After our companions from the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail had headed off back home, we headed south to Hokitika. After visiting their scenic waste dump station we spent the night parked up on the south side of the Hokitika River at the motorhome place. It turned out to be next to the original Hokitika Airport which operated some of the earliest scheduled passenger flights in the country. When you think how difficult travel was in South Westland back in the 1930s, it is no wonder they were aviation pioneers.
The next day, before continuing south, we headed inland to see the Hokitika Gorge. This is a tourist location that may well be more famous with visitors than it is with us Kiwis.
We’d heard about it from number of tourists, and on trips up and down the coast in the past had often meant to check it out, but never did. We figured it was time to see what it looked like. The Gorge is about 30 kms inland from Hokitika. It’s where the Hokitika emerges from the mountains onto the plains, through an impressive gorge.
On the way, we stopped at Kowhitirangi at the memorial to the Kowhitirangi ‘Incident’, a strange understatement for one of the countries first mass-murders. This was where a farmer Stanley Graham shot and killed 7 men (mostly police officers) in 1941, before disappearing into the bush. A 12-day manhunt ended with him shot dead. The memorial, unveiled in 2004, recognised the 7 men shot, including a school inspector who had been at the school that was then across the road. There was an account of the ‘incident’ which was delightfully lurid (and judgemental) and was presumably taken from a newspaper account at the time.
Reading the account of the murders while standing in such a peaceful and beautiful place reminded me of the more recent murders at Aramoana in my own community back in the 1990.
The Hokitika Gorge is a beautiful place; and peaceful with the slow-moving river. We were pleased we finally got there to enjoy it.
West Coast Circuit Gallery 2017