Author: Tania Seward
Dates: 22-23 March
1. You get to travel in super-comfy vans
When committee organises trips, people usually end up travelling in cars or the crusty old hire vans. When you go tramping with Jeff, you travel in the extraordinary comfort offered by a 2.4 litre Toyota Estima, complete with reclining microfiber-covered seats and doors on both sides. We had two of them, in matching colours. Fancy.
2. You get to make 21 new friends
Hopefully Jeff has learnt by now that telling Tania “if you need a hand on the trip, let me know” is considered an open invitation to co-lead that same trip. Having two extraordinarily awesome leaders meant that we ended up with a group size of 22. Getting 22 people to walk in roughly the same direction at roughly the same time was an act of great military-style precision. Happy to say that we pulled it off.
3. You get to meet Hokitika’s resident policeman
If you go tramping with Jeff, you may end up in a vehicle that gets pulled over by the police in Hokitika for driving with no lights on. There is only one thing more embarrassing for Jeff than being pulled over by the cops: and that’s being pulled over by the cops with 21 new friends laughing in the background. Luckily, the cop was only dispensing trip advice, not infringement tickets.
4. You end up singing karaoke in Hokitika’s only pub
Apparently the Hokitika locals had been waiting hours for the entertainment to show up, and they weren’t disappointed. 22 happy trampers piled into the pub at 10.45pm looking for dinner. In amongst the dodgy Irvines pies and jugs of beer, they managed to cajole a few of us into singing Abba and Robbie Williams.
5. You feign ignorance at being ‘those campers’ who arrived at the campsite at 1am
Getting 22 people out of vans and into tents quietly at 1am is not possible when the group involved is the CUTC. When asked the next morning if we were that awfully rude group who woke up the entire campsite, the only answer was “who, us? Certainly not.”
6. You walk 20 kilometres in search of hot pools
From the Welcome Flat carpark to Welcome Flat Hut is 20 kilometres, give or take a bit. You take between 5 and 9 hours to get to the hut. From the hut to the hot pools is approximately 2 minutes, and you run this part because all your friends are in the hot pools, and you want to be there as well.
7. Dinner has to be seen to be believed.
Apparently two minute noodles are not allowed when Jeff is in charge of the cooking. Instead, you end up carrying in capsicums, onions, garlic, courgette, tomato paste, prunes, apricots, mushrooms, beans and couscous. This random collection of foodstuffs then morphs into a Moroccan tagine that ticks everyone’s boxes. Yum.
8. You get to walk 20 kilometres in the opposite direction to get back to your vehicle
Same as number 6, only there were no hot pools at the end – just a huge number of hungry sandflies.
9. You sing the entire Pitch Perfect soundtrack. Loud. Many times over.
I am reliably informed that my CD collection is somewhat lacking. 22 happy trampers can now sing the entire Pitch Perfect soundtrack off by heart. Jeff’s van was lulled to sleep by Dire Strait’s Brothers in Arms album 3 times on repeat. Well, at least I actually brought some CDs to listen to…
10. You have a most epic weekend and cannot wait to do it all again