1 January 1976

Well its a new year, 1976, would you believe it: I shall do a lot, be a lot, have a lot and be very happy and complete this year; I shall fall in love at least twice; the queen will fall gravely ill but will not die; I will not get to the Olympics; I shall consume the equivalent of 19.5 Worcester Sauce bottle (medium size).

Learning to surf takes a lot of energy. I am reading Lawrence and Mann. We sit around drinking in this lovely home listening to music. I play a game of monopoly with Pat's children.

2 January

We go for a drive in Lisa's car, with Matthew and Joanna. I carry on learning to surf. It's quite a scene here for the boardies, all sitting on their boards in their black wet suits waiting expectantly for the wave that is so high and wild they'll never need another. Later there is a picnic carnival. Dave, Lisa and I get hoodwinked into a canoe race which is fun but exhausting. In the evening there is a rock concert at the surf club with freaky dancing on the beach.

3 January

I go surfing again and almost get on my feet. Jany and Jackie came with me. We are going to leave at lunchtime but the boys decide to go out in their newly-acquired boat and take us lot too. We go chugging out to sea around the islands, past one with a hole in the middle and a bit of beach. It looks glorious. We also try a bit of a fishing.

4 January

I arrive in Gisbourne by lunchtime, dump my rucksack at the youth hostel and wander around looking for people. It's a pretty dead place. I try The Rainbow on the beach, but can't stick around. I decide to move on to Napier. I get one interesting lift from an old opossum catcher, he used to use flour with a bit of cyanide. Two girls give me a lift right to the hostel where I dump my pack and go looking for food. I have to go back into Napier proper and so hitch. A neat architect picks me up and we have a long talk in a short time. It's a bit of hassle hitching back. And, when I get back to the hostel, the warden tells me that my card has run out so I have to leave. I sleep on the beach front.

5 January

In the morning, while I am wandering around looking for coffee, I meet Jo (someone I already know), so we talk most of the morning in between looking for a job for him. I hitch into Hastings for a while and talk to quite a nice girl in the cultural centre. Napier has a bit of life and a pretty beach front but not such good beaches (fog shrouded the place during the morning); Hastings has a pretty shopping mall. I eat a pub lunch and move on to Palmerston North. An industrial chemist gives me a lift. He has just done a day's work at a new factory and has a couple of hours to kill before his plane back to Auckland, so I drink with him and then he buys me a meal. We talk about chemistry mostly. He has started up his own business and is doing well

When I get to Palmerston North I find that Jan hasn't yet arrived at the motel, her car has broken down. I spend the evening at the Massey University (which is very well laid out with a spacious campus) and then on a pub crawl, through five pubs looking for life. I run out of cigarette papers. I sleep in the square very comfortably thank you

6 January

On my way out of Palmerston North I pop into the motel again to find that Jan had arrived late last night. We exchange news and I move on. It's quite a hassle all the way to Wellington on the Masterton road. A mad Dutchman gives four of us hitchers a lift. Later I join forces with a Jew from Sydney and we hitch right into Wellington centre. Once he has found a place, I go up to Weir House and find Christian who was in, which was cool. We go down town, and eat a chinese meal, then to see a mediocre production of Charlie Brown at Downstage - it's almost a parody of the strip cartoon, but not quite. We drink some tea with an Indonesian guy. Christian tells me about his business idea. He has just received 1,000 copies of kitsch Montmartre-type prints from France and he plans to go around factories selling them. He is also copying them in ink in case he can no longer get copies from France - he does it very well.

7 January

I leave my pack at the library, and go to the tourist office for a map and info. I go to the railway station for photos, and then to the British High Commission (where I pick up another Pom). Then I go to several embassies (Argentina, Ecuador, Chile) and back to British High Commission to get my new passport. I meet Christian for coffee, and then race off to the labour exchange, where I get info on re-entry into New Zealand. I go to the Mexican embassy before retrieving my pack and hitching a ride right to the ferry terminal. I finish Thomas Mann short stories (were good), and it's a beautiful sail through the sounds on a sunny day. I do have a bit of a hassle hitching to Nelson and then I find that Helen isn't there. I tour the pubs, meet the youth hostel crowd for small talk, and sit in a coffee bar. I sleep by the Cathedral.

