The arrival of Christmas was sneaky and sudden, the warm weather masking the holiday feeling. Soon the Christmas decorations were up and it was appropriate to wear a santas hat to work. Christmas away never has the same traditions but in an international community it was even more special to swap traditions and share with friends. A few days before a big Christmas hamper arrived and the week of celebrations began with a big open air feed on the deck, 4kg of ham, the trimmings and a great group of people.
Christmas Eve was just as collaborative. A BBQ followed by a bring and share deserts meant everyone could be together as we swapped our secret Santa gifts, a collaboration of the three smaller companies in Milford. We took it in turns to open gifts and make a guess who bought for each other which elongated the evening to the point it felt like you had been given so many gifts!
Cruise Milford and Jucy had Christmas Day off and the sun was out! We had a joint brunch of pancakes, quiche and leftover goodies before everyone went on their separate adventures. Jaemi, Allison and I decided to tackle the tricky Bowen falls walk. Bowen falls is an everyday view, a stunning waterfall with a 160 metre drop and it supplies both our drinking water and powers a hydro electric plant which gives the village electricity. The walk is a tricky traverse through dense bush, up the water pipeline, along a sketchy pipe and out onto a gushing river fed from the Grave glacier. We all slipped several times, some more compromising than others, but eventually made it to the little edge with the panoramic viewpoint to enjoy a well earned but warm beer. It felt high, but with everything the scale is impossible until one of the boats came past to enter the harbour and looked so small, then your feet tingled with the knowledge you were high.
After a good relax we climbed back up to return home, stopping for a spontaneous dip in the icy water to clean off the sweat. The traverse back down was just as interesting and we emerged a few hours later to a different spot than expected, a few scratches to the legs ahead of an evening of wearing skirts!
Dinner was on the Pride of Milford, one of the bigger boats and a chance for all companies to join together. A buffet and open bar were provided, the rooftop making for a panoramic view over the fiord.
New Years weather was not so kind and there was reluctance to host everyone, so with 24 hours to go we were given the go ahead for another garage party. Once again everyone pulled together to locate fairy lights, set up a sound system and the musicians who were keen to perform. A last minute theme of Black and White was decided, so a few of us set about mass producing snowflakes to hang from the ceiling and soon it was a winter wonderland. The most important criteria for New Years though was friends and dancing and both were abundant making for such a special welcome into 2017!
After spending the entire festive season in Milford, my escape after 18 days of work was a camping trip to Lake Marion. A spontaneous after work decision on a warm day turned into a disastrous adventure. After climbing a few hours up we got to the stunning lake to find it very full, flooding the path to the ideal camping spot at the back of the lake. With the rest of the group the other side we searched for around an hour to find the route and with night closing in we realised it was bush bashing, or wading thigh high through the icy water. Picking the icy water route, with a laden bag, we made it to camp after dark. Luckily a fire was burning and we had help setting up our tent before the fog rolled in. Marshmallows, fire cooked bread and wine helped to ease the aching limbs and we settled in to enjoying a fun evening of stories until our eyes forced themselves shut.
We woke up to the rewarding sound of rain on a tent, rewarding that is unless you have to pack up a wet tent and hike through a lake and down a muddy mountain. We quickly packed up, I forwent trousers, a needless item of clothing due to the lake wade and together we tacked the cold water with positivity. The positivity wained when Ina realised she had lost the car keys, once safely to the other side of the lake. It wained even more as our aching bones carried us down the hill. As there was two car loads and five people wouldn’t fit into just one, once at the bottom I approached the first family and said, have you got space in your car. When they had, I asked what their destination was as any way was toward home comforts. Luckily, their destination was Te Anau, so soaked and stinky we made our way closer to food and warmth. It’s another tick for the list, all in the name of adventure. And you know what gets me the most.. I forgot to take a single photo!