Driven to consider the past

The closed doors of the Mayfield Emporium Overflow. Photos by Clare Gleeson.
The closed doors of the Mayfield Emporium Overflow. Photos by Clare Gleeson.
Vintage outside the ruin of the Christchurch Cathedral.
Vintage outside the ruin of the Christchurch Cathedral.
Milton's Two Squirrels is vintage all the way.
Milton's Two Squirrels is vintage all the way.

Vintage motoring does not have to be about cars at all. Clare Gleeson explains.

Every road trip needs a theme and ours is vintage, or vintage clothing to be precise.

My daughter has been sourcing it worldwide; now it's time to put New Zealand to the test.

We'll take a vintage road trip to the South Island visiting shops from Picton to Dunedin based on recommendations on blogs, Facebook and other communiques of the vintage world.

Days and opening times are varied; most shops don't operate what I would call normal shop hours.

We cross the strait and head to Christchurch with a quick sortie in Blenheim where we have a look at some op shops which often throw up vintage treasures.

In Christchurch, many of our targeted shops are closed, some because of the earthquake and others just aren't open.

We visit Cathedral Square, mourn the stone cathedral and marvel at the cardboard one.

The chair memorial to those killed in the earthquake is sad and although it's sunny, the inner city makes us gloomy.

A visit to Buchan Street Retro cheers us.

The shop is in the heart of the earthquake-damaged area and highly recommended.

The owner is dressed in a 1950s dress with her hair a la mode.

Like everyone I meet involved with vintage, she is enthusiastic and lives vintage.

I spot a pile of 1950s New Zealand magazines, The Wide World: a magazine for men and buy a couple, though why only men can enjoy the wide world I'm unsure.

Madame Butterfly's Vintage Style Boutique is crammed with lovely vintage.

My daughter pokes around and buys a cardigan.

It's at Madame Butterfly's I decide to get vintage and collect old postcards.

It will be my challenge for the trip to find cards of places I'd like to go.

My collection grows rapidly.

Before we leave Christchurch we make a quick diversion to another recommended shop in New Brighton.

Earthquake and flood damage is still evident.

This trip is showing us another side of New Zealand.

We stop at Oamaru, a city which hooked into vintage years ago.

The stone buildings are solid and imposing, built to last, like good vintage wear.

We visit several shops and don't buy anything but the hunt is half the fun.

We press on to Dunedin. With lots of potential in Dunedin we spend two nights there.

Broad Bay China on the Otago Peninsula is an entire house chocker with china; room after room filled with dinner sets, plates, teapots, egg cups, figurines; china that is expensive, cheap, chipped, perfect.

Remarkably we come away with nothing.

Preservation has lovely stuff but not for us.

We have more luck at Shop on Carroll, which sells the vintage goods donated to Dunedin's Presbyterian Social Services.

Forget op shop jumble, Shop on Carroll is like a boutique.

We both make a purchase and are given our goods in bags sewn out of old bedspreads and curtains - very vintage.

We drive from Dunedin to Milton to visit Two Squirrels, owned by Vanessa and Warren, who had two vintage shops in Christchurch before the earthquake.

Outside their shop they have a basket of free apples from their tree; a Japanese couple each munch one as they look around.

Two Squirrels is well set up.

Vanessa and Warren run a business, rather than a hobby, and refreshingly, keep to their advertised hours.

They have a Facebook page and Vanessa writes a blog.

It's vintage all the way for them.

A small suitcase of postcards occupies me while my daughter browses.

Driving back to Picton the next day, we stop at an op shop in Timaru, but a second one is closed.

We then divert from the main road to visit the Mayfield Emporium Overflow which we have great hopes for.

Blog postings and a telephone message confirm it will be open.

As we pull up three people are peering in the window; it doesn't look promising.

We park and get out to see if by some miracle the shop is open. It isn't.

The ''Hours'' notice on the door says it all: Open some days between 11-12, occasionally as early as 7, sometimes as late as 1 ... I close about 6.30 or 7, occasionally about 5 or 6 but sometimes as late as 11 or 12 ... Some days ... or mornings I am not here at all, and lately I have been here just about all the time, except when I am some place else, but I should be here too ... Closed weekends unless I am here, in which case I am open, except when the door is locked ... I'm sure I can see boxes of postcards inside.

Eclectic and frustrating opening hours they may keep but now I'm hooked on vintage.

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