To the coast with more than the post
Rural postie Gordon Wyeth reckons he has the best job in the world - which is why he is now taking tourists along for the ride. Tessa Johnstone sat up front for 220km journey to the coast with the post.
You can see why he loves his job - Gordon Wyeth's RD2 mail run is 220 kilometres of rolling country roads that stretch from Featherston to Lake Ferry and the Cape Palliser lighthouse, the southernmost point in the North Island.
He often does more than just deliver the post - he stops at Pirinoa Store to drop milk and bread, and pick up cigarette orders. He'll pick up and drop off pretty much anything, including prescriptions, flowers and farm machinery.
"I delivered queen bees once, had to be careful not to squash them. And I thought I was delivering a cat once, but it turned out just to be the cage."
Now he's taken to carrying tourists with him on his run. "I love this part of the world, and I thought it'd be nice to share it," he says.
He may not have director James Cameron on his run, but he's got about 200 farmers, lifestylers, retirees and artists as well as the district nurse, a former New York financier, and his two daughters.
Wyeth reckons he has met almost everyone on his run at some stage, and come Christmas time he is rewarded with cards, baking and produce.
His wife Adie, who has made me a packed lunch and a snack basket for the day, has also baked muffins for her daughters, which are delivered along with some puppy food and a flier for a shindig at the Lake Ferry Hotel.
The couple and their three children have lived in Featherston for 20 years, and he signed up for the RD2 contract about nine years ago after bowing out of running the local supermarket.
"It's the best job in the world, it suits me down to the ground, especially on a day like this. But when it's rough and awful, it makes it an adventure."
Part of the adventure for tourists riding with him is the stories from Mr Wyeth and some of his customers along the way.
I hear about everything from shipwrecks to farming mishaps, and he points out everything from the home of the Tuhirangi Rugby Club to an Italian-style castle that was built inland for fear of Russian invasion.
By about 2pm we reach one of the last mailboxes on the run - one of his customers comes out to meet him and they talk about a young elephant seal that was spotted last week.
"She's still there all right," he reports. "Gosh she's got big eyes. If my wife had eyes like that I'd tell her never to close them."
It is the first time in nine years that Mr Wyeth has seen an elephant seal - he says he often sees something special on the run.
He believes South Wairarapa is an area of the country that is still relatively unknown, and he wants to put that right. "It's not quite a hidden gem any more, but it's still a gem."
The Dominion Post