Well, you have most likely seen the PoD series on me. Now, here are the facts and nothing but the truth for those readers wondering how on earth anyone can survive three weeks in the bush with Paul.
You have to be totally naïve in the first place. The harmless, “Come and see my world” sounded like a great invitation and there were no added “but get fit first and expect to be tested to your limits” and “hope you don't mind getting wet”. So, off I went and with the last of my savings booked a flight to New Zealand and left everything else to fate.
It all looked very promising until I couldn't get online for a week or so before my journey and Paul, being the perfect planner that he is, had not yet told me (a) where we were meeting, (b) where I should stay the first night and (c) how to hook up with Sean on the way down to the South Island. Ever tried phoning someone on their mobile phone in New Zealand? Well, don't bother, you get loads of Chinese or the phone is hung up on you. So, there I was, backpack packed, flights organised and no word from Paul apart from a text message that he was sorting it out. Fortunately for me (maybe God intervened) I managed to fix my PC the morning of the flight, grab the email from Paul (he had sorted something out) and go.
So, I was to check into a hotel in Auckland and then travel down on the bus to see Lake Taupo and do the Tongariro crossing with Sean. Brilliant! Sounded like fun and a real adventure.
Start of the holiday
Early start and off to the bus station. I have a photo of me looking smart. Backpack on, hair tidy, bit of make up. Little did I know, this was soon going to go down the drain. Arriving at the bus station, they had no reservation for me to Turangi, never mind I thought, got to get the bus anyhow and with no worries and a sense of adventure, off I went. It had rained a little but looked promising and I managed to get a good look out of the bus window at some wonderful scenery as we made the journey down south. Ten minutes from Turangi, a quick text to Sean (yes, I am very organised) to let him know I would be there soon. No problem, he assured me, he was drinking coffee and waiting.
So, what went wrong? Arrived in Turangi. No Sean. Waited. Sent a text, “are you sure you are at the bus station?” to which came the reply, “where are you exactly?” Paul had only told Sean Taupo and me Turangi! Great! We did have a laugh at Paul's organisational talent.
Lesson number one, if it is not fishing or casting, don't let Paul organise it!
Sean and I took it easy, planning to do the crossing the next morning (this means we ate good food and drank beer). The weather didn't look too promising but we felt tough enough. However, after getting up at the crack of dawn, we were informed that the crossing was off due to the bad weather and 60km/h gusts of wind. So, we decided to do a different trek instead. Much to Sean's annoyance he then promptly took ill. Was not really sure why and started to wonder if this had anything to do with Paul's chillis!
All alone, I went off into the rain to do a two hour walk to a magnificent waterfall. As this was my first real taste of New Zealand countryside, I was full of enthusiasm and didn't care about getting soaked. (That's why I packed my jacket, right, for that odd shower. Little did I suspect that it would be my one of the most essential life saving items during my entire stay)
It was a fantastic walk, starting by walking through fields full of heather, not a person or house in sight for miles and miles, entering a beautiful wood, following a trail and hearing the sound of the river getting closer. All around I was aware of different sights and sounds; the birds singing, fantastic trees, plants and bushes, the various shades of green overwhelming me. Then, on turning the corner, a breathtaking view of the river rushing through the woods. Pure nature and extremely beautiful, it improved with every step towards the waterfall. Those two hours were pure bliss for my soul. Being my first real taste of New Zealand, I was completely taken with the amazing countryside.
Back at the car, Sean was dying! We drove back to the backpackers and I didn't see Sean again for the next 24 hours. Well, only to bring him some ginger beer, once he started recovering.
It was soon time to head our separate ways, Sean to meet some friends and get fit enough for his flight home and I to get the bus to the ferry and then to meet Paul on the South Island. We left Turangi in the pouring rain, of course. I was still optimistic, it was meant to be summer after all and a few days rain is not a big problem when you are there for three weeks.
