Tom Jones may not have a stage in Vegas, but he is centre stage in Tuapeka Mouth!
Tom operates the ferry - known as ‘The Punt’- at Tuapeka Mouth. It’s essentially a floating road that transports cars, campervans, animals, and even nuns across the Clutha River between the towns of Balclutha and Lawrence.
“The river has its own character,” says Tom.
“I can’t remember if it’s the fastest, has the biggest volume or is the longest, but it’s majestic. Everyone who sees it is blown away.”
The Punt is attached to two large cables that cross the river. It is hand operated, using only the flow of the mighty Clutha and Tom’s skill on the rudder to navigate from one side to the other. It is the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
But Punt Operator is not Tom’s only job. In fact, you could call him a ‘Tom of all Trades’.
“My wife Vicki and I bought the former St Augustine Church here in Tuapeka Mouth about two years ago. We’ve been slowly converting and filling it with all sorts of knick knacks.
“We also grow hops here and other places round here. It’s fitting that St Augustine is the Patron Saint of Brewers!”
Tom says you haven’t seen New Zealand until you’ve been to Clutha.
“You’ve probably never been to a place like this before.
“At lot of people have been to Queenstown, Dunedin, Christchurch and done the West Coast. But you would have missed the Catlins most certainly. A number of people I’ve talked to have never been to the Catlins because they cut in land as they haven’t had time. Now you’ve got time.”