Wed 15th Feb
After the high winds of the past three days we were not looking forward to the ferry crossing from Wellington to Picton, but we needn’t have worried as is was pretty much flat calm all the way. We sailed on the Aretere and it took just over three hours to get to Picton. It’s not all open sea much of the trip being in Charlotte Sound, which leads into Picton Harbour. The views were beautiful.
It was about 7pm when we drove off the ferry in Picton. Kip had been onto her camping NZ app and picked out a place to stay a couple of hours down Highways 63, 6 and 65. An alternative route toward Christchurch. The quicker and more direct coastal route (State Highway 1) was still closed due to earthquake damage. Christchurch was having a tough time of it, there was huge bush fire raging at that time also.
We pulled into the car park at Maruia Falls, there were three other camper vans and a car in there parked up for the night. We’ve seen quite a few folks living in their cars. These were a young couple whose worldly goods were packed in plastic boxes and bags stacked in the boot and back seat. They’d unloaded everything from the back seat, stacked it onto the car roof and laid the seats flat for the night. It was dark when we arrived and getting chilly. The next morning the car park was engulfed in cloud and the temperature was down to chuffing chilly (the met office puts this at between 6 and11.5 degrees centigrade) but by the time we’d made coffee the sun had burned through.
When the traffic quitened down you could hear just enough of the Maruia falls to make you constantly want to pee.
Our next gig was at the New Edinburgh Folk Club, Dunedin on the Friday (please see the next post, R.I.P Paddy Bort), no rush so we pootled along in Queenie, taking in the sights. We parked up close to the beach at Caroline Bay, Timaru on Thursday night.
And on Friday morning we saw the Steam Punk HQ at Oamaru.
The map showed a Penguin colony at Oamaru and, as neither of us had ever seen a Penguin in the wild, we were quite excited. The Penguins were out for the day – didn’t see one! Don’t know what these birds are but we saw hundreds.
Onto Dunedin. About twelve years ago, our Andy (Dave’s son) came out to Dunedin to play cricket and from that visit we’ve made various connections. This led to our having various Kiwis live with us, which then resulted in our making this trip. We were staying with Rochelle and Michael (and Helen, Rochelle’s mum). We’d never met, but Kip and Rochelle became friends on Facebook four years ago when Geordie (Rochelle’s son) and Jess (Geordie’s girlfriend) lived with us for several months during their stay in the UK. (We had also had Katie, another Dunedin lass, live with us prior to Geordie and Jess, Katie now lives in Perth Australia, so we’ll be reaping those brownie points in a few days.)
Ever since Andy’s visit and with our taking in Kiwi waifs and strays we’ve wanted to make this trip and, since Australia has a decent folk scene, it made sense to try and get some gigs there as well.
It was early 2016 that we set aside January and February 2017 to do it. Dave contacted several Aussie and NZ agents to no avail (who the folk are Winter Wilson?). Undeterred, we got stuck in and bombarded festivals, folk clubs, music bars, Sydney Opera house etc etc for gigs. We were delighted with the response (no thanks to the Opera House), extended our trip to mid March and so here we are.
Michael, Rochelle and Helen were a delight. Michael and Rochelle can swear to an Olympic standard, which brought out the competitive element in both of us. We hit it off straight away, leading to much banter, a lot of laughs and a serious hangover on Sunday morning. Oh and forty three photos of our feet!
Friday night’s gig at the folk club was a treat. The venue was lovely, the audience were into it and we got to meet up with Geordie and Jess for the first time in four years. They were both looking good and Geordie was disappointed that Dave hadn’t got his banjo with him. A good lad; a true friend.
Mike and Rochelle took us sightseeing on Saturday. The station was pretty impressive.
In the evening Jess and Geordie came round for a meal and Jess had brought some of her home brew. Oh dear.
Ps. As we were leaving Picton on Wednesday Kip saw some cows that were all black except for a black band around their middle. “Those moo cows look like they’re wearing boob tubes,” says she. Strange girl.