NZ (accident)

19th September 2007 – 17th January 2008

 After being deported and working in Vancouver for a plane ticket home, I found myself back on New Zealand soil. But not under the best of circumstances, I was lost, I didn’t know where I was going, what I wanted.  Once again in credit card debt, no job, Mandy my girlfriend was in another country –which I couldn’t enter-, my $2,700 Canadian tax return I was relying on to pay off the Colombia trip came back as me owing CAN$1600! As my dad says, “sometimes your the pigeon, sometimes your the statue” – I definitely felt like the statue! Sometimes all you can do is laugh, hahaha.

The option of trying to get back to Colorado to be with Mandy and start my job I had waiting for me was killed after paying $3.54/min and talking to the US embassy in NZ. I was told that my deportation will hang over my head for 10 yrs, and basically forget about even trying to transit through America (that was a waste of $25).

So what to do? I needed money to get out of debt and meet Mandy the start of 2008. I needed big money quick, $12/hr wasn’t going to cut it. Settling down to a real job would of been the norm and probably what I should of been doing in societies eyes. NO! I had to get these bloody continents out of the way. The Western Australia mining industry was booming, it was all over the news. I booked my ticket to Perth, departing 24th October.

Catching up down the Marlborough Sounds Dad having a go at the swing

A week before leaving I went back to visit family and friends in my home town Nelson. My parents organised a family trip away with lifelong family friends as all the parents and kids were in NZ at the same time. We had a great weekend down at the their bach (holiday house) in the middle of the Marlborough Sounds, remote beautiful NZ.

It was Sunday afternoon before leaving and we decided to go and check out the rope swing. The rope swing looked pretty knarly, going out over steep native bush (not water). At the height of the swing your probably 15m-20m in the air.

Keeping the story short, my sister was having the last go of the day, I was waiting at the unsturdy take-off point to help her off the swing. But due to return momentum and our loose footing we both lost balance and both ended up swinging back out over the bush. Then as our father and friends watched in horror we both dropped 5 metres, hitting the ground and tumbling head over heels a further 20 foot.

Flying like a bird Flying like a stone! I’ve seen better days

I came to a stop, I had spinal and neck pains from the 5 metre drop where I had impacted on the top of my back. My sister was beside me moaning with internal chest pains. Our father and friends arrived quickly on the scene, someone went back to phone for help (luckily one of the cell phones got reception), and made us as comfortable as possible.

Then the scariest moment of my life happened, I lost my vision! I remember being in shock and saying “I’ve got my eyes open, but I can’t f**king see”. At that moment I thought I was going to be blind and in a wheelchair the rest of my life. 5 minutes later which felt like a lifetime, my vision came back and eventually the rescue helicopter arrived. 3 hours later, I was in Nelson Hospital in a neck brace staring at the ceiling being treated as though I had a severe spinal injury.

Medics are here, I’m a little more relieved Getting winched up, off to hospital

4 days later I was emitted from hospital with a compression fracture of my T7 vertebra with strict orders to do absolutely nothing for 2 months and slowly build up activity having full recovery in 8 months.

I cancelled my ticket to Perth, and was just happy that I could walk and my sister was OK. Always trying to see the positives of a situation, I pulled my wounded credit card out and brought a laptop. As I lay horizontal my lap top became my lifeline to sanity, and I made a start on my book and created this Blog.

Going Snorkling at Goat Island, bloody cold Beer at Barneys Bach - Baily’s Beach

With my forced holiday from ‘Working The World’, I was able to recharge my family batteries. It was a shock to the system after nearly 5 years of travelling and moving around, to be back living with my parents (It was just as big of a shock for them, big love to them for everything they did). My forced holiday also allowed me to see more of New Zealand, spending a lot of time up in Auckland with my Sister, Aunty and Grandmother and Christmas and New Year up in the Coromandel.

NY’s up the Coromandel Beach cricket, Rangitoto in the background.

Finally, 3 months after the accident and rehabilitation, I had new energy. It was a different Hap, to the one who started this New Zealand Chapter. After my scare, I was back with new enthusiasm to ‘live and work in every continent of the world before 30’.  I boarded the plane, signalling the end to another memorable chapter (for different reasons), off to start the next chapter of ‘working the world’.

10 Responses to “NZ (accident)”

  1. Jenna Matthews at 8:23 pm #

    awesome blog site hap :):)
    live the dream boy
    hope ur doing all good

  2. wendy t at 10:47 pm #

    Well what can I say Mark. Great story to read, sends shivers down my spine. We all so f…. lucky you and JJ ok, even though u still recovering. You take care of your back. You got alot of living to do yet. XXX

  3. Hap at 11:46 am #

    Hey Jenna,
    cheer cheer, no doubt you recognise that sunset, you seen that a few times aye? enjoy NZ.

    nbl hap

  4. Hap at 11:49 am #

    Thanks wendy,

    doesn’t really do it all justice does it, a day we won’t forget. HOpe your knees improving. Yeah i’ve been doing heaps of exercises and swimming with my back, so hopefully it gets right.

    nuthin but love hap

    ps caught up with jerm down in Margret River, good times.

  5. Brenda Curnow at 9:34 am #

    hey hap

    loved reading your blog and your adventures…awesome ure living it up. is your book about your travels then? id buy it!!


  6. Hap at 10:07 am #

    Cheers Brenda,

    The plan is to write a book on the travel adventures, humorous tales of things that I have come accross and things that have happened to me while I have been chasing my goal. This blog is a way of me keeping track of what I’ve been up to, it doesn’t go into detail of every event that I would put in my book.

    I’ve made a start (10 pages), but it really is quite time consuming, I will wait till I have completed the journey then dedicate some serious time to it.

  7. benno at 8:12 pm #

    nice one bro. ur a legend.

    hope the antarctica gig works out for you.

    also, i know that it’s a big ask, but we really hope you can make it back to the jungle for our wedding. it wouldn’t be the same without you. i even proposed in the lift up to your old apartment!!

    can’t wait to see you brother – it’s been way, way too long.

    lots of love,


  8. Hap at 5:27 pm #

    Sup bro,

    just emailed you before. But yeah bro, I sooooo hope i can make it, I remember when you two first met at my apartment, ah the good ol days of soju and good times.

    Bro, I’m making all my plans around being there, the only reason i wouldn’t be there would be because I get stranded on an iceberg and taken prisioner by a sex deprived polar bear.

    yeah mate, been too long. I caught up with those other korean misfits, dave, little blain and martyn, also barnz, footie and grifffs, great seing those fellas.

    OK, until korea bro, soooo happy for you guys.

  9. Jerry at 2:51 am #

    hey hap!
    you’re really lucky guy~ and happy guy~
    I didn’t know the accident, I just read that.
    I wish your life good luck and see you next !

    hey benno,
    congratulations to your wedding (next Feb. right?)
    pls send me your wedding invitation next time,
    and see you next too! ^^

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