One of the pleasures of my role at Welcome Aboard Christchurch is having time to chat with the staff. They are typically very interesting people. Take, for example, Wesley Golledge who manages Punting on the Avon.
Wesley says he could talk about punting all day. And I could listen to him all day. He started punting at Mona Vale over 20 years ago while he was a student. He worked with another punting organisation but dreamed of having his own. He subsequently spent hours sitting opposite the Antigua boat sheds imagining punts gliding amongst all the hire boats.
In 1994 Wesley opened Punting in the Park. On his first morning he arrived to find a queue of people waiting – an encouraging start.
About three years ago the three city Punting sites were integrated into the rebranded Welcome Aboard Christchurch.
Punting fitted in well, particularly with the heritage Tramway.
Punting has expanded over the years with a team of men and women punters wearing Cambridge-style boating uniforms. They sport boater hats which I’m sure are a challenge to keep on your head during a nor-wester while trying to deliver a commentary.
I have now been on many river excursions with Wesley navigating from the stern of his stable craft.
“It’s an enjoyable job,” he tells me. “I never tire of it.”
“In spring we have 650,000 daffodils blooming close to the river bank. That’s amazing.”
One reason for Wesley’s love of punts is that they have no need of mechanical parts. Not surprising, given that his other big interest is riding his high-wheel Penny Farthing, something he does with dexterity.
I think I’ll stick to my road bike!