Waking up in the barracks was a sobering experience; we drove through the base, and realized, “Jesus. We are in an army base.” People were marching in fatigues, it was daylight out, so it REALLY looked like an army base, and as we drove through, we melted down into our seats to avoid making eye contact, reeking of sins.
Once we got off the base, we all released a sigh of relief and a healthy laugh, “Well, that was a bit ridiculous!” With the army base in our rearview, it was time to road trip it to the Franz Joseph Glacier (pronounced glahhhhh-seee-errr) where we’d be flying in a copter, and stomping on some ancient ice.
Once again, this roadie would be much more enjoyable with friends, and the ability to see something cool and say, “Yo, let’s check that out ya?” There were many times while we hitched, when I was itching to ask the driver to pull over so we, two strangers, could get a quick view; this is what a polite person would call, being bold, and a Kiwi would call, being a “deek-head.”
After some hours clocked, we stumbled upon a lake, but not just any lake, Lake Wanaka—the purest water I’ve ever laid mine eyes upon, it looked fake, beyond clear, bluer than blue, and behind the lake sat the alps. Charlie spun the wheel right; we hopped out, threw on our suits, and ran in.
It was cold, but oh so delicious.
We kept cruising through the country, and it got better. With each curve came a new view, and it was as if we had stumbled onto the set of Avatar—everything seemed untouched, Mother Nature straight naked.
“Blue Pools 24K”
Well that sounds good! The sun was starting to set, but blue pools sounded far too good to pass up. We took the trail, and were led through a jungle, then to a wobbly bridge, and eventually, another bridge right over a river of pure glacier water… insane.
Doug and Charlie, both humans who like jumping off things, decided that the 30-foot drop was worth trying. You could see through to the bottom, and it looked deep enough… they thought so too, but hypothermia was also a concern.
They threw a leg over the railing, readied themselves, and jumped…
“BYAHHHHHH” A smack rang out as they hit the water.
“It’s cold, it’s cold!”
They swam as fast as they could to the bank, scaled back up, and had adrenaline smeared all over their face.
“I wanna do it again,” said Charlie, smiling with boyish excitement.
“Let’s do it naked!”
Ok! Something about being naked in this country feels right—Mother Nature is in her purest form, why shouldn’t we? We fully disrobed, looked down into the cold waters, and jumped.
“OH MY JESUS. OH MY JESUS!”
“It’s in my stomach! It’s in my stomach!”
It was cold.
We scaled the rocky bank, got dressed as quickly as possible, and basked in the adrenaline rush.
“I am so glad we did that!” was the general consensus; Marty and Ira just laughed at us idiots.
Back in ol’ Pompey we cruised, windows down, enjoying the fresh, pure New Zealand air as the sun slowly melted away.
The terrain got steeper and steeper, and eventually we go to a bridge with another amazing river, so we stopped, naturally. We pulled over and something did not smell right—we looked at Pompey’s front wheels, and smoke was pouring out the sides—hmmm. This is not good. We established that it was probably the breaks, though none of us know a damn thing about mechanics. It was getting dark, and we had two options; do we camp on the side of the road, or gingerly lead Pompey to a backpackers (hostel)?
Charlie felt confident he could steer her to the glory land, so we piled in, and said our prayers. “Baby Jesus, this trip has been so chill, and being a chill cherub, could you lead us to safety.” (A traditional New Zealand prayer for safety) Charlie played a little game of “Don’t Touch the Breaks” and, as he attempted to glide the car to safety, the rest of us came to grips that these could be our last moments on this beautiful planet.
Men are stubborn, this I know, but we managed to get to the flats, and find a backpackers with hot showers. We thanked our lucky stars, baby Jesus, and hoped to find a mechanic in the morning—tomorrow was the glacier hike, a good 200K away…
Moral of the Story: First off, thank you baby Jesus. If you have five grown men in a sedan, with a bunch of luggage, don’t expect a car bought off TradeMe (NZ Craigslist) to not pose a few problems!