Monday, March 2, 2009

Going West

I walked nearly 400 kms during our two weeks in Alexandra. But all things must come to an end. Sunday evening we went out to a Thai restaurant with friends Owen and Lynette. On Monday morning we bade farewell to always laughing Denise of the excellent Alexandra Garden Court Motel. Denise allegedly has a husband Rowley, although I personally think he is a myth as I have never seen him, although it may be true that he works away all week. We know two Denises in New Zealand and they are both very keen gardeners. I will tell you more of Denise of Oxford and her garden when we get there; Denise of Alexandra has a splendid large garden in which to relax, and she is also a very keen vegetable gardener, so she and Gay get on like a house on fire, and we get a lot of access to very fresh vegetables.

We left Alexandra before 8 am, for the 500 kms drive to Hokitika on the West Coast. After an hour or so we made a very slight diversion into Wanaka for breakfast, and to break up the journey. Wanaka is in a spectacular setting. It has an extremely individual small cinema – the seating consists almost entirely of old armchairs and settees – I say almost, because there is also a bright yellow Morris Minor with its rear end embedded in the wall, but with all four seats intact and usually occupied. All films, whether designed that way or not, have an intermission in this establishment – you can tell when the intermission is coming up because of the wonderful aroma of the cookies which are being baked for the intermission in the attached cafe. It is possible to order a meal for the intermission, which lasts as long as it takes the slowest diner to finish hir meal. My nephew Andrew was in NZ on a cycling holiday with his wife and they saw one of the “Lord of the Rings” films here. I remember Andrew telling me how surreal it was to watch the film, with its spectacular scenery, then to step outside and see the same scenery in the flesh (LOTR was filmed in many locations all over New Zealand, especially South Island).

From Wanaka, the drive took us past more of the superb and varied landscape for which NZ is justly famed, past the stunning Lake Hawea, the top end of Lake Wanaka , through mountain passes, great areas of native bushland, glaciers, and eventually to the beautiful West Coast. The forecast was for lots of rain, but we saw none, although we drove on steaming, wet roads a few times.

At Hokitika, the walking will be daily, but not as long and arduous as at Alexandra/Clyde – we know of no long walks here. But we do plan to unshackle our bicycles, which have so far remained unused because of illness in the camp, and to give them a little exercise.

Here we are once again in the care of Adele and Brian, of 252 Beachside Motels, who always make us most welcome and who seem to look forward to our visits as much as we do.

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