We had visitors over this weekend, from England. They were touring the South Island on holiday and decided to stop by us and say hello. We decided to do a road trip to Te Anau, give them a glimpse of the Fjordland while they were here. When we got there, we wanted to go for a walk before lunch, ans stretch our legs. I remembered seeing a sign for Lake Mistletoe just on the other side of Te Anau, so we headed for that. It was supposedly a short 45 minute walk, perfect.
We found it, parked up and headed off. To be honest, we were a little miffed because the lake was right there, within only 10 minutes or so. This was a funny ’45 minute walk’. We decided to walk further along the path and see where it led. It simply led across a bridge and back to the road.
We turned back and set off into the bush to see if we could find another route. Nope.
We decided to give up and return back along the path. We needed to grab a bite to eat anyway.
We were JUST crossing this bridge, again, when we heard a huge loud screech. Mark shouted for us to be quiet. He stood and listened. Then he sprinted off the path and over the rise back in the direction of the road. He was gone for a while. Our guests and I stood on the bridge, we decided to give him a minute or so more, then we would walk back to the road, and see if he was ok. Then he ran back over the hill towards us.
‘What’s happened?’ I asked.
‘An American has spun his car off the road. he needs our help.’ And he turned along the path towards the road. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, This was like something from a movie. We had been standing on the bridge minutes before saying that nothing must be wrong, as we could still hear traffic roaring past, and not stopping.
CUT the scene.
Imagine. You’re the American, you’re on the road to Milford, out in the bush. No one around for miles. You spin your car off into a ditch, are standing beside it, other half still trapped inside, and are in severe shock. Then a man sprints out of the bush between two trees and asks are you OK? good grief, how must that have looked!?
Then, with that, Man sprints off back into the bush and returns a few minutes later with three more people in tow!
When we were discussing the story afterwards we laughed about how comical this must have all looked!
CUT back to the scene
I looked at the scene. the car was well wedged in the ditch. There was a passenger, but she had no way of getting out. Both seemed in shock, but ok. The car was at a helluvan angle, but had been saved from rolling by the gorse and ferns that lined the road. It was still up the right way.
The road bent away in both directions. This would need all four of us. I told Lucia to stand on the other side of the road, further back down and slow the traffic from that direction. I ran off round the corner and up the hill on the same side of the road as the ditch the car was on. I could still see the scene, from my newly elevated position, and could warn approaching traffic to slow down as the came over the brow of the hill.
I continued to slow down the approaching traffic, as I could see Mark and our friend Tony work to get the car free and back up onto the road.
Very shortly afterwards a car approaching from the other direction stopped. Two men got out and ran across to help.
Now there were three of them, and they got the car free and up onto the road in no time at all. I had to stay in my position, and now make sure the traffic was almost coming to a halt, as the car was now blocking that side of the road, on the bend.
The approaching traffic was giving me really funny looks, so those with windows down I shouted in a brief explanation ‘car in ditch’ as they came past me.
In a relatively short space of time, Mark, Tony, and the guys that stopped to help got the car free. Apart from some dents, it appeared to be OK. They advised that the driver stop at the cafe just at the top of the hill where I was standing. They both waved a thank you to me as they turned and came up the hill.
What a freaky set of events. Imagine if we had carried on walking up the road. We may have been
- hit by the car
- been in our car and well away before it happened.
Imagine if Mark had not reacted so quickly, how long might that guy have been stuck there in the ditch in his hire car (oops!).
Our minds were buzzing. We needed a coffee and a sit down, that was not how we expected the walk to pan out! I will never look at that ‘Lake Mistletoe’ sign in the same way again!
We did manage to relax, laugh about it afterwards (while also worrying whether the American tourist was ok) and rounded off the day with a much needed meal and wine.
Well, I bet Tony and his wife were not expecting that when they said they were coming to visit!