Alastair Riddle – Itinerant Locksmith

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Alastair with his work vehicle and Midge, motorhome behind.

Alastair Riddle, local locksmith grew up in Taranaki. He established a thriving business in Stratford, employing four staff, before selling up and becoming an itinerant South Island locksmith.

To achieve this, he first imported a 50 seater Nissan bus from Japan, which he rebuilt as a motorhome. Most motorhomes are converted vans. Not this one: it has more mod cons than your average batch, more luxury than a beach house. For eight years, Alastair, wife Heather and dog Midge travelled through the mainland, working in all the tourist towns from Central Ōtaki to the Coast. “Plenty of work in New Zealand if you go out and ask for it” said Alastair. Motels are forever needing ranchsliders mended, windows fixed, locks repaired and keys cut. The Riddles saw the country, enjoying eight years of touring, working and exploring. Alastair reckons that in his time he’s repaired over 2,000 ranchsliders. “It’s the tracks that are the problem” he said. “ To cure a sticking ranchslider, when fitting new wheels you must repair the tracks first, they are always damaged.”

Eventually they wanted to settle down near a beach. They’d visited friends on the Kapiti coast over the years, and Ōtaki fitted the bill, so four years ago they built a house at Ōtaki beach, near the Health Camp.

Alastair finds enough business on the coast, from Foxton to Paekakariki to keep him occupied: cutting keys, repairing locks and windows and making ranchsliders slide smoothly.

They still go away in the motorhome just to enjoy the “Nomadic Life” and have met a lot of wonderful people on the road. The South Island has hordes of motorhomers, who travel around working in a wide range of work.