I must start by saying that this report may not be 100% accurate and may be a little embellished in places but it is how I will remember our adventure.
Our journey starts with a rendezvous at Marleens house at 07:45 on a cool but sunny Friday morning. We all arrive and load up our gear into the cars and as previously arranged we set off at around 08:10. Awa’s car leading a loose convoy we have agreed to meet up for morning tea at Taupo.
After a couple of hrs driving my car arrives at the meeting place and to our surprise we are the first there. A quick phone call to George and we learn that Awa’s group has decided to show Do-Hun a little of New Zealand and have made a quick detour to Huka falls. It’s not a problem; we just rearrange to have our next meet up in Wellington.
Another 6hrs of tiring but uneventful driving sees us arrive at Rowena’s lodge (our backpacker accommodation) at around 16:00hrs. Awa is now about an hour behind us.
Wearily I ring the bell and am greeted by the most miserable and grumpy old man imaginable. After checking in and swiping our visa cards he points out where the facilities are and gives me the keys to our rooms. As we make our way to our rooms I notice a group of guys lounging about in the TV room. In the dining room is an old grand piano.
The boy’s room is not the nicest room in the world but it will serve our purpose and was not expensive. Next door is Marleen and Joyce’s room. It is not a very nice room. It is dark and smells of damp.
I now start to worry. Marleen and Joyce have booked to stay here an extra night after we boys have gone home. While we are there we can make sure they are protected but what happens when we leave? Will they be OK? Will they be safe?
After unpacking and having some refreshments Marleen assures us that she and Joyce will be alright and that as we have paid we will stay here as planned.
Awa arrives and as a group we have some tea and talk of the journey down
At about 19:00hrs we all go for a walk into Wellington centre. It’s a little cold and windy but Wellington looks like a very nice city. An hour or so later we pick up some pizza and some beers and make our way back to the lodge.
Into the dining room we go and take command of a table. We set out our “feast” and make ourselves comfortable. The food and drink goes down well and not too much later an Italian lady enters with two young children (about 2 and 4 yrs old), immediately I feel a little easier about leaving Marleen and Joyce alone.
All of us now warmed up and with full bellies, we ask Joyce if she will entertain us on the piano. Reluctantly she agrees, she sits down and slowly makes herself comfortable, she gathers her thoughts. She starts to play … Wow! This girl can really play the whole room goes quiet as we all listen to her. It’s not just us but I can see the other guests are mighty impressed too. The Italian children are drawn to the piano by Joyce’s music recital, their mother comes too. After a faultless performance the whole room applauds.
Next, Awa gets up and sits at the Piano … He too can play. I’m learning so much about my fellow club mates.
While Awa and Joyce continue to play piano I take the opportunity to talk to the Italian lady. She quickly puts my mind at ease and tells me that, although Rowena’s lodge may not be the nicest place she has stayed in, she has never felt threatened and says everyone(except Mr Happy the Manager) is very friendly.
It’s getting a little late and we have competition in the morning so we go to bed.
We wake early and one by one make our way to have a shower. We hit the showers just as some beautiful young ladies are coming out dressed only in towels … A girls hockey team are staying here too. Suddenly Rowena’s lodge is looking a little nicer.
Over breakfast, we learn that one of our party has an admirer from the ladies hockey team. He is a man of great honour and politely declined the advance.