I took this picture just a few hours ago, on the ferry over from the South Island to the North Island of New Zealand.  I had come onto one of the outside decks to get a last view of the South Island, where I’d had so much fun, seen so many beautiful things and met so many lovely people.  I was feeling quite sad.

The only other person there was the figure in the photo.  He was a Maori lad called Whetu and he is quietly strumming a ukulele and singing to himself.  I asked him to sing something in Maori for me and he did.  He said the song was called Te Arawa E and was sung at the time of departing - like Now Is The Hour, which is also a Maori song.

It was a beautiful situation and a lovely song - but it made me feel even sadder, as you can imagine.  When Whetu noticed this, he changed the song to Haere Mai - ‘Welcome here!’ - which is much more upbeat!

As he went below decks, he said ‘This boat is passing between two places. You are only sad because you’re looking in the wrong direction - at where you have been.  Maybe it would be better if you look at where you are going instead!’

‘Whetu’ means ‘star’ - I’ve just looked it up.

* * *
But I’m way ahead of myself.  Where were we?  Ah, yes...
On the way to the south coast
And yet more...

I woke up on my first morning thinking about Cyril.  I met him when I diverted off-route to take a look at the Kingston Flyer steam railway - but there was no-one there except me and Cyril and a rusty loco.  He told me he was from Sheffield and was on holiday in New Zealand taking photographs of old trains and giving lectures about spirituality.

That’s a combination of facts that would give anyone bad dreams.

* * *
The old Clifden Suspension Bridge

Halfway down to the south coast I came across the Clifden Suspension Bridge and a smashing family from Brisbane, who eagerly told me all about it, thus banishing Cyril altogether.

I met them again at Te Waewae Bay - the first time I saw the sea on my kiwi journey.  Luke took this photo.  They left me there to travel on to ‘the gemstone beach’.

I passed through Invercargill, the southernmost town in New Zealand.  Guide books say ‘it has yet to make an impression on the tourist trade’.  What they ought to say is ‘it’s truly and irredeemably awful’ because it is.

After a reviving cup of tea and a slice of banana bread (very popular here) I soon hit one of the landmarks of my trip.  It’s called Curio Bay and it’s the southernmost point on my journey.  I realised as I drove away into the Catlin Hills that, from now on, I was on my way home.
Curio Bay

The Catlins, by the way, are unbelievably pretty.  Endless gentle rolling hills, woods, streams and farms, all neatly clipped and marshalled.  Like dozens of Devons or Dorsets or Northumberlands that happily go on forever.

And then you get to the ‘Edinburgh of the south’ - Dunedin.  It’s a charmer of a city and was unsurprisingly founded by Scots settlers.  Here are Murray, Douglas, Athol, Dunblane, Peebles Streets.  And even Stuart Street - my first ever!
Guess which Scots poet this is a statue of...

I liked Dunedin - from the scrummy mushroom burger I had there to the wonders of the nearby Otago Peninsula, where I saw my first-ever albatross and wild penguins.

Stuart Street and Dunedin's lovely old railway station

* * *
Distance travelled so far - 14,189m / 22,835km

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