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Horses, Humans and JetBoats

January 26, 2011

Molly and Flash

Nikki gave me a list of TTD (things to do) before our arrival on the honeymoon.  The top two in the animal section of the list was illegally transporting foreign Koala’s home and petting each dog that we see within a 1 mile radius.  The third was horseback riding.

So, off we went to the base hills of Waiho Flats where Molly and Flash, two horses who had a hard time staying awake, were obviously thrilled for our hump in the hot sun.  As they stood, tied up in the shade waiting for hundreds of pounds of human beef to ride them up hills and valleys, their heads bobbed and eyes sagged.

But Nikki’s equestrian ear piercing squeal when she saw the fat, small white horse awoke every animal on the plantation.  “I want to ride THIS one!” she belted as she bounded towards that now freaked out white horse.  You know that look in a big animals eye, the one that says “what is going on!?…you are human, give me a hint, I am freaking out.”  Molly, the fat white horse, had this look in her eye as Nikki gave the horse a big kiss on the snout.

The private training by Basil, our tour guide, was intense.  Wake them up, put on this helmet and let’s go out for a gallop.  On the way into the wilderness…we passed two newborn colts, at which moment Nikki said to our guide, “Basil, can I trade in Molly for those two babies…”

Basil gave us the inside scoop on each of our horses.  Molly was indeed fat.  Because “she liked to eat her way thru every horse riding tour.”   Flash was so called because he liked to be in front.  Rule of most importance, Basil added, “let them know who is boss, give a swift kick in the ribs if Molly eats, and pull back on the reigns when Flash bolts.”

“They don’t call it horsepower for nuthin’ Basil, I ain’t afraid of no horse race” this kid from the suburbs of Dublin, OH said in his best country twang.   Time to cowboy up, let’s ride!

Then Flash ran off down the river bed and up into the woods… and I was not having it, even as my eyes widened with fear and compliance.  Why couldn’t I have gotten the fat white one?

Flash did not appreciate my yanking of his reigns as he sped towards his desired location.  So he ran me off into the nearest low branches.  “Flash, not cool, man…take it down a notch” I instructed.  He bellowed and then ran towards some heavier tree branches.  Basil was screaming “show that horse who is boss man, pull dem reigns!”  I was much deeper now in the forest, when I screamed louder at this horse, who was obviously in charge. When Flash decided to finally take a break and stop,  I looked back for my trusty guide.  There was no one. Just me, Flash and the cicadas.

Flash decided to walk to higher ground and I saw was Nikki heeling Molly with all her force, as her horse chewed on a fern leaf.  The guide was next to Nikki instructing her on how to get Molly actually moving, while I was about 200 meters away being run into tree trunks.

The next hour or so would be filled with two types of tour guide commands.  “Flash, NO!…oh damnit, there he goes again, pull back Ohio” and “Nikki, kick Molly to get her to stop eating.”  This tour dude, named after a herb (Basil) had Noooooooooooo trouble remembering Nikki’s name but kept referring to her husband as “Ohio.”  Here are some pictures of the well trained horses, their highly trained riders and the landscape.

Upon completion of the Horse Trek, Molly proceeded to let us know what she thought of our riding skills.

Jo and Ian

Locally owned Bed and Breakfast’ are where you will find the soul of the people and town.  Where stories can be exchanged and where memories are forged.

Nikki selected our next accommodation, off Wanaka Lake.  She is damn good at selecting soul spots.

Lonely Planet said of this location “you would be wise to stay for a 2nd cup of coffee.”  I would heed these words and as a result meet the two of the coolest proprietors.

Let me explain the decision making process of my beloved Nikki.

Upon arrival to the homestay, Nikki sprinted to the natural spring water garden in Jo’s backyard.  Jo approached wondering who was this photograph princess snapping away in her garden and her road weary homeless looking troll (me).

She walked Nikki thru the garden…then got down to business with me.  $140 a night and we only have one room which is two twin beds.  Being our honeymoon, I looked to Nikki for courteous support in our exit.  Her exact response “who cares about the beds, I don’t want to sleep next to your snoring ass anyway…look at the size of these flowers!”  Room booked.

