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Next door to the Mountain Jade Backpackers is the Jade Factory which creates jewellery and carvings of traditional Maori and New Zealand designs from greenstone. Hokitika is known for its jade or pounamu (greenstone) and is also a haven for other artists and carvers such as shell and bone carvers, potters, painters, weavers, gold jewellers etc. Hokitika’s on the coast as well, an hour further south of Punakaiki and at one time, was the biggest port on the West Coast. They found gold here too. There’s a street here called Revell Street and during the time of the gold mining frenzy there were apparently over one hundred hotels on this street.  There are only a few of the old heritage buildings from the gold mining era left.

After I got laundry and food shopping done, I had a wander around the town. In the Jade Factory shop, there is a Taurapa (stern post) of a waka (canoe) on display. There was a small explanation about the feathered streamers attached to the Taurapa. It said that these feathers represent a stairway for the Taniwha (guardian/water spirit) to climb up and guide the waka paddlers to plentiful fishing grounds. I didn’t know this and when I mentioned this to the guy behind the counter in the Maori Hertitage shop next door, he said that different iwis (tribes) have different protocols and one thing may mean something different to another iwi. So this story belongs to the iwi of Poutini Ngai Tahu, the local Maori tribe who lived in Hokitika. I thought the story was interesting.

It had been a clear day so the prospects of seeing a good sunset were very good. I headed out to Sunset Point at about 8.15pm. There were quite a few people there, waiting for the sun to go down. On my way there, I stopped off at the Wilderness Gallery. This gallery is owned by a German photographer, who moved to Hokitika a good few years ago. All the photos were landscape photos, my favourite and Jeez man, I was stunned at how good they were. Fabulous. It made me want to be that good.

I saw a photo in the gallery with a load of driftwood on the beach. One bundle was on fire, like a camp fire, with Mt. Cook in the background. It was gorgeous and I asked the woman behind the counter, who is the photographer’s wife, where the photo was taken. She said it was taken down on the beach, pretty close by. There is a viewing platform where you can stand and watch the sunset and off to my right, I could see all the driftwood that was in that photo. The sun set fairly quickly. It was a pretty clear sky, which turned from blue to orangey-red. It was one of the nicest sunsets I’ve seen. I took some good photos, I think and would love to get them blown up and put on canvas.