I woke up in Hokitika the next morning and headed to a peninsula on the edge of town for breakfast. It was windy, but the view was great.
I headed over to the library to charge up my camera and computer and got super lucky when Brian sent me an email right then that he could talk on the phone. Reception sucked and he was standing outside in the wind since he was still offshore, but it was great to get to talk to him. He was allowed about an hour to talk and we used it all. Couldn’t have asked for better timing to check my email.
After that I walked around Hokitika to check out the town. There were some cool buildings in town that I wanted to take pictures of before I left. And I just so happened to pass an ice cream store on the way…
I also stopped into a big jade store and found the earrings I’d been looking for: some studs for Pat and Emily’s wedding. I often pick up a pair of earrings as my personal souvenir when I travel but this time I killed two birds with one stone. Hooray!
I went down to the beach to look more closely at the driftwood art. The beach was not only covered in driftwoods, but people had created all sorts of sculptures with it.
I ate lunch in Hokitika and then hit the road again. This time I was bound for the Glaciers region. There are two big glaciers on the west coast: Franz Josef and Fox. They’re interesting to glaciologists because they’re the biggest left in New Zealand and they terminate in a temperate rainforest. I was really looking forward to seeing them and considered spending the night in Franz Josef Village so I could spend some time around the glaciers the next day.
When I got to Franz Josef it was very touristy. I drove around a bit to check out the camping options (there was only one and then a bunch of motels), but along the way I passed the Glacier Hot Pools. Score. This was no natural hot spring or anything. It was a resort deal with a spa. But I was in anyway. When I got inside there were three pools at different temperatures. I spent a little time in each over 2 hours and it was totally worth it. Double score was that I got a real shower out of it before I left. (No showers at any of the campgrounds I stayed at.)
While I was there, I learned from a few tourists travelling north that the view of Fox Glacier was better than of Franz Josef. So I decided ultimately to drive past the Franz Josef Glacier and then keep moving on and spend the night closer to the Fox Glacier. And what a great choice it was.
I ended up spending the night in a campground on Gillespie’s Beach. It at the end of a long, narrow, winding road and when I got there about a million other people had already set up camp. It was the only Dept of Conservation campsite around and after making that long drive, I don’t blame anyone for just staying. There was still plenty of room to set up my tent and I got in pretty late so the picnic table was free to cook dinner.
I also arrived with plenty of daylight to set up my tent and cook dinner just in time to admire the amazing sunset. On one side of the campground was the sun setting over the Tasman Sea while on the other side the light played on the mountains. Another great night.
That was also the first night I slept in the tent and I was really impressed with how easily it came together. I had a run in with the infamous sand flies for the first time, too, but the bug spray that the Barrs armed me with did its job for the most part.
I went to bed fairly soon after the sun set, but the stars were spectacular even after I got in my tent. I was sure to leave the rain fly off for stargazing as I fell asleep. It was awesome.