I’ve teamed up with a wayward Alaskan and fellow HelpXer who plans to return to the South Island where he hasn’t gotten to spend much time before leaving the country in a few weeks. His stories last forever and he comes across as a dreamer who seems to fall on bad luck quite a bit. So far, his schemes involve:
- Getting back his Alaskan residency in order to receive a $1M loan from the state to purchase and outfit a seine boat and all necessary permits. One good fishing season will recoup the costs.
- Developing a railroad tie made out of recycled or repurposed materials or anything that’s not soaked in creosote, do the environment a favor, and take advantage of this untapped billion dollar industry. He needs to do more research in this area, but it may be possible to present himself as a marketer for some of the firms already struggling in this field.
- Convince a family he stayed with in Nortland to sell him a bit of their land “for dirt cheap” and build a small structure in one of the paddocks that they can use any of the time he’s not there. Then he will have a place to land in New Zealand and a base to explore the country. He still needs to approach them about this.
- Start a chili pepper growing operation and develop hot sauces for sale. NZ has little in the way of hot sauce. It’s possible to contact a man in the South Island he’s read about in the newspaper who has been building a pepper operation for the last ten years, camp on his property, receive potentially thousands of pepper seeds, and learn the operation. There’s no time to contact him now though.
- Invest in a king salmon farm near Aoraki Mt. Cook on the South Island. Fish farming goes against everything a commercial fisherman like himself knows, but the farm is supposedly ecologically sound, produces a high quality product, and does not impact the fish in the ocean since it’s all inland.
He doesn’t care to spend any time or effort beyond the initial research, which I can relate to. Now he has signed up to relocate a motorhome from Auckland on the North Island to Christchurch on the South. I will meet him in Wellington and we will take the ferry in the morning. This plan has to work out because Wellington is otherwise booked up for the music festival going on this weekend. I ask about the passenger fare for the ferry since I thought the walk on fares were sold out when I checked, but he just figures I can hide somewhere in the motorhome and save the $55. Americans must be the cheapest travelers, which must be why I like teaming up with them. I figure, the ferry’s going anyway, what’s one more person?
I’m at the YHA near Wellington’s central business district and they hold my giant backpack for me until the motorhome shows up, hugely and hulking in the parking lot of the supermarket across the street after 8. He’s been driving all day from Auckland. We stock up on groceries and head to a quiet street in a nearby suburb for the night. We’ll be leaving by 6:30 for tomorrow’s adventures with the ferry so don’t figure on bothering anyone.
In the morning he drives nearly to the ferry before pulling off so I can climb into the overhead area above the cab. This is just the entrance to the waiting line however, the real fun doesn’t begin until I’ve climbed back down and am enjoying a cup of coffee when I see the van in front of us start to move. I’m in such a hurry I try to vault myself from the rear passengers’ seats up to the top, but it’s much too far and I fall back down. “Get in your hole!” shouts the driver as he starts the engine. I climb back up by the more practical way of the kitchen counter. The motorhome sleeps six and there are bags of blankets and duvets and towels enough for that many and I squeeze myself behind them, but it’s no matter. Whoever collects the single boarding pass is unperturbed and I could have just as easily sat on the damn toilet. My foot is aching, and I don’t realize until I get down that it’s bleeding—I’ve sliced open the bottom of my right big toe in the first unsuccessful leap. My poor bloodied and bruised feet. There are the two open and scabbing blisters on my heels from trying to break in my hiking boots on the Tongariro Crossing, the potentially busted toe on my left foot from skirting a metal trail divider by bike in Napier, and now this. Not to mention the increasingly stark lines of my sandal tan. I have booked the four day 50km+ Milford Track Great Walk in less than a week, and there’s no changing it unless there are any other cancellations.