Hitch-hiking in New Zealand

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?

Don't try this!
Don’t try this!

On the Tasman Glacier.
On the Tasman Glacier.


The Green Thing

This is not my writing, it was sent to me by a friend in an email and I have no idea who the author was but I think it’s worth circulating. I remember these things!

Checking out at the supermarket, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologised and explained, “We didn’t have this ‘green’ thing back in my day.”

The young cashier responded, “That’s our problem today – your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations.”

She was right — our generation didn’t have the ‘green’ thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, lemonade bottles and beer bottles to the shop. The shop sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilised and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. – But we didn’t have the ‘green’ thing back in our day.

Grocery shops bagged our groceries in brown paper bags, that we re-used for numerous things, most memorably besides re-using household bags for rubbish, was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school), was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalise our books on the brown paper bags. – But too bad we didn’t do the ‘green’ thing back then.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have a lift in every supermarket, shop and office building. We walked to the local shop and didn’t climb into a 300 horsepower machine every time we had to go half a mile. – But she was right. We didn’t have the ‘green’ thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s Terry Towel nappies because we didn’t have the throwaway kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up three kilowatts each use wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back then. Kids had hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right;  – we didn’t have the ‘green’ thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one radio or TV in the house – not a TV in every room and the TV had a small screen the size of a big handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of Scotland in the kitchen. We blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.

When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We pushed a mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she’s right;  – we didn’t do the ‘green’ thing back then.

We drank from a tap or fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen,and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. – But we didn’t have the ‘green’ thing back then.

Back then, people took the bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mums into a 24-hour taxi service in the family’s $50,000 ‘people carrier’ which cost the same as a whole house did before the ‘green’ thing. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances and we didn’t need a computerised gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pub!

But isn’t it sad that the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn’t have the ‘green’ thing back then?