Day 30 – Hokitika
Today I am off to see one of New Zealand’s famous, weird and wild Festivals, the Hokitika Wild Food Festival. After catching up with Mum and Dad again for a spot of breakfast, we head down to Hokitika, 30minutes south of Greymouth along SH6. Following the coast all the way down we get to the small town. The town was a booming gold mining town in the late 1800’s with the port been the busiest in the country, now a day the town is full of artists of all kinds, from glass blowers, jewellers and the master crafters of Pounamu (NZ Greenstone). It’s well known for a few things, the Hokitika Sign at the beach made from drift wood, the Hokitika Gorge and the Wild Food Festival.
We get to the town a little early to enter the festival so we take a tour around the town, checking out the incredible skills of the glassblowers, some of the gold jewellery made from the local gold and watching a lady make some socks, yes we did. After circling the streets, it was time for the gates to open so we head back to the festival. The Festival has its name for a reason, you get to try and eat anything wild and weird. There is 50+ stalls, all selling something you must swallow and try to keep down. It’s not all about the food, there is Feral fashion judging, brass bands playing, things for the kids and finishing the day with Salmonella Dub playing on the main stage.
As you enter the gate the first thing on offer is Huhu grubs, these are the larvae of New Zealand’s largest endemic beetle. There’s guys there splitting open the wood and pulling these bugs out ready for you to eat, wriggling around, you just put it in your mouth, quick chew to feel the juices squirt out and swallow. Little bit of a nutty taste but not too bad. Hope you’re not eating while reading this 😊. Next up we head around to the Fair Dinkum Aussie Tucker stand, Dad try’s a fried Locus and I try a bit of crocodile. After watching a few people have a go at the Gumboot throwing (Wellingtons or rubber boots) Dad has a try of the Snails while I taste Lambs heart, from the Heart Attack stall. Just tastes like a bit of steak if you ask me.
We carry on around to one of the weirdest stalls of the day, I DEER YOU stall, lets you sample a few different parts of a deer. For $15 you get to try 4 things, Some Velvet slices, Venison Jerky, Deer Pizzle and liver pate and lastly a shot of Deer semen. Yes, there were people queuing up for this but wasn’t one I was willing to try. Next up mum grabs a whitebait fritter and I have a shot of moonshine west coast style, out of a drencher gun. Tasted a bit like I had just been to the dentist. We then had some more normal food like the venison slider and wild berry waffles.
Next, we head into the middle stands where you can try Mountain Oysters (google them if you don’t know what they are 😊) fried Pig Snout, or try and swallow a fish eye jelly shot. After circling around the last of the stalls it was time for the judging of the Feral Fashion, lots of people had dressed up, some for the competition and they had gone all out. Real bird’s wings on one lady’s arms, a guy with his underwear and a bit of fur, another guy had built a little duck hunting maimai around him, A Knight, A guy as Snow White to name a few.
The rain had started to fall by the end of the judging so we headed for the car, full of the weird and wild foods. We decide to go and have a look at the Hokitika Gorge even though it wasn’t the best of days. From the pictures I’ve seen, this place has some amazing colours when the sun is out, the water turns into a very bright milky turquoise colour caused by the rock flour in the water. The rain has stopped briefly when we arrive so we take the short walk from the carpark down to the viewing platform and then down over the swing bridge to the lower viewing platform. This place is still awesome to see but if you’re going to come, try and make it on a sunny day for the best views the place has to offer. After a few pictures, we head back to Greymouth, find some dinner and turn in for the night.
Day 31 – Brunner
The weather has set in today, raining through the night. Mum and Dad are heading back to Christchurch today so after a quick breakfast we pack up and head out to Lake Brunner. On the way, we stop off at the Brunner Mine, another coal Mine started in the late 1800’s, which also produced Coke used to make steel. An explosion in 1896 killing all 65 miners working that day put an end to the mining on that side of the river. Now only a few remains of the once bustling mine remain, the bridge across the river, a few of the kilns, one of the chimneys and the monument for the miners that lost their lives.
We then carry on our way to Lake Brunner, once we final found the place we stop off at the Station House Café for lunch. The place has a stunning panorama view looking over the lake and out to the bush covered hills behind. It is also one of the stops for the Trains Alpine train. After our lunch and steering at the view it was time to say goodbye to my parents and I head back to the coast.
After stopping off at Ross to hit a few golf balls at a floating platform, trying to win a bit of extra cash for my trip, I carry on down the coast. The rain has really set in now and heavy so I find the nearest freedom camping spot and pull in for the night. Tomorrow I head further south where it famous for it Glaciers.