We extended our morning drive by about 30 minutes enroute to Hokitika by going directly up to the gorge first so Zo could have a lengthier nap. When we arrived it was on a loose dusty gravel road, the entrance steep and the parking lot tiny and too full for us. We waited out another campervan before snagging their very sloped spot.
The walk to the gorge was only about 10 minutes through the lush forest, along a gravel and wooden bridge-lined pathway. Nearly there, you cross the river on a very high wobbly suspension bridge (max load of 6 people), which made my bum numb just thinking about. Ry loved crossing, and Zo eagerly leaned out of the backpack for a closer look much to my dismay as I hurried along. Once on the other side, we climbed down the smooth white rocks to the crystal clear, toothpaste blue, frigid cold water where heaps of folks were posing for photos and a few dared to strip down for a swim.
Josh and Ry can be seen near the water in the above shot. Josh stubbed his toe on the way down and it began to bleed, and Ry insisted on providing medical aid and advice “Dad put it in the water to clean it, let’s see if Mom has a bandaid.”
Lunch was inside the camper at a dusty roadside pullout, just long enough to eat, before making our way to Hokitika’s Shinning Star Campground. That afternoon the girls enjoyed the kids play structure, the farm animals onsite (sheep, ducks, wild bunnies, alpaca, goats, and a giant pig), and later Ry and I spent some quality time together on the beach building and playing in our own driftwood castle. We did end up wandering Hokitika town the next morning for an hour to say we saw it, before heading out to Franz Josef Glacier Village.
The village reminded us of a mini Banff, consisting mainly of two short blocks of variable accomodation, restaurants, tour companies, and cafe’s. Our campsite was right in town but still nestled right in the rainforest, making for a quiet sleepy place to stay the night.
Although we felt experiencing the glaciers by helicopter was not in our cards we wanted to check it out from afar, so chose a short little tramp to do the job. It was about an hour in and 40 minutes out, Zo on my back, Ry reluctantly walked a bit, then rode on dad’s shoulders for the remainder. It’s tough being three when your little sister always gets a lift and you’re too little to go the distance. She was a champ anyway… a tramp champ. In other words, If a host is a hostie, and trucker is a truckie, then maybe she is a trampie?!
The bug made it to the top, well as far as they’d let us go anyway.
Anyway, we all made it to the viewpoint of the glacier, which wasn’t as picturesque as I had imagined, with mostly a rocky base, no adjacent greenery and no snow surrounding the blue ice itself. Nonetheless I think we enjoyed the walk as it was party through the rainforest and alongside a rocky riverbed complete with rushing river and various waterfalls flowing down the mountains. We came, we saw, we conquered.