As soon as we’re back from our snorkeling trip, our disappointment about the poor under water life we’ve just witnessed in the Okakari Point Marine Reserve is gone. The little hike back to the camping makes up for it. The big, green paddocks make us feel small and vain and a nice silence falls over us.
Sparrows and other little birds fly around our feet, trying to feed on insects. Big, brown cows graze peacefully in the paddocks. Where the Dutch black and white cows have problems walking up and down mountains, these New Zealand cows run up and down rocks as easy as goats do. Only stopping here and there to put some more grass in one of their seven stomachs.
The camping we’re on is just as idyllic as the walk. An enormous field offers space to whoever wants to camp here. A romantic fire on the side of the field, in front of the big hale with pool table and games for kids, works as a magnet in the evening drawing all guests to the magic flames.
The caravan that is our house for this night almost falls apart. But being such a ruin it actually has some kind of charm. The outside was once painted green. Inside it’s painted freshly blue with green cupboards.
The only thing that really has had its best days is the bed. With two mattresses on top of each other it comes closer to quick sand than a bed. The only reason why the two of us don’t disappear in the black hole in the middle of the bed is that it is so off to one side we roll out of it before we’re absorbed by the it. It does mean we don’t really sleep at night and we crawl out of bed next morning with a terrible back pain and sleepy head.
But life is good for us again next morning. When we enjoy our first cup of tea of the day we meet Harold and Marieke: a Dutch couple that came to New Zealand a year ago and that’s waiting for a permit to stay in New Zealand permanently. Both have found a job and are enjoying a little holiday in their own country. There is just one thing wrong with their trip. They have bought a speedboat to go fishing and wake boarding. Fishing is no problem, but with wake-boarding they don’t seem to be able to get out of the water and onto the board. A nice challenge for Mickey and me; both wake-boarders.
Four hours after we’ve met the eight of us – Harold, Marieke, their four children and Mickey and I – are already on the boat. Harold sits behind the wheel and stirs the boat comfortably through the big waves and into a bay with more or less steady water. Mickey is the first one to jump over board to give a little wake-boarding demonstration with a big smile from ear to ear. It’s in the middle of Dutch winter and here she is: wake-boarding
When Harold’s kids have seen enough Mickey climbs back on board and one by one we teach them how to start and get out of the water. Where needed Mickey dives back in and floats next to the kids. Yelling little clues at them. After the last kid has succeeded Harold decides it’s his turn. The only little problem is: none of the kids, nor his wife can drive the boat. With big expectations he looks at me. I shake my head. “No worries”, he smiles. “When you can ride a wake-board, you can drive a boat.”
Briefly he explains me what to do. Asks Lisa – his daughter to have another go at wake-boarding – and lets me drive the boat. After two small rounds he’s seen enough and dives in the water, leaving me behind the wheel. Behind the boat is familiar ground, but the wheel is new for me. The beginning feels a bit rough, but quickly I get control of all the horse powers in my hands and pull Harold – maybe a little rough – through the deserted bay. Happy as a little kid he climbs, half an hour later, back on board. Finally his kids managed and finally he managed to do some wake-boarding.
To celebrate and thank us the couple treats us that evening on a great barbecue and a nice cold beer. Before we return to our crappy caravan the family makes us promise to visit them when we’re around Auckland, so they can have another lesson.
I wrote this story in 2008; now I'm finally taking the time to translate it into English.