We used the showers at what I think was a campsite. You had to pay $2 for 4 minutes, and I was quite chuffed that I managed to wash my hair in that time. The man who ran it was very nice and boiled the kettle so we could have a cup of coffee/ tea. Apparently there is a colony of Hector's dolphins that live 100 m from the mouth of the river, but when we drove there we couldn't see any. On the way back to the car, we walked along the rocky beach, as apparently you stood a good chance of finding precious stones, not that we could have recognised them then.
We travelled on to Hokitika, where there was an assortment of craft and gift shops to check out. After visiting the pharmacy to get some insect repellent and tiger balm to apply to the bites that the devilish sand flies have bestowed on us, we visited the glass blowing shop, where you could watch them make things.
Next was a gold shop, which had a model of a gold mine, and weighing scales to measure the gold. Up the road from that was 'Sweet Alice's'- the fudge shop. We got so sample some Bailey's fudge which was very good, but you could only buy it by the slice, and they were quite large. In the back, a woman was making the waffle cones for the ice cream, and when Alice (the shop owner, as opposed to travel buddy) said that the banana frozen yoghurt was made by putting a dollop of frozen yoghurt through a machine with some fresh banana, I had to get one. It really tasted like banana (surprisingly) and the waffle cone was yummy- she made it look easy to make them and I'm tempted to give it a go sometime.
The lady in the I-site had said that, although touristy, the Jade Palace gave free tours which were quite good, and there was one at 2.30, so we went along to that. The lady doing it showed us what a big piece of jade would look like in the river bed, and then showed us how people would rub it down with varying levels of rough diamond paper to get it to a sufficient smoothness (silky is the desired texture). This is always done with water so as to not chip the jade. I found it amazing that the Maoris would have taken 6 months to carve their tongi's (I think that's what their sword-like weapons are called) out of pounamu (Maori word for jade) using a device that 2 people would pull in turn to make it twist. Because it took so long, the blade would be passed on from generation to generation, with different wooden handles being made for every new owner. She explained the different sorts of Jade- there are 2 types, one called nephrite, which is a silicate of calcium and magnesium, and the other is Jadeite, a silicate of sodium and aluminium. Nephrite is the one found in New Zealand. She showed us a few other sub-varieties, including one which looked a bit like kiwi fruit. She took us into the bit where they were carving, and then into the shop, where she gave us a leaflet telling us what all the different pendant meanings were:
· A fish hook (Hei Matau) wishes prosperity and good health. Represents strength and determination, as well as a safe passage over water.
· Spiral (Koru) is derived from the unfurling fern frond. Depicts new beginnings, growth and harmony. Can also express the promise of a meaningful relationship (so she hinted to the guy that was on the tour with us it was valentine's day coming up)
· Twists or crossover represents the bonding of a special friendship or relationship
· A Toki was originally used as a carving tool and symbolises strength and courage.
· Manaia is a spiritual guardian and the carrier of supernatural powers. Traditionally depicted with the head of a bird, body of a man and tail of a fish, which represents sky, earth and sea and the balance between them.
When she left, we chatted to the couple as I recognised them as staying at Rowena's lodge whilst we were there.
We also had a look over the road, but it was just another jade factory, so carried on to the sock museum (just because we thought it was funny). It wasn't that good- it just had lots of machines you made socks on, but what I got from the posters on the wall was that they were machines which people got sent when they wanted to make an extra bit of cash from home. There was an article about a woman whose husband had died, leaving her to care for her 2 children as well as find a job, and how this machine was perfect for her as she could look after them whilst making socks. You would get paid by how many socks you made. I wanted to see a picture on you used the machine, but there wasn't one and the video was very boring as it showed you the whole process, rather than skipping to the different stages.
We passed a fish and chip shop on the way back to the car, and so I tried a whitebait fritter (very popular in these parts of New Zealand) and some battered mussels. The whitebait fritter was alright, but it was very battery with only a few whitebait scattered through- I think I prefer them how they're done in England. I hadn't realised the mussels would be battered, as I don't really think their suited to being battered, but the batter was quite a good competitor for Hooked's batter- I'm convinced I will now no longer be able to find somewhere that beats it.
We didn't stay until the sun had gone down to see the glow worms, as it would have meant driving in the dark or driving a long way tomorrow, so headed to Franz Josef.