Hoopers Inlet, Dunedin

 

4/99

wow, its been a crazy couple of weeks. started thurs. night when i was headed home from the squash courts on my blades.... 
this german exchange student i know from the tramping club, julia, bumped into me and twisted my arm into going to this place, the fuel bar to hear some jazz. there was no jazz but a comedy night of sorts with four scheduled performers doing a "whose line is it anyway" kind of deal. these kiwis can be quite funny. one guy in particular, simon did a range of british isle accents that were excellent. this place is such a tight circle, turned out that simon works for geoff wyvill's little animation company in town. it was quite an interactive show and then they had this joke contest thing where they kept picking people at random from the audience... some went up to cheers, some shied away to boos... quite a rumpus. anyway before long i got pulled up, sore throat and all... and there were a couple of students of mine in the audience so i told them they better laugh or fail. ...the only thing that came to my mind was the "mr. gorsky" story so i told as best as i could. seemed like it was well received but the real surprise came a bit later when the human clapometer landed me the winner, a bottle of copperfields chardonay, which was in true kiwi style opened and consumed right there... i even got a sip or two out of it. now i am expected to be in the show or something next week as a featured clown. never thought of myself as joker, a joke maybe but looks i may have a possible career opportunity in kiwiland. then ironically friday there was a seminar in computer science by a guy from edinburgh about coming up with a computational model for humour. it sort of went: 
a joke has two parts, a long set up and a short punch-line. the set-up leads you towards some interpretation or predictions and the punch line contradicts this but if you backtrack and make another concealed but plausible interpretation it seems consistent. therein lies the humour. 
no shit... the guy went through this mumbojumbo with a straight face. i cant quite say the same for myself. i feel bad in retrospect for brutishly criticising the whole thing... i had this conversation with a couple of people after  culminating in an algorithm on the board.

hacount=0;
bool interpret_joke(joke,joke_progress,interpretation)
{
    if (joke_progress< joke.length()) {
        int consistent=false;
        while (!consistent) {
            snippet=interpret_part(joke,joke_progress);
            //always returns a diff. interpretation and bails
            //the function returning false, if cant.
            if (!interpretation.contradicts(snippet)){
                consistent=interpret_joke(joke,joke_progress+1,interpretation+snippet);
            }
            else {
                printf("ha "); // the more you backtrack the more ha's you get.
                hacount++;
                return false;
            }
        }
    }
    return true;
}


main()
{
    if(interpret_joke(joke,0,"")){
        if (hacount){
            printf("oh man that really cracked me up\n");
            //in fact like a true AI program use a switch stmt to
            //output intelligent remarks based on value of hacount.
        }
        else {
            printf("hmmm... bitchin\n");
        }
    }
    else {
        printf("...and jesus just left chicago?\n");
    }
}


ok so i am a computer dweeb. anyway, after a couple of pints at the fat ladies arms with some mates i got a tow on my blades home from an old man in a car that looked like it may need a tow itself, groaning 2km up the mornington hill on serpentine road. sat. morning, i got picked up by this guy craig who had a friend graham in the forestry and birds dept. and was going on a seal study trip with a lecturer in zoology harold something. all in all there were about 10 of us. a few couples that stayed out on the beach, 4 serious diver marine study type folks and then the taggers along craig, felicity and me. we rented wet-suits, scavenged fins, masks and the rest. the trip to hoopers inlet from the top of sandy mount was a 200m vertical in itself which we clambered down defying gravity, courtesy heaps of tussock grass. the taggers earned their keep by hauling gear, wetsuits and such and so i was ready for a nap as soon as i got down. there was a seal colony right at the bottom and these guys count/tag the seals. there was supposed to have been a penguin up on a rock but i didnt see it. anyway got into the water, managed to get out to sea with some difficulty cause of the shore currents and tons of bull kelp. swam out to some rocks where the seals would come straight at you then do a quick U turn about you, categorise you as "mostly harmless" and then just splash about. borrowed harolds weight belt to go down for a bit. the visibility was shit, some fish, plants... graham deftly scooped up a few paua (maori) which are a kind of abalone and quite bbq-able, he said. rested on some rocks and swam further out, turning the corner on the inlet to see a truly spectacular sea cave on the other side. stayed close to the cliff face because of the currents. graham swam ahead to check out a suitable landing spot we could swim to, to get to the cave. meantime a massive seal came up to us and started playing around a little more agressively than the other seals. we stayed in a close bunch but it lingered and blew bubbles and then... the bugger even nibbled at my fins, though i think he preferred jim's which were blue. he had big ass yellow teeth. then graham came back to say he had found a landing spot but that the big flipper was no seal but a sea-lion and that it would be better not to look it in the eye and we'd be fine but that the sea-lion had no intentions of leaving us alone. we sort of collectively decided to screw the sea-cave and headed back sticking close. i cramped for a bit on the way back but managed to ignore it not wanting my fins nibbled at. the tramp up the hill was a bugger with a big drum full of  wet wet-suits and a weight belt strapped to my back. had a late lunch of hummous and milkshakes on the patio at modaks cafe on george st. showered did a bit of work and landed up at a wild party at craig's brothers flat. a couple of us left the party and took sleeping bags out to brighton beach and slept under the stars. woke in the morning to the sound of divers heaving to get a boat into the water... helped them on their way, went into town, had a breakfast of eggs and salmon at ombrellos then bladed around town spending most of the afternoon scavenging a cd sale at echos. came away with six discs i had been looking for for a while for 40 kiwi dollarettes. if you can find it get a copy of rattlesnake guitar... the music of peter green, the man was an alcohol soaked genius. this particular collection has a bunch of heavyweights including ian anderson playing with him. saw patch adams with a bunch of people in the evening.


