PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1976 - FEBRUARY
I take a taxi to the airport early in the morning. It is a fabulous flight back - clear blue sky. I see all of New Zealand - beautiful. I race around visiting people all afternoon, and spend the evening with Lynne and a couple of youth hostellers I had picked up.
I drive through Ranfurly with Diane and Charlie (two Jews from Perth who remind me a little of Maurice and Beverley) and drop them off in Alex. I buzz around doing my work but can't find Mike. I buy six flagons of plum wine and got some plums free. I end up going to Queenstown for the night and drinking with Charlie and Diane in Eichardt's.
I drive over the Crown range, to Lumden and to Gore. I see one new doctor. He talks about New Guinea where he has been for the last five years. A very boring evening. I have a strange experience: I go to bed at 6:30 and get up at 8:30 thinking it was morning. I even put on on my suit before I realise it's 8:30pm not am.
I have to be in Lawrence by 9 so I'm up and out early. Dr Geddes is a little cool. I race home, back to Dunedin. I can't find Ted and I have no idea what is happening about our walk weekend. I get to Jock's place in time to meet Lynne. Her boyfriend Lee is there! At one stage there were 12 for the walk, now there's only four of us.
I decided to leave the car at Lodge, walk half way and come back. I sell my tent to Jo for $20. By 7, Lynne and Lee, Peter and I are off. We go slowly and stop in Alex for a drink. I meet a guy on a bike who has lost his pack and run out of petrol. I meet two more guys whose car was leaning precariously off a bridge on the Glenarchy Road. It is very late when we arrive. We sleep out till early morning when it starts to rain and then we all climb in the car at different times. Some people insist on talking. I don't feel good - this is going to be a fine weekend.
It stops raining. We walk to Routeburn Flat Hut where we have some breakfast and laze by the river. Then we move onwards up to the Falls Hut. Lee has to keep on stopping, but Pete manages quite well considering. It is a beautiful day. I sit outside the hut watching the valley, and I talk for a long time with Lee. We play cards, and read. Dale turns up. It's good to see him. I chat to him in his tent.
We wake up to snow blizzards. We have to queue for the paraffin burners, and then cook a sausage and egg breakfast. Three registrars I know show up and move on over the saddle through the snow. We hang around the whole day. Lynne and Pete go for a walk up to the saddle. Lee and I go in the evening. It is beautiful. We play 500 till really late at night. Lots of laughter. It snows again.
On Sunday the others go back early, but I decide to go on alone and try to get back by hitching. It is a beautiful walk, and not hard at all. I pass Lake McKenzie and some 60ft falls. At one hut, there are pots of boiling water so I can have tea instantly. It's another beautiful day. I do the whole trip in four and a half hours or something ridiculous. I hitch back in another seven hours. In fact, because there are so many hitchers, I am super lucky to get out of Te Anau at all.
I suppose this must be the end of the book. A book of times in NZ.
Letter: 'My body is weary and my eyes would like to close but it is only three in the afternoon, yesterday I half ran half walked an 8-9 hour walk in four hours with shoes three sizes too big. I then proceeded to hitch home some 300km in biting wind and with no shoes (which took seven hours). The walk, however, was glorious. We spent one and a half days in one hut, 3,000ft in the mountains because of snow blizzards.' Ginquin has become very affectionate of late, I will be sorry to leave him behind.
I was thinking that I should really stay in NZ for two years and acquire a NZ passport before I move on, as I will only get a re-entry visa worth a year. I have this fear that I may well want to come back here to live, and then find it impossible. But I cannot bring myself to do that. I am still adhering to my original plan of two years ago. Plane flights to the Americas are expensive, so the boat to Panama seems to be the cheapest option.
I am very seriously thinking of making a visit to a barber, my triennial visit is shortly due.
Paul K Lyons
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