Becoming Arrowtown locals

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Ironically, I’ve often found travelling quite hard work. I find myself disappointed as a tourist because I am an outsider – I don’t have a local pub (no matter what Lonely Planet recommends), I can’t meet a good friend for a chat at my favorite cafe and I don’t know where to find people doing creative stuff.

There is a big difference between being a tourist and actually living somewhere. In theory, having our home with us  we can “live” where ever we park up. The problem, though, is the compressed nature of our stays; I don’t like only scratching the surface in a place – having to judge from appearances, so it’s important to figure out how to become locals quickly where ever we are.

In real life (the one where people live in houses), I have made friends through work, or through shared interests. I work from home, so I decided to make a quick list of things that interest me.

list

  • Does Arrowtown have a playcentre? No.
  • Playgrounds? Yes – not many children, but will keep trying.
  • Craft shop? Yes – and The Stitching Post has a sign in the window for Knit and Natter night – BINGO!

I don’t knit, but making is making, right? I went along and had a really relaxing evening – chocolate, chatting, the odd bit of half-arsed crafting, but it was incredibly fruitful regarding my Secret Mission.

I met four locals (from around the Queenstown area). I’ve subsequently met up with two of them (Abi and Susan) and their children (BINGO) for a playdate, and have scheduled a bus craft night for next Friday evening (please come if you’re in the area!), plus another playdate. Abi works at the Queenstown Arts Center, so I’m getting a jump on our coming week Queenstown too.

On top of that, the creative tap that was turned on that evening has produced the following:

needle felted dolls
I have started these two wee needle felted dolls…
Otis painting
We got the paints out
The biggest easel in town
The biggest easel in town
The shooting stars were jumping on each other"
“The shooting stars were jumping on each other”
merboys
The beginnings of two salty dreams

In our travels so far, we’ve seen fish and seaweed and toadstools and colour palettes to die for, but spending time with other creative people is what has teased these random parts out for me to work with.

Walking through Arrowtown on our first day, I was a bit put off by the place. It’s beautiful, but it seemed like everyone was from somewhere else. I felt grumpy. It seemed to me that they were all shopping, staring, being loud and brash and generally spending lots of money. I wasn’t really into the vibe, and was keen to move on pretty quickly.

We’ve been here close to three weeks now though and the friendly staff at the campground, one Knit and Natter, two Irish music nights at The Fork and Tap, and being greeted by name at Provisions when we pop in for a coffee has changed everything.

I’m excited. I’m inspired. I’m not quite a local, but I’m definitely not just a tourist anymore.

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