Hokitika is most famous for it’s Jade shops and factories, visited by giant tourbuses which pull up and pour out tourists hungry for jade this-and-thats. This time of year, it is also famous for its driftwood.
Driftwood and Sand
I got a ride to the downtown with a sweet couple from the Birdsong hostel, and we walked down to the beach together. The Westland forecast was dreary, a long pattern of gray rainclouds dotting the coast in the newspaper forecast, but the day cleared around noon, and we spent at least an hour of the midday, happily wandering the beach looking at an art exhibit in which members of the community had created sculptures on the beach using only driftwood, beach rocks, and other trash/flotsom they found amid the driftwood. Some were terrific, some very simple — and some must have already been wrecked by the previous day’s storm and, once again, looked like random piles of driftwood.
We shared a coffee at a cafe overlooking the beach (* note above photo, showing the cafe’s inventive use of rusted roofing for a warm, rustic wainscot). My fellow travelers decided to drive north or east to Christchurch to get away from the bad weather, and I decided to catch the late afternoon bus down south, towards Okarito, fingers crossed. I say “towards” instead of “to” because the tiny coastal village is located 13 kilometers down a small side road, and the bus doesn’t go there….