8 January

I wander around Nelson a little but decide to move on to Greymouth. There are quite a few other hitchers waiting, but a short sharp ride enables me to re-hitch a van with two girls in (they'd already past me once) and this time they stop, and take me to Westport. It's dismal weather, and very few cars. I am stuck in a place called Charleston for hours, until two boys from Hamilton pick me up. Rob and Colin. They are touring. We stop at the Pancake Rocks and the Blow Holes which are moderately interesting. Then, for an hour, I try to hitch to Greymouth but without success. So they pick me up again, this time with two girls I'd befriended. We drink all night and play pool. Susie, one of the girls, comes from England, from Ware (very near where I used to live), she also lived in Roath Park, Cardiff, where I lived too. They take us back to their place for a cup of coffee. I sleep in the van with Rob and Colin.

9 January

My first lift is from a meat hunter who spent two years in Africa, some of it in the desert, and is now paying the price with recurring kidney troubles. An electronic salesman takes me most of the way. I am lucky to get to Christchurch by 2:00pm, but I just miss Anna who has gone off hitching with Andy. The Aussies are still hanging around the flat - making jewellery, smoking and drinking a lot of coffee. I meet nobody all afternoon and evening. It's boring. I make a meal and go to the Gresham and Victoria coffee bar.

10 January

It takes me seven hours to hitch to Dunedin. There are lots of letters waiting for me: from Clare, Tudor, Grandma, Dave Swift. A letter from Sandoz tells me my bonus for the year is very little. I was only 1.7% above budget or something. It's only money. It's good to be back in Dunedin. I sleep most of the afternoon, and go to down to The Cook at night. Chris is talking to the psych nurse I've bumped into once or twice, his girlfriend and Judy (the girl who gave me a lift three weeks ago). We all go back to Chris's flat where we drink red wine and listen to nostalgic music. Chris ends up holding hands with Judy which I think is very strange. We discuss pot and other unrelated subjects.

Sunday 11 January

I write letters to embassies, then sit on the beach for a while, But I spend most of the day with Jock - he is home for a few days in between various climbing expeditions (the next being Mt Cook). Early in the evening I go to see Bruce, who is off to Nepal soon. I eat mince and spuds and lettuce for tea. Lynne and Jo are working at Wains. At about 1:00am, I drive up to Timaru, sit on a hillside and watch the moon.

12 January

I drive around Tekapo and Pukaki. It is a beautiful day and Tekapo is magnificent. I pick up lots of hitchers. Not until I get to Timaru do I find a bag left by two stupid American girls. I race down to Oamaru where I think they might be staying. I find a very attractive Canadian but no-one else. What a hassle. I ring up Dunedin, go to Timaru YH and end up giving the bag to the police station in the morning. I watch The rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Some Like it Hot, and a new warship series from the BBC which isn't very good.

13 January

I drag a crowd from the Youth Hostel down to the pub. We drink all night. Not a bad lot. One of them a Canadian I'd picked up in the afternoon. The pub just keeps on serving.

14 January

I am heading home to watch telly and recognise one guy walking towards the pub so I join him. It's another good crowd. We drink until after 11, and my companions have a lot of trouble with the warden back at the youth hostel.

15 January

The hostel warden kicks out my companions of last night by 8:00am without a cooked breakfast. One British guy, Alan, travels around Geraldine with me. We go over to Red Forest for a very muddy trot to a very poor waterfall, we both slip over and look a mess. I go to one appointment and then two geriatric homes then to some wine-tasting at Barkers. I pick up some hitchers and drive through Hanging Rock to Pleasant Point. Alan stays in the motel cleaning clothes while I finish the day. In the evening we all go drinking again.

