Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Picton, NZ

Picton, New Zealand would fit inside Wellsville with room to spare but for the port and marina. We walked from the dock through town and up to a lookout point on the snout. Other people might call it a peninsula or point.

The hiking trails begin on the other side of the bay accessed by Coat Hanger Bridge so named for the thin wires that make up the sides. We trudged sometimes and sometimes strolled to reach Queen Charlotte Observation Point. The map showed toilets, a picnic area and an information site so we kinda expected a bit of civilization there but there was a pit toilet (somewhat less than we were accustomed to and populated by flies who seemed to object to any intrusion), a picnic table and a placard naming all the bays and sounds one could see –and one could see for miles. The view was worth the roughly 3 mile trek upward.

We snacked on peanut brownie cookies and water as our reward for reaching the top and just before leaving a couple we’d passed earlier came. They looked a tad disappointed when they realized that there was no food service. Thinking they looked puckish, I offered and they accepted a dousing of hand sanitizer and a cookie. They refused any more than that and to earn his snack the man shared that with his GPS he knew we had walked 5.27 km from Coat Hanger Bridge. Rick and I had gone further since we missed the start and had to work back. More than that - we’d walked from the ship since we missed the shuttle that ran every 20 minutes. All told we likely walked 7 plus miles out and back.

We passed the whaling museum to buy a bit from local artisans. One man carved stones and another was a wood turner who lived 80 km away. I bought a used book from a man who has been selling used books on the dock for 12 years. A used paper back is $4 to $15, a fraction of the $40 and upwards of a new paperback. (I suspect the Library does a good business.)

He said that everything was expensive and that’s why there are so many used clothing and used furniture stores. Houses range from $300,000 to $500,000 for ordinary buildings and we had noted a sign in a Realtor’s office that they’d negotiate prices over $800,000. Who even counts that high?

Where does this money come from? Most of the towns have lost their manufacturing jobs and this service industry idea isn’t going to maintain the standard of living with $13 cups of soup, $15 sandwiches and $300 Keens. Things are slowing down everywhere. The docks at Dunedin (done Eden) and Christchurch were loaded with wood and wood pulp but there was no activity there at all. The mountain of wood pulp just sat. The stuff was meant for China but now it seems to sit. We saw little happening with any of the pulp or lumber piles.

There were 12 container-movers in Christchurch but only 6 were at work.

We did see some dandy old cars on the Picton pier. A man there said that someone buys old Cooper Minis, packs them 8 to a container after taking off the wheels, sends them to the US to be refurbished and then sold at double the outlay. Who would think shipping cars to the US would be a money maker?

There was an intense rain at about 2 while we were at the Internet Café. Later the Captain announced that his engineers had done a great job holding the ship steady and apologized for those who had to wait to come onboard since the gangplank was unsafe in the wild winds. This place is the land of 4 seasons a day.

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