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Many Adventures of a Nomadic Poet A young poet with Asperger's makes travel his passion, and away he goes...

Gold and Greenstone

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 3 December 2008 | Views [1541] | Comments [1]

It was a day of trying to strike it rich in the Land of Greenstone (and in some places, gold). I got up at 10:00 and packed my tent, sleeping bag and a few other things so I could go camping tonight. I wasn't sure where I would end up, but I was thinking of Ross so I could go gold panning. I had my usual brekkie of Weet-Bix and a cuppa. I ran out my Weet-Bix, so I'll have to pick up more when I'm in Hokitika. I kept forgetting stuff as I walked out the store. It was a beautiful day; another potential day that I could have ridden to Gillespie's Beach. I'll make it there eventually because it's not going anywhere. As I walked toward town with my bag, I got a lift from a few elderly tourists. First I stopped at the store and got $200 out. I paid my tab at the store and then dropped off my rent money at Alpine Guides. I also owed Louise $12, so I went over to Fox Glacier Hotel and dropped that off at the desk. After erasing all my debts, I was ready for some adventure; this time to make money instead of spending it. I then stopped at the DOC office and asked about conditions on Copland Track. The officer recommends taking a PLB and a buddy or two since people have died on the track. Crampons and an ice axe are a must since there is some mountaineering involved. There is a day (or two) walk to some hot springs in the Copland Valley. It is about a seven-hour tramp, so I would have to overnight out there somewhere if I did that because 14 hours of tramping in one day would probably shatter my legs! I then waited out on the road with my thumb. Traffic was slow today and no one was picking me up. After waiting for about an hour, a lady named Joanna picked me up. She works for Glacier Helicopters and she actually suggested hitching on a helicopter from Franz Josef to Fox Glacier. That would be so awesome because I will have hitched by land, sea, and air! I never knew that Ash used to be a helicopter pilot; now he's a shop owner. I'd rather work in the air! Joanna dropped me off in Franz Josef, where I ran into the store and got a Red Bull. With my thumb out, I waited...and waited. Getting lifts today was miserable despite the fact that it was so nice and sunny. Finally at about 1:00 a young man named Galen picked me up. He is from Washington and asked if I could chip in for petrol. I agreed to that. He said he wouldn't have refused to give me a lift if I didn't have any money though. Galen is here for at least three months and this is his first "real" travel. About an hour into the drive, it started to rain and I was hoping it wouldn't rain tonight. I suggested that he visit the pancake rocks in Punakaiki. At about 2:15 we were in Ross. I gave him $7 for petrol and he gave me his name so I could MySpace him. At the visitor's centre I got to pan for gold. It was $8.50 and I panned much like I did at Knott's Berry Farm. I ended up just getting a few flakes. After some miniature prospecting, I thought I'd buy a pan and go do my own gold fossicking. First I checked out the miniature museum in the back of the centre. There is a replica of "Honourable Roddy," the heaviest gold nugget ever found in New Zealand. The real Roddy was melted down and parts of it are now in the Tower of London. An ounce of gold can be pressed into a sheet of foil that covers 10 acres and into a thread 51 miles long! When I asked if there has been any recent luck in Jone's Creek, she said a boy last year found a nugget about the size of half a fingernail. She said it would go for around $400. Before going prospecting, I looked around for a place to pitch my tent. There is a lake behind the visitor's centre and an area of grass on a slight slope, so I pitched my tent there and put all my stuff away. Then I ran to the store and got some bananas, kiwi fruit, a chocolate milk, and a V drink. I then ran next door to the Roddy Nugget Cafe and got some fish & chips. They are really good here! I then went online for a few minutes. I wanted to call Teressa via Skype but it wasn't working. I then put my stuff in my tent and then set out to go for the gold! If I found a nugget as big as Roddy I would never have to work again! Down in the stream, the water was cold and I could only fossick from the dirt and rocks on top because I didn't have a showel. I tried twice in one spot and then moved to another. After giving it four goes all I got was one tiny flake. With my chances to strike it rich on the back burner, I decided to take the walkway to check out the old gold mine. There is a waterwheel and then I saw several shafts and tunnels. With my camera on as my light source, I walked through. After walking for about a half hour, I came upon an old cemetary. Some of the graves are well over 100 years old. As I went back to the main road, I decided to try panning one more time. I didn't find anything again. The first time I ever went gold panning was in Sacramento. Mr. Hanley had actually showed me how to pan for gold using a Diet Coke bottle. I then went back to my tent. I washed up and decided to lay down early at like 7:30 because I have to get up early if I'm going to get to Hoki by 9:00. It then started to rain, and it rained and rained and rained and rained. I got out and adjusted the fly. I just couldn't get to sleep because the rain is really loud and I could even hear thunder and lightning. Rainwater was leaking into my tent and all my clothes were getting wet. I had forgotten my backpack liner. Everytime I fell asleep I woke back up a few minutes later. I was on a slope as well, which is also a real pain in the arse. My sleeping bag was getting wet...everything was getting wet. By midnight I was still up trying to keep things from getting wet. This tent is terrible for during the rain. I'm not sure if it's the tent or that I just didn't set it up properly. At 3:00 AM, rainwater was dripping in and getting my sleeping bag all wet. This is by far the most miserable night of camping I've ever experience. I'm going to try to get to sleep for at last an hour or two if I can stay dry. Frustrated, I closed my eyes!





  d Jan 6, 2012 5:24 AM

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