Spectrum 642. Puysegur light
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As a child Joyce Skeates had two main ambitions - to be a gypsy and to live in a lighthouse. Today she leads something of a gypsy life living in a motorised home and working in the orchards during the fruit season. But before that she achieved her other ambition when her husband began a career in the Lighthouse Service at Puysegur Point.
Joyce Skeates had two childhood dreams - to be a gypsy and to live in a lighthouse. At age three Joyce lived in a remote Scottish mansion house with her family and father, a caterer in the Royal Airforce. She talks about the gypsies with gaily painted caravans, ponies and dogs, and as an only child playing with the gypsy children who lived a happy carefree life.
Reading stories instilled in her another dream, to live in a lighthouse station. In 1958 and now living in New Zealand, Joyce and husband Teddy were in need of a lifestyle change and joined the Lighthouse Service. Within two weeks the family with young child in tow were posted to Puysegur Point on the south-western corner of the South Island, in Fiordland.
Joyce describes the boat journey down to Puysegur Point, meeting the Principal Keeper, a Norwegian man and his German wife Erica, and her first view of Preservation Inlet, a beautiful Shangri-La.
The station stands on an exposed windswept plateau surrounded by dense bush,
with gale force winds most days. Buildings include a milking shed, radio room and the lighthouse. Life on the station included gardening, fishing, milking and cooking. Fences were built to keep grazing wild deer out of the garden and sandflies were an ever present problem.
Local Swedish man Jules Berg lived nearby at Long Beach in a hut lined with newspaper clippings and was well known for his parsnip wine.
Joyce recalls stories of life on the station including gold panning at Whisky Creek, storms, a treacherous reef and a tragic boating accident.