After a hope-to-return-one-day visit to South Island, NZ, Kevin O’Connell, Nic Jaspers and I left the hired car in Picton and boarded the Interislander ferry Aratere to Wellington and picked up another there. The ever-changing views during the crossing were stunning. This was back in 2004; and I so wished I could persuade my wife Sheila to share it with me one day!
Once again, with time restraints, we deprived ourselves of all that Wellington has to offer and headed to the village of Paekakareke. Which rugby fan has never heard of the Paekakareke Express? That worthy hotel pub’s walls might collapse if they removed all the Christian Cullen pictures plastered there! We had plenty of time to browse the progress of their favourite son’s exploits from school to international fame in the All Blacks.
Thanks, Wiki P! Christian Mathias Cullen (born 12 February 1976) is a former New Zealand rugby union footballer. He played most of his rugby at fullback for New Zealand (the All Blacks), for the Hurricanes in the Super 12, and for Manawatu, Wellington and later Munster at provincial level. He was nicknamed the Paekakariki Express and was considered to be one of the most potent running fullbacks rugby has ever seen. With 46 tries scored in 58 Tests, Cullen is the 9th-highesttry-scorer in international rugby.
We were awaiting the arrival of Kees Korndorffer at 17h00 from his work at Wellington Uni. I recognised him the moment he got out of his car. His once-orange-red hair had fled to leave a white horseshoe fringe, but the nose, the sudden fleeting smile and the slight stooped figure were unmistakeable. I had last seen him in about 1966; an old school friend, met in 1962, he and his family had taken me for so many delicious Sunday lunches at their home in Pretoria when I was in boarding school at Pretoria Boys’ High, and his father had been attached to the Dutch Embassy for a five-year stint in South Africa. I even went on a caravan holiday with them to the Cape Peninsular one Christmas.
The first cigarettes I ever smoked – and the first cigar I unsuccessfully tried and coughed myself silly – were pilfered from his dad’s duty-free supply.
Kees was not normally a pub-crawler, but he admitted to enjoying the camaraderie of it all. Kevin allowed us to adjust our schedule so that I could see more of my old friend and we spent two nights at the beachfront home of Kees and his partner, Waveney. Supper was absolutely delicious tarakaihi fish (Nemadactylus macropterus) at the pub.
The most memorable event of the next day (Melbourne Cup Day, where Down Under comes to a stand-still. Rugby, Racing and Beer!) for me was a visit to the huge vintage vehicle museum at Paraparaumu – pronounced Parapram! I have always been a sucker for old cars, and this was neverending antique orgasm.