Friday, January 08, 2010

Moi apres la deluge

[top end of west coast, South Island: Punakaiki]

From people struggling out of snowdrifts or tumbling over on the ice I expect no sympathy - but after sending e-mails entitled "Dodging the drizzle", we were taught the real lesson about what the West Coast can really achieve - in terms of 24-hour rain, sometimes utterly torrential, resulting in broken bridges, flooded roads and widespread chaos. However, the West is more prepared for the rain than Britain is for the snow and so things were soon running again, smoothly if damply.

Before the rain set in, we got our glimpse of Franz Josef glacier, face-on: still impressive even under lowering clouds. After that, we could only nose our way north towards Hokitika and submit to being driven indoors to the shops and other indoor occupations. The town has many ways of occupying punters in the rain (no prizes for guessing why) and the shops selling New Zealand jade (aka greenstone or pounamu) do a good trade. The stuff is a Maori traditional material - they came south from their preferred tribal areas further north to collect it to fashion into weapons, tools, ornaments and jewellery - and they still have some areas of monopoly on it now. Ironically, their specific shop, beautifully arranged with wonderful examples of the craft, was virtually deserted - perhaps the exhibition-like layout, perhaps the prices kept people away.
Today, Friday, we pushed on up to the north coast of South Island, to the Abel Tasman Park area, with plans to walk part of the trail tomorrow. Dare I say that it's sunny, if cool, and that it's forecast to stay fair tomorrow?


Blogger Oldhalldave said...

Hi. Finally found your blog, its making interesting reading. Glad you are both well. The temperature here has crept up above freezing. the big melt is just around the corner. Have fun.

Dave xx

Mon Jan 11, 04:50:00 pm GMT  

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