington while the rest of the crew relaxes. Tomorrow will be another very early and very long day.

We have to get up early to get to the ferry terminal. We will be taking the three hour ride from Wellington across Cook Strait and into Marlborough Sound to Picton at the South Island on the Bluebridge Car Ferry. From there we’re driving another five hours south to Hokitika.

We can’t wait for the ferry ride. We’ve been told it’s one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world! Be sure to check back and see what we find along the way.


Jilly & Dan