There's a New Zealand town of roughly 300 residents who, in peak season, enjoy the company of 8000 tourists a day. With 26 visitors to every local, it's no surprise that nearly all the jobs here are linked to tourism.
In they trundle, in campervan convoys, backpacking buses and every other mode of rental you can point a lack of toilet signs at. They are the lifeblood of not only the South Island town of Franz Joseph but the whole of the West Coast of New Zealand.
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On paper however, it seems an odd place to visit. Steep winding roads with few facilities, cold wet weather, wild West Coast wind, wild West Coast beaches, wild West Coast locals and even wilder West Coast sandflies. Yet this is precisely what makes this stretch of the world so bloody great. It's no cruise on the Riviera where the most dramatic thing you might do is spill bubbles on your chinos.
The West Coast is life in your face, where, in an increasingly homogenised world, tourists feel liberated to pick a path and set out to remind themselves of their humanness, their blood and sinew, their repossession of free thought and decision-making abilities. A place that connects them back to that forgotten internal pulsing muscle that makes them so.
Aroused from a dormancy, these wildling tourists clamber around the Punakaiki rocks, they scoff whitebait fritters out of wonky food caravans in damp rest areas, they navigate single-lane bridges, fly over and hike glaciers, haul trout and salmon out of streams, they enter shifty pubs and dance on tables dressed as nuns, and slaughter sandflies with a vigour and action not felt since coming third in the scissor-kick high jump at school sports day.
And although it's true that occasionally the excitement causes some to poo off-piste, these people are net positive to the region and more.
I watched in fascination early one morning with the thermometer nudging 6C, as five bedraggled German tourists clambered, blinking into the light, from of a small converted van, possibly a Toyota LiteAce, or it may have been a Mazda Bongo, or even a Mitsubishi Homy - hard to say.
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How the five had managed to sleep in a rolling can with curtains I'm still trying to figure out. But after splashing some water on their faces at the roadside restrooms, and pulling polo fleece over polyprop, they coaxed their bed/transport combo into life and headed off in a puff of blue smoke.
Not that all visitors here travel with such thrift. Take the town of Franz Joseph, which now has six helicopter companies running as many as 13 choppers a day putting 60,000 people a year on the glacier. There are also fancy accommodation options here that are regularly full. We were put up in a luxury tree house at a place called Rainforest Retreat.
Now, given I had just spent several days soaked to the bone, battling cold wind and huge swells trying to fish impossible West Coast beaches, upon arrival this place felt almost other-worldly. It's brand new but carefully built into the bush and you are surrounded by some of NZ's finest nature with all the rest of the views filled up with snow-capped mountains and rolling clouds of limitless design. There are no superlatives worthy enough for me to describe how good it was to discover the piping-hot spa pool perched on the deck of my lodging.
The further down the coast you drive, the more lumpy and warty it gets, in a good way. Jackson Bay was another no-exit highlight. A place most Kiwis would struggle to find on a map and yet it provides some of the only coastal shelter on the whole drive down. It's a gem of a spot accentuated by a wharf running out at one end and a bright orange converted railway carriage on the roadside dubbed The Cray Pot.
Here exists a fish and chip recipe so protected that it was only given to the new owners under a strict contract-like condition to never be shared, and no amount of prying on my part could prise the secret batter ingredients from Dana and Nicole.
Leaving empty handed but full of stomach, I had my suspicions that perhaps the girls had simply found a way to scrape some of the joie de vivre oozing off the wildling tourists, secretly distilling this into their special mix down here at the bottom of the world.
Clarke Gayford is the host of Fish of the Day, Sundays at 5.30pm, on Three