The day after arriving home we head off to the biggest music festival NZ can offer us – The Big Day Out, that is all it is, a day out – no tent is required, or thankfully, chemical toilets. Don informs us as we enter the venue of this and just for bedevilment and to help me get to grips with Kiwi culture adds, “This is New Zealand’s answer to Glastonbury!”
“It’s in a rugby stadium and lasts just a day, that’s if you get here when the gates open!”I look at him perplexed, so he continues, “Yep, like I said, this is New Zealand’s answer to Glastonbury!”
He watches me wrestle with this concept; the last time we all went to Glastonbury, we, fifteen of us camped back stage for four days and had a great time being entertained and killing brain cells like they were going out of fashion. One night we were sat around our campfire about ten on the Saturday night, debating what shifts we were employing to look after the kids, and the boy, then about eight got up and casually said, “I’m just popping to the main stage to watch The Stereophonics.”Then he started to twaddle off, as the wife interjected, “Who’s going with him then?” Looking at me, but happy for anyone else to volunteer. “I would be happy to go, but Carl Cox is playing in a minute, and I’ve been on a strict pre-Coxian fitness regime as per his self-help Dance Yourself Fitter book.” It ‘s funny what the mind lets you remember. The wife went, and I convinced Don we were in our early twenties again.
It was a pleasant Auckland day out without the kids and apart from Iggy Pop we vowed to go and watch only bands we had never seen before. The pick being Wolfmother for me, even though generally I’m not a fan of Sabbathesque music. In true festival spirit I vomited when we got back home – must have been something I’d eaten!
A few relaxing days swimming, walking, eating out, drinking, playing cards. Bumped into a friend of Lauren’s from her time in England, on one occasion in our youth we had both jumped over the wall into Glastonbury Festival, in the days when you could, and she had twisted her ankle, but she self-medicated and the pain seemed to become secondary, or as she said about that time, “The days when we danced until the sun came up, and had no regard for the future.” Warm memories to bathe in when we are old, and getting up before the sun comes up!
We are off again, this is a ‘big trip’down the bottom of the North Island and over to the South Island. Not before a wrestle with the rain-catcher that had been left off the tepee (on purpose), but now with precipitation splattering on our faces in the night in such voluminous amounts we had withdrawn to the main house. The rain-catcher is fitted, we just need a dream-catcher now, I’m a little perplexed how the dream-catcher traps dreams escaping or what storage mechanism it employs; surely an extractor-fan-dream-catcher Ghostbusters style would be a better device?
Our first stop is Lake Taupo. The school holidays are over so accommodation is easy to find and we stay on a campsite with thermal outdoor pools and the kids tire themselves out riding around on two seater go-carts. I get up the next morning to get a band expander fitted to the radio, as the guy who has serviced the enema says we won’t get any reception on the south island without one, or very little, we need a radio, music is a basic human right. The first time after the fitting that we are all in the people carrier together Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ comes over the airways, we all cheer. It has been a recurring pattern so far, every day we have heard it – I know New Zealand is behind the UK, but surely the track had not just been released? – surely? We all sing along, it is our Kiwi anthem, and will remain so on a daily basis every single day we are in the enema, ok, I could be exaggerating here, but believe me, not by much. The kids previously have never heard this song and by the forth rendition they know it so well that we take it in turns to stop our choral singing so someone can take up a solo. I’m transported away from the breath-taking scenery to the spooky Steven King type original video of poor Bonnie being tormented in a big drafty country house.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcOxhH8N3Bo After a few weeks I worry we are all becoming addicted to this song and we will all have to have a period systematic desensitisation down the (end of the) line! I can see it now.
“Ok, we have a new family with us today, The Pindar family, please share why you are all here, share with the group. We are all friends here.”
”Well, every now and then I fall apart, is the simple answer, we all do.” I offer, “Yeah, once upon a time we were falling in love, now there’s only love in the dark,” the wife chips in.
“Every now and then I get a little bit nervous, that all best of all the years have gone by,’ the boy adds.
“I don’t know what to do, I’m always in the dark,’ the girl finally says.
“Do you think you can help us, is there any hope?”I enquire, quite desperate. “Well, the way I see it, you’re living in a powder keg and giving off sparks!” Bonnie Tyler never had children and this saddens me, but she has left her mark on ours!
We walk from the campsite to Huka Falls in time to see the trapped water upstream being released down the River Waikato, the force of the water is both amazing and terrifying, as it flows through the hard igneous rock channel. We debate if you could/would be allowed to canoe it? I suspect it is like walking between the twin towers of the World Trade Centre or going over Niagara Falls in a barrel, no point in asking, as you already know the answer. I later look up if anyone is daft enough to have done it, I find no evidence, then I find Ben Brown has done it 2013, not in a canoe, a kayak, just as daft! To be fair he’s not done it during a big release, but he and others have!
I find many other ‘kayakers with death wishes on the web, but my favourite nut-job goes to the South African guy that went down the 3,000 miles of the Zambezi River on a body board!! ( – add a few more exclamation marks for good measure!) At the start of his journey the locals are taking bets on him surviving all the way to the sea, and no one, no one, would bet on him making it, but he navigates through the crocodile infested waters, and miraculously survives to the end (of the line). When he is asked what is the worst bit he replies, “The crocs, and the rapids and unexploded mines were a bit airy, but the worst was in the mouth of the river where the sharks bumped me on purpose! “This nut-case goes by the name of Louis Greeff, and he concludes, “I don’t think anyone will be daft enough to do it in my life-time!” He’s probably right, but he probably hasn’t got long to live though! The Haku Falls are pretty tame in comparison.
We are heading down to Wellington at the bottom of the north island. I have made a packed lunch and done the research, the snow-capped Mount Ruapehu raises up 3,000 metres from the plain and is a tremendous site to observe with a butty, it is yet another example of the spectacular beauty on offer.
Next time: Blowing down backroads heading south.
Thanks for your support and continued five-figured views of my blogginations every few weeks on Goodreads throughout the year – I really appreciate it.
Have a great festive period and New Year whatever your belief system. Don’t lose sight of the important things in life, friends and family and the glue that sticks us all together, and if the glue is starting to become unstuck – fix it, before the fragility of life, the precarious candle sandwiched between the dark is extinguished, gone; then it is just too late. If it ain’t broke: don’t fix it, if it is, well… deep breath, swallow your pride, suffocate your anger, and do the right thing, or regret will stalk you forever… and you’re better than that… you know you are. BIG LOVE, Ian x.
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