Taupo Base hostel immediately pissed us off thanks to the three flights of stairs and no lift. Yet they made up for it with biscuits in the room. After doing a quick load of washing our first excursion was a boat trip that evening around the lake. The Barbery, a BYO smallish sail boat which included a 2hr tour, dominos pizza and some possible pellet gun shooting at cans on the water. We’d had a mellow drive from Rotorua on the smaller bus driven by Brent which began with some casual mooning to the larger bus on their way out of town, as you do. As our bus arrived in Taupo first we had the earlier 5pm trip on The Barbery which got back just before sunset. We would have a day off tomorrow whilst everyone else tackled the 8 hour hike of tongarara so tonight was about drinking! This was where Andi and I had our first encounter with what the Southern Hemisphere like to call ‘goon’.

It’s basically boxed wine, but as far as we could tell, never the good wine. In the UK the boxed wine isn’t that bad, with the possibility of if you go to a big enough store you could find a box of half decent wine that you’ve enjoyed in a bottle, and just buy a large enough quantity either for a festival or bbq or for making sangria at a dinner party. In NZ and Australia however, the variety of boxed wine breaks down to the types of wine sold in the pub in Hot Fuzz. I think we managed to find one that actually said Merlot, we had bought some beers too so didn’t have to start on the wine until the beers had run out. We were also handed a bottle of beer from Brent whilst on The Barbery who wanted everyone to strawpedo in a race. The Barbery wasn’t entirely occupied by Kiwi Ex travellers unfortunately for them, there were 2 groups of strangers who thought an evening on a boat might be an enjoyable experience, until they met us.

With the dare game from the Maori village hot tub still fresh in everyone’s mind and with a small group of us drinking on a boat it was a great close knit environment to carry on the drinking game rules we’d picked up on our travels. So, no saying ‘down’ or ‘ten’ and no drinking with your right hand. The amount of times Andi got these all wrong was as if he wanted to be caught out and punished, endless times he would pass me his plastic wine glass to refill from the box, and endless times he would again have to down his drink. If we hadn’t started the boat journey with a dominos pizza each I’m not sure what state we all would’ve ended up in. With The Captain admitting he’d forgotten the pellets to fire the guns we had to make our own entertainment. It began with Brent streaking to end of the boat to do the Titanic pose. Then carried on with most of the men jumping off the boat in their underwear. After a lot more drinking our time aboard was up and we disembarked to be greeted by the next group of passengers which were the rest of the Kiwi Ex crew from the big bus. I’m not sure if they understood our drunken ramblings when we swapped places and we tried to regale them with our antics so far. The sun was setting and they were sailing off in to what we thought would be as crazy a trip as we had.

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We’d made friends with a couple of non Kiwi Ex girls on board who wanted to join us for drinks once they’d parked their campervan so agreements were made to meet up in the hostel bar. I don’t know why but nobody seemed to make any rush moves to leave the dock and lots of singing and drunken antics carried on without us moving very far from where we disembarked the boat. The Hakka was attempted a couple of times along with repeating the song we had learnt at the Maori village and then a game involving us all interlocking our hands to try and untangle ourselves without breaking hands. But yet we were all so drunk we couldn’t even stay holding hands for long. We slowly meandered away from the boats and towards the road up the hill to the hostel. It wasn’t far, a 5 min walk, yet with drunk people it felt like ages to take few steps. Then there were shouts of piggy back racing. Knowing my weight I bowed out thinking I wouldn’t even burden myself on Andi’s drunk shoulders even though he is a very strong man. So I turned my back and wandered up the street expecting the piggy backers to either overtake or give up. Then….

I heard a skerfuffle of sorts, perhaps some gravel sliding, some gasps from women, and then from Andi a shout, almost joyous with a hint of embarrassment and a touch of cry for help as if most of the pack were half way up the hill and he was the one left behind needing everyone to turn and look back “yup, I’ve broken my nose!”

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