It was getting late in the hot afternoon of 24th December 1972; six days before the end of a long hard year at university. I had been living in a shared house with three other girls in Sydney since the middle of the year and one of my flatmates, Sharyn and I had decided to undertake a month-long hitch-hitching tour of New Zealand during our extended summer break.
We had arrived in New Zealand a couple of weeks earlier, had travelled down from Auckland then crossed the sea by ferry to the South Island and had been partying at a youth hostel in Christchurch for the last few days. But being two adventurous young ladies we decided to head off and stay in a more secluded quiet youth hostel a few hours north, near a beach, for Christmas itself.
We had made the decision in the morning and set off around lunchtime. After hitching a ride north we finally reached the turn-off to the youth hostel which was down a long stretch of country road a few kilometres from the main highway. As we trudged along, getting a little hot and weary, we chatted to pass the time.
“What do you want for Christmas?” I asked Sharyn, knowing full well I had nothing for her and she probably had nothing for me.
“A good-looking Canadian guy would be just fine,” she quickly answered with a wink in her eye.
“Well, I’d like a well-mannered English guy,” I offered in rapid response.
We didn’t say much more after that but continued on our long trek until we reached the youth hostel, arriving just on dusk. I knocked on the door and as it opened it revealed a cosy beachside retreat more than suitable for the next few days. And who opened the door? A good-looking Canadian and a young Englishman. Perfect! Our Christmas wishes had been answered.
“We’re glad you’re here,” the Canadian (Dan was his name, we found out later) started. “We have bought a turkey and all the trimmings. We just needed someone to cook it for us.” Simon, the Englishman just smiled and handed us a glass of wine.
We couldn’t believe our ears or our eyes, but, well who cares when you are 20 and on such a wonderful carefree holiday! We quickly settled in, chatted and enjoyed the wine they had managed to arrange along with the food for the holiday.
On Christmas morning we rustled up a Christmas tree from a nearby bush and decorated it with sea shells and sea weed. We spent the morning preparing a sumptuous feast together and at lunchtime we sat down to a delicious Christmas lunch with our two excellent Christmas presents. It was truly a Christmas we will never forget and we often remember it when we occasionally get together 45 years on!