Greymouth, New Zealand October 18-20, 2007
There are three reasons to visit Greymouth on your way southbound. First, it’s the home of the Monteith’s Brewery, which is the best but most ridiculously expensive beer in New Zealand. (Try $12 USD per six-pack in the supermarket). Second it’s home to The Global Village, the highest rated hostel in New Zealand several years in a row; and Third, it’s the home of Monteith’s Brewery. Our mission: spoil ourselves in a nice room and get blasted at the brewery tour. As we walk in the door of the hostel, our Israeli buddies from The Funky Green Voyager greet us. It’s a strange but warm feeling when you roll into a new town and are greeted by people you already know. We score a sweet corner room away from the kitchen for about $38 per night (plus 4th night free), unzip our bags and stand back as our clothes explode everywhere. It’s time to do laundry.
The Global Village has been the highest rated hostel in New Zealand several years in a row. It is clean, well run and feels more like an expensive wilderness lodge than a hostel. Every space is decorated with rich, authentic art and artifacts from Africa, Asia and remote island areas. The kitchen is the most organized we have seen, there is a big screen TV/DVD room and always a roaring fire. A private hot tub area, stainless steel BBQ grill outside and hundreds of DVD’s free of charge are just some of the amenities. If there were more things to do in Greymouth, nobody would want to leave here.
Monteith’s is one of the oldest breweries in New Zealand and specializes in quality micro style brews with premium ingredients. They offer about eight different varieties but brew about one style per week so availability and distribution is limited. Included in the $12 tour is a small group look behind the scenes to see every step of the production from ingredient selection and brewing to filtering and bottling. Although the technical details are interesting, the draw is the private pub at the end featuring all you can drink samples. We caught the guide on a good day and he explained the differences as we tried all eight offers. He then proclaimed, “We’re ahead of schedule today so I’ll leave the bar to you folks and please help yourself”. We did.
I don’t remember returning to the hostel but Heather found me an hour or so later out back of the hostel. I do remember Heather bursting with laughter as I explained that I had been feeding our fresh loaf of bread to the chickens for the last hour and I was complaining about a greedy chicken who kept stealing whole slices out of my hand. Apparently my reflexes were impaired but it’s embarrassing to admit when a chicken gets the upper hand on you. Regardless, we had a great time and sobered up enough to cook a terrific dinner on the gas grill. On the dinner menu…barbecued chicken.
Luck smiling on us we happened to be in town for the annual motorcycle race sponsored by the city. It was cold and raining but conditions were perfect for a pile up in the center of town so we loaded up camera gear and set out to cover it. We finally found parking, scouted the area and set up on the perfect turn to capture an inevitable motorcycle wreck on the slick city streets downtown. ESPN and Fox will be competing to buy this shot! Engines blaring, they are off and we can hear them approaching about a mile away as 20+ bikes are racing through the city toward us.
“What are you folks doing here?” the police officer asked as he tapped me on the shoulder. I stop filming to explain we’re here to cover the event for the American press if there’s something news worthy. Engines are screaming louder at us while the police officer presses on in excitement thinking we’re going to put HIM on television. A discussion ensues as he tries to explain that we’re in a dangerous place to be filming and I explain we WANT to be in the dangerous area where something will happen. Engines screaming louder now and they’re almost on top of us. We think he’s going to toss us out. Instead he rants on about how exciting the event is and how great it is that we will be showing him on American television. I’m trying to be polite and not ignore him but I keep thinking to myself how I need to get this shot. I can’t just turn around and ignore the police officer. Can I? The bikes turn the corner and suddenly we hear a crash. I look over my shoulder and see the leader lose control and fall off his bike. His bike crashes into the opposite barricade while he slides on his back toward us on the wet pavement about eighty feet. Miraculously he hops back to his feet just as he is coming to a stop, throws both arms in the air and motions “I’m OK”. Local TV cameras all missed the shot and I’m staring at the cop with a look that I hoped was screaming “You $#@*&^% loser! You just cost me the shot we came for”. He doesn’t clue in to my expression and instead proclaims “See what I mean, it’s dangerous out here; lucky you weren’t any closer with that expensive camera, ‘eh mate?” I can’t decide whether to slap him silly or draw the pistol out of his holster and do a favor for the local police retirement fund. Instead I decide I should agree nod and agree with him. Oh well, it’s cold, it’s raining and we have Monteith’s back at the hostel to enjoy by a log fire.