When we decided that employment would be needed to help us through our New Zealand trip we didn’t think that we would find a resort in the Queen Charlotte Sounds to work at. When Punga Cove decided to pay us for driving the tractor, hanging out at the cafe and eating their food we didn’t think it would be nearly as life altering as it ended up being, either. Continue reading Closing Thoughts on Punga Cove
Our friends name their cars, movie and book characters name their cars. I have never named a car. It’s silly and cheesy and…..well I just don’t don’t understand why people do it.
…until now. Everyone, meet Mushu! Continue reading Mushu, our faithful steed
Hey, here’s a good idea: let’s go drink a bunch of free wine, pedal around like crazy people on bikes in a wealthy town and only eat cheese and crackers for lunch. Oh yeah, and here’s your helmet… You’ll probably need it.
Holy crap, how did it take me 26 years to find out how awesome going for a wine tasting is?
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.
GLAMping… It stands for GLAMour camPING and we had our first taste of it at Punga Cove.
What is glamping? Glamping is the exact opposite of hiking/camping as I know it. It is finishing your walk for the day and having a cappachino, taking a shower and changing into clean clothes for a dinner that you don’t cook on a camp stove and then sleeping every night in a bed with clean sheets after a few glasses of wine or beer with dinner. Glamping is carrying a day pack and not having to set up a tent or worry about a rainy night. Glamping is a hair dryer and makeup, cologne and collard shirts after only 5 hours of walking from your previous resort. At first, glamping made me want to throw up.
Glamping and the Queen Charlotte Track: The QCT is the only “great walk” calibre hike in New Zealand that you can glamp on, as it is supported by a network of resorts, water taxis and guided tour companies. About half the yearly the walkers of QCT forgo campsite accommodations and stay in the resorts conveniently placed a short days walk from each other. The 70km walk is split up into 4 or 5 days, with a resort at each overnight location. The craziest part to me had to be the luggage system, which as foreshore at Punga Cove Resort I played a daily part of. Walkers would leave their packs (60lbs suitcases) outside the room of the resort they we’re staying at and staff would then load it onto a water taxi which would deliver the packs to our dock. I would then load the bags onto the trailer and deliver them to their assigned chalet and the next morning at 9am pick the bags up and get them on the next days water taxi to the following resort. You could walk 70km and very possibly never move your pack except through the door of your chalet each afternoon. It was a truly bizarre concept to me and violated everything I thought hiking was supposed to be.
Why I was wrong in my scorn: At the end of the day, I love nature and I think every human being should spend some time in the woods to appreciate what is around them. It’s not about who can carry the most expensive gear the furthest each day; it’s about walking up a hill and seeing a view that makes your jaw drop and realize how little you really are in comparison to Mother Nature. Glamping on the QCT makes this possible to such a greater group of people, something I didn’t realize until a week or two had gone by. Whether they were physically unable to carry gear for 70km, travelling with children or uncomfortable with sleeping in a tent and not showering for the better part of a week, the resort network on the QCT opened nature to a much larger demographic. I firmly believe that anytime someone experiences true nature and disconnects from the rat race for even a day, their horizons open and because of that I’m grateful for the water taxis and foreshore folks on the QCT.