In 1968/70 a friend and I decided to go to New Zealand. We had 6 weeks holiday so planned to spend 4 weeks touring around the south island and 2 weeks around the north. We had to go from from Adelaide by train, I guess to Melbourne, there were very flew direct flights from here in 1969. We landed in Christchurch and stayed in the Youth Hostel. At that time they were very basic places, all dormitory accommodation, shared bathrooms and a communal kitchen. There were young people from all different places, no families or older people used the Youth Hostels then. I had a khaki canvas backpack, nothing like the fancy ripstop ones you can get now let alone a bag with wheels. I presume our sleeping bags were attached somehow because there wouldn’t have been room for clothes with the bags inside.
We had no transport of our own so when it was time to move on we found our way out to the main road south and stood with thumbs out. I don’t remember ever having to wait very long for a ride.
From our entire holiday the things I remember most are the gorgeous rainforest area of Stewart Island, the impressive mountain areas, the lush farms of the Canterbury region, soaking in the hot pools at Rotorua, the community there and hiking to Youth Hostels that always seem to be on top of hills. There is one more thing I’ll never forget, it was my friend meeting a boy she fancied in Timaru. I agreed to give her a week to enjoy his company and the Youth Hostel was where we spent Christmas Day. All the travellers chipped in to buy food for Christmas Dinner but I spent the day sick in bed.
After a week the love affair was still going strong so I made the decision to move off on my own. It was an uncomfortable feeling standing alone beside the road, thumb out. I hitch-hiked to Mt Cook and stayed a few days. While I was there I met a Tour Guide and was invited to join a group flight, landing on the Tasman Glacier which was lucky for me and also met an American “draft dodger” working at the resort.
My friend and I must have agreed to meet up again at Invercargill because there were no mobile phones and posting letters would have been impractical. When I arrived at the Youth Hostel in Invercargill a week after leaving Timaru my friend was there. She’d travelled by bus and had decided that if I didn’t arrive she was going to fly straight back home. Seeing the boy in an entirely new light when staying with his family she had decided he wasn’t worth staying around for.
Together we made it all the way up the west coast, across to the north island, right up to Kaitia at the tip then back down to Auckland and home again. If I see anyone hitch-hiking now I think they’re taking a big risk but for the young me that was just an appetiser that sent me off on a much longer journey.
You didn’t know that about Nana did you?