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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 247: St Arnaud to Karamea

NEW ZEALAND | Wednesday, 9 July 2008 | Views [1579] | Comments [1]

On the road between St Arnaud and the West Coast

On the road between St Arnaud and the West Coast

Wednesday 9th July

We left the 'Yellow House' hostel before 10.00 and took the State Highway 6 westwards towards the town of Westport. The snow continued to lie on the ground and we passed by some whitened fields and mountains in the distance. However, it didn't take long before the landscape started to change from white fields and blue skies, to brown fields and misty skies. We continued along the winding roads that stuck closely to the Buller River, and arrived into Westport at about lunchtime.

At Westport, we stopped for some groceries and then made our way towards the settlement of Hector where we had identified 'The Slaughterhouse Backpackers' as a good place to stay for the night. It had been very highly rated in the Budget Backpacker Hostels (BBH) guide of which we were members and which we had found to be of a very high standard. This particular place, as well as having a quirky name, was situated about ten minutes walk up the side of a small mountain, along a trodden path. However, a sign on entering the lower car park suggested that it was closed. Nonetheless, we took a walk up to check it out and see if there was anyone about. It was deserted, slightly spooky, and the guy that I met at the bottom of the hill on the way down – who was a bit weird himself – told me that the hostel was shut for the winter months.

It wasn't worth getting dispondent about it, and we headed off north to our second option in the small village of Karamea. We stopped on the main street and took a break, calling into a gallery and shop that was run by a hippy type guy, and who had many photos of India hung on his walls. They all looked quite familiar, and it was nice to see images that helped me recall the start of my trip.

We decided to check out the local hostel, 'Rongo Backpackers', and were met by Paul, the owner, and his bouncy dog called Moo. He showed us around the building that used to be a maternity hospital in a former life, and it was decorated with various forms of artwork, and it felt quite different to the other places we had stayed, but with even more character. It was clear that something different was going on here, and it wasn't purely a money-making exercise.

Before the sun set, Danika, Tom and I went for a walk along the nearby beach and enjoyed the fresh air and beautiful scenery in the late evening. We had been told about a giant piece of driftwood that had been washed up on the beach, and were surprised to see a whole tree sit on the sand. Nobody knew where it had come from but it was the biggest piece of driftwood I had seen. We got back to the hostel after dark and made some dinner and got chatting to some of the other guests who were staying in Rongo.

They had some really cool things going on at Rongo, including a radio show that Paul and his friend Brian were hosting that night from the hostel, and which is broadcast over a 50km radius around the Karamea area. In order to stave off the cold of the night, they had built a large bonfire in the middle of the garden and warmed up an outside hot tub that had been built using an old metal bathtub, and which was warmed by burning embers below it. Some of the guys in the hostel had a go and enjoyed it, but I was too late to prevent the fire from going out, so there was no hot tub beneath the stars for me. I did enjoy a conversation with Paul, who told me more about the hostel and the other projects that he and his friends were working on to benefit the Karamea community. He was a very interesting guy who also played some good blues music. We were very happy to have come across the place by chance and looked forward to spending a few days there.




Thanks Mark...I came across your blog on a slow day at the office...glad you enjoyed your time in Karamea and at Rongo...you're most welcome any time.

Regards from Sunny Karamea,


  Paul Murray Jan 3, 2009 5:25 PM

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