He didn't tell me! Sean, I mean. He showed me photos on his digital camera of the South Island but didn't tell me that Paul had shaved all his hair off! I entered the ferry terminal and there was Paul, grinning and waiting for a reaction. Yep! A bald Paul! I think I was pretty cool and had half been expecting something like that, so I didn't drop down dead. (And it does suit him).
Anyway we drove off to find somewhere to camp. Yippee! Camping on a beach, I had never done this before. We drove a while and it was starting to get dark when we arrived, so Paul hastily put up the tent and started cooking. I felt a little useless but did what I do best, talked.
By the way, here come lessons number two and three. Don't expect to arrive anywhere during daylight. And be prepared to eat your main meal of the day at 11pm.
Still very much the city kid I did my usual night time routine, put on pyjamas, removed make up, brushed teeth, put some cream on etc. God knows what Paul thought. I think this was the last time I did this. (Hasten to add, I did still brush my teeth) Awoke in a hot tent, the sun was shining (one of the very rare occasions this happened) and went outside to be greeted by a wonderful view of mountains, sand and sea. Sat there for a while just taking it all in.
We moved on quickly, Paul said we had a bit of a drive and so I sat and relaxed in the Red Herring taking in the coastal scenery. By the way the Red Herring is a story for itself. You wouldn't believe how much stuff can fit into a car like this and how much organised chaos Paul has in it. He knows, believe it or not where everything is, which, is a miracle in itself as everything is piled up high and is then duly covered with a mattress. My backpack threw this organised chaos into a catastrophic state of affairs.
Eventually we arrived at a farm and had to collect a key to continue down tracks towards the lakes. I now know why Paul has a 4-wheel drive! It was lots of fun and I felt a bit shaken around but Paul being the great driver that he is, told me not to worry, gave me a beer and made me get out in order to open gates. It was hilarious how we only met cows, sheep and rabbits along the way. I did think it was funny watching the cows stare at us, wondering what on earth we were doing there.
When we arrived at the lake it was dusk. I could see how beautiful it was, surrounded by mountains but unfortunately the rain had followed us, so we hastily set about setting up our shelter.
Actually, Paul set up everything. I had never camped before and didn't have a clue where to start. He put a canopy up between some trees, fixed up the tent, made a campfire and proceeded to cook. I felt pretty helpless and took it all in, especially how to light the little stove. Then, of course an explanation of the basics, for instance, “here is a spade Lisa and some toilet roll”. Yuck, I thought, I mean, I would not have to go to the loo. I could wait until we went somewhere else. (Little did I know then, we were to stay there for the next 3 days).
Paul cooked a great meal. I was very impressed. All fresh food and everything in one saucepan and very tasty. He has this off to a fine art. But it wasn't easy learning to drink wine out of a box. The problem being the box disappeared, the glasses all leaked and the wine was then squirted into the mouth directly out of the bag. It didn't help that it looked like a bag of blood and as my friends in Spain will know, I have trouble hitting my mouth when having to aim wine at it. Still, it was the first night and I like wine, I was sure I could get used to this.
After a while, I left Paul playing guitar and went to sleep in a sleeping bag, with my clothes on, it was quite chilly and I was tired (it had nothing to do with Pauls' guitar playing, honestly).
Lesson number four: If you want a good nights' sleep, remember your ear plugs! Paul can play guitar all night long and tends to fall asleep with it in his arms.
The next morning, sun shining, hot tent and off to discover the lake. Knowing Paul doesn't get up before dawn, or lunch even, I proceeded to make myself some tea. How proud I was to get the stove going without setting fire to the surrounding trees! I sat and looked at the lake for what seemed like hours. It was a gorgeous morning and I felt very fortunate to be there.
"Loopy" Lisa email@example.com is Sexyloops' Superwoman has been flyfishing for just over a year. In that time she's fished Devon (one fish), Spain (nada de nada), Germany and most recently New Zealand. She has a unique approach to fishing, life and Tim Tams.