Crazy Punga

Crazy Punga, the employee’s nickname for Punga Cove Resort and rightfully so. I had never worked a day in the hospitality industry so stepping into two months of it at the peak season in one of the busiest tourisism areas of New Zealand became, for lack of a better term, an eye opener. When you combine a staff of 20, in which 15 live on the property working 60+ hours a week and that property is a 2 hour drive from civilization and a break from work you get a pressure cooker for crazy scenarios. Combine all that with 50 new guests every night and sometimes an equal number of wealthy boaties who, like the QCT walkers, are out to spend money and have a good time you are sure to end up with a couple good stories. Sure there may be stories about everything from night hunting possums with crossbows, getting sick from “bad fish” and our boss running himself over with his own tractor, we can’t dish all the dirt.

The Weka is a New Zealand bird that tourists love taking photos of and locals want to hunt to extinction. They are flightless birds about the size of a big seagull but with long legs and pointy beak. They also get into anything left unattended, be it a backpack, trash can or an open door to your house… Leaving the house one morning in a hurry and trying not to wake the roomates, I ducked out the back door and must not have shut it all the way. We know I did this because one of the aforementioned roomates came home in the afternoon to a trash can knocked over and the contents strewn around the house, food scraps and paper thrown about, the bathroom in a mess and a big weka shit in the middle of the kitchen. Karma had the last laugh on me though, because not only was I the person that left the door open but I’m also the one whose tooth paste had been pecked and EATEN by the weka. Not a problem when you can go to the store and get more but it turns into one when you are 2 hours from town and your next day off is in a week. The weka had clean poop for the kitchen floor at least and it’s lucky for that weka they are a protected species.

So, when you live where you work and you work as much as we did you don’t get many breaks from your job, the environment or your coworkers. People normally did one of two things when not working; take a car, bike, kayak or hiking boots and get away from the resort or “get on the piss” and get hammered on booze you brought in from town. Since those working in hospitality don’t often get days off during the holidays to celebrate, our bosses decided to throw an impromptu Christmas party on Christmas Eve at the bar after the guests had left for the night. Having to work Christmas morning didn’t deter some of the staff and after a few too many hours of drinking and a few dance-offs had happened some of the crew decided to jump in the hot tub. Lindsay and I headed off at this point and woke the next morning hearing through the employee grapevine something about being loud, nude and a merman. It took all day to figure out what happened the previous night but evidently after the hot tub finished doing its job as the alcohol catalyst one of our beloved coworkers stumbled to a guest’s chalet in nothing but a towel banging on the door and saying that he was a merman who swam in from ocean. Not having any luck at getting in, he allegedly stumbled off into the night leaving nothing behind but a towel… And a debit card with his name on it. I guess there is drunk and then walking around your place of work naked and telling people you are a merman drunk.

Oh yeah, and then there is the time on Christmas morning when I went up to feed the chickens and burn the trash and found a dead chicken, feathers and all in the burn barrel… Probably the strangest Christmas morning I’ve ever had.


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