ABC ain’t easy, not like counting to 1-2-3


The previous night we heard that Lisa (bus driver) had to leave, a sad bereavement meant she had to fly back to Napier. Kyle would replace her. A man we were told (but later learned is a lie) was a former All Black with 2 caps under his belt, who didn’t like to talk about it (no doubt because of the aforementioned lie part).

Kyle kicked us off by driving down to pancake rocks where we gazed at the stacked layers and frothing waves. I caught up with a guy called Ross, another one of them just-left-uni-types not fussed about his next phase in life, but travelling the dream, like us… only 10 years earlier. Clever man.

Afterwards the bus discussed the theme for tonight’s fancy dress party and concluded on ABC. Now ABC isn’t dressing up as letters or things beginning with those letters. Too easy. No it stands for Anything But Clothes. Meaning fancy dress with whatever you can fashion, just not real clothes.

Gauntlet thrown down we entered Greymouth, a small town that’s only real interest to us was its small party shop where we could assemble a costume.

I took the opportunity to find a camera shop, firstly to replace the 50mm SLR lens I’d dropped in River Valley, but also to pickup a cheap GoPro. At the time I pondered the usefulness of the outlay, but as I write this with 3 weeks of hindsight behind me – it was definitely worth it.

Camera bagged we moved onto the party store and found slim pickings at best. Kelly assembled what seemed to be practical rain gear, but turned out to represent her as a wedding chair complete with pink ribbon. I went for the simple and found a me-sized gift bag I could cut holes in for legs.

Our next stop was Montieth’s brewery; a manufacturer of the bubbly stuff I had become very fond of. The tour was a tiny bit disappointing, similar in size to the London Fields brewery I had visited a few months prior, but devoid of any interest. The tour guide explained the brewing process like any other and showed us a video! A video isn’t a tour now is it? Fifteen or twenty minutes and done. Thankfully it was only $14 and the brief tour was by design, so we could savour 3 free tasters and a free bottle of “Kiwi Experience” pale ale. $14 seemed worth it therefore.


Back on the bus we headed for Mahinapua Lake where we were welcomed by the Mahinapua Hotel crew. Then a massive feed of roast pork in the big mess hall with everyone, before we all quickly retired to our dorms to get ready for fancy dress.

Costume quickly assembled, I wandered around to see who else was finished. My short tour round the dorms resulted in laughter and hive fives from those in complex costumes – like robots, Christmas elves, and fairies to awkward “should I hi-five?” the over-simple costumes. An example and future runner-up winner being just two sombrero hats, used to cover up a certain Dutchman’s front and back modesty!

Just before 8 we headed into the pub for the group photo and costume viewing (judging and prize giving would come the following day). Kelly posed as the chair for the two guys who came dressed as tables complete with table cover and plates. Then the dancing started.

I don’t know if you’ve ever tried dancing in a gift bag, but safe to say if you ever have, you know the dancing may last all night long, but the bag won’t. It was a good night, made better by the Mahinapua crew joining in on the drinks, which rendered them unable to do the maths required on the bar! They did get up at 7 to cook all full breakfast for us all, so props all round.

Next day I woke up fairly unscathed but having worked out that the last day I didn’t drink was October the 10th (it’s the 9th of December), so I should take a day off. Most of the bus felt the same way too.

The drivers know their stuff so the drive today post party was a very short hour or so.

We arrived into Franz Josef in time for a brief orientation speech from our host, who planted a glass of white wine in Kelly’s hand and a pint of beer in another guy’s. He was made to down his promptly and Kelly (who will not be beaten) did the same. Our host muttered something about downing wine being uncouth, an irony not lost on me for making people drink so early in the morning. Either way Kelly wasn’t on the ‘not drinking today’ bus.


We headed to our room and met our new dorm mates Frankie and Lockie who had been travelling too, and planned to stay here for 4 days. We agreed to meet up later for a movie in the common room, A Star Wars film was on and we all felt like taking a night off the booze.

Our afternoon was spent in a cafe with a few of the others using the poor wifi and eating food that was a strange version of what it was meant to be. Thick pesto pasta, and strange chicken satay paste filled us up – but disappointed.

That evening as planned we descended on the TV room for Star Wars. Well it turned out to be American Sniper instead on the TV channel in question but hey a movie night is a movie night. Kelly lasted about an hour before she popped to the bar for the fancy dress party winners ceremony.

She’d been gone an hour when I realised she was still missing, so I ducked out of the movie to make sure she was ok.

She was.

She’d found Erin and Lois again and they had a group of people playing ring of fire. Yet another drinking game but this one I had no chance understanding.

Amid protestations about taking the night off the drink, I was roped into the game, but just one round. One round that seemed intent on making me drinking regardless of who was picking the cards. I can tell you the rules but I think I’d just end up confusing myself. I felt by the end it was just one big inside joke and I was the butt of it, but by now I didn’t care. Then low and behold Kyle the driver came brandishing Jaeger bombs and that was it, early night and prepare for the next day, as it was going to be a big one!

As we exited we watched the Kiwi experience, Stray and Contiki buses all mix and mingle in the bar. Working out the differences in personality and demographics of each bus, before reflecting that we’d picked the right bus.

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