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 seems to be much bigger than other times. Sometimes it is located close to the coast, dark and glooming … and the next day it may be pale and tiny on the horizon!
Well, perhaps it got the right name; finally a whale is a mobile being.
The local newspaper said the island is a nature reserve and could be visited under supervision. That was our chance to discover the secret.
Do not spare the horses “was the motto of the captain and he chased the big boat with a sickening speed across the sea.
“At 12:30 you have to be aboard again!” The captain shouted, 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 are two (endangered) kiwi birds were released after they first were blessed! This blessing was a mumble of minutes by a Maori priest who was probably specially chosen for this kind of jobs, although he didn’t show any priest-like outward appearances. He wore sunglasses and had a 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 hot as hell 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. A few amused themselves by swimming (the sensible ones that brought a swimsuit with them!), but the majority was waiting. Silently waiting.
And for hours waiting …
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! I already tried to guess which of these individuals would emerge as leader of the angry crowd.
When the ship arrived, after waiting for 3 and a half hours (!) in serene resignation, the captain cheerfully asked the crowd if the hike have been a good one. Everyone shouted 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).
It surprised me a little first; 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 behavior. The average New Zealander has a tireless courtesy and never goes out of malicious intent or negligence. That’s cast in their upbringing; even if you encounter kissing teenagers in the woods, this operation will be interrupted for at least a friendly greeting.