10.30pm Whataroa Pub/Hotel,
Well I’m in the place right in the heart of the most newsworthy item in New Zealand! 15 police cars and a search plane were here to the early hours searching for a NZ man who has allegedly stabbed a couple of German hitch hikers he picked up at the Whataroa stores yesterday afternoon. The two girls are in hospital in Christchurch, one with stab wounds, one with broken pelvis. The man has been caught at 5am this morning and being held in custody in Greymouth. A dead body of a girl has been found in a car in Christchurch and is connected. All this I’ve picked up from the locals here at the pub hotel where nothing like this has ever happened before.
I’m staying at this “seen better days” pub and have been enjoying a few beers (where i have discovered Speights also comes in 745ml bottles!) and spinning a few “yarns” with the locals. I’ve met Earl who is the venerable wise old man in town and is still working as a ground worker driving diggers and bulldozers (he must be in his 70’s). He worked on building the Haast Pass road back in the early sixties. We sat together having our Sunday roast (on Monday) followed by a giant portion of carrot cake and ice cream. Earl loved his recent visit to England where he surprised his sister after not seeing each other for 32 years, she lives in Coventry which he thought was marvellous (must have changed a lot since I was a student there!). Earl has taken over the mantle of pub venerable old man from “Big Eric the Geordie” who died over a year ago at 94. There is a giant 2 man saw with Eric RIP on it to commemorate him (he was a sawman who never lost his strong accent especially when swearing). I spent a lot of time talking to Reudi who is originally from Switzerland but been here nearly 30 years. He is a really nice guy and had been a farmer both here in NZ and back in Switzerland where he smoked mountain cheese (to avoid any confusion I don’t mean he put it in a pipe or rolled a rizzla with cheese). He sold his farm in the Waikato a couple of years ago and has been travelling, visiting his sons and working with people with disabilities helping them get into work. he seemed very happy with his lot and is down in Westland looking at maybe buying another farm, this time to rear goats for their milk as it is twice the value of cows milk and preferable for use in baby’s milk powder. He’s now decided to stay at hotel too so there are 2 of us on our own as no staff stay here overnight. Breakfast is being laid out for us to help ourselves to and well just close the door to the hotel on our way out in the morning! Only in New Zealand eh!?
I’ve cycled a record day of 102km from Hokitika, Hokitika Hokitika (locals said was 110 but id better go by my guide book) and made up for yesterdays trifling 40.
I’ve met my first fellow cycle tourer Renaud from Quebec (hope I got your name right if you are reading this and it was great to meet you, did you make it to Hokitika?, Hokitika, Hokitika) trouble is he is heading North! We stopped and had a good chat off the road and compared notes and tips which was really useful. He works in the aerospace industry but had told his employers he wanted 6 weeks off after one of their contracts finished as he was getting restless. He’d been on the bike about same time as me and had set off from Queenstown. One hill he’s warned me about is going to be tough! We parted as fellow “free spirits” of the road!
Who else did I meet? Oh yes two ladies in Ross had told me about the hitch hike incident but their recounting was very different to what I’ve heard at the pub tonight. They had heard the girls had pulled a knife first after driver had suggested they go and smoke a “scooby” with them ( Ive no idea what a scooby is but im guessing its not legal) and the man was coming over as an innocent local trying to defend himself. Funny how you get different versions before facts fully come out. It would be really awful if this incident affects the hitch hikers paradise which NZ currently is where young people can travel cheaply and local (and richer tourist in vehicles) can feel good about helping them on their way.
And I also met Pete and his wife (from Southport originally) who have been running the Bushman’s Cafe in Pukekura for 28 years. It was an enjoyable visit but ultimately quite sad. They were thinking of packing it all in as business has dropped so much since the Christchurch earthquake because tourists are now travelling to Queenstown and the “loop” which brought people to them previously had nearly dried up. Their business instead of being an investment was turning into a liability. Their famous “possum pies” could not now be offered even for a donation and they were involved in a court case with the government over it. They were also very anti the 1080 poisoning proposals for possum as it would destroy other wildlife and waterways, their solution would be trapping and a bounty on pelts. So they were a bit unhappy with current situation which was in complete contrast to the feel of the cafe where there were humourous signs, cards , pictures, and fun goods all around. I hope they work things out and if you ever pass that way I can recommend the whitebait pattie!
Anyway I’m cream crackered as well as a little bit drunk so signing off from anther day in pedalers paradise. Omg I need to do some maths
Km bf 943