16 January

I take three more silly Aussie girls to Shag Point on my way home. I pop in to see Fritz who is just having a tea break and then spend some time with Jill in Seacliff. I am home by lunchtime to see Paul (from the flat in Christchurch) hitching out of Dunedin. The house is empty but Andy and Anna have been staying for a week as well as Paul, and Jo had showed up as well. There are lots of replies from embassies, and letters from Tudor, Clare, Grandma Todd and Goldsmith and Poncelet. Colin has sent me the BIT guide to South America - I am getting really excited about it. Andy sells $60 of jewellery in the Octagon. Andy and Anna dance in the Cook and I spend a dollar on the pin table.

17 January

Anna and Andy come with Lisa, Jo, Tony and I to some beaches, first Warrington, where Kim has a neat time. Jo and I check out this old weird house with a semi-weird lady who won't show us inside. When Jo asks where she sleeps she says sometimes upstairs, sometimes downstairs. On to Purokomi, but nobody is going to swim across the river, so we move on to Long Beach where we picnic and drink red wine by caves. A lot of swimming. It's a rough sea - neat. I take Andy and Anna to some other friends. I am sleeping in the sun when Rob and Colin turn up (the guys who gave me a lift on the West coast). I think we are going to have a Canasta evening out at Carey's Bay. Ted does come but we don't Canasta.

18 January

I go to Sandfly Bay and find some seals. In the afternoon, I go round to see the people whose hangi I went to, and the Joni Mitchell lady but she has moved. I talkto another guy. I stay at Lynne's and Jo's for tea and Scrabble and silly card games with two other of their friends.

19 January

Today, I don't even put my suit on. In the evening, I ring up Sandy and take her around to see Alice. We talk about cats and tramping. Sandy has to leave the country on 13 February and is quite pissed off. We have a quick drink in the Henry Pike Bar, and I tell her I would have liked to have known her better. She says she isn't so closed with everybody. I think a lot about her afterwards.

Alice has her boots
And plastic mac
Her husband died
Two years back
I can talk to Alice
About owls and teaching
Of fires and mice
Of yesterdays and walking
I like Alice

20 January

I do a little work today. Jan and Peter are moving furniture and cleaning up. I have to go to Mosgiel, but I put a roast on to cook beforehand for a little dinner party for Jock, Cloudy, Lynne and Jo. It's quite pleasant though the mutton is tough. We try to get into the film Barry Lyndon but it's full. Instead we decide to go hopping on the beach, and I take people home to change. But then I hear bagpipes which attract me from across the road. I find the player and ask him to come along. He is easily persuaded. I park the car at St Clair and we walk up the hillside to Cargill's Castle in funereal procession - Jock and I holding the bagpipes box on our shoulders and Hamish leading, playing wailing tunes. It is hilarious. The clouds descend quickly and the wind gets up so we see no sunset. Instead we just wander around the castle playing bagpipes and harmonica. A crazy night.

21 January

I do some work in the morning and a little in the afternoon. Kevin (who I met at Rotorua) and Ian turn up. I cook chops, and we talk about the fates that have befell us when parted. They had some pretty tough hitches, a couple of nine hour waits . In the evening we go to the Cook and the Cellars. They really like the Cellars - a guitarist and violinist were jamming. I talk a long while to Ian of spiders and cauliflowers and life. He raves about a book by Jean Genet 'Our Lady of the Flowers'.

22 January

I have to work in the morning so drop the guys off in town. I go to Stewart's later for coffee, where Ray's old flatmate and Mark Prain refuse to acknowledge me. In the afternoon we head out to Papanui beach. It takes a while to get there but we are rewarded with seeing a whole colony of seals, 50 or so, all camouflaged against the rock. We disturb a lot of them and watch them flip over into the sea. No penguins, though. We have fun with a ball and string. I cook some horrible liver for tea. Kevin and I sit in the I go with Jock and Lynne to see Barry Lyndon - a fine Kubrick movie with very stale perfect photography. We sit in the Cellars all night drinking wine.

