As a British traveller abroad, it is obviously well overdue for me to talk about the weather. It is common knowledge that we spend 78% of our time discussing it in private so it is a miracle that I haven’t written much on the subject before.
Anyone from the UK knows that our weather is crap. Grey and gloomy most of the time but when we finally get a nice day it is glorious. The sun is out, and everyone is happy and smiling…. then 2 hours pass, and everyone is sweaty and miserable but that’s just all part of the British summer! Well certain areas of NZ (i.e. Most of them!) didn’t seem to get this memo regarding the changing of the seasons or even just changing of the weather on specific days. Over here the weather can literally change within minutes, just to have a laugh at your expense.
For the last week Jacqui has been working away in the Catlins, a beautifully stunning area towards the bottom end of the South Island of New Zealand. This sparsely populated area is a little gem with hidden waterfalls, beautiful bays and secluded beaches around every corner. What is also has in a terrible case of New Zealand weather!
Yesterday we headed out exploring for the day with the weather report saying that it was going to shower all day. Not an issue, grab a jacket and keep going. It turns out that the shower was barely a drizzle and it was a nice little walk through some forested areas to see a couple of waterfalls. Another little walk after lunch down a rail trail and all was good in the world. The temperature was quite warm even with the light rain making you not even really notice it. A bit later in the afternoon we headed down to an area called Jacks Bay and by the time we got there it was raining a bit harder. We had considered just sitting in the car and not going anywhere but the adventurers in us got the better of us so off we went. Not wanting to end up soaked I swapped my hoodie for the only coat that I had with me at the time, my snowboarding coat and we went on our way, snug and cosy and most importantly waterproof!
After walking down to one end of the beach and climbing on some rocks there was a sudden change. Not a gradual shifting of the weather but a complete and sudden change. Above are 2 photos that were taken about 10 mins apart. The first is overcast as far as the eye can see and 10 mins later the sky is blue, and the sun is out shining down on us. On the walk back to the car it got so hot that I took my jacket off and carried it (sorry Scott – inside joke) and still ended up sweating. With no sign of the sunshine ending anytime soon I opted to make my schoolboy error and left the jacket in the car, not even picking up a hoodie, for another 20 min walk in the opposite direction.
Now this would be a boring story if everything just worked out perfectly for me on this little jaunt but since I’ve taken the time to write this you can be assured it went very wrong. Halfway down the track everything was still going great. We stopped and got a couple more pics of some stunning views and then started a climb up a hill covered in dried mud. The department of conservation (DOC) were in the process of building some steps and a new path but this just made things worse for the moment since it had churned up so much of the walkway. Onwards we soldiered until about 3/4 down the path when an ominous cloud rolled in. Now I’ve heard people mention seeing scary clouds approach and it seems like something that takes a lot of time to eventually get to you. I promise you, this did not.
As we looked at the cloud I knew things were not going to go well for me, especially given the speed that is was moving at across the landscape. Everything in front of us went misty and all we could do was carry on as quickly as possible to get to the sight at the end and then get back. As we turned the next corner we were hit by the strong wings trying to push us over and then the light rain. Luckily the light rain only lasted about 30 seconds. Unluckily it was replaced by heavy rain. Luckily the heavy rain only lasted about a minute. Unluckily it was replaced by very heavy rain… and hail, let’s not forget the hail. A mins before I was walking along commenting how I wished I was wearing shorts instead of jeans, now I’m soaked to my core and struggling to move in wet clothes.
Safe to say that the trip back to the car was much more eventful. The casual dried mud we walked up earlier was now thick and sticky with a nice river flowing down the middle of it making it rather traitorous. All the sights had completely changed and even the animals in the fields had all taken to hiding behind trees to shield from the elements. The funniest bit was that because it was raining sideways (which hurt!) I managed to lose feeling in both my arms, yet the front of my body was completely dry. It looked like I had just decided to have a lie down in a shallow puddle for a few mins. Jacqui had tried to save me a little by walking behind me since she had waterproof clothes on but since I’m twice the size of her and the weather was brutal this didn’t really help much.
Getting back to the car involved swapping my now sodden T-shirt for a hoodie and then driving back in boxer shorts while the 2 old ladies that had been sat in their car since the outset chuckled to themselves.
On a positive note at least, Jacqui stayed dry and everyone gets to hear a story about me learning the cruelty of nature the hard way!
Moral of the story – Always pack your foldup rain jacket!