a week later it was a break for midterm exams. me, i set out thurs. morning with tim hanson's trusty moonstone sleeping bag, blades and a change of clothes. got a ride out of dunedin with jo prince and her friends who were going on a tramp north of lake wanaka. they made their leisurely way out there stopping just north of clyde for a game of touch rugby by the highway and then for a bite in cromwell. a crowded house tape played on repeat the whole way! i hopped off in wanaka where they turned and went north as it was getting dark. bladed about the city for a while and then found this backpackers spot called the purple cow. kiwi backpackers are typically 17 bucks for the night. this place was very homely. the backpacker culture is quite a counterculture in itself... evenings sitting around with books, cooking up a little hot meal, being friendly, smiley, cheery, writing up their days adventures into little diaries, planning the coming day, hitching or making reservations on the magic bus or the kiwi experience. communicating with one another, setting up remote rendezvous through their hotmail accounts. the internet has revolutionized backpacking. hotmail and yahoo are the backpackers link to civilization as they know it... the days adventures and photographs diligently scanned and instantly transported a million miles away to the vicariously travelling near and dear. my first exposure to this culture was a couple of weeks back when craig picked up this girl sarah murphy in te anau who stayed with us for a few days and arranged to hook up with a travelling partner from ireland at the fat ladies arms one evening. the purple cow epitomised it all. i was shown to my room, which was a big suite shared by 6 people. 3 girls in one room and 3 boys in another. the guys were out but i talked to these two new england girls who were zipping about for a while after their recent graduation from u.c. santa barbara. "o my god, you spent some time in santa barbara. thats so rad! blah, blah"... american tourists can be quite irritating and it irritated me that it irritated me but i could not quite help that. the third girl was a temporary fire fighter from northern ontario who was absorbed watching some soap on the telly. changed and got the hell out of there... played a game of pool in the main lounge, spoke to some people from the magic bus and cruised out to a place called paddy's that had a live band playing everything from hoochie coochie man, brown eyed girl, sultans of swing to kenny rogers and most things in-between. the guy who was playing apparently owned the joint or so i was told knowledgably by this english guy gordon who had spent 2 months there doing odd jobs at the purple cow to earn his keep. we were joined by another english girl and a crazy belgie. moved from paddys to kingsway which was a more club like place and opened out onto the street where dreadlocked folk played with fire and danced about. was tired so i just sought of sat about. the belgie woman told me that belgians dont hold down relationships. its not in their blood and that she herself was a gypsy variant of the same. gordon was her current squeeze, all of a week old. then the place closed and the next i knew i was walking up the hill to some friend of gordon's place, this girl with a peacock feather sticking out her head. the flat was like a commune and sure enough all the fire people showed up before long and this swiss girl raffaela was playing flamenco style guitar and some other guy mohammed was bangin' on the bongos like a chimpanzee to his own tune. i could barely keep my eyes open, so it must have been about 4 in the morning that i walked back to the purple cow with the english/spanish girl belin. snuck in as quietly as i could and slept well. woke around 9, showered as the american girls were leaving... they offered me a ride into queenstown but i declined wanting to see more of wanaka. got a toastie in town, half of which i donated to raffaela and her posse that were up and outside the fish and chips place looking hungry and broke as ever. cruised around town some and tried to get a ride some 5 kms out of town to the foot of the trail up mt. roy. no luck whatsoever... i figure its because i did not have my blades on. on foot i was no longer a novelty, as far as hitchers go. took an hour to walk out to the trail... which was 8kms. straight up... supposedly a 4-6 hour tramp, which my getting into shape self figured i could run up... started around 1pm but with the sun beating down, i was cramped and dehydrated by 2 and ready to go back down when i met this japanese guy coming down, who was kind enough to leave me with a "gambatte kudasai" and a bottle of something i had sworn never to try... "pocari sweat". i cherished every drop of it as i made my way up shortly past 3, listening to j.j. cale's cajun moon all the while. the view was worth the climb. there were two brits at the top paul and zoey and a young swede philip who paul kept calling viking. found myself mediating an argument where paul was explaining his celtic knot tattoo saying the celts kicked viking arse and philip countered by repeatedly saying mats sundin, whatever bearing the star hockey forward for the toronto maple leafs may have had on the conversation was lost on me. it was quintessential monty python. stayed at the summit till about 4 and then wound ones way down. grazed my knee a bit trying to jump a paddock fence but we were down by half past five. got a ride into town with paul and the others, spent a quiet night by the lake... and the next day nibbling on camembert and contemplating tracks of one sort or another. salvador dali painted melting watches while nibbling camembert... i contemplated where my wheels may take me next. bladed out of town in the evening as it was getting dark. 5 kms. outside of wanaka at a big intersection on the highway, i got a ride in a big boat of a truck until cromwell. had an hours wait till 9pm for a bus to queenstown but got a hitch almost immediately... these two guys luke and andrew were going into queenstown for the night on their way up to their airplane mechanic jobs in ashburton. 

