Wednesday, January 13, 2016

North to Hokitika

This morning in Franz Josef it was overcast. In the days when it was possible to do a guided walking tour, I had been lucky enough to walk onto the glacier. But today I was only doing a shorter walk before I left town. At Peter's Pool you can get a great reflection of the glacier apparently, but not today - it was more mysterious and hidden.

As I hit the road north I found I had many questions in my head about how the landscape was formed- were features glacial, or from earthquakes? Both as it turned out.

Just before I hit Whataroa, I saw a sign for "Alpine fault tours- exposed." I decided to check it out, and as it happened there was a tour leaving in about an hour. So I grabbed breakfast, then donned my sturdy shoes...

I had never heard of it before, but the alpine fault has been exposed in this area. The grinding of the Australian and Pacific plates trends upwards here, and with erosion from above, the actual fault line has been exposed. This is of great interest to scientists both nationally and internationally.

You can see the outcrop quite clearly that shows where this is occurring- it's the greenish line of 'rock'.

When you get closer, you find that the green stuff is a mish mash of very finely ground material. It has been the stuff that was sitting getting ground up at the plate boundary. It looks solid, but when you touch it, you find it is very friable, and falls apart easily.

After that fascinating tour, my thoughts turned to my own family history. In Ross there is a church that dates from the gold rush days in the 1860s. My great-uncle John Riordan was parish priest there until he died quite young, and he has a beautiful headstone in the Ross cemetery erected by parishioners.


After setting up in a lovely wee camp ground just north of Hokitika, with a lily pad pond,

I set out for Kumara, a gold-mining town where my maternal family hails from.

There, the Theatre Royal Hotel has been exquisitely restored.

And the woman behind that has also been active getting historical plaques erected, of a ver high standard. There is one for our Payn-Scettrini family. I found that seeing it there, and reading it, moved me to tears.

I visited the old home my grandparents and uncle lived in, then found family graves up in the Kumara Cemetery. If it rains as forecast tomorrow (and Coast rain can be torrential!) at least I have done those things.



  1. WOW Margaret, how many more connections... My Mum's father came was from Kumara. He grew up there with his family and was visiting his brother in Owaka when he met my grandmother. He was Frederick Kean. His sister Mary, Myrtle and Alice remained in Kumara. I must visit one day and see if I can find out more....
    I am simply amazing at how many connections we are discovering that we have...

    1. Wow, we do have connections. I don't recall the Kean name, so I don't think we are cousins, but there might be other links. Actually one of the Oayn girls married an Olsen and lived down south somewhere, can't quite remember where.

    2. Payn girls that is supposed to say...