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  • Writer's pictureTim and Lindsey

Great Service in Invercagill (Day 104)

It's so brilliant to experience great service, and that was our experience in Invercagill from so many people. This place, because of the people, exceeded our expectations

We are now in the most southern city of New Zealand, Invercargill, staying at an Airbnb owned by Mark and Melanie. It transpires that they moved here from Wellingborough, 40km from where we used to live in the UK. We had a great chat, hearing about their journey to NZ and then they kindly shared some tips on what to do for our one day in the area.

A nice relaxing morning, we finally got into Invercargill for brunch. We found the café that Melanie recommended @zookeeperscafe. What a whacky place. A great big elephant made from corrugated metal on the top of the café greeted us and inside the café it was a plethora of artefacts to look at; zebra heads, bunches of flowers, bikes, bright posters of Jungles plus other paraphernalia hanging from the ceiling. Really over the top décor – fab.

On the menu I spied Eggs Shadbolt. What’s that? On closer inspection I saw that it was Poached Eggs with Muttonbird on Bubble & Squeak, Spinach with Hollandaise Sauce. (I later researched the name and found out that the Mayor of Invercargill is Tim Shadbolt – perhaps it’s his favourite meal?).

We’d heard about Muttonbirds on Stewart Island. They are mainly shearwaters and the Māori name for these are Titi. In fact the Raikiua Māori harvest the chicks around Stewart, Titi and Muttonbird Islands for food, feathers and oil and have been harvesting these since at least the 17th century.

Tim asked the waitress what they tasted like. She was brilliant, took her time to describe the meat so that Tim could make a conscious decision whether to try it. Such good service. She said it was gamey with a salty taste like anchovies and quite oily. As I love oily fish and anchovies even I was tempted, but as I don’t eat meat, went for the Herbivore Breakkie instead. Tim ordered the Eggs Shadbolt and when it arrived, the waitress’s description was perfect…and delicious, as was mine. If you know Tim, I am sure you can imagine some of the comments he made afterwards about having titi…yawn!

Outside the café we could see a young lady sitting on the ground painting a rubbish bin. The city council had organised a project to beautify the city and over 120 volunteers came forward including this young artist. So that is 4 artists we have met in 4 days now. Her fish were exquisite.

Yesterday Mark had also let us know where the AA approved garage was. We wanted to sort out the issue with the battery as we will be sleeping in Keith the car a few more times in the coming 10 days. Wow – what a lovely mechanic. Talk about solution focussed. The issue wasn’t the battery, the connector was broken. Cut a long story short, after trying a few things, he found a safe and reliable fix. We were so impressed with his service and attitude. It makes such a difference hearing someone not sucking through their teeth and moaning about problems. That doesn’t help at all. When we trust ourselves, trust that we have the wisdom to find the answer, allow our natural creativity to flow, then solutions are usually found. And this mechanic certainly did that.

While we were waiting for the car to be fixed, we walked round to Queens Park. Our hosts, did mention this park to us, yet I wasn’t expecting such a lovely place. The park has a Stumpery. Have you ever heard of these? Apparently they originated in England in the Victorian times, the first in Biddulph Grange in Staffordshire, as a way to transform storm-damaged areas.

Local artist Frank Wells (we didn’t meet him) created this area from stumps and logs damaged by storms and several families donated roots from peat bogs, railway sleepers etc. The sculptures are beautiful, eventually ferns, lichens and mosses will grow in the nooks and crannies of the stumpery, transforming the place further. It really is a “Wow” place.

The day ended with a quick walk on the beach at Riverton and then to a craggy bay at Cosy Nook, a bit blowy and cold – mind you, not like the weather in the UK at the moment! Stay warm.

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