Feeling: LIKE DOUGLAS ADAMS, BUT ON EARTH (Gettit? Hitchhiker’s Guide to QTown mates)
I did something today that I thought I would never do.
I felt so naughty! Going against the stern word of the father Henio from my younger years, pulling the fingers at all the fearfully frightening movies that the act of what I did leads to brutal pillages, rapes and murders.
I hitch hiked.
I did! Well and truly. And not out of necessity, no no; this was purely a personal (ok, conjoint) choice of myself and one Sheri King.
Rewind to fast forward and set the context, yeah?
So if you made your way through my intensely tall galed (I.e., “long winded”) EEE yarns you would have become aware that the aforementioned lass featured a lot in a number of cross countries (as in busting between nations, not long distance jogs). (Though, I must admit, there was one evening in Krakow where I must definitely got my pace on in an attempt to be back in our hotel room for the last hours of her birthday celebrations). Upon saying our farewells (actually that’s a lie; much drink was taken and farewells were not actually said; more likely the convo took place whilst lounging on our range of bed bunks) we came to the fully enthusiastic notion that a New Zealand trip sometime this very year would be a fabulous idea.
And when Sheri hustled me a message informing me that through a change in plans of her dear mother instead jetting to Bali rather than take up on her week-long QTown booked hotel room, onto the bandwagon we jumped (well, AirNZ website but same thing really). Fast-forward through a rather cheap-ish airline ticket, a few months of gathering funds for shenanigans and a grand trip up on the old Mana bus to AKL and making friend with a sound soul surfer from the Sunny Coast, and you’ll have us gracefully landing through the quite remarkable, well, Remarkables mid Friday afternoon just gone.
(That sounds like we were on the same flight, thus I must clarify; Sheri actually landed an hour or so before my own self. She was waiting for me quite patiently on a couch at the end of the walk through, which I realised when it dawned the female I was furiously waving and goofily grinning at was not in fact herself).
Anyway. More shall come on the rest of the week activity bundle, but to the hitch hiking length of wool (I.e., “yarn”).
With the group of lads that I absolutely adore residing in Wanaka, the call was made to travel over for Saturday night socialisations. One great Jaas Holden came and collected us from QTown and (after he had demolished a hefty lot of KFC) we headed back over the hill (compulsory pit stop at Arrowtown and beverage at the Cardrona Hotel included, of course).
We won’t go into the happenings of the night but after a good fair few hours involving parrot shirts, the Doughbin, fallen over brazier fires and many, many, many G&D’s, it was decided Sunday would not involve a flit back across the hill – Puzzling World (THE GREATEST PLACE EVER – or should that be “a-maze-ing”?) and a 6.30pm showing of The Sausage Party (THE GREATEST FILM EVER – well, one of them; seriously, so clever, go see it) proved far more attractive alternatives.
On account of Jason and what not having employment commencing at 7am this morning, Sheri and I were idly flicking through bus options back to our hotel (and dignity). It was when comparing the times of Ritchie’s versus the old Intercity that the suggestion was made: “Why don’t you hitch?”
Well; why not?
(Actually, good reasons why not; the father Henio has always told me it’s a no go. “Dangerous Pop,” he has said many a time; and being me seeing him in his gospel-given light, I have never once considered it. Perhaps also on account of the occurrence when I was a sheer ten or 12; on route to the snow with another bunch of family friends, old Henio pulled over to chatter to the other Dad about which way to go. A cluster of HHs up ahead jumped for joyous, well, joy, and started making the short sprint to our vehicle, thinking we were there for them – alas no, Henio right back out onto the road, their elation short lived, with the brother Michael and myself giggling out in glee and gesturing not-so-lovely signals at the let-down lot through the back window. I feel my HH karma would come back and bite me should I ever engage myself).
I have known a fair few to suss themselves around the South Island with no more than a thumb and paltry piece of signage (the latter not always being a necessary). In fact, Jack-a-lad mate from back home did so no more than a mere seven days ago. And the boys claimed to have helped a good number in aid back and forth over the hill themselves. Plus, as Jaas did say; “You never know who you might meet. Man, you could even come across your future husband or something”.
