Piano man playing songs in the key of life
A $1 investment is paying back dividends in notes, the musical kind.
Vojtech "Pango" Zamecnik has discovered a way to freedom camp his way around New Zealand while giving something back to the community with his ivory keys.
Recently arriving in Nelson after playing on Akaroa's waterfront for nine months, Zamecnik said he spent two months tripping around the South Island, before gradually making his way up to the top of the south.
He has been living out of his Land Rover, which had been customised to haul around the piano he purchased in Auckland for small change.
"It's funny, the piano itself, I won in an auction for $1 but the solution to transport a 200kg instrument is now $10,000 to $11,000."
The piano is mounted on a wheeled platform, which is designed to compactly fit his stool and busking basket before being loaded onto the back of his Land Rover, all of which takes about 10 minutes.
Originally from the Czech Republic, Zamecnik came to New Zealand in 2014, spending the first two years working in construction before he decided to see the country on the seat of a piano stool while playing improvised tunes to delighted passersby.
He's been seen playing in scenic spots including Wanaka, Hokitika and Nelson's Tahunanui Beach.
Zamecnik said when he played in some "incredible locations" a lot of people wondered he how got the piano there.
He said he hoped his melodic tunes increased tourists' enjoyment of their location.
"I'm not giving music to people, I'm giving them memories."
Zamecnik may be a piano man but there's no Elton John, Billy Joel or Beethoven in his repertoire. Every piece is improvised, never to be heard the same time twice.
"I'm creating the music right in the moment.
"If I play someone else's music, I also improvise and I will never play it the same again. Never."
Zamecnik said he had been playing since he was five-years-old when he discovered a piano in his family home. Continuing to tickle the ivorys for eight years, he didn't touch a piano for more than a decade until he purchased his bargain piece here in New Zealand.
Intending to leave Nelson for a "warmer climate", Zamecnik said he wanted to get to the North Island and had loose plans of getting to Tauranga and the Bay of Islands.
His brother, who is able to work remotely, has recently joined him on his tour around the country.
"We are not travelling like many other backpackers. I know many people who can make a whole road trip around New Zealand in three weeks. I'm not in a rush."
Living off busking money has been no mean feat, he said.
"It's definitely not easy to make a living by playing piano but I still live and I really enjoy my life."
He said it didn't matter how much money he had.
"I know I can stop somewhere and immediately get cash which is good, and I can travel with that."
"It's like living the dream."
*More information on Zamecnik and his travels can be found at www.pianomad.com