South Island Trip as reported by Jenny
AUCC Trip Report South Island Part I Boxing Day to After New Years
Running late? Of course. Already packed? Sort of. Our driver? Gone AWOL. So started my first summer trip with AUCC, but the situation was as familiar to me now as red beets on burgers. The simple plan (sort of): Colm and I meet up with Mai who has our boats and James’s car at her place, ditch our car and then dash to Tauranga to reunite James’s boat and car with James, load his camping stuff then drive like mad down to Wellington to catch the inter-island ferry. So far the first part of the plan was not going well as Mai was not answering her phone so a series of calls were made to find another way of contacting her. In that time Mai woke up and charged enough juice back into her phone to finally start the ball rolling.
The boot stuffed at Mai’s place (and wondering where James was going to fit in), I sprawled across the backseat and, as anyone who has ridden anywhere in a car with me knows, promptly fell asleep. But this driving part was boring anyway, I’m sure.
To save time we rolled into Matamata to pick up James. James’s dad put in an epic effort to repack the boot, James reclaimed the driver’s seat and then we were off again. Our next stop was to pick up a second-hand lifejacket off Trademe for Colm. Then to a small town near Wellington where we got dinner and groceries that we had no space for. Oh, and the three packages of seaweed flavored rice crackers that were never touched.
Meanwhile my arm was covered in bright spots courtesy of James’s old C1 paddle. The boot was too packed for the paddle to be put properly out of the way. So the blade was resting in between the two back seats. My arm started tingling and burning for a while until I finally figured out what on earth was going on. The worn fiberglass edge gave me hive-like red spots all up and down my arm. Colm got a patch as well, but I was about ready to throw the damn thing out the window. Mai had already made a telling off redundant, so nothing was left but to sit and wait for the spots to go away. Plenty of open road for that.
We made it to Wellington and the ferry on time despite all possible drama. Campbell and his car had made it down in one piece as well. Jammed into one berth, with a six-pack of Monteiths were eight of us and two single beds so it was a little crowded. Isaac didn’t seem to handle it so well and hugged his knees to his chest and squished himself into a corner. Nick Maday was a little less extreme, but put the hood of his Nike jumper over his face. Unfortunately, his nose and chin kind of ruined the ‘face in shadow effect’. Two beds. Eight kayakers. So naturally that meant that two people should climb underneath the bunks and sleep there without wasting floor space. Campbell tried his luck grabbing some bunk with Mai first, but Jen (newly Christened by Nick ‘CJ’ for ‘Canadian Jen’) won out promising to be the big spoon and take up half the space. Somehow Mai ended up the big spoon anyway. Campbell, James and Nick grabbed the under bunk space, I kicked Isaac off the bed so he slept at the girls’ feet and we all killed some time with a snooze.
Hit Murchison at a god-awful hour in the morning so who knows where everyone slept. I can’t imagine that Nick put up the Taj in the dark, but maybe he did. Little did he know when he did put it up that the blue and white monster would become the dumping ground for the entire group; swallowing Campbell’s car keys, storing club gear and sheltering Pete’s mattress, Syphilis, for social events.
Tes the Mess, Pete and Nick Williams had already made it to the campsite along with a friend of Jono’s from the UK. Nick Roberts, who, because of our over supply of Nicks, became Brit Nick or Brittany or Wales depending on who you talked to. Nice kid.
The kayaking prowess highlights of the trip were pretty intense. The Granity Creek rapid, some angry looking water, a drop, followed by more angry looking water and two holes was done by all who had leveled up to it. The first run was surprisingly without carnage, Tes rolled ridiculously close to one of the holes, and Wales decided to live on the wild side and shot right into one of the holes without blinking. The rest of us got to clamber through the brush and over the didymo ( ‘rock snot’ is so appropriate; nasty squishy stuff) covered rocks with our paddles while everyone else took our boats down. (After seeing no one die on that churning piece of water I asked, being all about self-preservation, when I could do it. Sadly, after Doctor’s Creek it was not meant to be).
