St. Patrick’s School

    I was lucky enough to stop by St. Patrick’s School in Greymouth. I had a chance to learn a phrase from the Te Reo language while I was there. In New Zealand, you might hear the phrase ‘kia ora’. This phrase translates to mean ‘be well’. People use it when they say hello, good bye, and thanks! This phrase was everywhere, even on my hotel key card! The students shared lots of great information with me while I spent time with them. One place they suggested I go was a little off the beaten path.


    Let’s hop over to Hokitika! This town in New Zealand has branded themselves the cool little town. I have to agree!

    Hokitika sign
    This is not your average drift wood! An artist crafted these pieces of drift wood to spell out Hokitika. Photo credit: Alex Eilers
    Strolling down the beach in Hokitika was no ordinary beach stroll. An art festival had occurred the week before where artists gathered to construct unique works out of drift wood in the sand. I got to see what was left of the art after a week’s worth of waves had crashed into the art.
    Driftwood Boat
    This driftwood boat looks more like a long forgotten ship wreck than a piece of art. I can only imagine how much power the tide has to sweep away so much hard work in just a week! Photo credit: Alex Eilers
    It was fun to play I-spy as I strolled along. The art is all made from natural drift wood so it sort of blends into the background until you are close to it. One piece of art was easy to spot though.
    Drift wood Hand
    This driftwood hand looks like Poseidon himself is reaching out of the sea! Photo credit: Alex Eilers
    This giant drift wood hand seems undisturbed by the waves. The drift wood was a neat choice of materials. Don’t the swirls in the wood look like finger prints? It’s too bad that all these neat art projects will eventually get washed away. It is exciting to think that people will come back and build new things next year though!


    The unique art wasn’t the only thing cool about Hokitika. I found more mesmerizing sites as I journey through the natural areas of the city.

    Hokitika glacier run-off
    Notice anything odd about this photo? I promise I didn’t alter the picture. The water really is that odd sky blue color Photo credit: Alex Eilers
    The inland bodies of water of Hokitika were filled with this mesmerizing blue water. At first glance, it looks more like teal silly putty than water. The water is runoff from a glacier. As the glacier melts, it’s helping to create this mystical looking water. This water has a very special mix of ingredients that give it its unique appearance. The water looks milky because of fine grains of schist and greywacke rock in the water. Melted ice is full of minerals that got trapped in the glacier over time. When you mix all these rock particles, minerals and water together, you get the milky turquoise river of Hokitika!
    Hokitika River
    I couldn’t get enough of this breath-taking view. It’s hard to believe this incredible place exists! Photo credit: Alex Eilers
    This incredible view did not just come about overnight. This place was millions of years in the making. Three key factors came together to create this environment: movement of the earth, ice, and lots of water! The Alpine fault runs under Hokitika separating two tectonic plates. As the plates collided and moved, they created a mountain range. These Mountains acted like a giant bowl. Over the centuries, rain poured in and helped to fill the bowl with water as it became trapped by the mountains. The tall mountains were so big; they actually had an impact on the weather in Hokitika. These mountains caused one area to get lots more rain while the area on the other side of the mountains became dry and arid. 500,000 years ago, giant glaciers began to melt and move down the mountains carving valleys and collecting rocks and minerals as they went. The melting glaciers flattened the land and the water settled in to mix with the rock and mineral particles to create the unique river you see in the pictures. No wonder this view was so amazing, it was a million years in the making!


    Alex Eilers

    Thanks for the comment Janet!
    Yes, the New Zealand outreach was a huge hit.

    Many Thanks!


    Janet Warburton

    Wow! I love all the wood art, especially the hand! That's almost creepy. Anyway, it looks like your extra time in New Zealand doing outreach was very successful!
    Thanks for sharing!