After the excitement of yesterday’s glacier hike we wanted to just make our way towards Kaikoura on the east coast in a more relaxed manner. Neither of us slept well due to the sandflies so we left our spot before 8am just to get out of there. Which was a shame as it was pretty enough but we didn’t even venture out!
We stopped in the first little mini town (when I samy that it means like one main road and a petrol station and a coffee shop either side) and jumped out to get a coffee/chai when who did we see in front of us getting out of their car but sweet retired British couple from the glacier walk Chris and Maddy. Huh! I guess all the tourists do the exact same route aye. We exchanged phone numbers as we had some pics of each other to exchange, so that was nice. After a caffeine hit we were on our way again now to Hokitika – a seaside town still on the west coast that any people had told us about.
When we got there we had a good wander around the cute little streets and I decided to go into the little wildlife centre to yep, see a real live kiwi. Javi wasn’t interested to went off to the supermarket and back to the van, while I spent the next 50 minutes feeding HUGE eels, seeing a male and female kiwi that didn’t get on so lived in half the enclosure each, and lots of different frogs and fish. Now when I casually just said feeding eels, it was such a weird thing as the pool was round and very deep and there was like a decking covering over a portion of it, with a woman without a uniform kneeling on it beckoning for people to come forward if they want to feed the eels. Well me and a couple of other tourists assumed she belonged to the centre and I got down on my knees and took some big tweezers and fed these eels some cow brain morsels. We were told these girls were over 150 years old and had been rescued from a local fish farm. Apparently the females die once they’ve bred so these guys were living above and beyond in a tank basically. I went to see the kiwis too and although it was cool to see the animal it was a bit dad as one of them was just going a bit mental and going back and forth bashing her long beak against the glass. I left the place with mixed feelings, and went back to the van for a wrap lunch. We’re eating a lot of wraps these days, best things to just chuck whatever you have in it and shove it in your mouth – yummy.
We then drove further north along the West coast until we got to Greymouth where we turned inland finally towards Hanmer Springs. We’d decided to go to the thermal springs that were slightly closer and a lot less touristy apparently, called Maruia Springs, and soon arrived.
Being tired from driving and the weather was kinda meh I was looking forward to relaxing in a naturally boiling pool for a whole, so in we jumped and we were lucky enough there were about 3 other people in the whole place. We tried the outdoor rock pools first which looked beautiful and were almost too hot but once in you get used to it and it’s so nice. It was literally a rock pool, nothing manmade about it, and tons of algae floated around us which Javi didn’t like. He also couldn’t stand the smell of the sulphur! I can understand not liking the smell of rotton eggs but I got used to it quite quickly (I think he had a very sensitive nose). The parts of us that were out of the water were being devoured by flies so we ran to the indoor pool which was a shame but just as relaxing and boiling hot.
After a while spent here we rinsed off and drove a little further to a free site in Hanmer Springs. It was a gravel area behind a maintenance area back from the road but completely legit and free so that was nice, with public loos nearby so more than good enough for us for $0 for the night! Although it was pouring it down there were no sandflies so woohoo, a good nights sleep was going to be had…