It was my second or third day in Auckland and I had just met Sarah (the same Sarah from Germany I ended up travelling with for a short while) when I told her, and the others at the dinner table (all of us probably eating some kind of cheap pasta) about my little clown project (you can check out more pictures from the project here). “Can I be a clown?”, she asked. We agreed on a day to do it and I was thrilled and really looking forward to the shoot.
On the day of the shoot, I started to talk a little bit more with Amy, an amazing Malaysian girl, and one of the long time stayers at the hostel (there are tons of people in New Zeland on a working holiday visa). I tried to lure here to join as well, as I love shoots with more people in them- it’s harder as you have to make everyone do the right thing at the right time, but it can be so much fun – she said maybe, but as soon as we started with the clown make-up she was all in, and one of my roomies, adorable Luisa joined as well.
My first day in Christchurch I didn’t really see much of the damage that was done during the big earthquake last year. I saw a few church spires taken down from their churches, and some shaken buildings, but generally I was too busy printing out my plane tickets – since those already printed got soaking wet and destroyed during my trekking up Franz Josef – buying a ticket out of Thailand, just to make sure they would allow me to depart from Australia (in the end I didn’t even need it, but I’d read loads of stories of people being denied to boar their plane from Sydney to Bangkok because they didn’t have a return ticket, so better safe then sorry), and other practicalities concerning my too soon departure from New Zealand.
Before I came to New Zealand I had plans of doing at least one Great Walk during my stay, but because of lack of time and equipment (you need to bring all your equipment with you to the huts, even cooking utensils. I would have loved the simplicity of the Norwegian trekking huts where you don’t even need to bring a sleeping bag, just liner, and you can buy dried and canned food on a trust basis at the un-serviced huts) I ended up doing just a few – too few – day-walks instead. That’s why – when planning my last short week in New Zealand – I decided to go to Mount Cook National Park and do some day-trekking there as well.
I had a vision of myself jumping off the ledge, arms stretched out like I was about to fly, a graceful dive, without hesitation. But real life rarely is like you envision it, especially not when you are standing on a tiny platform, 43 meters above a beautifully green blue river, legs tightly tied together and about to plunge into thin air with only a – seemingly too thin – rope between you and death.
(The pictures are from the Nevis swing – and not the Kawarau bridge where I did the jump – and all taken by AJ Hackett bungee company)
From the distance it doesn’t look too impressive or interesting. Sure, it’s a glacier, but the dirty ice scattered up the mountain side doesn’t really look like something you’d want to spend hours, blood and sweat to explore. But as soon as we reach the ice, put on our crampons and carry on into the ice realm of Franz Josef it’s like we enter a completely different world. Even the gray ice – that looks more like granite or some other kind of stone than ice – is interesting close up.
The wind is howling through the streets of Wellington when I arrive in the evening, all by myself. I left Sarah and Andy a few hours earlier in National Park Village, they going to Taupo, me heading towards the south Island for the few remainder weeks of my trip.
I walk the short distance to the huge hostel I’ve booked. My heart sinks as soon as I step in through the door, I knew the hostel probably would be big and impersonal, as it has over 200 beds, but this seems more a like a hotel than anything else.
I get my key card and make my way to the elevator that will take me all the way up to fifth floor, it’s old and creaky, but at least it works. After getting slightly lost in the corridors I finally find my room. It’s a 6 bed dorm, all beds occupied except for one; I get the creaky top bunk, with the overused-flat-in-the-middle mattress – again.