Finding A Long Lost Friend

“If you ever get the chance, try and visit New Zealand. Jeanette and I both agreed the 9 days we spent there was really enjoyable. Friendliest people, always helpful. Took the bus from Auckland (up north), all the way down south with stopovers in Wellington, (by ferry) to Picton, Christchurch and our final destination in New Zealand, Queenstown. Like to thank our good friends Wayne and Nancy Gornowitz for telling us about Queenstown. Wasn’t really in our plans after Christchurch, but what a great place to just do a vacation.

Searching For a Long Lost Friend

In Christchurch I was looking for a guy (Ron Whitam) who had picked up Richard Teeman ( H.S. classmate)and myself while we were backpacking around Great Britian in the mid 70’s. Long story short , picked up 3 girls backpackng from South Africa, went across to France, the 4 of them went south, Rich and I went north(Norway, Sweden ,Denmark). Ron told me he wanted to visit Canada, U.S. and go to Mexico and South America. Told him to keep in touch, and about12/14 months later were (Ron, girlfriend then…wife now Jeanett and myself) are crossing the border into Mexico. Thru Mexico, Yucatan, Central America and South America. Final destination Rio de Janerio. After that we were going on to Cape town, South Africa. Ron left us in Buenos Aires, Argentina to get everything setup on Cape town. Wrote us a letter in Rio and told us how bad it was with apartheid. Chose not to go. Been with and travelled with Ron for 9-10 months Took us 6 months from the time we entered Mexico till we flew back into Miami from Rio. Lost track of him over the years. Tried all kinds of ways to find him.

Finding Our Long Lost Friend

Got to Christchurch, started searching again ,local post office, (electoral voting, library (white pages). Found 5 names that kind of had the spelling his last name was. Called that night from our room and on the last name a girl answered and I told her who I was and that I had travelled with a Ron Whitam about 45 years ago. She says”hold on let me get him”. I look at Jeanette and go “WHAT!” He goes who is this, I go John Gaines, he says “John and jeanette” We had found Ron!

Didn’t get to visit him. We’re leaving early the next morning. He lives about 50 miles outside of Christchurch, but promises to come to California this summer. Can’t wait!!

Out Visit In Christchurch

In Christchurch a lot of the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes damage is still visible. It’s seems about every 10 years they have a real shaker. People live them. Tour guide told us Burger King had major damage McDonald …minor. The churches , major damage….casino minor. They use these large containers (that you see on cargo ships) to hold up buildings, to protect road traffic from falling rocks, and they’ve modified them to be shops.

They’ve kind of nicknamed the city “Cone City” for all the on-going repairs throughout the city. Jeanette has nicknamed the city “Container City.’ You see “containers for sale” signs everywhere Small retail shops that were damaged and have yet to be repaired or possibly waiting to be torn down. They’re using them as retail shops.

Our Final Stop In New Zealand

Our final stop in N.Z. was Queenstown, and again a big thanks to Wayne and Nancy Gornowitz (world travellers in their own right), for telling us that we need to see Queenstown. Coming into town on the bus (again another 8/9hr ) trip. Jeanette seems to be holding up pretty good on these bus jaunts. True, not for everyone. I like seeing the countryside, and we make about 8-10 stops thru the small country towns. Can’t say enough about our bus drivers. On a scale of 1 to 10 they would all be a 10+. They’ll tell you everything you need to know . Just a wealth of information. Also visited Arrowtown, (about 8 miles from Queentown) could of fit right in with our old mining towns out West. Which it was. A cool little place to visit. Got to do the jet boats that do 360° flying over the water.

To Hang Glide or Not to Hang Glide?

Thought about jumping off a mountain (tandem) hang gliding, by the time we got up enough courage to do it and sign up, were told it’s getting to windy and they can’t take anyone else. I guess God does watch over dumb people!!! Besides I bungy jumped out of a hot air balloon with friend Bob Capps about 25+ years ago. You only get 3 times to be stupid, I got 2 left. Haha Saw a lot of people bungy jumping at the top of the gondola ride. You could just sit and watch the bungy jumpers or the luge riders coming down the concrete track. Jeanette and I did that 6 times. Push forward to go fast or pull back to slow down.”
XOXO – John
Sent 12/11/17
9 Days in New Zealand – Destinations Visited:
  • Auckland
  • Wellington
  • Picton
  • Christchurch
  • Queenstown


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