On April 17th, our 3rd day in New Zealand, we were beset by the scourge of that otherwise wondrous isle – the detestable Sandfly.
We were on our way from Fox Glacier to Queenstown, the “Adventure Capital of the World.” I wasn’t very excited for Queenstown, imagining an activity-oriented version of Vegas, but in the meanwhile, the drive down route 6 (South Island’s western coast) proved an experience of its own.
The little bloodsuckers completely ambushed us.
With wide eyes, we took in the mountains, ocean, and forests (all the while nervously twitching about the left edge of the road). At some point, a rather attractive bit of ocean called to us for a stretch break. It had stacks and stacks of white stones, foamy waves, and fresh air.
There were “I was here” rocks.
There were chicken-soup message rocks.
There were artsy rocks.
There were memorial rocks.
There were plain rocks.
We had no markers, and no rocks, so we impotently appreciated the work of others.
After some minutes, some gnats (so we thought) began to collect. This made us want to get back in the car and leave, which we did.
We took a commemorative photo. You can see the grimaces, from the hovering “gnats.” Little did we know what was about to come.
As we hopped into the car, tiny specks hitting our faces and bouncing inside the windshield showed that we were not alone. Rather, we now had 30 very active, very biting flies in a small enclosed space. As this unpleasant reality made itself triply known over the space of 5 seconds, the “conversation” went something like
DEET WHERE’S THE
OPEN THE WINDOWS
Elaine sprayed deet, someone opened windows, Sarah accelerated (maybe on the correct side of the road) and eventually 80kph wind blustered our attackers out. Some cleverly tucked themselves away to attack my sandaled feet approximately an hour later, but for the time being, we were safe. As we drove, my throat felt raw – whether from my recent plane ride, or from the DEET fumes, I wasn’t sure. I tried to breathe shallowly.
By the time we pulled into the Adventure Queenstown hostel some hours later, I had 13 (yes, I counted) bug bites around my feet and ankles.
And that was how I met the Sandfly.