Picton to Kaikoura, the coast road
enveloped in green hills and blue waters
Picton, jewel of the sounds
stands alone in simplicity,
small town, big outlook.
I drive on, the ferry behind,
churning whitewater for Wellington
and pass the gap into Marlborough,
into the flat expanse, the Koromiko
cheese factory closed long ago, shame!
Journey on to Blenheim
a small place trying to be big, never!
supporting a rural diversity, wine and crop
cattle and sheep, and fishing too
stop for KFC in case I get hungry.
Now out on the highway, southbound
past farms and houses and people
going about their daily commerce,
down to the Awatere River and that crazed
bridge, one way, rail on top, makes me smile.
Through King Dicks town, and Ward,
little farming places where even the petrol
companies have withdrawn support,
ever onwards to the coast and the lure
of green seas and gulls flying in the breeze.
The loneliness draws in, as do the might
of the Seaward Kaikoura's, imposing
in their might so close to the ocean,
I admire the rockiness, and stony beaches
the raw power of nature not yet whittled.
The road narrows, and trucks inch past at speed
on their daily milk runs to and fro,
unlike me, not cognisant of the seals
and large beds of sea kelp swimming in unison
with the rough waves and ebbing tide.
Offshore, leviathans of the deep roar
in their abundant playground,
diving to depths not measured and for food
never exhausted, Southern Wrights, Sperm,
and Orca all frolic for tourists to admire.
Through tunnels, and past railway lines etched
deep into cliffs and scree escarpments,
little towns that exist for the pleasure
of passing motorists, and life that is simple,
and their it shines, journeys' end, Kaikoura.
I have travelled that road many a time,
and always, I see the same things, but different
somehow, and I know that I will have to travel again,
that stretch of tarmac, gravel and scree, I yearn
for that road, for that pleasure, as do my kids.
The Northerner, September 1975
Hick kid on a full platform,
Palmerston North emblazoned
on a smoked stained sign,
empty cups of tea on seats
where passengers sat,
the cold at 8.30pm evident
as Mum and Dad wave me off,
Mums tears hidden by a warm smile
back to Auckland for me,
young sailor heading back to work.
The sounds of carriages graunch together
as the locomotive takes the slack
and pulls out of the station, slowly
then building as city lights give in to
scattered splatterings of farms, dark
in the night, I sit on hardened worn
leather and wood, sparse, uncomfortable
my bed for the night, and the smell
of diesel fumes waft down the carriage
and starts to drift people off to sleep.
All the carriages are full, young, old
and all those in between, and I am in
a carriage of quiet, not my scene
for the long journey ahead, so I stand
and walk back, back to the rear carriages
the party buses, "gats" out
the songs flowing with amber fluid
and the harder stuff, to fight the cold,
I sit, unfold my prize, 26 ounces
of black gold, Coruba rum, and they strum,
strumming songs from the Maori Hit Parade,
Ten Guitars, Sheryl Moana Marie, and we
are all friends on the journey of night,
cold night and soon the bottle empties
warming my vocals and now freindships,
and a mad dash for all to the Taihape Hotel,
fighting your way through the Ten O'clock melee
of Holden V8's and Black Power boys
crowding the pub with their ever presence,
their place, but we nightly invaders struggle
(always a struggle), to do it in the 14 minutes
those who drank tea took to eat a pie
and down their Railways Cup brew,
but we all seemed to make it, tea and booze
and the rest who spent the time to snooze.
and the cold hits you, as soldiers came and went
round the vast darkness of a mountain asleep
and Ohakune, the compulsory stop
where crews changed, northbound/southbound
and the party went on, liquid fire.
I had never seen it , until I drove it one day,
years later on the daylight railcar,
Raurimu Spiral, feat of engineering
and kiwi ingenuity, round and round
and up and down, a splendour once viewed,
towns that existed due to the very rails
that passed through them, stock towns
heartland New Zealand, but darkened by
the night trains ritual, and sleeping,
yet the party wore on as the grog dies,
Te Awamutu....... Hamilton......... Ngaruawahia.........
and the clickety click of bogeys on the bridge
over the mighty Waikato soon had sleep
burgeoning and the rest of the trip was
one of comfort, booze addled comfort
and to this day I look at those seats, and wonder
Huntly........ Pokeno........... Papakura..........
places I slept through, and never met,
and then the stop, the silence, Auckland
and the early morning bustle of light and
commuter traffic, life again, and work so soon
and I have survived another trip on the train.
The Northerner, may you rest in peace, New Zealand Icon
A New Zealand Islands Anthology
iced horizontal rain
sweeps across a bleak
and inhospitable terrain,
bushes no taller
than an average man
windswept to the east
as if the beast had rolled
and flattened all.
Peat moss as deep
as a mans thigh
hides deep crevices
untold secrets, and wild boar
vying for space with sea lions
and elephant seals,
Wandering Albatross aplenty
out over dark blue seas
The Islands only neighbour.
Gog, Magog, Mt Anglem,
sentinels north and south,
Rough as rough can be
the locals, friendly but locals
nonetheless, wary at best.
Hunters, hairy, rugged
stalkers of Sika,
rustling about in huts and tracks
cut deep, for the pleasure of them
and nature seekers, worldwide,
licked constantly by terse sou'westers
and winters grasp never slackened.
Whale sharks cruise Paterson Inlet
with King Emporer Penguin and blue cod,
and you wonder at the beauty of it all.
Great Barrier Island
Home to many harbours
and retired hippies,
growing and smoking pot
homemade wines, scorching
Tryphena, Port Fitzroy,
and gay Whangaparapara harbours,
usually empty, but for the
summer bustle of Auckland yachties.
A lifestyle Island, backward yet there
repressed but modern,
touched yet untouched
but for the daily grind of human life,
playground of the amateur angler
and whales transitting the coast,
may it remain an isolated beauty
for all to come and see.
Little Barrier Island
Stark desolation, volcanic
dense bush covered sanctuary
to tuatara and native birds,
steep cliffed, unassailable from sea
but for the promontory sou'east,
to land, you must have DOC clearance
a sanctuary of preserved pasts,
and possible futures.
Poor Knights Islands
Deep Pacific Blue surrounds
an offshore group famous
the world over for diving,
steep ragged cliffs give way
to steep smoothed sides
into dive territories to be admired,
no fishing, a restriction abounds
and is abided by with pain of loss
of boat and gear, steer clear,
yet out from that no go zone,
boats ply their trade, marlin, yellowfin
and many varieties of game for tables
and long admired trophy cabinets.
UH!! Barren f**king wasteland,
killed, no trees left, no birds
no native nothing, man huh!
It's a suburb of grotesque
ugly Auckland and noone cares,
sooner see the houses bulldosed
humankind vacated, and trees,
lots of trees, planted
and the islands of this country
returned to natures jewels.
So........ok maybe it deserves
to be a quarantine island,
we do need one.