After breakfast at Daneca’s Café, on Weld Street, I headed over to the Sock Museum. The weather was bad, but the rain had been forecast so I decided to do some of the indoor things like museums today before I get my bus to Fox Glacier. I checked out at 10am and left my rucksack at the hostel. I’d booked to do the guided Hokitika walk at 11.30am so had an hour to kill. The Sock Museum seemed as good a place to go to fill the time. There were a lot of vintage sock making machines on display here, amongst the jumpers, scarves and socks that were on sale. They also have an old carding machine. Carding, from what I can remember, is the process where the fibres of the wool are brought together to make the fibre easier to “knit” so to speak and it also cleans the fibres of any dirt it may have in it.
I got to the Hokitika Museum at 11.25am, where Brian, my guide was waiting for me. The tour is a fifty minute guided walking tour of the town’s historical highlights. The walks are run by the Hokitika Museum and were only started a month ago, at the end of January 2012. Walks start at 10.30am and during the 7pm tour in the evening, there is a hosted visit to the Museum after the walk. This tour lasts about two hours. Prices are 15 NZD for the morning tour and 35NZD for the evening one. Tours must be booked at the i-site or the Museum. Each tour includes free admission to the Museum.
Brian, one of the two guides who give the tour, was dressed up in period costume and looked very dashing. In dressing up in period costume, they portray a particular Westland identity – either Dr. Ebenezer Teichelman or Premier Richard Seddon. We walked around Hokitika in the rain. Luckily he had a big umbrella! It was a very interesting tour I thought, because Brian had brought a folder with a lot of photos of some of the buildings of Hokitika, as they were in the 1800’s and the difference in the appearance of the streets was amazing.
Hokitika was one of the busiest ports on the West Coast at one point, with emigrants from Australia and further afield docking and entering New Zealand here. On Revell Street in the 1800’s there were about one hundred and fifty hotels during the time of the gold mining era.There are three or four old buildings left from that era, like Revell Cottage, the Health Shop, the old theatre and the cinema which used to show old black and white movies but now shows arthouse films. I enjoyed the tour and the commentary was good too.
After the walking tour I went to the National Kiwi Centre. You get a reduction on the entry fee if you show your intercity bus ticket, which was great. It provides viewing of kiwi in a nocturnal house that replicates their natural environment. There is also an opportunity to feed the eels, which are between eighty five and one hundred years old, you can see tuatara, New Zealand’s oldest living dinosaur and also get the chance to see live whitebait of various ages (Galaxiid species, named after the Milky Way Galaxy). A very interesting species which I came across was the Axolotl, the Mexican Salamander. Axolotl means water monster in Aztec. It is an endangered species and what surprised me, was the fact that they are fully capable of limb re-growth. I’d never heard of this before. It also exhibits the phenomenon known as neotony, which means that it remains in its larval form throughout its life. Very interesting!
Well after all that, I caught my bus from Hokitika to Fox Glacier at 3pm and got to the Ivory Towers hostel at 6pm.