I wasn’t there for the second run as true skill was displayed when Colm, Isaac and Campbell all decided to do Wales’ hole eating one better and swim the Granity Creek Rapid. While Mayday just kept it simple and did the rapids upside down. Separate adventures included Nick Williams managing to break his paddle trying to crowbar his way out of being pinned. Much to say the paddle didn’t like that idea. Mai and Campbell duct taped a leaky air mattress and loaded it with Jager and Red Bull then took it down Doctor’s Creek as a floating bar. Campbell at the helm (whenever he was facing forward) sort of steering with James’s extra C1 paddle, and then being towed by Pete at all other times. I managed to find trouble when there was supposedly none to be had by going off to play on a ‘wave’ that was a hole and flipping over before hand. My face kissed a couple of rocks and pretty much I was done being upside down and pulled my skirt. Came up to a lot of startled faces to discover that I had rubbed off part of my cheek, my chin and gashed my eyebrow, which provided the great effect of having blood running down the entire right side of my face. Mayday flipped and swam in grade II and lost his paddle for a sad twenty-five minutes or so before it was spotted on the side of the river and the two were reunited. In the words of James, our spiritual leader, ‘nice work’ to all involved.
Off river carnage had its day as well. Nick Williams grabbed a kerosene lantern with his bare hand. Pete stepped on an improvised tent peg made out of a piece of Wales’s car radio antenna and cut the bottom of his foot open. Wales flirted with possible carnage on New Year’s Eve when he decided to hit on a thirty-year old woman while her husband was sitting right next to her. He then successfully became a drunken liability and had to be led forcefully back to Pete’s van where everyone had crammed in to hit up town for some action. Tes came in second, tripping over some concrete steps with Wales and falling onto the sidewalk while everyone else trailed slightly behind on the drunkenness. Campbell pulled out some pretty sweet dance moves and Mai had difficulty staying on her bar stool.
The van ride home after midnight proved interesting. James was self-appointed designated driver, as well as people loader (as Wales actually had to be thrown into the van). Isaac drunkenly played with Colm’s hair all the while asking if I was jealous that he was touching my boyfriend. Mai had Mayday on her shoulder and Wales in her lap. Wales being completely trashed couldn’t be moved, though Mai half-heartedly asked the drunken crowd in the back to come to her aid a couple times. CJ somehow got left behind completely and ended up walking back from Murch with Kylie and Yan. Apparently she hadn’t progressed to her biting stage of drunkenness so was still fit for human company.
A kid stole James’s, Colm’s and my vodka through the kitchen window. A group of the little bastards set up a decoy to whine for some mixer while another one snatched the bottle. We found the decoy later sitting next to our stolen Smirnoff, and the pipsqueak said a friend had given him the bottle—he hadn’t stolen it. The boy was pretty trashed but his elders handed over twenty dollars since they had helped drink it.
Nick Williams had to be coaxed to bed after he heroically tried and failed to ‘save’ Tes from going into Pete’s van. Isaac had a long stint in the kitchen waiting to sober up enough to move after spewing in one of the sinks. I’m not really sure where Wales slept, and I think CJ stole Maday’s sleeping bag so he was confused for a while as to where he was supposed to sleep. Jen Logan (now Jen Ross) offered some moral support to the more sober taking care of the less sober. Her van was also my first introduction to ‘Say no to Mo’ bumper stickers.
My part in the trip ended with Maruia Falls. James had mentioned a waterfall and I had said (without thinking) ‘sure, why not’. Twelve meters? Twelve feet? Bring it on. Silly little American, meters and feet are completely different kettles of fish. So I was about one notch short of hyperventilating when I actually saw the waterfall. And I wasn’t alone. CJ, Mai and I were dead against it until Mayday surfed about half a meter from the edge, did the worst line, and still came out alive. Pete did it once, Nick Willams did it once, Colm did it twice after he swam the first time, and then CJ, Mai and I had one go each. CJ was fine, Mai pulled her skirt before she hit the water and I got pulled out of my boat. Mai managed the most drama by having her boat appear and then making us wait another fifteen seconds for her pink helmet to come bobbing to the surface. All I could see from upriver was Campbell pick up the throw bag and scan for a place to chuck it. Extreme points to all who participated.
The rest of the funny stuff isn’t really mine, but if you’re curious ask James about hitchhikers in the South Island and he’ll have a story for you. It even involves Queens of the Stone Age.
Cheers to all and apologies for the heaps I have forgotten!
Some side notes that didn’t make it in:
-Pete thinking up better ways to bring booze on the river after he’s already on the river
-Pete’s mattress syphilis, unlucky enough to get shat on
-Campbell’s keys…gone missin’
-Mai becomes Max
-Jen somehow is little spoon…Mai is big spoon
-Isaac freaking out in close quarters
-Jen awakened by the smell of food…too soon