Luck at Both Ends of the Day (Day 102)
A nail biting moment started the day. Keith the Chrysler decided not to start! We had a 2 hour journey to catch the ferry to Stewart Island. Argh! He did try to start – the electrics went wacky: window screen wipers suddenly moving, the side mirrors jiggling around, the dials going ballistic.
Tim found the jump-leads and whilst opening the bonnet, a young guy with camping eyes, walked passed. Luckily he agreed to use his car to give Keith a much needed boost. It worked! Hurrah! After giving the guy a warm thumbs up we were on our way.
Tim made up for lost time and we arrived in Bluff. Despite the constant rain, the crossing was fine – not too choppy, and we arrived in Stewart Island, or otherwise known as Rakiura with its 400 inhabitants that live on 0.3% of the land. The remainder is primarily Rakiura National Park, comprising 85% of the island's 1570 square kilometres.
What struck us is the sense of Community. Everyone we have met, be it from the information centre, the Hostel, shops, café and art gallery, are so friendly. Just next to the Hostel is a very large Community Hall. This was paid for by the residents from donations and fund raising and built by voluntary tradespeople. It has a full size sports stadium with various courts such as Basketball and squash, and a Gym and Sauna. Also various social and conference rooms with a commercial Kitchen designed by European Chef. In fact there are 70 different Associations that use this Centre – pretty good for a community of 400!
As it was pouring down, we hitched a ride around some of the 27km roads of the island (It has 245km of walking tracks which we will do a smidgeon of tomorrow) to see amazing views, many beautiful sandy beaches and thick rain forest. Made me laugh to discover that Horseshoe Bay and Halfmoon Bay names were incorrectly swapped over on an Admiralty Naval Chart and kept!
At the entrance to the Raikiura National Park we saw a giant chain link sculpture. This symbolises the anchor chain of the demigod Māui who, by tradition, fished up Te Wai Pounamu (the South Island) and anchored it with Rakiura (Stewart Island). There is a matching chain link sculpture on the mainland at Bluff. We’ll have to look out for that on our return.
After, we popped into Glowing Sky clothes shop where a very nice skirt in the sale and Merino top was purchased (This does mean I will need to rid of something before going to Australia – got to keep the luggage weight down.) Onto the “Art in a Boathouse” to meet yet another Artist and see many paintings created by locals. A quick coffee in the café and then ready to go to The BunkHouse Theatre for the 4pm show.
The star of the show was Lola, a local dog who has not only met us now, but also Prince Harry! We got our popcorn, made our way into the very luxurious cinema, collected a blanket for over our knees, relaxed and enjoyed watching the film “A Local’s Tail”. This was produced by local independent filmmakers Pete Davis and Penny Golias and depicts the struggles and triumphs of the island pioneers past to present with stories overheard at the local pub and told straight from the dog, Lola’s mouth. This must have been such fun at the premier with local residents spotting themselves, and we enjoyed it too.
Back to the Hostel Tim had a long nap and I did some writing for our website, then suddenly realised the time. 8pm! The Supermarket closed at 7pm, oh well, we’re eat out. Got our raincoats on, Ah – the fish and chip shop has closed….oh, so has the pizza shop. The pub it will be then….Dinner has finished? Whaa! The lady in the pub must have seen the look of horror on my face (Tim suffers from bouts of “hangry” if he doesn’t eat) and then offered us some seafood Chowder. It was delicious.
The pub was heaving, it was quiz night and seemed that the majority of the residents were there, and some mighty fine characters there was as well. One man Jack was obviously well known and there were quite a few groans from his quips.
Despite the possible disasters at the start and the end of the day – all worked out fine, the luck of the Reed does shine – even though the sun didn’t.