Nicholas Quirke was surprised on the 10th February to find an immense change between the South and North Islands as not only had the landscape changed, but the weather too.though the same could not be said for the tempo, and, if it hadn’t been for the South Island looming large and wraithed mysteriously in cloud as he drove to Whanganui, he might have thought himself in England at times. He had contemplated carping and was erring on the misanthropic so keenly did he feel the difference. However, once again the kindness of strangers put a rosy glow perspective on life and his odyssey. Nicholas was keen to see the Botanical Gardens despite the gloomy weather and left the hotel early to get on his way. He was particularly pleased to see that he got 2 hours free parking on a Saturday. The gardens were sublime from the trees and plants to the sculptures and sounds. The bird song was extraordinary and he attempted to record it but the deafening sound of the cicadas drowned out his attempt. The gardens were huge and he got lost amongst the dense trees and walks. When he discovered the Treetop Information Centre and discovered the map he realised he should have gone there first. He enjoyed lunch at the Begonia Cafe and then got on his way. As he left Wellington and its charming architecture, he took the coastal route and discovered the South Island looked really forbidding in the greyness of the day he stopped at an accessible piece of shoreline and took photographs of the rocks and completely failed to capture the sight he had stopped for! It was not an awe inspiring drive but once he had arrived in Whanganui he was overawed, not by the scenary but by the town’s architecture and the people he met there: Brian the Canadian Hotel manager who found him a room as Nicholas had booked for the 11th, not the 10th. The elevator operator who handled the children shouting ‘Fuck Off’ at him down the endless corridor to the lift which took him up the hill to The Durie War Memorial Tower. He climbed the tower and enjoyed the sights before returning to earth and attempting to the visit the Serjeant Art Gallery. He arrived just after 4.30 to discover they had just closed. How astonished he was when the curator said, ‘Go in and have a look for 5 or 10 minutes’ He had the gallery to himself and made the most of the beautiful work in glass of everyday objects from towels to eels. Surprisingly , the shops all shut at 3 pm on a Saturday, which meant he was unable to purchase any socks which he desperately needed. He found a lovely restaurant offering a Vegan Salad and ignoring the drizzle sat outside to enjoy the sights of the town. He started talking with Bryce and Sandy, who run a Pets Crematorium who became his dining companions. They gave him an alternative route to take to his next destination and along with China, the waitress really made his evening. There was a delay in serving dinner as a very large party were booked in. After Bryce and Sandy left he started talking with Diane, who coincidentally happens to be in the photo he asked someone to take of him and his new friends. They were all fascinating people with fascinating stories and it was with a full heart that he returned to his motel to struggle with the internet.