23 January

I read in the morning. The Newcastle lads sleep. I spent most of the day sitting in the Craft Shop, reading and listening to Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen and making a kite which is so fragile I'm sure it could fly indoors. Karen has just arrived in Dunedin to be a medical student. I invite her home for tea which Kevin makes while we played Scrabble. I spend the evening at the Cook all night. I meet Lizzie and friend down there too, and talk a little to Chris. I invite Lizzie home for coffee. She turns up a little later with the address of a party. We find it but are bored. Chris, Lizzie and Kevin try to do those Yes/No impossible situation things. I enjoy them very much. Jo tells me she doesn't really want to live with Lynne because of her immaturity and compulsiveness.

Saturday 24 January

I go to see Jock. We have a coffee and wardrobe moving morning. Jo comes with us to happy hour and talks about college. I play tennis with Jenny, A quick salad tea and then I pick the girls up. We go pub crawling but looking for room to dance. We end up at the Downtown. Then to Lynne's flat for games and coffee. The evening falls flat. At home, I carry on reading Our Lady of the Flowers and fall asleep in front of the fire. I'm getting really bored with writing this diary.

25 January

I take the guys out to the road to hitch to Christchurch. I pick up Brent on way back - her was strolling the streets. Rowyn shows up so we go around a few displays and a kite competition. I do a little painting and make pancakes at Lynne's We go to a Charles Dickens evening with Dereck Bolte. Very good for a one man performance.

26 January

The price of milk, postage and transport has doubled. An earthquake has killed 50,000 people in Guatemala. I have a friend Jan Morrison (Spanish classes) who is there and from whom I've just received a letter. I've also had letters from Dad, Beverley and Berenice, from Dave, from Mum and a few others. I catch a plane to Auckland and meet Rein on the way at Christchurch. We have a good yarn.

28 January

The conference starts. It's not very hard. I go to the museum for lunch where there I meet a very interesting lady. In the evening, the Sandoz crew go to La Brie. A heavy evening of wine. A hot night, tossing and turning. All the reps know by now that I am leaving soon. I am a little too free with info like that

29 January

We are meant to go out in a boat but the weather is too bad so everybody gets het up about what to do. We end up playing squash en mass, with factions splitting off to play tennis. The evening is free but I can't find ought to do so Rein, Ask and I go out with Gordon, Mike and Les to a steak house.

30 January

We learn about Noveril. A new girl wins some sheepskin car covers. We go to the inaugural meeting of the NZ Institute of Pharmacy Manufacturers. I have a booze up with other reps, but end up nicking several bottles of wine and going back to the new girl's place. Her husband is a bit of a bore. I talk to her about books and plays. She is quite amazed I'd read Our Lady of the Flowers.

31 January

Rein escapes early in the morning on Saturday. Geoff rings and asks me if I want to go sailing and whether I can be ready in five minutes. It's good to see Geoff again. We race out in his car talking about his six months in London and then we join his father's friends on a 32 ft sail boat. We are in a race for 32 miles around the harbour. It starts off fine. There are lots of pretty coloured kites flying, boats sailing out of sight. It gets hectic at times and then there's nothing to do. At one point we nearly lose our kite. The boom comes off the main sail and all hell breaks loose. We lose hundreds of yards in the race. It's OK with the wind behind but then crossing the wind and heading into it is very slow and the weather gets continually worse too. We are at 45 degrees most of the time. I learn all the jargon, gibs, storm gibs, genoas, main sail, boom, winches. When going into the wind we have to tack and change the gib around every 15 minutes. Afterwards Geoff is in hurry so he drops me off. I promised to see him when I get back to Auckland. I ring Mike and wait for him in the bar. We play some snooker and go to Poles Apart folk club.

February 1976

Paul K Lyons


Copyright © PiKLe PuBLiSHiNG

1974 1975

1976 1977

1978 1979

1980 1981

1982 1983

1984 1985

1986 1987

1988 1989

1990 1991

1992 1993

1994 1995

1996 1997

1998 1999

2000 2001

2002 2003

2004 2005

INTRO to diaries