Takaka (October 25- 27, 2016)
Takaka, a great sounding name for a town. There are lots of bathroom-related names up in this area for some reason. We drove up from Christchurch with a red relocation car we got for free. I enjoyed not having to worry about the vehicle size while driving and zipped around the corners faster. We encountered more reckless drivers in this area, who would cut the corners. For the most part, there are barely any cars on the street, but once we almost got into an accident. This speeding guy overtook us around a corner and there was a car in the oncoming lane! Luckily, I have been slowing down already and with seconds to spare, his car came into the correct lane, avoiding a deathly accident. This made me much more cautious around bends for cars which drive into the opposite lane to go around faster. So dangerous! The highest percentage of accidents in New Zealand are due to cars in the wrong lane.
Well, I’m thankful I arrived at my destination. So, what did we do around Takaka? We went to visit the Abel Tasman National Park. Weather forecast predicted rain, which we had been experiencing at the campsite, but we decided to test our luck and drive to the park anyways since we came up all this way just for the park. We indeed turned out to have luck on our side. Right by the park, the clouds started to clear up. Strolling around the beach, we took in the ocean view. Probably because of the weather report, the park was mainly deserted. Got the whole place to ourselves, encountering less than 10 people. Wanting to do a nearby hike, we remove our shoes to cross a river to get to the starting point. A third way through, few raindrops hit my skin. We incorrectly estimated that we were at least halfway through the hike and decided to press on. 15-min away from the car, the floodgates opened. Within seconds I was drenched to the bone (left my jacket in the car like a genius). Had we turned back the way we came from, we would have been sitting in the car before heaven’s blessing. We headed straight back to the campsite, where the sun was peeping through the clouds. Hence, I hung my clothing up to dry outside.
Even though we only had a car and not a camper, we still slept in the car at a free campsite. Searching for a free campsite where we could legally stay without being self-contained was challenging, but we got to the best campsite yet. This campsite was located by a river, had a toilet, a table for each spot, a plugin and free Wi-Fi! Was nice being connected again. The park attendant was extremely friendly as well. The first night we were cold while sleeping since we had no blankets. When we returned from our daily excursion, we asked him if he had a blanket we could borrow and he kindly gave us a sleeping bag. The second night still wasn’t a comfortable rest, but at least we weren’t as cold.
The weather has been in our favor, but we still saw what we wanted to see in Takaka and drove on to drop our car off in Greymouth. On our way there, we did a lovely pit stop at the pancake rocks. The rocks got this name from their layering, like stacked pancakes. Scientists are still unsure how this formation was created. After this 20-min break we were back on the road. Initially we wanted to stay in Greymouth for a night and check out the town. After our arrival, we realized that Greymouth wasn’t interesting enough and purchased a bus ticket to Hokitika.
Hokitika (October 27- 31, 2016)
Hokitika is only 1 hour drive away from Greymouth. In hindsight, instead of purchasing an expensive bus ticket, I would recommend to try hitchhiking that stretch to save money. There was only 1 bus leaving from Greymouth to Hokitika per day and we didn’t want to risk getting stuck in Greymouth for a night since we only had 45-min before said bus departed.
Hokitika was a small, quiet town. Not much to do in town, but there are 3 popular things to see here: the gorge, the lake, and the glowworms. If we had a car, we wouldn’t have had a problem getting to the waters. They are a little further out. Some do hitchhike the stretch successfully. We thought we could just walk to the lake in less than 2 hours, but that was not the case. So, we turned back to the hostel since the weather looked grey and forecast predicted more rain. In the evening, we checked out the glowworms, a 15-min walk away from town. There were less animals than in Waitomo Glowworm Caves, but still enough to get the point across. Seeing the glowworms was a unique experience to me and I’d recommend you see them somewhere in New Zealand at least once.
We did end up we extended our stay at the hostel due to the heavy rain. Spending our time inside the hostel and only leaving for the grocery store. At one point in the common area, a female loudly asked the people in the room if anybody was traveling by bus and heading to Franz Josef next. I spoke up since that was our plan and within minutes we had arranged to travel together. She had a car and we were going to contribute to gas money. She hadn’t seen the gorge or the lake yet, so we drove with her to those destinations. The lake was nothing special, but the gorge had amazing, turquoise water. A few boys were jumping off a bridge into the cold water. The horseflies in the area made us clear out after we snapped a few photos.
Overall Hokitika is a cute place, but maybe not worth the trouble if you lack time. We had been on the go since we arrived in New Zealand and I enjoyed being able to rest in a nice hostel without doing anything and not needing an excuse because of the rain. I also didn’t need to worry about the $32 bus ticket anymore since we found a ride. Just kicked up my feet and watched movies.
Cost breakdown of Takaka (2 days with total cost of $68.79. Average daily cost is $34.40.)
- Transportation: $54.00 (Gas Money)
- Food: $14.79 (Groceries)
Cost breakdown of Hokitika (4 days with total cost of $96.89. Average daily cost is $24.22.)
- Hostel: $74.29 (4 nights)
- Transportation: $10.00
- Bus: $8.57 (initial bus to town)
- Gas Money: $1.43
- Food: $11.17 (groceries)
- Miscellaneous: $1.43 (laundry)