Crutsy doing... well you can decide for yourself!!
"Stuff this Crusty... turning right is not happening, we're going left!" I exclaimed after waiting not so patiently for nearly ten minutes at an intersection with constant rush hour traffic. Not the best time to leave Christchurch but when you only decide the 'roadtrip' is a go at 4:00pm there is not always so much choice in the departure time. "So where does left take take us then Crusty?" I ask all ready knowing the answer. "To the coast au" is his response empathised in colourful kiwi slang which I have missed so much while overseas... something tells me that good times await.
On the road
THE FIRST RULE OF ROAD TRIP: The two of us left Christchurch on a Wednesday afternoon with a van full of toys, fresh vegetables from Crusty's garden, top work Crusty, and a plan that hadn't progressed past leaving the city. The decision to head to the coast was made for us by our inability to turn right at an intersection and that is how the rest of the trip would would pan out. This is also when we decided that 'the first rule of road trip is... you do not talk about road trip' thus ensuring that the randomness would continue. And so there we were headed to the coast and into the unknown with neither of us truly prepared for what lay ahead.
Crutsy is sponsored don't you know... by Nippy's
ROCK SCISSORS PAPER: "Good old rock... nothing beats rock!!" I chuckled to myself as I cruzed round a sweeping left bend having just one and in the process decided that we would head south and not north at the first junction we had seen since leaving Christchurch nearly three hours ago. We hulled up for the night in the small South Westland town of Franz Joseph and set about making our presents known to all in sundry. The Kiwi Experience bus was in town, as it always is, and the drunken Europeans kept the atmosphere lively while the locals add a sharp contrast and made the place feel real. Crusty made 'not' friends with some fishermen passing through by discussing quoters but fortunately the locals were far more accommodating. I started talking shit with a helicopter pilot and as the beers drained we invented a new challenge of sorts, kind of like a real life survivor. The concept was simple, the pilot would drop us in the bush somewhere without much gear (and no idea of where we were) and we had to 'survive'. As fate would have it my new pilot friend was off for a flight in the morning to check out some 'stuff' and was keen for Crusty and I to give the 'survivor' game a nudge. "Sweet as mate... I'm sleeping in the van out there, wake me up" I cheerfully remarked not releasing that he was serious. And so at 6:00am Crusty and I were flown blindfolded into 'somewhere' and had to 'survive'.
Quality West Coast housing
SURVIVOR: Turns out the game is more fun to talk about than to actually play and at times it would be fair to say that we might have, if only a little bit, regretted our impromptu decision. "Well crusty, we got ourselves into this shit... we better get ourselves out of it"... "Soooo where do we start?!?" Our first move was to gain some altitude to get our bearings. This was not so hard as we had been dropped off rather high up and given the abundance of large mountains in South Westland, once we could see them our route to the civilised world become clear as mud... or so we though, it was actually a little murkier. The vantage point from the ridge we were saddling showed what looked like a plausible route down into the valley and out to what was probably the road... probably. The reality however was that descending into the valley got sketchy after about two hours and yet again we were at a junction but rock paper scissors wasn't going to solve. "Crusty old chap... I'm fraid to say old boy that you are going to need a rather large piece os earth moving equipment too get me to take one more step down this damned mountain" I calmly explained to Crusty. "Well Mr Ramsay Sir... I hope you slipped a club ski field rope tow in your back pocket before departing because such a devise will indeed be required to drag me up to the ridge line" Crutsy gently informed me. And so we did the only think we could do - traverse. To shorten a long story (or cut a long story short so to speak) we reached the road just as darkness was descending and started hitching back to Franz Joseph to recover the van and yarn to the pilot of our adventures. For 'surviving' he bought us a beer... top bloke.
Pass the goon bro
Yeah this man's on the goon train
THROWING CAUTION TO THE WIND: Next stop in our adventure was Jackson's Bay and a much quiter pub hidden away from the silly drunken tourists of the kiwi experience bus. The guy who picked us up when we hitched back to Frnaz was on his way to check out a cave that some buddies of his had found where a river apparently flows right through a hill kind of like cave stream but it could be you could float through in on an inner tube. He was impressed with our tails of the game 'survivor' and asked us to join him. "Sweet as mate... see you in Jackson's". So there we were sitting in a different pub, Rain by Dragon blasting on the dukebox, a older women dancing by herself, locals yarning at the bar, and us... discussing a different but no less foolish sounding plan to float under a mountain. "I suppose there are some things you just shouldn't say no to" Crusty summed up the situation and so for the second time in two days all caution was thrown to the wind and we set out on a caving adventure.
Which way is up?!?
CAVE TUBING: Our new friend Matt had a spear tube (Crusty had brought a tube with him... talk about prepared) and so with enough warm gear and a hand torch each we set out on next adventure. The cave wasn't too far, only a couple hours walk so we were soon peering into the vast opening into the mountain apparently which flowed into the next valley. Our plan was to float through the hill and then pretty much all the way back to the car... twas a good plan except that the underground river had different ideas. The level was 'higher' than what I imagine is ideal and had started to form 'rapids'. I do my fair share of throwing myself in amongst class five white water and this was by no means class 5 but when complete darkness and that uneasy sense of eminent death are in the mix, boy the pulse really starts racing. Matt assured us that it would be "sweet as bro"... well "that's all the assurance I need, how about you Crusty?" I asked sarcastically. "Yeah man, if he says it's good then I'm in" Crusty remarked with no less sarcasm in in voice. And so in a funny double bluff gone wrong we all ponyed up and floated into the unknown.
REBIRTH: I emerged from the 20min luge ride into the blindingly bright daylight first. My terror was replaced with a sense of amazement and then laughter as I saw the look on Crusty's face. He exited soon after clinging onto Matt for dear life. A hole had 'eaten' him and then kindly shoved him in an undercut... lucky for Crusty Matt floated past at the same moment and gave Crusty something to hold onto and be dragged out with... Matt's leg. Matt probably though a taniwha had got him because he had some rather wide eyes too. "Classic... now lets never speak of it again!"
New Zealand ROCKS!!
CHICKEN WITH THE BEES: Crusty and I both agreed that we had had enough adventure on our road trip so it was time for some mischief. And as luck would have it we were joined by two German girls hitching around New Zealand... didn't there mummy's teach them not to accept rides from strange kiwis. We started out amusing ourselves with the little things, such as telling them all about our colourful history including killer snow chickens and hobbits. Pretending to drive off with all their stuff got some classic looks on their faces but still they did not take heed. Those Germans are suckers for punishment!! I think we finally convinced them we were not 'ordinary' when we started playing chicken with the bees. It's a simple game involving a hive of bees, a van, and a complete lack of common sense. One person exits the van... runs over the bee hive and bangs on the top five times thus getting the bees considerably 'agitated'. They then run back into the van and it is the next persons turn. The process is repeated until someone chickens out and has to do something predetermined at the start as a result. See fun for the whole family!!
Yeah I know some magic bro!?!
THE FIRST RULE OF ROAD TRIP: So this is where the story ends... and also where it begins!! If you remember the first rule of road trip is - 'you do not talk about road trip' and thus it follows that everything above is a complete work of fiction. "What is the real story?" I hear you ask... sorry cant say, it's a secret ;-)
Check it out... Hobbits