Lake Taupo, New Zealand was a small yet stunningly pretty place back in 1995. I had been travelling solo for over 2 months at that time and was pleased to meet a fellow Brit at the hostel. Being the friendly gals we were, Jess and I announced that we were going to the pub as we passed through the common area. Upon hearing the invitation to join us we were joined by one guy, who, little did we know was in for quite the adventure!
We had barely had time to introduce ourselves when dark shapes peeled out of the shadows behind us. Mike was there first target, when his response to “Hey white boy give us your money” was negative, he got two punches to the face. Fight or flight responses kicked in and he took flight, running as fast as possible in flip-flops back towards the hostel.
The four males in this group of Maori teenagers took off after him, leaving Jess and myself, facing two heftily built girls. They tried the same line with us, which also received a “no”. After a brief scuffle and a few kicked shins and scrapes, I broke away and flagged down a passing car, the driver whisked me back to the hostel, Jess broke away and ran into a nearby gas station where they phoned the police.
With adrenalin, surging through your system it is amazing what you can do, just ask Mike, who managed to outrun the thugs and make it back to the hostel. The sight of his bloody face had already caused quite a commotion by the time I and Jess–in a police cruiser–made it back.
The remainder of the night we spent giving statements and describing this group of teenage thugs. Wearing jeans and baggy T-shirts, briefly glimpsed in the dark, they could have been any group of local teens. My first and only time in a police cruiser was the tour of the local hangouts we had, trying in vain to identify our attackers.
At midnight, delivered back to the hostel, the horrified owners pulled out the brandy—not sure, if it was to calm our nerves or theirs–it was here where we had our final interview of the night with a stress councillor. A little cranky and tired of repeating the story we gave her a condensed version. Her advice to the three of us was to “keep on talking it out”.
Over the next few days as a bloody nose, split lip, bruises and scrapes healed, we hung out by the lake, checked out the local hot springs and formed strong friendships. Jess headed back to England and Mike and I decided to travel together for a while.
After 10 months on the road, travelling though New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Sumatra and Nepal, we were still together. Which as any backpacking couple will tell you is a major accomplishment.
Eighteen years later, we are still “talking it out”. As Mike has often joked, “he sure knows how to show a girl a good time”.