Up early + spent about 3 hours compressing our gear enough to fit into our bags. Val had, unrealistically I thought, reckoned we’d be able to use just our two big bags or maybe one of the small ones as well, but as it turned out we had all our four bags full to bursting. It took us ages to get the zip pulled up on the blue tube bag. It held our 2 new sleeping bags, since we wanted them put away rather than strapped on the outside, plus our wash bag, plus various other things we hadn’t been able to find room for. However, finally at about 10.20, we were ready to go. Because the tube bag was packed full but not over-heavy, my pack was an incredible weight. It took quite a bit of manoeuvring even to get it from the boat onto the dock. But then, we were off.
We plodded down the road for a couple of hundred yards, but then a car coming out of the marina stopped to give us a ride. This was a real godsend as we’d been dreading taking on the walk out of town to a suitable spot. They dropped us on the outskirts of town, + from there it wasn’t at all far to a good spot. Our next ride came in good time, from a young guy farming a homestead up in the bush. I had huge difficulty heaving the rucksack in after me, + I think he started to have second thoughts, but I made a superhuman effort, + there we all were. Wedged in the front seat. Fortunately our next ride was a minibus, so there was plenty of room for our bags. It’s just that they managed to catch me on the hop with my mouth full of cheese and onion sandwich. A nice couple, a potter + his wife, plus a small girl. They even took us home for a cup of tea, + we chatted for a while, before they dropped us back on the main road.
I’d barely taken another bite of my next sandwich when another car stopped, + a pleasant lady gave us a shortish ride to, + even better through, the next town. There was a kids’ park there with a terrific slide – you climbed up the inside of a rocket, + then slid down a really steep chute. We both had a quick spin on that, + then back to the hitching. It’s rather early to tell, I suppose, + I should now be touching wood (I am) but hitching in NZ seems to be a doddle. It was no more than a couple of minutes before we got another ride, fortunately again in a minibus, with a woman + her 4 young boys going up to Auckland for the holiday weekend – it’s Labor Day on Monday. She was very pleasant, + we all chatted away quite amiably. She said she’d given us a ride because she thought we might not get one otherwise, with all the luggage we’re carrying!
We’d decided to give Dick a ring in a friend’s house in a suburb of the city called St Heliers – we figured he’d be back + settled in by now, + he’d offered to let us stay on his boat, which would save us a bit of money. The lady dropped us off at a suitable spot for her, not too far from St Heliers, + I rang up. The address we’d been given was of a couple, Rory + Eva, where Dick would be staying, + I got quite a shock when Eva answered + told me that Dick had arrived this morning, after a dreadful crossing. She was very nice tho’, + invited us to come round, because they were having a party for Dick this evening. (Dick is called Richard here, so I shall follow suit.) In fact, she even offered to drive out + pick us up, so we went across the road to a fast food restaurant, + had a cup of coffee while we waited. Eva was very nice, whisked us home, introduced us to her daughters + her mother, made us tea + gave us cake. We sat + chatted for quite a time, then people began to arrive for the party, mostly ex-poms, it seemed – a small affair, just a couple of couples. Richard + Rory made a great entrance a bit late, having just shifted Blue Moves to a marina berth. Rory was a bit of a shock, being rather gushing + effusive, but he quietened down later + seemed pleasant enough. Rich seemed genuinely pleased to see us, which was nice. And Eva said we could easily stay there, so that was sorted out too. The party was by no means uproarious, but was very friendly, + there was some marvellous grub. Steak + bangers + salad – gorgeous. One other couple invited us around, so we’re not doing at all badly.
It seems we were not really prepared for being on the road again, having accumulated quite a bit of stuff, as well as our purchases of camping gear etc. As for the hitch-hiking, it was always our fear that potential drivers would begin to regret picking us up, but we couldn’t afford to allow opportunities slip. Interesting to see that we had not yet abandoned our inner children, and should take delight in a kids’ slide. By today’s standards, it doesn’t sound anything special, but in my childhood slides were plain, functional things.
It definitely seemed as though Dick had had an even more torrid time of it than we had, which I suppose is a tribute to either good luck or Doug’s seamanship. And we seem to have benefitted once again from Kiwi hospitality; it is certainly nice to have comfortable places to stay, but I think we also itched to be on our own.