Office Assistant John, writes about his experience in Harwood’s Hole on the Abel Tasman Canyons STAFF party trip
‘Hey John, we’re having our staff party in a couple of weeks… you keen?’ Sure thing I thought. Some drinks and tasty food, maybe some games and a good bit of banter. Maybe we’d go and play Mini Golf?! Sweet! As a first year Abel Tasman Canyons office guy, my staff party expectations turned out to be pretty low as it turned out. ‘We’re going to do the Harwood’s Hole mission, you’d be ok with that right?’ I smiled. I nodded. The non verbal contract had been signed.
Peering over the edge of Harwood’s Hole would fill the hearts of most casual visitors with amazement and utter dread. Amazement because it is a ridiculously large hole that just appears at the end of a lovely scenic walking track; and utter dread because it truly is a ridiculously large hole that you cannot see the bottom of unless you happen to lean a wee bit too far. Please don’t do that! For me… utter dread was definitely the biggest feeling I was experiencing from the tips of my toes to the hair on my head, but mostly in my stomach… and a wee bit further down if I’m honest. But at the same time as all that going on, I also had a true sense of awe and wonderment as I stared in to a hole that was so incredibly tapu (sacred), and full of tales of real adventure. It was the awe and wonderment that meant that this was not a trip that I could miss.
I was joined at the edge of the hole by a group of true professionals. They all looked like a kind of subterranean adventure gang in their wetsuits, helmets and harnesses as they grinned at one another over the prospect of what lay before us. Somehow I had managed to find a way to look like a French mime with my stripey black and white polypro, black wetsuit long johns and lovely white gloves.
Everything began to feel decidedly real all of a sudden. I was shortly going to be abseiling roughly 200mtr in to the abyss. The grins started to turn in to steely focussed stares as we all checked and rechecked one another’s equipment for any possible defects. We worked out the order in which we would descend in pairs and then we lined up to get the job done.