Thursday 26th November 2015
06.12.2015 27 °C
Today we had quite an early start as we were going out on the rounds with Robin the postman. He picked us up in town just after 9am and introduced himself before sorting through some bits of mail ready for the first leg of his eastern bay patch. Later on in the morning he explained that most of rural New Zealand's postal delivery is contracted out. As a self employed postman he can run his tourism business alongside meeting his postal obligations. Together we made our way to Pigeon Bay dropping off mail, and sometimes collecting it, to people's roadside mailboxes. He seemed to have the whole operation sorted and knew all the people on his round.
Once we got to Pigeon Bay we got out and stretched our legs and had a look at the bay. Whilst Robin sorted the post into a number of post boxes at the Community Hall he invited us to go and have a look round the building. It was as though we had gone back in time and particularly amusing was the row of bench seats all the way round the edge of the room and I could almost see girls and young women sitting there in their post war dresses waiting for a good looking young man to come up and ask them to dance. I was also amused by the name of the steep road that runs up from beside the building.
Once the postal business there had been dealt with we got on our way, with further deliveries interspersed with lots of information about the area. This was complimented with a heavy dose of putting the world to rights in a way that only a group of people of a similar age can do. We drove past Decanter Bay (so named because of one of the rocks just off the headland)
and then onto Little Akaloa Bay where we parked up for tea, cheese and biscuits and delicious fruit muffins made by Robin's wife. As an added bonus the place was heavily populated by sand flies and guess who they homed in on! We were dropped off at the little local church while Robin made some deliveries and then he picked us up the other side of the churchyard a few minutes later. We then continued to wind our way down the country lanes in Robin's post bus watching him put everything from bills, to parcels to junk mail in a wide variety of post boxes from the purchased to the purpose built, adapted beer barrels to holes in logs. One of the things that struck me was how the mail can be left totally unsecured. Robin told us of a case of Champagne left for the taking, but remained at the point of delivery until the intended recipient came to retrieve it.
We drove past the largest of the bays called Okains Bay with a semi-tidal river flowing into it,
before we drove a short distance inland to a small village of the same name. There is a very small primary school, post office and stores as well as a very rural and old fashioned looking garage and filling station with equally quaint looking phone box next to it. Robin had more letters to deliver and collect here before we continued on along the ridge with views back to the main harbour
before going on to where he lives near Le Bons Bay. We briefly stopped at his home and he invited us have a look at his garden, which was clearly beautifully tended by his wife. It had a mixture of very familiar cottage garden flowers that one could expect to see back home as well as some rather more exotic such as this amazing turquoise coloured flower that he didn't know the name of.
We then went down to the bay itself and he dropped us off so we could take a short walk along the beach and then he met us about half way and we got back in the van. The whole trip had taken the best part of five hours and we both agreed that it was great way to explore the peninsula as well as seeing a really interesting part of rural daily life in New Zealand. Robin took us back into the town of Akoroa and dropped us off where he had picked us up.
We then drove up the hill to an art gallery and mosaic garden called the Giant's House, so named because a child once commented that it was such a big house (relative to the child) that a giant must live in it.
The place is a labour of love by the owner artist Josie Martin who we met at the entrance. In the nicest possible way she is clearly one of New Zealand's great eccentrics, but it was fascinating to see her work and hear her talking about the mosaic figures who all seem to have their own distinctive personalities. Even the loo was pretty amazing with small ceramic shoes decorating the ceiling and an invitation to add anything in the way of writing or drawing on the walls (an invitation I readily accepted). Once we had finished looking round the amazing gardens we drove back into town and stopped at a cafe for a lemon pancake. We also went into the local shop and brought some burgers and sausages as we thought we may as well take advantage of having a gas barbecue at the hut. It had been another great day with lovely hot weather all confirming that it had been the right decision to come and visit the Akoroa peninsula.