For a year and a half we have owned a small property in Waikawa (Catlins). We are slowly getting to know the locals and other crib (bach) owners and feel privileged to have ended up in such a nice community. It is interesting that much that happens in Waikawa depends on good will and volunteers. The fire brigade is all volunteers, and the museum is manned on a daily basis by local people.
One retired woman in particular spends much of her time in the museum and is the 'go to' person for historical information on the area. When we first bought the crib we were given a good description of the past inhabitants and the origins of the first cottage. The Southland District Council had no records on the property due to the 1984 Invercargill floods destroying all records up to that point. Obviously anything done to the property since then was not reported (very little has been done, I can vouch).
When we visited Curio Bay (5 min down the road) to check out the yellow eyed penguins, the DoC ranger working there was also a volunteer. He was very knowledgeable and helpful but was working very hard to ensure that the many tourists were kept away from the endangered birds as they wandered between nests and sea. He was provided with a uniform and a caravan for accommodation but nothing else and he was working every day for a month.
There has been a New Year dance held at the Niagara Falls hall for many years and for a minimal cover charge there is a band made up local musicians (mainly from the Progress Valley Possum Pickers) and a proper country supper comes out after midnight. The event is reliant on local people giving up their time to make it an annual success.
The Possum Pickers performing at the annual bluegrass festival.
My daughter lost her cell phone and it was picked up by someone who immediately took it to the museum (the community hub). The previous Summer a fisherman found that the battery to his truck had gone flat and lending him my jumper leads resulted in receiving a bag of freshly caught blue cod. People look out for each other and one favor generally results in another.
Our place is right near the Waikawa Wharf and there is a steady stream of traffic over the Summer months and we generally get a wave as people pass and often stop to chat.
Waikawa epitomizes the sort of community I always want to be part of.