Wednesday, June 3, 2015

To Glacier Country

Tuesday morning we hitched up the caravan in goldrush town Hokitika and pointed it south and east toward the towering peaks of Tai Poutini National Park, where ancient rainforests meet the highest mountains in NZ.

 Traveling from one place to the next is always engaging here.

Clouds shroud the near mountains while cattle graze the agricultural countryside alongside palms, evergreens, and deciduous trees.  For a visitor, this apparently dichotomous tableau never ceases to amaze.

We stopped in the hamlet of Hari Hari to check in at The Willows, specializing in hand-spun knits and craft work. We'd met Ingrid, daughter of the proprietor, at a secondhand shop in Hokitika and she urged us to visit.

We're very glad we did. Art got a possum-wool hat and some possum socks and we both found lambkin-soft sweaters of possum, wool, and silk.
The unique property of possum fur is that each fibre is hollow. This gives excellent insulation qualities, ensuring that possum fur and merino wool garments are light and incredibly warm.

Back on the road, endlessly shifting landscapes.

16 feet of rainfall on these alpine summits. Enormous volumes of snow fall annually, feeding some 140 glaciers, the main ones being Franz Josef and Fox.

Here's tiny Franz Josef Glacier Township, population 350 in winter, thousands during summer.

We're staying in the Rainforest Campground, which actually is in a rainforest and offers sites like this one (cocktail table and chairs a nice touch).

We walked the town, hungry for spice, heat, and an adept hand, and we certainly found them at King Tiger.

Ingenious timer served with my lemon-ginger tea (in an elegant insulated glass).
The man who served us said "Uh, I think you ordered too much." Butter chicken, red curry pork, vegetable fried rice, and bhajis. To savor again in days to come.

Tomorrow, a hike to Franz Josef Glacier.

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