Maybe it is because it is a small town, or maybe because it’s close to the bottom of the South Island but strangers can very quickly become friends around here. I know Brian and Gail lived in Balclutha and always speak highly of the place and its people, so I was curious to find out for myself. Balclutha is a small town with the economy mostly fueled by farming and some fishing. Everybody seems to know everybody in a caring sort of way. At the motorhome park I was ready to pay for two nights’ stay when that horrible blank feeling struck me and for the life of me, I could not remember my pin number. Has that ever happened to you? I tried three times and all three times the little machine let me know that I had just typed in another incorrect number. By now I was worried that my card might be locked. The manager and the office lady were both so lovely and patient. “Aah, you can pay Monday”. But I wasn’t having that, knowing myself I might forget and just drive off and I know how bad I would feel afterwards. It took a while before I remembered I did actually have some cash with me. So, I paid and parked. The office lady showed me the facilities and the manager explained that the river runs right behind the Holiday Park and that there is a walkway. Everything is within walking distance from the park. So, Sunday I visited the Presbyterian church. I was immediately made to feel welcome. When I asked the minister (Rob) about Brian and Gail, he took me to Brian’s photo on the wall and said he had not met them personally, but that people spoke very highly of them. I sat down and one of Gail and Brian’s friends came and sat next to me (Rob told them about the connection). It was a combined service with Owaka and there was a lunch afterwards which I was warmly invited to. There I met Carol whose daughter also lives in Tauranga. From our conversation it seemed we had a lot in common. After church I did a bit of shopping and passed the church again going to the campground. I heard a female voice behind me saying “you walk fast!”. I turned around and saw Carol. She wanted to exchange contact details and invited me to her home. Then she drove me through Balclutha and pointed out the old and new buildings and show me where she used to live.
In the park we met a couple (Bill and Nui) from Papamoa, turns out Bill’s friend was the previous owner of my motorhome. He took a photo of the ramp Jaco had made for Ferrari, so that he could show his friend who also owns a cat.
Balclutha has by far the most hospitable people I’ve come across during my journey so far. Ferrari seemed to agree with this. Monday morning, I was ready to head off. I got Ferrari in the motorhome, just for her to jump out a window (I accidently left open) and hide behind a fence. Oh well, no use chasing her, she’ll just go further. So, we booked another nigh, but just left later when she returned to the motorhome.
Above and below: Waihola (a little township between Dunedin and Balclutha) has this little picnic spot.
The Balclutha Motor Camp is right next to the Clutha river.
As I walked past there were quite a few lads hanging out by the river with their bikes, towels, food, etc.
Above and below: The beautiful bridge as you enter Balclutha
Above and below: Some of the buildings in town.