The (Hokitika) Gorge

March 12, 2012 by Jeramie

Hokitika Gorge’s “milky blue waters”, how true it is. Deep in the forest is this rather small gorge with a long swing bridge across it, filled below with what Zoe referred to as toothpaste colored water.

On either side sit crisp grey boulders giving the stream a clean turquoise color, uncompromised by foliage or earthy terrain along its edges. The color is not unnatural, but seems out of place away from a Mexican beach of white sand.

***If you haven’t read Zoe’s post on sandflies, read it first before this quick entry.

Before leaving town, we stopped by the hardware store to hopefully find all the components necessary to sandfly-proof our van. We had had enough. After two trips to the store and at least an hour with an energetic young employee, eager to help brainstorm, I came out confident some sort of hack job would work, but pessimistic about the longevity of said solution. The plan was to use magnetic strips (something I had overheard Scott, the guide book author mention), to fasten the netting to the side of the vehicle, around the window area. The surface around the window is flush and fairly flat, and so it all made sense, other than the fact that the strength of attraction was equal to that of mine TO sandflies. We headed out of town regardless,(at worst I had boat loads of tape in the van) and stopped at a lake side for breakfast and coffee. I came across some twine in one of the tool bags that had been left in the van previously, and it dawned on me…

When we were first in Auckland looking for a van we had considered a French girl’s van at the car market. We noticed netting her and her boyfriend had very slickly incorporated to their van. It seemed as if it had been built in, which she smiled at, and made us aware of the jealousy they had attracted throughout their travels.

As I pulled out the twine, I realized how they must have done it. It was simply the same way you cover a jar with a peace of cellophane and a rubber band. Afterwards, all the extra bits are slid into the crevices to clean up the edges, removing the potential for being swept away by the wind. The netting (which is straight up “sandfly netting”, a thing you buy here) isn’t perfect by any means, they can get through, but at least now we can get a cross breeze once in awhile, and when left open for the night, the damage by the early rising buggers is minimal.

Late the same day we stopped in Okarito, planning for another low tide beach walk, only to find the winds, late hour and sandflies a bit much to handle. Instead we settled in with books through sunset and moved on to Franz Joseph. Tomorrow… we would head up above Franz Joseph Glacier, a view I was excited to see. I hadn’t seen a true and true glacier (not to discount Shasta or South Sister) since I was 12 years old in Alaska, and for Zoe, it would be her first.

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