Haast - Hokitika. From Wanaka we hit the NZ west coast, travelling north along coastspectacular Highway No.6. Exactly halfway between the southwestern township of Haast and the geographic drawcard of Fox glacier we came across the Salmon Farm Cafe & Shop, a nondescript lunch-stop that appeared suddenly out of the World Heritage listed coastal greenery. The establishment consisted of a number of salmon and trout ponds next to a main building housing a cafe plus a deli and store that sold fresh and smoked salmon products and tourist souvenirs. There was a sign by the ponds suggesting that we could pay to feed the fish but we opted to wander indoors for us to be fed by fish instead! The place would probably be quite a popular stop for tour groups making their way to or from the glaciers during peak season, but we were here definitely out of peak and practically startled the two ladies fronting the cafe awake as we walked through the door. A browse of the cafe's menu board revealed choices that naturally centred around salmon, which was fine by us!
We settled at our table with a hearty bowl of Salmon Chowder which was creamy and tasty enough, and with a requisite amount of fish. Next were Doorstopper Sandwiches generously filled with flaked salmon that had been hot-smoked over Manuka wood. A generous amount of filling was held together with some melted cheese between nicely toasted white bread. With the weather a little wet and chilly outside, our smokily savoury meal together with a cosy open-fire within the cafe definitely more than met with satisfaction. The hospitality from the ladies however, were what you'd expect from two bored people made to spend a long day manning a shop stuck in the middle of nowhere. You felt like they wished you'll get your meal over and done with quickly so they could get back to their mid-day TV program. Sensing this, we deliberately wandered back to the counter to order slow leisurely coffees before moving on!
The Salmon Farm Cafe & Shop, Haast Highway, Paringa River South Westland, NZ (Spot Score 14/20)
We spent a fascinating afternoon at Fox, then Franz Josef glaciers, which were definitely spectacular but also looking a bit weary from a difficult few decades battling the accumulating effects of global warming. Wished there was more time to explore but we still had a long drive ahead if we were to make Hokitika by nightfall. "Hoki" was our last stopover on the west coast before crossing overland back to Christchurch. Following a leisurely morning spent looking around shops displaying the green jadestone and paua shell (NZ abalone) jewellery and artisanwares for which the area is known for, we found Cafe-de-Paris with further aid from Lonely Planet for a late breakfast of Eggs Benedict with Bacon (NZ$15.90) and strong coffees (NZ$3.50-$3.80). Keeping with the Parisian theme, it wasn't the cheapest plate of bacon and eggs (or coffee for that matter!) but the centrepiece eggs were poached pretty well, with rich runny yolks that blended seamlessly into a good hollandaise. A nice traveller's breakfast to send us on our way.
Cafe-de-Paris, 19 Tancred Street, Hokitika, NZ (Spot Score 15/20)