Adventures in New Zealand with my Soft Star Shoes
Soft Star Shoes has a long legacy of Soft Star babies, but about 25 years ago I held the title as "The First Soft Star baby". Mom and Dad set up shop in our Southern California garage and became shoemakers as I scooted around in my soft leather shoes. As time passed I moved and grew and Soft Star Shoes was there for it all. From the warm Southern California sand, to the riverbanks of the Blanco River deep in the Texas hill country, to the businesses’current resting place on the sodden ground in Oregon. My Soft Star mocs will always be a little more than a cozy pair of slippers because to me they are a piece of home. So when I packed my bags for my travels in New Zealand my favorite pair of mocs were tossed in to my bag with a few other essentials.
Wild Foods Festival, Hokitika New Zealand
The first time my Soft Stars got a taste of what happens at night when I’m not cuddled up in bed with a good book or plodding around the house with a bowl of popcorn ready for a DVD was in Hokitika, NZ. Hokitika doesn’t have much going on except for once a year when the Wild Foods Festival takes place. Thousands of people flow into the sleepy little town and all school grounds, beachside lots and backyards become campgrounds for the visitors who are ready to taste everything from huhu grubs to bunny burgers to cow udders. A day amongst the rowdy costumed crowds can only lead to a night at the Speights, the bar in Hokitika. As the sun went down and my sunburn tingled, my toes resisted the chill of the night air that my flip flops exposed them to. With a chuckle I slipped into my Soft Stars and went out for a rowdy night. “I’m wearing my slippers to the bar,” I announced to my friends. They shook their heads but I would tell they were a little bit jealous. After that fateful night out - weeks passed without a sign of my Soft Stars and finally I accepted that they had been left behind. A new pair arrived in the mail after a phone call home, but I still yearned for my trusty favorite pair.
The Northern most tip of the South island of New Zealand is in Golden Bay and is best visited in the summer months. Summer had faded into fall when our trusty tent hit ground at the deserted campground. The cool air misty air didn’t hinder the incredible beauty of the isolated stretch of land. We hiked the Farewell Spit - a rugged sandy stretch of land -for hours, only accepting a ride as darkness threatened to fall beforewe reached the campground. I eased my throbbing feet into my sleeping bag and pulled my hat as far down as it would go against the cold night. Wiggling my feet down I jumped back as I hit a lump in the bottom of my bag – “what the..” I started to say before realizing that my long lost favorite pair of Soft Stars had resurfaced at the most critical moment possible. I can’t say that night was a warm or cozy one, but my feet were in heaven. Protests of the odor the mocs had acquired after festering in the their dirty beer soaked state for months at the bottom of my sleeping bag didn’t stop me from rocking those mocs all throughout our chilly week in Golden Bay. My mocs eventually returned to a state of odorless warmth and helped me through a wet winter on woodfloors in Auckland.
The “trip” to New Zealand has now evolved into living in NZ and by now my traveling companions have Soft Stars as well. The Milford Track was our latest adventure in NZ and our pampered feet were the envy of all our bunkmates each evening after days in hiking boots. The walk is known as one of the greatest the world and is hands down the best of the nine great walks in New Zealand. The 35km tramp takes 4 days and takes trampers through beautiful ever-changing landscapes. After long days on the trail our mocs could not have felt better. I am looking forward to many more adventures with my mocs, who know where I will take them next!