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Saturday, November 3, 2018

The Unforgettable New Zealand (Final Part)

The last leg of our road trip was from the town of Fox Glacier going to Hokitika and going back to Christchurch via Arthur Pass. It was more like cooling down after the previous adventure of glacier climbing.

The road trip from Fox Glacier to Hokitika took about two an a half hours. I forget the details of the trip as it happened a long time ago. What I remember is the beach we saw and the sea on the left of the road. We made one stop before we reached Hokitika to take pictures with these cute animals. No wonder New Zealand is known as the country where the number of sheep are more than the number of the people. We saw many sheep along the way. Looking back now I think we shouldn't be too rush to reach Hokitika town. We should at least visit Hokitika Gorge and enjoy the stunning turquoise water surrounded by lush native bush.

Hokitika is a very quiet city and time seems to stand still there. We drove around the city and took pictures of the iconic Hokitika Clock Tower. Another eye-catching building in the center of the city is the Jade Company's green building. It sells pounamu, New Zealand's green stone of the native Maori that was prized from generation to generation. It is a symbol of high status and it's also used for tools and weapons due to its strength and durability.

Hokitika is located just next to the beach of Tasman sea. We parked our car and spent some time at the beach doing some photo-taking. There were relatively not many things to do in this small city. Most of the tourists who stayed in this city made a day trip to other destinations such as Hokitika Gorge, Franz Josef Glacier or Pancake Rocks.

Hokitika is also rich in art, culture and heritage. There are many art galleries in the city. We didn't manage to visit any gallery but we enjoyed their street art in one corner of the city. There was interesting mural that describe the city's historical moments. 

We continued our journey from Hokitika to Christchurch using TranzAlpine train, one of the most scenic train journeys in New Zealand. It took 4-5 hours from Hokitika to Christchurch. Along the way, we saw beautiful landscape, mountain, farmland and forest. The train had a big window so we could enjoy the scenery outside. Unfortunately our camera couldn't capture the object in high speed so most of the pictures that we took were blurry. The train also had an open air viewing car, but the weather was too cold for us to be there.  

In the middle of the journey, the train stopped for a while in Arthurs Pass, the highest pass over the Southern Alps. The railway ran through Arthur's Pass National Park that is located between Canterbury and West Coast in the South Island of New Zealand. The eastern side of the Park is typically drier and consists of beech forest and wide riverbeds while the western side contains rainforest. It's a perfect place for hiking lovers to explore.

We arrived at Christchurch when the sun went down. Tired and exhausted, we had a very good sleep that night. In the morning, we explored the city again for one last time before we flew back to Jakarta on the following day.

The flowers in Christchurch were blooming. We saw beautiful pink and white cherry blossoms in the city park. Yes, there were white cherry blossom trees! That was the first time I saw white cherry blossom. It was as beautiful as the pink one. As we strolled around the city park and river, we decided to try the punting so that we could enjoy the city from different point of view. We were glad we did it. We really enjoyed our punting experience. We could get a close encounter with the ducks that were swimming and playing in the river. The feeling of moving slowly above the river also was very relaxing.

We ended our journey in New Zealand by visiting Ko Tane, a living MaoriVillage at Willowbank Wildlife Reserve at Christchurch. The evening just came when we were greeted with a welcome ceremony called powhiri where the Maori Leader as the host pressing his nose to the our tour leader's nose. This traditional Maori greeting is called hongi. Then the leader said, "kia ora" which means, "hello". The leader then brought us to see the village. We saw the tools that were used by Maori hunters, their cooking equipment, techniques as well as the games and traditional instruments.

Next, we watched the famous traditional Maori performance, Haka Dance. It is an ancient Maori war dance traditionally used on the battlefield. Haka is a fierce display of tribe's pride, strength and unity. The dance includes violent foot stamping, tongue protrusions and rhythmic body slapping to accompany a loud chant.* Very attractive! The show was also interactive. At some part, they invited some audience to come to the stage and dance together.

Overall, it was a memorable night. The show is very recommended if you have a chance to visit Christchurch. It's also a perfect way for us to end our journey in New Zealand and say goodbye. Kia ora, New Zealand! See you again next time!


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