1 February 2006
As long as we are living here, Frank and I are having the same strange sensation each time we see Whale Island off the coast. One time the island seemed to be much bigger than other times. Sometimes it was located close to the coast, dark and glooming … and the next day it could be pale and tiny on the horizon!
Well, perhaps it got the right name; because popularly Moutohura is called Whale Island.
The local newspaper said the island is a nature reserve and could be visited under supervision. That was our chance to discover the secret.
“Don’t spare the horses” apparently was the motto of the captain while he steered the big boat with a sickening speed across the sea.
“At 12:30 you have to be aboard again! I’m not waiting for latecomers.” the captain ordered with a loud and harsh voice, when the passengers stepped out.
It was a nice walk with a guide – certainly not interesting for everyone – therefore I will not dwell on this further. Except that there were 2 (endangered) kiwi birds released after they first were … blessed! This blessing was a mumble of 5 minutes by a Maori priest, although he didn’t show any priest-like outward appearances. He wore sunglasses and had a bright coloured towel around his neck and then just went swimming. Maybe that morning, when he selected the apparel for that day, he thought those birds didn’t care what he was wearing. A priest also has to be practical, isn’t it?
By noon we were done, but the boat didn’t show up to pick us up …
It was bloody hot and so there were 40 people in hiking clothes on a beach in the relentless sun, clumped together under some trees that brought a few meters of shade. It was nature. Just sand, so no booths with coffee or ice cream. A few of the people amused themselves by swimming (the sensible ones that brought a swimsuit with them!), but the majority was waiting. Silently waiting. For hours. Waiting and melting …
In a group of people of this size there is always someone who gets upset by the situation and is starting some drama. The one who will beat the shit out of the responsible person for this shameful act. Especially when there is paid for, isn’t it?! I already tried to guess which of these individuals would emerge as leader of the angry crowd.
But … when the ship arrived, after waiting for almost 4 hours in serene resignation, the captain cheerfully asked the crowd if the hike have been a good one. Everyone enthusiastically said that it was fantastic and they enjoyed, followed by a list of all the positive things that day. Nobody demanded clarification for the terrible wait and the captain didn’t explain anything.
At the disembarking, he was warmly thanked, like New Zealanders always do after a ride in any form (even when getting off the bus).
At first it surprised me a little. I wondered if we might have ended up accidentally on such a happy sect where everyone loves each other. Then I saw a pattern in this behaviour. The average New Zealander has a tireless courtesy and never expect malicious intention or negligence. At least they never show such thoughts. This is cast in their upbringing.
Even when later that day, we encounter a couple of kissing teenagers in the woods; This operation promptly will be interrupted for a friendly greeting.