Now moving further north and here to see Arthurs Pass and sample Monteith's beer in its home town (a great range of beer).
We should explain to viewers/readers that we add the initial entry to a new place we visit as soon as we arrive so you all know where we are at any given time. But clearly we cannot add what we have done until we have done it. So everyone needs to revisit blogs if they want to see what we have been up to. Sorry if this is confusing, but there it is!
We had a good journey but sorry to be leaving Franz Josef behind and on such a lovely day - whatever happened to these forecasts of heavy skies and thunderous rains for days on end?! As we travelled up the West Coast we could see the mountainous skyline of Mounts Cook & Tasman in the rear view mirrors revealing how wonderful the journey heading southwards would be.
Hokitika is a place on the coast that doesn't get a star rating but as we drove into town with the sun shining we couldn't agree. On the outskirts was their golf course and as we drove in to check on club hire etc, we were able to see an absolute attraction - no 1 hole is called Tasman and in the distance, well beyond the flag, were the snow-covered mountains. We more or less decided there and then that we would return south after Greymouth and thereby set about finding a place to stay.
So far we've been paying what we would call over the odds for places it being summer then Easter. But with this now over we felt we could perhaps get something cheaper. A few calls at motels and campsites produced little in the way of reductions - this area is a still an all year round destination - but one campsite with a range of accommodation was able to offer us something. We were able to further considerably reduce the price if we provided our own sheets and towels. We have towels but no sheets so next stop - sheet shopping. We also could reduce prices even further if we were members of the campsite club, which we had been in Australia but had left the membership cards behind. Never mind we now have a booking.
With the weather being extremely kind we decided to drive up to Arthur's Pass. This was really beautiful - what else should we expect! - the highest east-west route over the Southern Alps. It was certainly a wonderful journey into a land that experiences snow and ice for the winter although we decided not to venture much past the 'watershed' - otherwise we'd have been back in Christchurch. On our journey back and onwards to Greymouth we took the alternative route via Moanna and Lake Brunner. This was a less spectacular area but nonetheless pretty and as we drove past a sign saying 'golf' we quickly discussed our options beyond Hokitika. A u-turn was needed and we drove up to check out the lie of the land. It was a new course but in a lovely peaceful setting. Yes we could hire clubs and it had accommodation - really new B&B rooms where we booked ourselves in for Monday night. Golf and club hire is included in the $110 room rate making it a very favourable deal and one we are very much looking forward to.
Greymouth is the sort of place that is quite ordinary but in a nice way. We are able to imagine so many similar places throughout the world that don't get the best press but provide the services needed in the area. We therefore knew we would find sheets and provisions and we did just that. After we'd checked into our hostel (we've put padlocks on our pasta, jailed our jam, tied up our teabags etc) we enjoyed fish & chips at the local Speights pub. Monteith's beer will have to wait until another day.
On the way into town we'd stopped by the local golf club which looked very appealing.M had phoned to be told club hire was available - although the clubs wouldn't be too great - and 18 holes would cost only $20 each. So after a sluggish start to the day - it was a wee bit overcast - we headed for the golf course where we did hire the clubs.The green-keeper had a side business going hiring out clubs & caddie cars - in NZ there are called trundlers - and yes, they were a bit of a mixed bag and the bag (E's at least) was covered in bird droppings. But the whole outfit cost us only $10 each. Then we were off to have an excellent round.It is refreshing to experience, and tell you, that the golf doesn't get better.Of course we put that down to the clubs we are having to hire!. Mmmmmm - bad workman and all that .......!The highlight was most certainly on the 6th where M's really good fairway shot rose and rose, but didn't return to earth - it got stuck up a huge fir tree. Luckily E spotted it high up in the branches and thankfully the tree was a big 'un with huge cones that E was able to launch at the offending branch with eventual success and plenty of laughs from the green-keeper going about his business of keeping the course in good nick. Not sure how M should have scored that one! When we returned to town, questions were on our minds - could we, shouldn't we?These related to golf and whether we should invest in our own golf clubs. We had earlier looked round second hand (really junk) shops and saw old clubs with dubious grips were which selling for $20 a piece.The previous day M had also spotted an ad at the golf club - but these were only a set of irons and a bag so she would still need woods and a putter. At the local golf driving range there were new and some second hand sets for sale but much dearer than we wanted to pay for a few rounds of golf over the next 5 months.So in the end we headed for the store where we bought our sheets the previous day and whose strap-line is "Where everyone gets a bargain". They had individual clubs & bags and 2 sets for sale. One of the sets caught our eye and at $150 for a bag, 3 wood/metal, 5 hybrid (what the heck would we do with this?), 5, 7 & 9 irons, sand iron, putter, bag & stand, balls and tees it was really good value and much better than the stuff we'd seen in the junk shops and golf driving range. The price had been reduced from $250 so we bought a set each.Bursting to try out the clubs we set off for Hokitika - after a detour north a short distance to buy some black pudding from Snarlers Parlour that Barbara from the Greymouth Youth Hostel had recommended.
E & M xxxx