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HELLO 2023

Heather Auckram

I was invited to spend the New Year with friends at their crib at Papatowai. To tell you the truth, it has been fifteen years since I was last in the Catlins. Shameful really; I live in Southland. 

The weather was perfect. Long hot sunny days with a warm gentle breeze. The drive over was easy, on good roads with little traffic and well signposted. I met my friends at the New Year’s Eve fair on the beachfront. There were markets and games and prizes to be had. I didn’t take any photos as I was so overcome with the joy of being at an old-fashioned fair like those of my childhood many decades ago. 

About 10pm the sun went down, so we put the lead on the dog and made our way to the beach. We set up our deck chairs and chilly bin and watched the huge bonfire being lit on the sand. It crackled into life and flames reached for the stars in the still air. People mixed and mingled, sharing a laugh and a story. I crept into my camp some time around 1am on a warm, star-filled night. Hello 2023. 

Over the following hot summer days, we took the dog on many of the easy bush walks (it’s amazing who you meet on the tracks — old friends and famous people), dipped our toes in the cold sea, rode on a trailer being towed along a long sandy beach, squashed a few sandflies and went to bed blissfully happy each night. 

Oh, I must tell you — there is limited mobile phone reception at Papatowai. I believe a couple of providers work, but I am with Spark and had no phone reception at all. Four days off the radar! 

If you want to stop the world and get off for a while — then Papatowai could be the place for you. I was shocked at how often I reached for my mobile phone. It was great not being beeped at on a regular basis or concerning myself with melodramas that are not even part of my life. I think I had developed a habit — but no more. My phone stays at home more than I do these days.

Thank you Papatowai.

Photos ©2023 Heather Auckram

I went to bed blissfully happy each night

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