When I invited my dad to explore New Zealand with me for five weeks, I knew there would be some sacrifices I would have to make. I knew I would have to endure teeth gritting levels of snoring, and I knew I would have to be okay with not having much of a plan. I had some sense of what I was getting myself into, and for the first few days things seemed to be flowing along nicely.
The intention of our trip was to go out on multi-day treks on some of the less popular trails. My dad, as much as he is a social guy, hates hiking with big masses of people around. I tend to agree with him, but personally don’t mind the extra company.
Our first trek of the trip started at Spirit’s Bay in the North Island. A man from the camp we were staying at offered to drive us to the trailhead, and pick us up a few days later at the other side.
Leaving Spirit’s Bay meant leaving other humans for a while. We walked along the coast of New Zealand for eight miles. Halfway through I took my shoes off, and happily walked in the sand while carrying my oversized pack. It was our first leg of the trip, and despite feeling sunburnt and exhausted, I was elated that we had started. I remember feeling really happy that I was putting feet to trail.
Our first stop was about eight hours later at a rudimentary campsite where we would stay for the night. We arrived a few hours before sunset - just enough time to set up camp, eat some dinner, and go explore the rock pools down by the water. It was surreal to be at the most Northern point of a country, and see no other people for miles.
Satisfied with the day’s adventures, and eager to start the next day, we went to bed fairly early. I had already grown accustomed to falling asleep with earbuds in blaring music (Beach House) to drown out my dad’s snoring. That’s why, when my dad woke up to leave the tent and use the bathroom, I didn’t hear him.
I was jolted out of my sleep by my dad screaming my name. When I replied, he very calmly said “okay, when I say go, I’m going to dive into the tent and I need you to close the door as quickly as possible.” I said okay, still groggy and unsure of what was happening.
And then I heard what sounded like a chainsaw. And then I looked up and saw hundreds, if not thousands, of mosquitos in our tent. My dad yelled “GO” as he dove in, and I zipped up the tent. He said he had never seen so many mosquitos in his entire life - and that outside the tent the air was thick with them. I remember just looking at him, rolling my eyes, and zipping my sleeping bag over my head for the remainder of the night.
As soon as the sun rose, I jumped out of the tent, so happy that it was a new day. The best way to describe that feeling is when you were the first to wake up at a sleepover as a kid, and all you wanted to do was go home (just me?). Now that I was fully awake, I thought the mosquito incident was hilarious. It was so rare to see my dad freaked out, especially by bugs. I poked fun at him the rest of the day. I also learned a valuable lesson that day - never camp next to a swamp.