John Gilkison published a travel memoir in 2015. He suspects no one has read it

John Gilkison has seen more corners of the world than most.

There are Singapore, Thailand, Tasmania, Kenya, Zimbabwe, UK, China, Canada, and Antarctica, among others.

“So with this damn Covid thing, I’m doing it really pretty hard. But I was extremely lucky. I had opportunities that probably most people don’t have… ”said the 75-year-old.

But growing up in Glengary Station in Southland, Gilkison was around 9 when he first saw the sea.

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In 2015, Gilkison published his own memoir, The Gypsy Kiwi. He said not many people read it, as it was mainly a keepsake of his memories and for his children to read.

The book chronicles her youth, from living mushrooms for days when they were in season, to scones and pike her mother cooked on weekends.

Gilkison published a memoir in 2015, “The Gypsy Kiwi”.

SCOTT HAMMOND / STUFF

Gilkison published a memoir in 2015, “The Gypsy Kiwi”.

He also chronicles his many careers including farming, transporting deer, mining and even working on polo grounds in England.

But perhaps his biggest career stint was in the Royal New Zealand Air Force, after enlisting in 1973, a move he made to support his then wife and two daughters, who became three daughters a year later.

Gilkison said he developed his love of travel with the RNZAF.

“When I was there I was able to visit Belgium, Germany, Dubai and Bahrain,” he said.

Gilkison visited a number of places including Australia, Fiji, Singapore, Thailand, Tasmania and Kenya.

SCOTT HAMMOND / STUFF

Gilkison visited a number of places including Australia, Fiji, Singapore, Thailand, Tasmania and Kenya.

He was previously hosted at the Dubai Hilton. “I had never seen such luxury before, and not only that, because we were far from home they paid us an extra £ 36 per day. It really gave me the travel bug.

In 1980, a promotion to the rank of sergeant meant Gilkison was posted to Blenheim, bringing his family to the area.

“So my kids, they all went to school in Marlborough.

“I had a few boats. The Marlborough Sounds, I think, are the eighth wonder of the world. I have never encountered another place like this, I think the closest place I have seen Sounds is Alaska.

A letter Gilkison received from Harbor Master Don Jamison, after helping to recover the Air Albatross plane that crashed in October 1985.

SCOTT HAMMOND / STUFF

A letter Gilkison received from Harbor Master Don Jamison, after helping to recover the Air Albatross plane that crashed in October 1985.

Gilkison said he bought a big fishing boat with a “couple of buddies.”

“Which wasn’t the smartest thing we’ve ever done,” he said.

“One day I got a call from Don Jamison who was the harbor master. And the day before, a plane had taken off, and it had hit the cables of the Tory Channel.

“The plane has obviously gotten out of control.”

The Air Albatross Cessna aircraft had departed Nelson and was heading for Wellington on October 4, 1985 when it struck the cables.

Seven members of two families died in the accident, as well as the pilot. Only one passenger survived.

Gilkison says the Marlborough Sounds are like the Eighth Wonder of the World.

SCOTT HAMMOND / STUFF

Gilkison says the Marlborough Sounds are like the Eighth Wonder of the World.

“He [Jamison] said they had divers coming down to collect things but the current was too strong. So they asked us if we could trawl and try to get on the plane.

“Around 3:30 pm, we were miles away from the cables, we thought we would do a last trawl and we hooked up the plane.

“They had sent two policemen on the boat with us. When we pulled the plane up, the wing acted like it was supposed to, so it spun the plane around and twisted our ropes.

“The police said not to bring it back up yet, so we towed it into a bay. Then we had to cut the ropes so the divers could get in and retrieve things.

“I still have the letter from Don Jamison thanking us, as well as a letter from the police. They said to send us an invoice and they replaced our nets and ropes.

The Gypsy Kiwi is a brief account of all the jobs and places John Gilkison visited.

SCOTT HAMMOND / STUFF

The Gypsy Kiwi is a brief account of all the jobs and places John Gilkison visited.

In 1993, Gilkison, now single, left the Air Force and bought a small farm in the Greta Valley. But he only lasted about five years before leaving.

“At this point, I had a niece who was working in Hong Kong, so I went to her house for a fortnight.

“Then I traveled to England and found a job there, worked there for six or eight months. I remember working on the polo field that belonged to the Sultan of Brunei.

He visited various places in the UK, then visited Kenya, Dar es Salaam, Nairobi and Australia, before returning to New Zealand.

“Then I had a funny turn. I was later diagnosed as [having] a TIA (transient ischemic attack), ”he said.

The symptoms were similar to a stroke, so Gilkison had his driver’s license taken away for a few months.

This meant his deer cart business was tough, so he sold.

“When I had this weird attack, it messed up my temperature control, I couldn’t stand the cold. My hands are always cold so I thought I will move somewhere else so I went to Australia, ”he said.

“I bought a large trailer and a land cruiser.”

He was in a pub in Townsville, Queensland, when he met a Maori man who was superintendent of mines.

“He said; ‘can you drive a bulldozer?’ I said; yes, and he said; ‘do you want a job?’

“It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, but then I thought to myself, I have this trailer here, I have to keep moving forward, so I left.”

He ended up meeting a policewoman who had taken a year off to help her sisters’ camping.

“I was with Lyn from 2007 to November 2013. We traveled a lot together. But in the end, I needed to come home, so I chose to move to Blenheim, ”he said.

He said that despite all the travel, one of his biggest learnings was “how lucky New Zealanders have been.”

“My next trip was probably going to be in 2019, or 2020, as soon as I could scrape some money together, and I was going to go to Japan, but that never happened.

“But, I think the lockdown didn’t have too much of an effect on us old assholes, because we’re not interested in going to a nightclub or socializing as such. But young people, I think it’s a lot harder for them. Hope it gets better. ”

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