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Travels With Amy

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Amy meets me at the kayak company headquarters in Motuaka, we agree to travel South and we’re off!

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Amy enlists me as the navigator for the journey as she drives an old blue ford station wagon purchased for the purpose of travelling New Zealand. She purchased it for less than the cost of a rental car, put a little money into the radiator, and plans to sell it prior to departure. A little tired from the day’s hike on the Abel Tasman coast trail, we first agree to go at least as far as Murchison and consider further destinations. In Murchison, we decide to go at least as far as Reefton or Westport. Amy says her favorite New Zealand brewery is in Westport so we go there with the idea to spend the night there and do a brewery tour in the morning.

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Immediately after this decision we see a hitchhiking backpacker so we stop to pick him up. Eli is great. He is a botanist who worked on the antarctic science station to run and repair the garden there. He is from the Seattle area originally making him the third American I have met here. He loves New Zealand so he is spending some time there before a likely career switch to the life of a farmer and is attempting to woo a woman who works for the DOC in Arthur’s pass. Today, he would like to get to Greymouth. We offer a ride as far as Westport and we’re off!

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We land in Westport arriving 2 minutes before the Hostel closes and secure dorm beds for the three of us. We walk to the local pub to interact with the locals and find two distinct groups — the regulars at the pub and a set of a dozen or so teenagers tied to each other at the ankle with a strip of white cloth. Ten of the couples are boy-girl and there is one girl-girl pair.
Curious, I ask one of the women about the bonds.
“It’s for you and your friend. Want to join? Don’t you want to have a friend?”
“I’m not sure. What’s the deal?”
“I see you’re not tied to your friend,” motioning toward Amy and a motion which I do not acknowledge.

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She lets out a tipsy schoolgirl squeal and turns to her friends. I think the whole thing is marriage practice for kids though they did seem kind of old to be playing house. Come to think of it, house with cocktails does not sound that bad.
In the morning Eli and I awake prior to Amy. He wants to go to get going and starts hitching. Amy wakes up and we decide to travel to Greymouth since that is the actual location of the Monteith brewery and we’re off!

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On our way out of Westport, we pass through Cape Foulwind, travel South along the coast to Greymouth where we find a liquor store that sells self-serve two liter bottles of beer. The store clerk tells us, “We sell *a lot* of those.” Amy and I travel to the water front and drink the beer on a park bench. We tire of Greymouth and head out to Arthur’s Pass and we’re off!

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