From Timaru to Manawatu

02:06, Jan 23 2013

I want to start this blog with a mundane but important piece of information.

I am from Timaru.

Many mock me for it, and fair cop to them I guess, but roaming the southern countryside was an upbringing most can only dream of. The further I move away from South Canterbury, the more my memories of it play in deep-yellow light.  When I think about Timaru there is an Instagram filter wedged in my brain, washing away the hard times with a sunset setting.

I knew Timaru's secrets better than anyone.  I knew how to get to the secret drain/alleyway behind The Sail and Anchor Bar.  I knew where the farmer hadn't sprayed the blackberry, where a nimble hand could nick a delicious treat.   I could smell when the brain-numbing nor-west winds were about to switch to a cold southerly.

I will always be a Timaruvian (no matter how horrific that title sounds).

But life being life, I now find myself a fair way out of my comfort zone - 732kms up State Highway 1 to be exact.  I'm starting a new job as journalist working online in Manawatu.  It's an exciting and terrifying venture all at once.


Problem is, all the knowledge I have of Timaru, is stone-cold useless in Manawatu.

Everyone who lives here has their own square pool of knowledge about this place which I can't just pick up in a day.  For the time being I'm out of the loop and outside the square.

I'll be the first to admit that it can show.  Knowing the difference between the Rangitikei and the Rangatira golf course was something I couldn't fathom and had me travelling 40km in the wrong direction.  The spelling of Ashhurst gives me headaches.  I find it massively frustrating to not know where to get a cheap haircut in Palmerston North.

And that, in essence, is what this blog is going to be about. This is my journey of learning a new place, of meeting the people, of discovering the secrets of this region.

Most importantly, I need your help.

Many of you will have spent more years in Manawatu than I have spent days.  That scares me, to know that I'm tasked with providing information to you, when realistically you could provide so much more back at me.

So I want to throw it back at you.  Now is your chance to share all the mundane information about your patch that you have built up over years.  Tell me about the secret place I need to experience, let me know what aspect of this region you love or loathe above all else and share with me your musings about what makes Manawatu the place it is.

It doesn't have to be confined to Palmerston North.  I have a station wagon and I am not afraid to use it.  But wherever I and this blog go, you can be sure it'll be a ride filled with neat people, with odd discoveries and with a slight pinch of sarcasm.

Email Chris and follow his journey on Twitter @chrishydejourno.

Manawatu Standard