queenstown was packed... a japanese invasion to say the least. i ended up sharing a motel room with these guys right by the lake. stayed out just after midnight after which andrew and i left luke to his partying in lieu of some sleep. woke leisurely and parted ways with the two kiwis and wandered around town. did a skate along the pier, built up some courage and signed up for the big hackett bungy 71m down skippers canyon. the ride out in this giant landrover to skippers was suicide in itself. there were about 8 of us, two aussie honeymooners, 4 rugby clubbers from england and a couple of scots. wont go into great lengths over the bungy experience. a couple of things though... there was not much screaming as you might expect... almost everyone, myself included went down without a peep, and only let out a cry the first time the cord caught, after which the cry turned into whoops with subsequent sproings. it was a two for one deal. the first time we all just dived face forward, were picked up by jet-boat at the bottom of the canyon and transported up the river only to clamber to the top and back to the bridge to give it another go. the ones that were nuts enough to do it twice all went backwards. once again, i wont go into the jump, except that it does not get any easier the second time around. harder if anything. the second jump was not a dive but a hop off the bridge standing upright, much crazier. the blood rushes to your head instead, and there is quite a spin as you flip when the rope catches. the aussies had done a skydive the day before and said it was a walk in the park by comparison. rode up in the front of the hummer like truck on the way back, with simon the driver, who traded japanese onsen stories with me and apparently among other jobs had worked as a rigger on floyd's division bell tour. bumped into belin at the hackett shop on the way back... backpackers apprarently travel a well beaten track and keep crossing tracks. grabbed my free t-shirt had a shot at rolling a double six to get my money back, failed and had a yummy pepper steak for dinner in town. ran into raffaela and her posse outside the retro bar. they had made it into town to busk for the evening and were doing better now that this yank michael from n.y.c. had joined them and was belting out some pretty good tunes. he taught me some exotic but sweet rhythm chords to an accoustic whipping post. spent the night roaming the town, met up with the aussie bungy'ers for a bit and then this japanese guy ken who was in the bunk below me at deco backpackers for the night. ken, the traveller... a backpacker extraordinaire with his suit bag hung by the bunk and his rental car outside as he spoke of owning a turban and beard both of which he had bought in india and his everlasting love for the sari as an article of clothing. all the while his hands were clasped together and swung like a pendulum in anticipation of tomorrows golf outing. woke around 9 in the morning, checked out and climbed an hour to the top of the hill the gondola operates on. rode the luge at the top a couple of times and then took the gondola down. picked up my pack and blades and headed out of town. got picked up a few clicks out of town by an orange beetle driven by this microbiology chic from otago, andre, who took me out as far as frankton. another 10 km down the road this english guy alex in a red 4wd stopped and took me as far as cromwell on his way to christchurch. talked rugby the whole way but mentioned he had been on a rees/dart track tramp with some mates from dunedin. skated out to the dunedin, wanaka fork and watched a number of packed cars pass me by. was about half an hour before a car finally stopped... andy and sarah redfearn headed out to dunedin... they chatted about their travels through india and that they had a farm now in brighton near dunedin with a few sheep, pigs, chicks and a couple of cats. then they mentioned they were originally from england and had just been on a tramp on the rees/dart track with somebody whose sister they knew... i told them i had got a ride with another guy who had been on the track this weekend. "was he really into rugby and drove a red car and went by the name of alex", they asked... got into dunedin around 6 bought them tea at this cafe called "ruby in the dust". its not the only cafe in dunedin with a classic rock name... the jethro tull cafe even has a sandwich called "jack in the green". bladed home from the octagon after tea fairly knackered but adventured. met tracee later that evening for a quiet thai dinner. 

its sort of funny but the more disorganised you might try to get the more slotted you are, like backpackers, seeming to have no plan but basically like sheep following the flock around with the perception of a window of individuality.

Skippers Canyon, Queenstown (jump 2)