Trip to Oteake literally falls flat

SHARE

I groaned aloud and dropped to my knees in exasperation.

Not even moving countries had been enough to rid me of my ridiculously bad luck when it came to flat tyres, and I groaned again as I imagined my good friend in Australia scolding me for not checking my spare before I left.

Inspired by back-to-back viewings of The Lord of the Rings over the weekend, I had eagerly driven out past Omakau to find somewhere suitable to go for a walk.

Located about 7km off the Wedderburn-Becks Road, Oteake Conservation Area near the Maniototo seemed as good a place as any, and I had carefully made my way along the gravel towards the looming Hawkdun Ranges before happily inhaling the fresh air and wandering down to the creek.

I dodged the prickly bushes and felt a hint of pride as I realised I was able to identify a couple of native plants. The wind was virtually non-existent in the sheltered valley, and I amused myself by trying to photograph the small birds as they flitted between the bushes.

The silence and solitude was exactly what I was craving, and I was dearly tempted to continue along the watercourse and further into the hills.

But it was already late in the afternoon and I was in no way equipped for a rugged high-country hike, and so I made my way back to the car and followed the gravel road back towards home, before my singing was disrupted by a suspicious grating sound from my back wheel.

I have something of a history with punctures – this latest incident would be the fourth in 12 months – and my good mood immediately vanished as I wrenched open the door to assess the situation.

Sighing, I opened the boot and pulled up the cover before gulping in horror at the empty space. There was no spare. There were no tools either, and I sulked in the car as I called my ever-obliging friends to come and get me.

My nearest and dearest will attest that my brain is prone to vacate at crucial times, and after eating some chocolate and browsing through my book I decided to check the boot again.

Of course there was a spare – I remembered seeing it when I bought the car – only a second cover needed to be removed before I could access it. Muttering insults to myself with terrific passion, I swapped the tyres and crawled down the road, where my friend was waiting to follow me home.

It was a slightly annoying way to end a good day, but deep down I was forced to acknowledge that I was lucky to have a wake-up call so close to home. Oteake would just have to wait for another weekend, I reasoned.