Thursday, March 5, 2009

Respectable Walk

We are walking about 15-16 kms a day in Hokitika. Quite respectable, even if somewhat reduced from the strenuous efforts of the two weeks in Alexandra.

More varied terrain, though. This morning, we started from our temporary home next to the beach, crossed a railroad track, a glow-worm cave, an airport, walked through native bushland, round a racecourse, past a milk products factory, along a river, past a white heron, some old docks, some ship wreckage, enormous amounts of driftwood on the beach, an artisanal bakery, a sock museum, and much more, before returning to base.

We started from sea level, of course. Even though the maximum altitude of the walk is about 80 metres, we had stunning views of the Southern Alps and Mt Cook and its surrounding permanent snowfields and glaciers.

Hokitika is yet another town which grew up as a result of a gold rush. The gold was first discovered in 1864 and by the end of that year there were 800 diggers in the area. Then it mushroomed. Hokitika sprang up as a port through which to bring in supplies, even though finding a safe place to berth ships was difficult. It became one of New Zealand's busiest ports, in terms of number of ships and immigrants, and amount of customs revenue generated. In 1866 43.5% of immigrants to NZ arrived in Hokitika. Half of the total gold produced on the west coast was shipped from here. All pretty amazing as the treacherous sand bar at the harbour entrance made the port one of the most dangerous in NZ. In 1866 a ship was wrecked here once every 10 weeks on average. Presumably much of that gold is at the bottom of the sea.

Another major industry in Hokitika at that time was obviously food, drink and accommodation. The town at one time had 103 hotels, of which 85 were crammed into the narrow mile of Revell Street, which is currently our home.

1 comment:

Jean Dolan said...

Sounds lovely Vic and Gay. You sure know how to live!! Best wishes to you both, love Jean xx