“I’ll give you one American dollar to jump in!” Yelled the cowboy from the boat. On the inside I laugh. First, at the fact that he felt it was important to highlight what kind of useless currency he was offering. Secondly, at his way-too-out-of-place American South accent and really, really cheap offer of $1.
It was that awkward moment, when you find that perfect swimming hole and a jetboat full of idiots come buzzing up the valley. Its the “only in New Zealand” that you dont find on the posters. As far as we could tell, we where the only ones who made the trek through the boggy old growth woods, and into the start of the valley. Mount Aspiring National Park isnt a busy place, not by a long shot, but one company offers $300 jet boat rides. I guess this is where they go.
Truth be told, I was already on the rock and thinking about jumping in, despite the sandfly swarm and the 3 hour hike out that lay ahead. But something about the 20 cameras, cell phones and I-pads (I-pads are never acceptable for photos), put me off. More than that, it was the the bizarre demanding tone from a boat full of strangers.
“Jump in, just do it.” Said the boat driver twice.
“Theres 30 Cameras on you. You have to.” Pointed out another guy.
“Ca’mon” Said the impatient guy.
“Are you not entertained!?” Yelled Maximus Decimus Meridius.
The Cowboy. The Chinese. It was all too much. Amongst the beautiful desolate valley, a pale guy covered in sandfly bites, jumping off a less-than impressive 2 meter rock isn’t going to get you the most likes on your My New Zealand Adventure Facebook album. Never did I think I’d be in the mountains, having to literally negotiate with these people. Why?
As they howled off into the distance, it struck me. They where the ones stuck in a boat. They cant feel the sandflies, taste the water or feel the rocks. They’re passengers, seated, wearing life vests, with their screens firmly to their eyes. Maybe, somehow, they where bored. It was just all so safe.
Shortly after that we realized we where losing light. And it was looking like it was going to rain. We puffed, laughed and sweated our way back out, getting to the car at dusk, tired and ready for curry. “Lamb Masala!” yelled someone from the back seat. Lamb Masala is always a good idea. I was so glad I didn’t have wet pants.