And how good would some backseat banter be?
We were in. (With the Ritchie’s schedule firmly imprinted in our minds, should 4pm roll around to no avail).
We set off at about 9am (plans of an early arise to catch a friendly commuter were soon smothered with the beautiful Wanaka sunrise, the ability to lie in bed and have D&M’s and an impromptu call from old matey Katie back in England) to hit the local New World for some F&V (seriously – while I love the Alpine Supermarket in Q, their produce department is severely lacking/low on quality/on the more affluent end) and then headed to McDougall Road.
You see, hitch hiking is actually quite a fine talent. Anyone can don a piece of paper and a thumb up in the air, but it takes a special sort to actually work the magic to magic a vehicle over to pick them up and hustle them along. I mean, think about it; you have a manner of a mere half minute to come across as clean, tidy, trust worthy, of good banter ability and fun filling – mate, that’s no mean feat. Plus there’s the whole placement of yourself, way to arrange the old facial features, the way to act when a passing automotive pulls over/carries on/sends you a signing signal; there’s a whole etiquette out there that made me wish I’d had a good Google to find it all out beforehand.
Young Sheri and myself first decided to position ourselves at the bottom of the hill leading out of the magical place. But after a six-or-so minute spell of unluck (and the beady eye of a fellow backpacked bird across the way) (must clarify; bird as in female lass, not a Jansport-laden seagull), we decided to move on up the way a little for potential success.
Arranging ourselves on the curvature of the incline next to a pebbled bay perfect for a pullover seemed a swell inkling; apparently not to the driver of a silver sedan, who irately gestured something that looked like charading stirring a wooden spoon about a mixing bowl (see what I mean about getting with the HH protocol?). A lesson on the ways of looking enticing (though not too so; we didn’t want to look like girls on the job) for Sheri (“Put your thumb up higher! Smile! No, not so much; keep a bit of allure there girl”) took us through to another nine minutes, and – after chasing my rogue cauliflower halfway back down the hill – the consensus was to once again move on along the road to be on the straight leading right to the actual outskirts.
On this stint of restationing, we passed a pair of others birds (again, not feathered friends, but actual females) trudging back towards town. “Hitching?” I asked, quirking an eyebrow and trying to appear as a seasoned thumb upper. Scowlingly subjugated nods of the head confirmed my intuitions. “No luck I take it?” I went on.
No, they had had no luck, they said. A fair few cars, but no takers – literally. The two were headed back to try their luck at the bottom of the hill once again, as the sound stretch of road had proved unfruitful. Sheri and I waved them on then peered a touch apprehensively at each other; if they got a goer earlier on in the piece, did that take away our two per cent chance (we had earlier deemed this a fair ratio) of hailing a handbrake?
We plumped to settle a stand right next to the “67km to Queenstown” sign and give it a go once more, before maybe moving back down the hill but being slightly in front of the other duo (with better thumb action and fun-looking flurries). We discussed changing our little “Queenstown” followed by three smilies sign for a “Will give Gobbys” (as in the Willy Wonka treats you larker, get your mind out of the roadside), but soon settled on a rewrite of, “Will provide raw carrots, Doh Bros and good banter”. I was just crossing my T’s and dotting my I’s when a silver Land Rover, well, roved, round the bend and the silhouettes of three lads came closer. There was a moment of slight hesitation, then indication; we were in!
I think someone needs to give instruction on how to approach those in a car who have taken to the side to take you in. I feel my, “Are you absolutely sure?” probably isn’t the best way to go about it. I mean, imagine if the fellow had thought, “Why actually now you mention it, no I’m not”, slammed the door shut and scarpered? Luckily our heroic trio responded with a, “Get on in” and the glee was un-hold-in-able (leap in the air and a good gurgling squeal the go).
