Three Tramps in Mud Time

The New Zealand government long ago recognized the potential for boredom in this, the Levittown of the South Pacific.

Consequently, it invented many novel holidays in the hope of making it seem as if there was a lot to do here and plenty of good reasons to do it.

Last Monday, for example, we celebrated the Queen’s Birthday. Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday? A holiday? Give me a break. Why should we get the day off just because some random horse-toothed transvestite turns 84?

New Zealanders don’t seem to mind. In fact, Kiwi workers are happy to be entitled to four weeks of paid vacation and paid holidays every fricking year.

That’s what you would expect from a commie-type situation like we got down here. Back in the world’s scariest democracy, most workers would be grateful for 20 minutes annual toilet-leave. Which is exactly how it should be. As Jesus always used to say, “If you’re looking for a handout, you’re in the wrong part of town.”

I have to admit, returning to the subject at hand, that it’s not really boring here. There’s plenty to do in New Zealand. Three things, to be precise. You can go for a walk and I forget the other two.

That’s what Jacquie and I wanted to do at the end of May. Forget. We went to Tairua. It had been a week since our last holiday. We were burned-out, exhausted from so much looking forward to our next holiday. It stayed sunny in Tairua long enough for us to unload the car. Then it rained for two days.

Heavy downpours caused the stream behind our bach to inundate the flood plain where cows sometimes graze. Not this time, but sometimes.

The water took five or six hours to drain into the Pacific overnight. No cows were injured in the incident.

We feared we might have to spend the entire week stuck inside, talking to each other. Maybe that’s the punishment we deserved for our hubris, for not expecting foul weather. After all, late autumn in the central north island tends to be rainy and chilly. Then we heard that the stream only breaks its banks once a year and we counted ourselves lucky to have picked the right week for this patently exciting event. Perhaps as a bonus we would also contract Dysentery.

But things returned to normal by the third morning. The weather turned warm and fine.

There's got to be a morning after/as long as there was a night before/All our holidays have been disasters/with a fitting movie score. (From The Poseidon Adventure theme.)

Thank goodness the flood spared our bach.

There wasn’t a cloud in the sky by noon and we could clearly see the distant mountains.

“It’s exactly like being in New York City,” I said.

“How do you mean?” Jacquie said.

“Look at those mountains and close your eyes.”


“Now imagine that instead of mountains, there are buildings, and instead of lush vegetation, there are people.”


“Now also imagine that you aren’t bored. You see? It’s just like being in New York City.”

The sun was busy warming the land. We could go on some hikes after all, further conversation averted! The only bummer was that the tracks would be muddy and we didn’t want to get our hiking shoes all mucked up. So instead of hiking we decided to take a tour of typical New Zealand baches around Tairua.

This bach belongs to NZ's eleventh wealthiest man. Locals say he's a refrigerator magnate.

This bach sits on 2,000 square meters of protected bush. A chastity belt marks its boundaries.

This is a tree house.

The next day we visited Broken Hills, a public park and the site of gold mines long defunct.

The day after that, we went to  Cathedral Cove.

The awesome Cathedral Cove. The nearby beach was covered in dried-out British tourists who would soon return to sea, carried out on the next tide.

Along the beach at Cathedral Cove. (Photo by Jacquie Matthews)

Cathedral Cove returned to its pristine state once the tide had swept away the last of the desiccated whinging poms. (Photo by Jacquie Matthews.)

A local entertainer used his hands and reflected sunlight to dazzle us with a free shadow puppet show. Here his intricate fingers create the illusion of a tree's silhouette. (Photo by Jacquie Matthews)

On the way back to the car from Cathedral Cove, we came across the remnants of an ancient Smurf Village.

If this is Amanita Muscaria, we're in trouble.

“Jacquie,” I said. “Look at that mushroom.”

“It’s beautiful.”

“Whatever you do, don’t eat it. It could be poisonous.”

“You’re not the boss of me.”


Seven minutes later…

"Are you feeling ok, honey?"

"Are you feeling. Ok, honey?"

"For your information, if you think you smell cow manure, it's probably just your upper lip. Just saying."

Seven hours later…

"That was incredibly dull."

And so our “adventure” came to a close. But the everlasting search for excitement continued. When we returned to Auckland we drove straight to the SPCA and adopted a cat.

His name is Sunny. He’s about one year old. That’s all for now. Later.