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More from New Zealand - by Dave

We have been on Waiheke island off the coast of New Zealand mainland for about 4 days. It is absolutely gorgeous here. The lodge we are staying in is very nice. It is a large house with a lot of shared areas so all the travelling people get to know eachother. There are some challenges with that that we are trying to get used to such as difficulty sleeping due to partying just outside our window. The heat does not help either. The first few nights were okay because it cooled off and there was a nice breeze but last night was stiflying. And of course there is no AC or fan.
We have been making most of our own meals in their kitchen with groceries from the local stores. That is challenging as well because of the lack of full supplies and decent cookware and utensils. The refrigerator is crap frankly, and full to capacity with everyones stuff. Our food is barely kept cold. And we are getting used to drinking warm Coke.

I have washed my socks and underwear in a sink for the first time on our trip. At the last hostel they had a washing machine but this one does not. That is something I'll have to get used to. The good side of our room being so hot is that my clothes hang dried in record time.

Yesterday we spent the day driving around other parts of the island. We drove through the beautifully rolling hills and got out of the car several times to check out the beautiful views down to the coastline beaches. The green hills agains the bright blue ocean was an overwhelming sight. Everywhere we looked around there seemed to be a beautiful painting just waiting to be created. There were sheep scattered across some of the hills that reminded me of the bugs bunny cartoons where the sheep dogs punch the time clock to watch over the flock. The wind blew the tall yellow grass like waves on the distant hills and it seemed that the surface of the hills were moving.

Driving on the left side of the road was really something to get used to. I was pretty freaked out about it and wasn't crazy about the idea, but knowing that it would be the only way to get around and see places outside the small town where we are staying it was a must. Only one time did I pull out of an intersection into the right lane and Lynette quickly shouted me back over to the left. Outside of town in the hills the roads get really steep, curvy and narrow. And in some places they become one lane dirt roads. Not one lane each side, just one lane total! And on curvy cliffside roads where you can't see traffic coming around the corner its pretty frightening. But fortunately we made it through alive.

The day before yesterday we were sitting on the beach when a woman came up to us and asked me if I could help her. Her 12 year old daughter had climbed around the cliff-side on the rocks along the beach and had gotten stuck beyond sight. Her younger brother had come back to get help. So he lead me back out around the jagged uneven rocks to find and help her. I was wearing my hiking shoes but it was still difficult navigating the rocks trying not to fall into the water. The boy was good at it but he was much younger and more agile. At one point I had to jump across about a 3 foot gap in the rocks where the water was washing in and out. I wasn't sure I would make it because I am not that good of a jumper, especially without getting a running start. But thank God I made it. Every time we rounded a bend I thought we'd be there but the boy kept leading me on. The boy said he heard her calling for help. I didn't hear her but we quickened our pace, making the climb that much more difficult. Being the pessimist I am, in the back of my mind I considered that this might be a huge ploy to get me out by myself to mug me. But I pushed the thoughts away. I was seriously scared and my adrenaline was pumping. I didn't know what type of position the girl was in. I imagined her hanging and slipping from her fingertips with her feet dangling over the water. When we finally got there it wasn't much better than that. Luckily she at least had a foot hold. A man was already there trying to climb to her. He was just wearing swimming trunks and flip flops. He had been out on a boat when his wife heard the faint cry for help so he swam over to help the girl. Unfortunately she had gotten up into a really precarious position and could not get down. And neither of us could reach her. Every time I tried to climb up I realized that it just wasn't going to happen. The rock face was too steep and smooth in some places and too loose in others. There were also really thorny shrubs that blocked the way and I got prickers in my hands and legs when I tried to pass. The girl was trembling with fear and fatigue. The man's wife on the boat had called for help and supposedly the rescue team was on the way but it seemed like an eternity passing and there was no sight of them. The girl was quickly getting too tired and we were seriously worried she'd give out and fall into the rough rocks about 30 feet below. Finally we heard a chopper in the distance. It came around and hovered for a while to assess the situation. It flew off to land on the beach which was out of sight to us. Lynette later told me that it landed on the beach and people went running for cover as the sand flew everywhere. One policeman got out and started around the rocks to us and the chopper flew off. When he got to us he was able to find a way over to the girl so that he could hold on to her so she wouldn't fall, but it was too difficult to get her back to safety. So we waited for the fire rescue team to arrive on land. They pulled up at the beach and several guys worked their way over to us. They climbed up to the girl and policeman and eventually worked out a strategy to get her down. Finally they gradually were able to climb back to the ledge where I had been standing and guided the girl to safety. Then it became kind of a surreal situation. I had just been in one of the most scarey situations in my life. I felt really physically and even more emotionally drained. I figured the rescue members might ask me some questions or maybe commend me for my "attempted" heroism. However, we all just stood around on this one big rock and they completely ignored me. As the still frightened girl was sitting there at their feet they made crass comments about how the chic in the bikini out on a boat was checking them out. I also expected to see a rescue boat come up to take us all back to the beach. But I was shocked when they asked the girl if she would rather have the boat come get them or if she'd be able to make the walk back along the rocks. I couldn't believe they were leaving this decision up to her. Of course she's going to say she can make it back, feeling awkward about causing more trouble for them by requesting a boat. After all the physical strain she'd been through I didn't think she should be made to navigate the rough cliff-side and waves. Not only was I worried about HER making it back, but I was worried about ME making it as well. I'd been looking forward to a boat ride back to the beach, but they all headed back on foot, and I behind them. The girl was fine, happy to be back in her mother's arms. I too finally made it back to a worried Lynette and I about had a nervous breakdown. It was not the relaxing day on the beach I was expecting but it was quite the story for the blog and for the future. It sounds unreal, but it did happen. Later Lynette and I were commenting on the chances that I would be here in New Zealand and on the beach at that moment. Pretty amazing.

Tomorrow we head back to the mainland and then on Friday we are off to Queenstown for our 5 day treck, and more adventures!

Hopefully I'll be able to find a place to upload more photos in the near future. I've got lots of good ones!

-dave

Posted by schuckley 14:57

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Comments

It looks like your super hero alter ego, Bolt, finally got his big day!!!

by mjcisinski

Hi Guys, I just read your entire blog. Thanks for sending me the address. I am so excited for you 2. Sorry I didn't go to your going away party we had planned 8mos earlier to go to art Basil miami and had hotel reservations. We miss you at work and hold you as a source for inspiration!

by claire wil

Buck,
That's a very cool adventure story. As I was reading it, I was afraid it might actually have an unhappy ending, so I'm glad you were there to calm things down at least. Speaking of adventure and excitement, today I took a picture of a sign and one of the guys spelled a word wrong on their drawing! Wow!

by tamacall

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