Now, when someone has picked you up the least you can do is provide if not exceptional, then some pretty tip top banter. The worst HHs are those that clamber on in, buckle up and promptly fall asleep before the driver has a chance to find out if their cousin in Christchurch is in fact the brother of their ex’s uncle’s mother’s stepfather (and are also the more likely to strike a bit of rapage). So I was determined to earn my keep in the middle seat, and get some first-class convo.
Introductions did the rounds (Sam, Brayden – babebabebabe – and another lad whose terming escapes me) and chat begun.
The three were a group of seven from Picton in Wanaka for the week on a boy’s boarding trip. What with the wind having a whistle for the day and the one lass there subtly having hinted as some time with her boyf, the three had deduced a rock over to QT was the way of the day – maybe some go karting, a Fergie Ferg, a launch on the mechanical bull.
Once the reasons for relocating were established, subjects started. We moved through Airpoints accumulations to Kiwibank cards to abode acquiring to tattoo totalling to drunken shenanigan spieling to mate meddling (one of the lads had his birthday the following day and had shacked up with a female in a QT hotel; the idea came to fruition that I may don a rather risqué outfit and turn up pretending to be a “present” on behalf of the boys) (not actually I must clarify; the boys weren’t too fond of the young coupling and wanted to cause a touch of strife for some gigs). From the initially somewhat held back and cautious catharsis, by the time we were busting alongside the Frankton subdy laughs were rapacious and the language had no boundaries.
And what troopers! Right to hotel door delivery. After a wee roam of QT itself and no carpark vacancies propping up, the offering of our hotel space to reserve their medium (get that?) was met with gusto; business cards were exchanged (meaning they gave us one) and we were on our ways.
After a sensationally blissful shower, I decided a Tinder session was much needed. One of the lads had been given free rein on my phone during the drinking destructions of Sat eve, and I was interested to check out his talk up. Buried in there was a message from a male I had matched with that I responded to on a whim; and would you know it, it was the front seat passenger lad that I had just come across with!
What are the chances! (Actually, quite high really; he was a bit of a babe and we were in close proximity in Wanaka for the weekend). But I just love life sometimes. Plans have been locked in for Thursday beers and bulls (as in mechanical at the bar, let’s elucidate that right now), and a potential new pal has been made.
I have also decided on an experiment to undertake to entertain myself one unoccupied afternoon; I am going to stand at a roadside leading out of an urbanised area with my big backpacking backpack on my back. But rather than be filled with my belonging, it will instead contain a hole hoard of boxes of chocolates (or beers, unsure at this stage; I just think that perhaps the whole giving-a-beverage-to-a-driver isn’t the most upstanding citizen way to be); should a willing soul pull over and offer a way forward on the road, I will literally present them with some choccies, shake their hand in salutation and send them on their way. (As I throughout keep a tally of my findings and then go onto the lappy later and reveal my findings in multiple graphical forms. Honestly, there are some simply swell websites for collating and displaying data that just beg you to do some fact finding).
So yes, my first go at hiking through hitching was a success all round. Sheri and myself are back safe and secure and sound (well, as sound as I can be said to be) in our hotel room, laughing at memes and Shortland Street (she told me she was embarrassed at Australia’s acting in Home and Away; I gladly took away her shame by showing her our Kiwi counterpart).
(We also booked in for the Nevis Swing for Thursday, as well as a parasail, pub crawl, luge and gondola ride, yoga class, hike and ice skate, so watch this galaxy). (Like what I did there using a synonym to link the whole lot back up to the movie title at the beginning? I’m nothing if not a circle to the initial).
Just to end, some summaries of hitch hiking etiquette:
– It helps if you don’t look too feral
– Give the driver – and your potential new pal – the chance to assess your personality by seeing your face (and don’t look like Myrtle; you want to appear carefree and good chat-filled, but not like you’re on the go of silly smiling substances, so don’t go too far with the grin)
– DO NOT SIT DOWN; very few will pick up the unpersevering
– Make it easy to pick you up; assess situations for pull-over ability
– If a tad anxious, don’t lessen the frets with a knife or such in your bag; txt a friend the licence plate number and your loco
– Don’t tell your papa before you do so