Everyone was ready for a dose of summer and by mid February the long nights and warm weather were characterised by a run of beautiful skies. On the water, the Fiordland crested penguins were back in the fjord for their malting. Off the water we had an Arabian nights themed surprise party with a one time edition of pin the tail on the camel, we had a tasty Milford bake off and a chip and dip night to sample Swedish dips.
The Chicago mobsters came to town in the form of a murder mystery party. Any excuse for dinner parties and dress up, we paired up to uncover the murder of Spudsy, a notorious mobster.
The bluffing and debauchery was so fun we had a second run at it, this time in the vineyards of California. As the scandals got revealed the search for the killer got more complex.
Inspired by reminiscing of childhood games, I gathered the troops for an after work game of Capture the flag on the foreshore. The first time, 25 people in black or white traversed the bushes ambushing each other in the aim to capture the flag and return it to their base. The manhunt was so popular we had a second run a few weeks later, much to the surprise of any lingering tourists who got caught in the crossfire.
March had two big events of the Milford calendar. The first, Lady of the Sounds saw mass cross dressing with the guys shaving legs, beards and armpits, dropping a few layers and applying the makeup in large quantities. 6 acts competed for the prestigious title of Lady of the Sounds.
St Patrick’s day turned Milford green as the yearly bridge to bar took place. Three buses shuttled up to the Tutoko bridge, 3km from the stores shed, and people raced, at different speeds to get back. Trolleys stocked with alcohol and music assisted the parade, mandatory drinking was applied on every small bridge we passed (13) and the night ended with a BBQ and dancing, something which is scarce in Milford. The luck of the Irish meant the night was amply wet but it didn’t dampen any spirits.
In my last week we took the Mitre peak boat out for a sunset trip. There was fishing, eating and even a brisk swim in the Tasman sea as Holly, Jaemi, Frazer, Gavin and I jumped from the bow. The photos look desert island hot, I can assure you it wasn’t!
Days off were equally adventurous. We Jet boated down the Kawarau river outside Cromwell, a very kiwi activity. We got on a helicopter ride over mount cook, landing on Zodiac Glacier for an amazing viewpoint and we spent a day Canyoning outside Wanaka, abseiling, swimming and jumping through the leaping burn gorge. The adrenaline was building throughout the day, so keeping up with the competition I followed Gavin off the final 13 metre jump, a big thrill!
My final week was so full of festivities, there was barely time to contemplate what lay beyond, let alone pack up the life I had accumulated. On the boat the skippers took the opportunity to torture me a final time, demanding me be on the bow as fairy falls doused the front of the boat, for the amusement of the customers. For solidarity I was joined by my amazing colleagues.
We had a final quiz night which was fuelled by whiskey shots, and on the last night an Electric Swing party on the Jucy boat. We cruised the fjord, all dressed in flowing dresses and smart suits, accompanied by a pod of dolphins surfing the bow. With the music pulsing, many took to the bow for a slightly less dressed immersion in glacial fed Stirling falls. The night played out with swing dancing and electro music.
And with that, the end of March was the end of my 23 month visa, the end of my time in Milford and New Zealand. After the final hurrah, it was another difficult goodbye as I drove back through the tunnel, rejoining the real world, and hopped on a flight to Auckland and subsequently New Delhi.