It took me a minute to realise that the man behind the desk in the Information Centre was flirting with me. All I wanted was a road map but he really wanted to talk. Within 5 minutes we’d discovered our common ancestry, discussed the merits of living in a small town like Lawrence and agreed that Auckland wasn’t too bad… for a city. He’d shared his plans to sell his house in Lawrence and shift back to Invercargill and encouraged me to have a look at his place. “Most of the town is owned by Aucklanders” he said. It wasn’t clear whether he thought that this was a good thing.
I never found out why my new friend would want to leave a lovely little town like Lawrence. The day I wandered along the main street the sun was shining and the town was sleepy (in a good way). I poked my nose into one of the empty retail spaces and imagined it as it used to be – a restaurant and bar. Although Lawrence is on the main route between Dunedin and Queenstown, nowadays the passing traffic is too much in a hurry to stop for a meal, the number of residents is too few, and so the business closed down.
That’s a pity because Lawrence has a lot going for it: a gold mining history, free wifi on the main street and free international phone calls at the information centre, a real pub with a real stuffed bull’s head called Boris, more good places to stop for coffee than a small place like this warrants, an excellent bakery and that gorgeous man in the Information Centre. Clear skies, beautiful scenery, peace and quiet and access to the NZ Cycle trail are the icing on the Lawrence cake.
In the days of the gold rush Lawrence had a population of 11,500. Today, sadly, there are 417 residents but I definitely could be tempted to make it 418.
Categories: New Zealand: South Island