Hokitika, New Zealand – Larry the Travel Guy

Larry the Travel Guy / Hokitika, New Zealand

Live hoo hoo bugs for lunch, climbing frozen glaciers and ice walls. We are heading to New Zealand’s rugged west coast to attend the Hokitika wild food festival that has become famous for its, well I can’t say food, let’s just say delicacies. We are also going to climb one of the largest glacier in New Zealand and try the new sport of indoor ice-climbing, so stick around.

So you kind of get a sense of how wild this food festival is, I mean people from all over the country come to Hokitika, camp out the night before just to eat who knows what so it should be really exciting tomorrow. My first snack, white bait and no it is not for fishing. This is my white bait sandwich and you can see the fish inside the actual batter that they use. What they do is that there is a little tiny fish, they take this batter and put the fish in it and then they fry it like a pancake kind of an omelette and then they stick it on bread so I am going to see what it tastes like.

It is not that bad, kind of tastes like egg on bread, doesn’t taste like fish really. Yeah! it’s not that bad. I always wondered where all the tails of the sheep went, now I know. There’s not much meat there, it’s exactly like I expected to taste. This is my grasshopper served to me with peanut butter. Everyone is doing it so can’t back out now. I think it is on peanut butter so let’s see. Who puts grasshopper on peanut butter? Good thing that the peanut butter is there because the grasshopper doesn’t taste that good. Thank you, now, check this out, a worm in red bull, can you see that? And then a worm in truffle so you can … These aren’t your ordinary truffles here. You don’t want to get these for your wife on Valentine’s day, these have actual worms in them. What I am going to do is, eat the truffle, follow it with the worm chaser in the red bull. See how it goes. It’s like ordinary chocolate, can’t taste the worm really. This should be interesting, reminds be tequilla. Oh! you can feel it slithering down your throat. Oh! Hard work! So what they are doing here is that they are chopping up the wood and trying to find the hoo-hoo worms inside the wood and then they bring it around, the live hoo-hoo worm for you to eat.

So I am just waiting for him to give me one…. give me that thing. Are you kidding me? That’s gigantic! Let’s do it, let’s do it. Here we go… You guys are crazy. Does’nt taste like peanut butter. So we just drove two hours south to Hokitika and we made to Franz Josef and now we are going to take a guided tour up to the glaciers. Now how many guys are we going to take today – two, just two … yep. First part of getting on to the glacier is a 30 minute walk along the valley. This walk is amazingly beautiful as it takes you through streams, fast waterfalls and all the time the omniprescent glacier is a backdrop. Okay, so we made it to the base of the glacier, now we are going to put our clamps on, on our boots to make it easier to walk on the ice. Maori name for this place is “Tears of The Avalanche Girl” however the Europeans perhaps a little less romantic named it after the Austrian Emperor of the time. Discovered in 1865, the glacier started to advance down the valley progressing over a mile until it started to recede in 1996 and due to changes in our climate this reduction in size is exhilirating. We just got done with the glacier hike, but my ice experience isn’t over. There is a great indoor ice-climbing experience that I need to check out so let’s go. Here we are, indoor ice-climbing. The ice chamber totals over 2000 square feet of wall surface at a height of over 30 feet. The ice chamber runs below freezing so bring warm clothes. You get lessons from one of their experienced staff and you don’t have to be super-strong, it’s all about technique. Oh and make sure your camera-man is wearing a helmet, there’s a lot of falling ice. Through that chip along the west coast, we head back over to the Southern Alps on the train Alpine’s Express. As the breathtaking scenery passes the window it’s a great way to reflect on the trip that’s had so many dramatic experiences both coronary and otherwise.