Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 270-273 – New Zealand – Akaroa & Methven

For what was to be the final time on our twin epic journeys we said our goodbyes to Rob & Gilly the next morning in a sleepy caravan park in Christchurch. Spending time with them has been an immeasurable pleasure at every point; I’m so glad our plans aligned so well and we happened to find ourselves undertaking this madness at the same time in our lives. There’ll be many a tale retold time and again over a splash of fine wine for the rest of our lives – shared adventures that we’ll be able to bore whoever else is unfortunate enough to find themselves within earshot with as we ramble through them.

While they set off for a flight to the north island we wandered into Christchurch for a few bits before hitting the road to see what Akaroa had to offer. As with most places in New Zealand the drive there was nice and beautifully scenic and the place itself was much the same. Travelling through the place – in good weather at least – is about as scenic as it gets. Anyone who likes the great outdoors should do themselves a favour and add New Zealand’s south island to their must visit list.

Beyond the view there’s precious little else to do here. It’s the reality and that’s not a bad thing. As I may well have mentioned before I don’t consider myself a scenery person but on more than one occasion New Zealand stopped me in my tracks and left me open-mouthed. Akaroa was close if not one such place; nice but nothing more.

We crashed there that night before getting up and moving on to Methven. This was where Rob & Gilly had first tried their hands at skiing in New Zealand so it seemed like the perfect place for us to follow suit. We’d heard tell of a pair of pubs – Brown & Blue – and pulled into the Blue pub for lunch while we hatched a plan for our time there. We left and booked into a nearby campervan ground, secured a first days introductory course up Mount Hutt, rented a host of silly ski gear and returned to chill out for the evening.

Early the next day we were out front of our site awaiting the bus up the mountain having elected to pay for a lift rather than risk getting stranded halfway up a notoriously dangerous mountain. We were up there in no time and after considering spending a fortune on gloves but thankfully seeing sense we were kitted out with boots, poles and ski’s and sent on our merry way out to await instruction.

Skiing’s not something I ever thought I’d do, which was obviously all the more reason to do it. Sophisticated and wealthy people Ski, and while I can claim to be neither I figured I could masquerade for a while and see how the other half live. Growing up I would have always imagined myself a snowboarder but when the time came to make the choice I actually conceded that I was probably too old to make a fool of myself on a board. I’m not a fan of this thought – I tend to support the notion that if you’re alive you can do what the bloody hell you like regardless of age until you simply physically cannot. That said sometimes you have to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re the kind of guy that sports long blond hair, say’s things like “tubular!” and “rad!”, and owns several pairs of mismatched phenomenally oversized trousers or if you’re simply JAMES BOND. For some reason I decided I was the latter and thus skis seemed like the way to go.

James Bond I was not for the duration of learning however. I will herein let you into a secret – I hate learning. Actually that is not true. I am cursed with a desire to be proficient / good at things without the journey that is necessary to get there – a journey I simply get no enjoyment out of. Oh, I guess it is true after all. I have zero problem with hard work and effort – I just really, really hate being crap at something. Thankfully as I’m aware and conscious of this these days without the need for reflection I tend to force myself to do things regardless of the fact that I know I won’t enjoy it in the hope that by the time I’m done I’ll have gotten past the ‘being crap’ stage to somewhere better. Over two days I may well have just about sneaked past it but am most certainly in need of a few week long ski-training trips before I can count myself a skier. I am glad I did the ski lessons and I definitely learned a bit but unfortunately I fear I am unlikely to be able to lead a troupe of black-clad henchmen on a merry dance through alpine forest under machinegun fire anytime soon.

Two days of lessons later we took our equipment back to the hire shop as the freezing evening air descended and while Fi warmed up some left over chilli I took the inspired decision to head to the local chippy and order what turned out to be a mega-portion of great chips to allow us to create the always glorious chilli chips and cheese combo to knock us out for the night.