Hi everybody. I’m going to pass the torch to my German friend Louisa who I met in Timaru, New Zealand, where we played a life changing game of werewolf and many beers were consumed. This is her recollection of the famous Routeburn Track near Queenstown and a rather unfortunate encounter with some creatures from hell. Never have I ever heard of anything quite like this…
– Tom @ indieroad
It was a quarter to six when I woke up, fifteen minutes before my first alarm was supposed to go off. Typical… By now I was used to waking up in a damp and dark tent with frozen feet and a red nose. But I still felt like a cool adventurer in 1700 who’s off on a new expedition in a foreign country when opening our tent and seeing… well what? A not so adventurous campground in the middle of Queenstown, the most exciting city on the South Island of New Zealand. It was cold as and I could see my breath in white clouds as I looked south, the direction of where this new day would take us today.
It was the day that I had been looking forward to and dreading at the same time since my brother came to visit me in New Zealand a couple of weeks before. We had been road-tripping through the country but were on a pretty tight schedule since we actually had to make a booking to hike (or should I say walk?) one of the Great Walks. I chose the Routeburn track for us, I don’t really know why, I just thought it looked cool in the pictures and in brochures and kinda like some places where they could have filmed Lord of the Rings. A friend of mine had told me he’d walked almost the whole thing twice in one day (also stating that he was literally almost dying by the end of it), which made me kinda optimistic; thinking about me and my less than mediocre body shape. A couple of days before we made it to Queenstown though somebody had told me that the Routeburn was one of the hardest things they had ever done and that they even heard about people being helicoptered out of there because of the bad weather circumstances. But somehow I was still mildly unimpressed, the only thing I was worrying about was if my legs could carry me and my 20kg backpack (yeah, I hate myself and especially my back) for almost 40kms. Reasonable, right?
No. Not right. Of course I had read all the DOC tips and tricks for a successful walk beforehand (we even packed a first aid kit, though I’m pretty sure none of us know how to comport themselves when your brother falls down a cliff and breaks both of his legs right?) and anyhow, what could possibly go wrong? I mean, we’re in New Zealand, the safest country on earth after all. So naive me, booked the hike for end of April. Well yeah, there’s lots of rain that time of the year, but we’re not made out of sugar, are ye? Right. Dumb me.
Anyway, it took my brother two more hours to wake up and another two to get his shit together. So when we were standing on that one fabulous lookout on the road from Queenstown to Glenorchy where all the amazing tourist photos are taken, surrounded by Asians and looking south, we saw the darkest clouds I had ever seen in my life rolling on over the sky. In the distance I heard thunder.
“Great day for a hike right? Haha. No seriously, are we really going to do this?” -my brother was actually making sense for once.
“We paid 150 bucks for fees so yes, of course we are. Don’t be such a pussy.” -me, always broke and determined to live that adventurer life no matter what. Or just simply dumb.
5 hours later we were on the track, soaked with rain and sweat. It was that kind of weather that just makes you feel gross- you know, like wearing a jacket makes you sweat too much, but without a jacket you’ll get soaking wet with rain. Don’t mind me, but I’d prefer rain over sweat any day (again, stupid me, who would subsequently be complaining about getting sick for the rest of the following week).
But despite that, it was going surprisingly well! My back wanted to kill itself only a little and I only had about two blisters on my feet. Good record so far. So we were in the mountains, deep in the forest, away from any kind of civilisation or even road for miles and miles, hadn’t seen any other human being for about two hours. Mind the rain and wind, there was no other sound (not like you could hear a lot over those two anyway). We were just walking along happily, focussing on not tripping in the mud.
Then it happened.
I was just turning around to my brother to say something (probably to complain about how my lungs are burning and I can’t do this anymore can you take one more thing out of my backpack please?) when I saw something bright and colourful appear in the distance right beside my brother’s jacket. A moment later, a second bright thing appeared, alarmingly growing larger and getting closer. When my brain finally recognised what was running towards me with unusual speed, I couldn’t do anything but stand still and wait for my death. The sound of a honk finally made my brother turn around too, who got just as shocked and confused as I was. But yet, there they were. Two clowns. Coming to get us and drag us to their secret hideout to eat us alive. At least that’s what I thought. I mean, anyone who’s seen IT by Stephen King knows that clowns are evil and you should avoid them at all costs. Ever since that movie, I’ve been suffering from a disturbingly intense fear of clowns, especially when they appear in seemingly unusual places. So you can imagine that for these initial seconds when I saw two tall and bright clowns sprinting towards me in literally the middle of nowhere, I literally thought I was going to die. Nope, no broken leg or a soaked tent or being lost in the mountains… I was going to get killed by two clowns on the Routeburn track. Talk about being dramatic. I was so focussed on the fact that I was going to get murdered by my worst nightmare come to life that I was actually surprised when they did not stop or at least slow down when they got near us. They just kept running past us. Two clowns. Two fucking clowns, red fluffy hair, big nose, weird ass grimace painted on their face, and that horrifying ‘suit’ they always wear (even just thinking about this makes the hair on my arms stand up right now, no jokes). When I finally realised that I was, in fact, not getting murdered by those clowns, they were already disappearing around the next corner. I realised that I just had had the closest thing to a heart attack I had ever experienced in my whole life. I then got enraged and yelled with all my remaining strength I had left in my body, “WHY?!”.
And one of those assholes actually stops, turns around, smiles his bright, ugly and disturbing clown smile and screams back at me, “WHY NOT?”, before he is off again, running down the Routeburn track and scaring the shit out of more innocent girls like me.
Needless to say, I was not myself for the rest of the week and was actually relieved when we had to leave the track due to bad weather conditions. Other people might have laughed at this, but concerning myself, I have not to this day figured out what the actual fuck is wrong with people.
And they say New Zealand is the safest country to travel.
– Louisa, guest blogger.