Screams in Okains

Trip Start Sep 09, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Monday, February 7, 2005

So after the long journey back through the Mackenzie Country and in to Canterbury, we made our way over to the East Coast and out on to the spectacular scenery of the Banks Peninsula. Once again, we checked in to 'Top 10 Akaroa', a now familiar place where we spent three nights. After the first night, I ran over to reception and paid the slightly higher premium of an extra $4 dollars for the privilege of moving to 'pitch 24'. We'd clocked Pitch 24 the night before, situated right on the edge of the hill with the clearest, most picturesque view of Akaroa harbour. We spent a lot of time chilling out, catching up with journals and watching the incredible sunsets over the harbour. My foot started feeling a lot better the day after and I was able to put a lot more weight on it. I still for the life of me can't figure out what caused it. It's really annoying though, I know that much.

Yesterday we checked out and headed up in the hills once again to the summit track and over to Le Bons Bay which was a different feel altogether. We passed through a lot of low cloud and mist in the hills en route which was quite surreal. To then see them at Le Bons Bay at sea level was quite extraordinary, almost eerie. The bay was wild. The winds were up and the mist was looming over the crashing tide, giving the whole feel of the place a fascinating eeriness and wildness. Upon checking, it appeared that the camping ground there was closed for some reason, so we headed up and over to Okains Bay once again for some solitude. Some of the mist was lingering in Okains too which gave it an extra depth that I instantly warmed to. We found a great pitch too - right under the shelter of a huge tree. A perfect opportunity to try the hammock for the first time that I bought from Kathmandu in Christchurch on 'refurb day'. It held up a treat and was soooo comfortable, and in the most peaceful place. I was chuffed to bits.

It wasn't long before Sinead was off for the rest of the afternoon to find her 'rock' and to sit with the ocean, her thoughts and her journal. A few hours later after I'd concluded my own time, I headed back for a shower and to start preparing dinner. It was a very peaceful, fulfilling day that left us both spiritually refreshed. Okains Bay seems to do that.

Today saw a different turn of events. After a peaceful morning in the sun following breakfast we decided to take the coastal path that winds its way around the rocks and on to the parts of the bay that are more secluded. We were quietly hoping to get a good glimpse of another dolphin and also fancied the exercise. My foot had become much more 'walkable' over the last few days and the breeze was sufficient enough to make the heat more bearable. We set off shortly after lunch. As we got further in to the track I remember thinking to myself how it looked a bit dangerous and how I would've struggled to cross some parts twelve months ago. One particular section was very narrow, particularly slippery and to the left was a drop on to some jagged rocks before dropping further down, straight in to the sea which was ferociously crashing against the rocks beneath us. It certainly wasn't a part of the sea you would want to be in, not if you wanted to keep your bones intact. So as I crossed it I remember thinking how particularly dangerous it was. I also remember looking at the rocks beneath the track being pounded by the sea and starting to get a bit concerned. I snapped out of it and continued on cautiously as I didn't want unnecessary negative thoughts to ruin the trek. I'd being doing well with the heights thing so far in New Zealand and wanted to move forwards, not backwards. As I got to the other side, the feelings subsided and I carried on over some more rocks and continued up the path. The next thing I remember is hearing a sudden shrieking scream behind me that instantly made me spin around. It was Sinead. As I turned I caught a glimpse of her legs being thrown in the air as she fell over that tricky section and disappeared over the other side. My mind went completely numb and I started clambering over the rocks back towards her as quickly as I could. I almost didn't believe it at first, then the realisation kicked in. All that was going through my mind was the very likeliness that she had fallen in to the sea. It also seems a stupid thing to say but the theme tune from '999' came in to my head in perfect timing as I scrambled frantically over the rocks. When I got there she was there too. She'd fallen over the side but not fallen further. Thank god. She was alright. A twisted, maybe sprained, maybe broken ankle and a nastily grazed back, but she was alright. The relief was immense. I really don't know what I would have done.

We eventually got her back up on to the main track and slowly back to the van where we passed the same 'Warning' sign that we had passed ironically at the start of the track, indicating the hazards of falling rocks and unstable surfaces. Back at the van we assessed the injuries. Sinead concluded and stressed that the pain wasn't bad enough to leave immediately and decided she would rest and monitor it, making further decisions tomorrow. Nuff said. I took a shower and got on with dinner.

What a close call. What a strange change of events. One foot gets better, another gets a bashing. What is it with foot injuries in New Zealand?
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