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1984 - The Mock­ers – ‘For­ever Tues­day Morn­ing’...

It’s an equinox­ial Tues­day and I’ve had enough of wet, cold Can­ter­bury. The Met. Ser­vice says it’s here to stay but the West Coast looks promis­ing... Re-sup­ply the Gypsy Rover – sleep­ing bag, tucker, cam­era, win­ter gear, fuel. By Sh­effield a thin strip of white moun­tain gleams ahead from be­neath the dis­mal ceil­ing, then ex­pands to a per­fect sky. Lunch at Spring­field - there’s a choice – store, pub or Yel­low Caf’ on the main street (SH73) of this once busy rail­way town, now a sleepy ham­let. The sta­tion too has a café, though it runs shorter hours and is, nat­u­rally, by the rail not the high­way. To the sta­tion then; “A cheese scone and a long black please”. The scone is fresh and warm, the cof­fee ex­cel­lent. The lady and her son are chatty, he has a 4WD so we chat that. Across the rail is a partly re­stored his­toric loco and more down the line. A train driver ar­rives with an RT but no train, there’s a panic on! Head­ing west into the Waimakariri’ Gorge a train pas­sen­ger had spot­ted, down a bank, a prone mo­tor­bike and body so ‘pulled the cord’. Train skids to a stop partly in a tun­nel, once out the driver ra­dios for help then restarts.

An en­ter­tain­ing lunch!

Help is despatched, can’t find body or bike. Then there’s re­port of a fire fur­ther on so the Fire Ser­vice is aroused, their siren wails. And wails – it’s a small place - most are work­ing. Turns out a rail crew had started a track-side fire, quickly out. Quite an en­ter­tain­ing lunch! I’m off again, tally ho. Cruisy run, per­fect day, magic moun­tains, lit­tle traf­fic, two fire en­gines re­turn­ing, some road-works, new bit near Arthur’s now fin­ished. A kea dances the white line. I take the Old Christchurch Rd to Hok­i­tika, a pleas­ant long short­cut. Get a fresh Cia­batta, top up fuel, then head to Lake Kaniere for the night. Cook a meal as the sun does it’s Big Or­ange thing, then the tem­per­a­ture plum­mets. The lake is like glass with trees carved from solid coal. My cooker seems odd. An edge of the pot is glow­ing? When lifted there’s a flare of the burner there. Once its cooled I re-pump the (white spirit) stove, open it’s valve to see a fine spray of fuel from that point! Uh, oh. No cof­fee then? I re­move the brass vapouriser pipe to in­spect, sure enough there’s a crack at a bend! It’s over ten years old and well used. The crack is caused by the pipe ex­pand­ing and con­tract­ing as it heats and cools work-hard­en­ing the metal.

Clear as an open win­dow!

Next morn I scout Hoki’ for a new part, no luck. A plumber then, to sil­ver solder it? Nope, they are all ser­vic­ing dairy farms so I head for Grey­mouth via back­roads less trav­elled. Bright day, clear as an open win­dow, still as a power py­lon. Each lake re­flects the sky more blue than it re­ally is. I find a will­ing en­gi­neer so file out the crack, he makes a nice weld. Un­for­tu­nately when tested there’s an­other tiny crack. To the Big Red shed for a cheap gas stove. They are on spe­cial at twenty bucks and four car­tridges for five! I march off smil­ing. It works well but is too big for my ‘kitchen’. Once home I or­der a new pipe. Stove now runs like new.

Coast with the most!

Three days in West­land at its best, and away from East­land at its worst, eased my soul. The West Coast is a nar­row coastal strip hemmed in by moun­tains and sea. The main high­way (SH6) runs north/south and is scenic but get­ting off it brings trea­sures – lakes, thick na­tive bush, gold or coal mines and relics thereof, beaches, rivers and wa­ter­falls. Maori carvings in Pounamu (jade) are avail­able from their cre­ators. It’s nice in the dry but bet­ter when it’s wet. Rain awak­ens wa­ter­falls, makes the bush sparkle and the mud mud­dier. Try any back­road for its sur­prises, look for flashes of cas­cade to the sides. Check out mu­se­ums that fea­ture gold, coal, forestry, fish­ing, trans­port and ship­ping on this haz­ardous coast­line. There’s plenty of 4WD trips about (though if I told you where my mates would kill me) and they change of­ten. Some need a two me­tre wheel­base and a me­tre of clear­ance, 35” tyres, trainer wheels on the door han­dles, enough rope to moor a ship, a winch to lift it and pock­ets so deep they drag on the ground. Oth­ers don’t!

The West Coast at its wild best.

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