In attempting to describe the hospitality we have experienced in New Zealand, I could provide you with numerous examples: the family who took us in on Christmas Day and fed us with traditional Maori cuisine (hangi – bucket list item complete); the couple we met for half an hour at a community lunch who offered us their house in case we ever needed a ‘proper’ bed to sleep in as opposed to our campervan; our third wwoof hosts who treated us as family, taking us out in their boat and teaching us to waterski… the list really does go on.
But in deciding which tales to share about people opening their arms to us in unfamiliar surroundings, we settled for two stories, one utterly random (told here in part one), and one as a result of seemingly divine intervention (soon to come in part two).
Danny and the Hare Krishna Whisky Club
When we bought our van, we were aware that it was in need of a cambelt change. As (relatively) budget campers, we were looking to secure a pretty sweet deal for the work, and were recommended (by Erik and Miranda, our first wwoof hosts) an Indian-Figian Kiwi by the name of Danny, based in Auckland. He turned out to be just the man: chilled out, cheery, and most importantly, cheap.
After being assured that the work would be done within the day, we went on our merry way to spend the day catching up with family on skype, browsing the shops, and collecting bits and bobs for the van.
By half four we hadn’t received our promised phone call giving us the go ahead to collect the van, so with some trepidation, we headed back to the garage, where we found Danny, our van (which was suspended two metres in the air), and no sign of the rest of his work force. Thus ensued the following:
Danny (cheerily): “Hey! My guy didn’t finish your van!”
Danny: “It’s not ok? Do you need it?”
Us: “Well, yes, it’s a campervan.”
Danny: “Oh dear…”
Us: “Oh dear indeed…”
Danny: “What are you going to do?”
Us: “Umm, well I guess we’ll need to find somewhere to stay.”
Danny: “Well, you can stay here.”
Us: “In the workshop?”
Danny: “Yes! There’s a fridge for beer and a barbecue and a toilet.”
Us (nervously glancing at each other, but both knowing we would both prefer not to shell out for expensive Auckland accommodation): “Ok?”
Danny (lowering the car from its suspended position): “Great. I’ll be back in a while.”
And he disappeared.
After laughing about this bizarre turn of events, we started sorting out the van and thinking about what we might cook on the barbie.
However, Danny had returned, and with him was a plastic bag full to the brim with (unidentified) frozen meat, and under the other arm, a full crate of beer.
Despite our protestations that our boutique accommodation was enough of a gift, he had already cracked open the beers and proceeded to start cooking the meat with an (also unidentified) super spicy Fijian sauce.
The evening’s events, however, were far from over. He soon left us again, to ‘pick up a friend’. It turns out this friend was his ‘brother’ (we’re still unsure about the biological link here. I’m more convinced it’s a ‘brother from another mother’ sort of relationship). This chap, it turns out, had just been arrested for drink driving, and Danny (who, as previously mentioned, had already polished off a couple of beers) had been picking him up from the police station; he seemed somewhat unaware of the ironic nature of his actions. With a slightly more sombre mood descending upon us, we were pleased when a handful more of Danny’s ‘brothers’ turned up, bringing with them a bottle of whisky.
The evening progressed. The whisky bottle starting diminishing, and the chat moved on to more philosophical content. It turns out our new friends were all part of the local Hare Krishna gang, and their esteemed leader and preacher was our pal Danny! Talk turned to faith and beliefs, including an interesting chat about the somewhat confusing matter of a group of (normally teetotal vegetarian) Hindus eating meat and drinking whisky (which, as it turns out, was an almost daily occurrence for these guys). We never quite got to the bottom of that one.
As the whisky bottle was drained of its last few drops and a pile of bones littered the table, the Hindu whisky party was over, and with invitations to various Hare Krishna events, an offer of Christmas at Danny’s house, as well as an assurance that he would bring us breakfast in the morning, our new ‘brothers’ departed.
Their method of transport remains unknown.
Part Two coming soon…