Saturday February 11th | Franz Josef 🚂 – Hokitika 🍕 – Greymouth 🛏 | 279 km 🌳🌿🍃
The first time I woke up on Saturday was to some douchebag incessantly knocking on a dorm room door next to us. He carried on for what felt like an eternity before Val jumped out of bed and told him to shut the F up and go sleep in the lounge. She lay back down in bed for a few minutes before getting up to re-lock the door. Thank god she did that because I was already planning the best way to execute a wicked spider-monkey elbow-drop move on the son-of-a-bitch from my top bunk … you never know if someone might bust into the room because they’re mad…
The second time I woke up was around 3:30am and it sounded like a freight train was running through the middle of our room. I almost tried my earlier-planned death-move on the snoring lady in the bed next to us but instead I just yelled “HEY!” and she quit sawing logs (or woke up … either way I was happy she was now quiet).
The third and final time I woke up was to my alarm clock at 6am. We got ready, ate and made our way to Hokitika. Hokitika is a town situated on west coast of New Zealand on the Tasman Sea. It is famous for its jade. Jade, aka pounamu, is a beautiful greenstone prized for its strength and durability. There are a lot of jade carvers and stores in town all selling beautiful handmade carvings, necklaces and other jewellery.
Some stores offer 1-2 hour carving experiences that offer the opportunity for you to carve a small, basic piece of jewellery for a nominal fee. The best one we found online, Bonz n Stonz, allow you to design and carve your own unique piece, approximately 7cm x 7cm, for the same price as it would cost to buy a similar item.
I had seen a fern necklace in another store and decided that I wanted to make one for myself. I’m not artistic at all so I was glad I took a picture so I could try to replicate it on paper.
Once you cut our your design you can select your piece of jade and draw around the basic shape. The owner, Steve, cuts around the outline but after that you do most of the process yourself with the guidance of one of the carvers. Andrew helped us out with ours.
From there the basic steps I did were:
- Buff off the excess jade and start to shape the piece
- Cut around the centre line of the frond and remove the jade on either side of it with a small, flat bit (almost looked like a metal thumbtack/pin with the pointy end held in the tool)
- Make the notches and corresponding lines of the fern leaf
- Buff away all the scratches using sandstone and progressively finer sandpaper to create a nice, glossy finish
- Wash with warm, soapy water to get rid of the white dust you create when sanding
- Dry and then shine with baby oil
It took around five hours to complete and now I have an awesome, unique, necklace that I can say I made (mostly) myself.
We were done our carving earlier than we thought so went to the nocturnal kiwi house where we saw (kind of – it was really dark) the male kiwi being fed. The kiwi is a flightless bird that is native to New Zealand and is also their national symbol. From here we drove out to Hokitika Gorge. The milky, turquoise water was absolutely stunning and I highly recommend taking the time to check it out.
Every year Hokitika hosts a Driftwood and Sand beach Sculpture Festival which allows anyone to enter their driftwood stick creations. Here are some of the coolest entries still left on the beach when we got there and a picture of a pizza because pizza is life.
After an amazing pizza at Fat Pipi’s we drove on to Greymouth where we had splurged on a twin room at the backpackers hostel. Best. Decision. Ever. No snorers. No door-bangers. No problem. Just a really nice Danish owner who shared with us those really good buttery Danish biscuits in a blue tin and used to work in Swan River…small world.