March 5 - Fox Glacier to Greymouth (186 k)

March 5. Odo reading 48088

Yesterday was 287 km. Today should be slightly less. We leave at 9:30 from the hotel - the sun is just topping the peaks of the Tasman mountain. It fact, as we move north-east along the serpentine Rt 6, the sun blinds us to the contents of the shadows, adding an extra layer of excitement to the driving. Road kill abounds - mostly the hated (by NZ residents) busy-tailed opossum. It's still clear that we're in rainforest - the verdant foliage reinforces it with every passing moment.

We stop to check out Franz Josef glacier - well, the others do. My feet still aren't speaking to me from yesterday. I sit in the shade of the trees around the parking lot, once again scanning for Kea. Sadly, none show. The consensus from the returning group is that I didn't miss anything - one glacier is pretty much like another. Except for Chris and Jim. They have stayed behind in Fox Glacier to get transported onto the glacier by helicopter, and then hike over (and through) the glacier itself.

Meanwhile, we head, under increasingly cloudy skies, into Whataroa, where David has recommended a Maori bone and greenstone artist. I find some lovely items, exactly suited to my temperament, and buy them. Yee-ha. The only thing that the artist could have had, that I would have bought faster than a carved bone scorpion inlaid with puna shell, would be a jade dragon.

On for lunch to The Bushman Center, just south of Ross. It's exactly what one would expect from a roadside cafe/attraction from the late '60s or early '70s - there's a restaurant, a souvenir store, an 8-foot long Sandfly (think blackfly with longer legs), a family of red deer (buck, 2 does and 2 fawns), a kune-kune pig (local feral pig) and you can buy opossum furs. The people are great, and great kidders.

From there, we push on to Hotekai, where we can do more jade and opal shopping. The route book also has an ad (its only one) for a t-shirt shop which is closed. It's Sunday, although none of us are really aware of the fact. The same thing happened yesterday - we were wondering why there was so much traffic - it was Saturday. I do find a jade dragon in one of the stores, but at NZ$8100.00, that's a little steep even for me. Boo-hoo. The next stop is Shantytown - sort of a King's Landing or Black Creek Pioneer Village for the gold fields of the early 1900's. It's O.K., a little small, and we're too late for the last steam train ride of the day.

A quick toot up the road, and we're in Greymouth, at an alright hotel. Dinner's alright. We retire to the bar, and I start working on the page. Everyone's always got lots of questions when I pull out the PictureBook. As I'm typing up the page I start to look for a map to find out the name of some mountain. David goes for a different map at the same time and - the computer gets a Coke baptism. I shut it down right away, but it won't restart. I retire to my room, surrounded by apologies and concern. I pull off the case, and leave the computer to dry.

Even before the computers' shower, I could not connect from this hotel, so no update tonight. I'm too dismayed to try the acoustic coupler.