By James Cook
We just had a overnight stay in Greymouth. The Stray bus picked us up outside our hostel and we were away to the Franz Joesph Glacier. Our first stop was a picturesque lake. It is famous for the dolphins that swim up from the sea to feed. We unfortunately did not see any of these ‘lake dolphins’ only a black swan and some cheeky weka. Whilst we were scanning the lakes surface for any dolphins, our driver, Salty had organized (and was currently playing) a friendly game of touch rugby. This was a nice touch as it gave those who did not have the patience to watch the water for dolphins another, more engaging activity to do.
Piling back onto the bus we drove to Hokitika. Hokitika is the centre of New Zealands Greenstone industry. Greenstone (also known as Jade) is highly valued by the Maori people. It is used to make jewellery and in the past it was also fashioned into weapons and tools. Salty also made sure that everyone knew to stock up at the local supermarket in Hokitika as there would not be another cheap food store for the next few days.
There is not much between Hokitika and Franz Joesph. One thing we did stop for however was the Bushmans Cafe. This little cafe in the middle of nowhere is the only place in New Zealand (maybe the world) where one can partake in a possum pie. Possums are a huge pest in New Zealand due to the sheer volume of native flora and fauna they are capable of eating, up to 10kg a day! They have flourished in New Zealand due to the fact they have no predators here and the lush forests make perfect hunting grounds for them.
The DOC has been targeting them with a poison known as 1080. This poison only affects mammals and so the endemic bird life (which is so often under threat) is given a chance to increase its population. 1080 is a controversial subject in New Zealand with most of the hunters and the owners of the Bushmans Cafe being against it, since it also kills deer (which they love to hunt) and the occasional dog. I am not anti 1080. I think it is a great idea. If the loss of a few deer and some dogs is the cost of protecting some of the most unique species of birds in the world, then so be it.
After I had finished my possum pie I read a handwritten poster about it. It was made with illegal meat and the $4 I had spent did not go to the Bushmans Cafe, rather a fund to help the anti 1080 movement…..Whoops! Salty made sure that we got to Franz Joeseph in time to catch our connecting bus to Fox Glacier. Tomorrow we do the Glacier Hike!
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