Nikki is taking some sweet close ups...

In the morning, I decided after a couple weeks, it was time to shave.  My electric shaver disagreed with me and proceeded to shut down about half way thru.

Now, at the Hilton, I would have been screwed.  But out to our hosts kitchen I scampered.  Embarrassed, I showed them my half ass shave job.  After the laughter, and jokes like…”just keep walking in a circle when you meet people” or “as least you do have a good side.”  Ian got me a brand new Mach 3 blade (which he called Mack Part 4 shave device).

Out to a breakfast at their table complete with stories from around the globe.  They insisted that I put a pin in their map of where people had come from, and said “Colombia, I don’t think we have had anyone from Colombia!”  I didn’t have the heart to break the news that it was Columbus, OH, but I put a big Scarlet pin in our hometown of C-bus.

After our 2nd cup of coffee, and some palate pleasing lemon/passionfruit pancakes… it was time to hit the road.  Ian would not let us depart without proper hydration.  He went to his natural spring, washed out the “filth” of our bottled water remnants and filled up that bottle with clear, fresh and perfect aqua.

Natural Spring Water Tap'n

Once again folks, you will not find natural spring water at the Hilton.  Jo and Ian invited us back anytime we wanted.

Running count of how many people have CRIED at the pictures and story of Nikki’s wedding-4


Jet and Boat

Jet and Boat (in the same word!?…waa, waaa, what!)

We rolled into Queenstown and decided to take advantage of the extreme offerings the city has. Everything in Queenstown is Extreme! And ends with an exclamation point.  Jetboating Extreme!  Extreme Bungee Jumping!  Even Mini Golf is Extreme! I would highly recommend the JetBoat Shotover. ($123 pp)

This boat goes in excess of 50 mph on water anywhere from 3 inches (3 inches!) deep and up.  It can do 360 degree turns, and you know they are coming because your driver twirls his finger in the air to say “hold on, or you will fly out and hit the rocks and I will keep going because I am Extreme!”

Requesting a Fly By

To see a quick video of them racing around with no caution of your physical well being, youtube “Shotover Jet New Zealand”.

We loved the race down the river.  Nikki has two things in her blood…adrenalin and boating.  So, this was a perfect match.  Notice our hair.  This was not a Hollywood wind prop.  This was Extreme!..because all my boat training has taught “don’t go near the rocks, watch out for other boats and always remain in control”.  Not a part of this boat tour.

Go towards the rocks.  Swerve at the last second then jump waves made by other JetBoats.  360 degree spins at 50 mph into the shore.  Extreme! 

Of course, I was inquisitive at every stop.  There were only two stops, so I had to make my questions quick.  Hey Speed Demon Mike…you ever hit the rocks? Yes.   Hey Mike, you got insurance? We don’t play that game in New Zealand mate”   Mike, you ever beach this thing?  You keep asking questions like a scared tourist and I am going to beach you.  Tour back on.  Extreme!

After our first 360 degree spin, I was doused with salt water.  The boat accelerated and in the excitement, I had forgotten to keep my mouth shut.  Not thinking of the 4 tourists seated behind me, I spit out a huge white logy of foam and salt.  Just like spitting out a car window on the freeway, this spit projection came back and hit the Romanian dude behind me.  I laughed at my stupidity, he did not.  Extreme!

Here is a picture of how this boat kicks ass.  There is no prop or motor hanging off the bottom.  The boat hull is the lowest point.  The water sucks up from the boat floor, thru a grate, then a mass internal propeller and out the ass.  When the Extreme! Driver turns the boat, the stream of water actually is diverted into the turn. 

I am going to put one of these in my bathtub.

When Mike docked the boat, he just slammed into the wood dock and said “hope you enjoyed it, NEXT!”

Up Next

The rain came.  The exhaust settled in at street level of Queenstown.  The kids would have their city to party  in.  It was time to move back to what Zealand is known for, the views and nature.  A few hours north towers the highest Mountain in the entire Southern Hemisphere.  It is named Mt. Cook.  Nikki and I are heading that way and I hope you will join us…


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