I wasn’t in a rush to leave Hokitika, it had felt a safe place after the earthquake, I had met some lovely and caring people. I am grateful for that ❤
I had wanted a pebble door mat and I keep thinking I can do that when I come back up the West Coast on the way home but I may not go the way, even though that’s the plan. I bought a small one to sit on top of the current one, still giving Mr Phee enough room to pick the old one up and drop it repeatedly when he wants me to let him in. His way of knocking ……. smart cat!
The road to Whataroa continued to be beautiful, the scenery is just stunning. I live in a beautiful country, I love the West Coast. It was mostly bush, some farmland and then sub-alpine bush. I never tire of seeing it and am always saying so. Out loud. To myself.
I got to Whataroa just on time. While it’s not many kilometres, the road is narrow and windy so it takes twice as long to get there. I was going to Okarito to see the Kotukus (the Eastern Great Egret – Ardea modesta).
The White Heron has always been rare in New Zealand (I have seen 3 or 4) and it has gained almost mythical status. With a population of a mere 200 birds, it is revered by both Māori and pakeha (non Maori, hence I am a pakeha) for its elegant white feathers. This graceful bird has long, slender legs and a long, thin S-shaped neck, which has a distinct kink when flying. It is common in Australia, the South Pacific and Asia. The Kōtuku colony is situated in extremely close proximity to a shag rookery and a Royal Spoonbill (another Australian migrant) colony.
There were 6 of us, as Asian gentleman, a German lady, 3 Kiwis from Tokaroa and me. We had a 20 minute van ride to the wharf then a 20 minute jet boat ride to the lagoon, maybe a 15 minute bush walk and then around a corner to the most spectacular sight of a small area of trees and bush with White Herons, Royal Spoonbills and a few shags, all either nesting, with chicks or doing mating displays. I had three cameras with me but while I took a lot of photos, I also just looked! It was a really special time and I would do it again.
On to Fox Glacier. I had forgotten that the road between Franz Jospeh Glacier and Fox was so windy and hilly with 15k bends and stretches of 35k (the open road speed limit is 100k). There were glimpses of snow covered mountains, blue rivers and many streams. The pick of the creek names today was “Stinky Creek”. I wonder why, my imagination was running riot 😉
I checked in to the camping ground then set off for Lake Matheson, a short drive from Fox. It’s claim to fame is it’s beautiful waters which, on a calm day mirror Aorangi/Mt Cook. It had been a little windy when I left Whataroa but now was calm. There is a 40 minute walk, again through bush, to the lake and although it was now 5pm I was fine with the timing. When I got back there were still people going. I was assuming that as it was a lake walk it would be flat, it wasn’t. I hadn’t taken my inhaler but managed the hilly bits and steps without collapsing but with a lot of puffing. Actually, I am much fitter than when I left a mere 12 days ago. Unfortunately the wind had got up as I walked to the lake so the mirror effect was lacking. I shall have to try again another day but it was a great walk with nice glimpses of the mountain. It looked so close. Maybe it was.
Back in Fox I was craving cream, so splashed out a bought a can of cream $8.90!!! However worth it and I had carrot cake, guavas and cream for dinner. What a special day, so much pleasure and what I have learned is that my Canon SX60 camera takes excellent photos of Kotuku, better than the DSLR!