By Chris Coyle

Some things sound like a bad idea in the beginning, but actually turn out to be great in the long run. For instance, goat cheese-you have to be one hungry son of a bitch to decide that milk from an animal that eat tires would make a nice snack. And such was the case when the phone call came through that Todd Richards was putting together a trip to New Zealand.

It’s not that he doesn’t know how to plan a trip-the sketchy part was the crew he’d assembled: J2 Rasmus, Nate Bozung, Billy Anderson, Brian Craighill, and the cherry on the sundae-photographer Embry Rucker. All these people are great individually, but the collaboration of such world-renowned wit, skill, and bar-side manner seemed like it could easily result in any series of bad outcomes-the most obvious being a New Zealand pub crawl the likes of which legends are made.

The trouble began upon landing in Auckland. As everyone picked up their bags to go through customs, we realized somebody was missing. Apparently the customs dog thought Boznuts had some contraband. “I think the dog just likes my pants,” Nate reassured its handler just before announcing in a Spicoli-esque voice, “I know those dudes!” while pointing at us. Everyone stared at their feet pretending not to know him as he was escorted off. When it comes to customs-no one is your friend.

An hour went by without any sign of The Nuts, and ideas started bouncing around about what might have happened to him. “Maybe he’s been hanging out with Ross Rebagliati,” someone pondered out loud. At the hour-two mark, he appeared with tales of strip searches and interrogation. After many jokes about rubber gloves and newfound loves, we boarded our second flight, which put us down in Queenstown.

The following morning the snow report read, “One meter of new snow and clear skies.”

“Shit!” I thought. “How much snow is that? It sounds like a lot.” We broke out the slide ruler and realized it was damn-near three feet. Almost every time any of us had been to NZ, it was always a week too late. Needless to say, the stoke-o-meter was high.

Off we went to Cadrona for a day full of pow turns and cliff drops. Little did we know that the Junior World Championships were going on that day. Upon going in for some lunch, it hit us-why there were 40 sixteen-year-old kids waiting out front? “What the hell’s Todd doing here?” they muttered to each other as he left. At first I thought they were wondering what he was doing at the Junior Worlds. As you’ll find out later, that’s not what they meant at all.

On the way out of the resort, Twos noticed a sign that said, “Rally Car Rides.” They are really chock-full of bad ideas down there. You see, the attitude regarding personal safety is a lot more lax in New Zealand than most places. In turn, finding a 500-foot bridge to bungee jump off or some sort of weird plane-like contraption attached to a wire that flings you out over a precipice is not hard at all. Anyhow, the fellas at Monster Mountain Rally were more than willing to let Twos and Todd split up the track time so both of them could get a ride. There were many oohs and aahhs, as well as wows.

Rumor on the street was that the upper T-bar at Treble Cone had not opened the day of the big dump, so we decided that was our next spot. With the boys rip roarin’ and ready to shred, we hiked the upper ridgeline until someone spotted a cliff drop and a good spot to build a jump. Twos and Billy did damage to the cliff while hoards of locals looked on in awe. Meanwhile, the rest of us worked on the kicker.

An hour later our jump was finished. Sure it pointed the wrong way and there was no way to make the landing, but the 60 minutes of nonstop laughter was worth it all. As the day’s carcass toss came to an end, Todd wanted to hit up the new skatepark in Wanaka on the way home. This would be another of the trip’s bad decisions. I forgot to mention earlier that the majority of us were flat-ass broke , luckily Crghill had somehow convinced the folks at Quiksilver they should pay for most everything. Which in hindsight was damn nice since the only person on the team was Todd and he’s got more money than Oprah. In fact Mr. Richards ended up paying for Nates’ whole trip-plane tickets,meals, snacks, late-night bar tours-the whole kit and caboodle. So it goes without saying that when Craighill bet Bozung five bucks he couldn’t stick a frontside boardslide on the rail at the skatepark, he jumped at the chance to make some extra cash. Third try everyone let out a collective “ooooww” as his ankle bent in unnatural ways. Luckily, the next couple of days turned out to be a wash as far as snow-surfin’ went anyway.

We awoke the next morning to high winds and gray skies. “Let’s give The Remarkables a try,” came from the crowd. Within two seconds of parking, we realized that wasn’t such a hot idea, either. Rucker stayed with a couple of the guys to shoot some silly jib, and Todd, Twos, and I headed for home. As the car pulled out of the lot, there were screams of “Todd Richards f-kin’ sucks!” When Embry returned, he informed us that the yelling had come from some of the local shreds who were less than happy about TR’s quote about New Zealand in last season’s December issue of TransWorld. (That would also explain the prior days’ comments from the Junior Worlds competitors.) But not to worry, Bozung had told them which hotel to find us at so they could come “talk it out.” At this point, Todd realized he might go home minus some teeth. “A nice 40 mile-per-hour boat ride through jagged rocks in ten centimeters of water will calm him down,” I thought out loud. Before you could say “whiplash” the reservations at Shotover Jet were made.

Now, these locals must’ve been staking out the lobby, ’cause the door to our room hadn’t even shut from the boat adventure when the phone rang. Not knowing if it was going to turn into a brawl or not, our whole group wandered into the hallway, most of us looking tougher than we actually are. Truth is, it probably resembled something from The West Side Story rather than, say, Colors. Nonetheless, everyone tried lookin’ all hard. But all the huffin’ and puffin’ was for nothin’. They just wanted to interview Todd on camera about the quote. Richards explained that he was misquoted-in fact, he loved New Zealand, enough to put this entire trip together in order to justify spending the money on coming down. High fives were given and everyone walked away happy.

Up until now, there had been no real off-hill madness to speak of. That would all change once the weather shit the bed and a bartender in town recognized a few members of the posse. Over the next couple of nights, bad decisions included Billy showing all the people on the dance floor what he had eaten that day, Craighill’s numerous unsuccessful attempts to get Nate laid, J2 and Bozung’s hair-dying fiasco, and Twos and I trying to “borrow” a boat so we could try our hand at sailing. By the third day, we had taken to drinking some sort of crazy green liquid that wasn’t legal in the U.S. “Stay indoors and hide all sharp objects” was the warning as the purchase went down. Great.

That night, while Rucker and I wrung what was left of the bottle out, the weatherman informed us about the “warm storm front” coming in. Since shreddin’ in the rain ain’t all that chronic, the powers that be decided to pull the plug. And thank god we did, because no one looked at the return date on the rental-car paperwork. During our last three days we’d been gallivanting around the countryside while there was a police “pursuit” after us. And that’s not a good idea wherever you are. Oh well, at least it was on the Quiksilver credit card.

Deep Thoughts-By J2 and Nate Bozung
Some of the best shit I’ve ever heard in my life came out Mr. Rasmus and Boznuts’ mouth during our stay down unda’. We couldn’t have a meal without some sort of “wisdom” spewing forth from them-whether it be about the food, events of the day, or thoughts on life, no stone was left unturned. I realize that some might read these quotes and think, “What a couple of idiots,” but those who know will realize that this is not the ramblings of idiots but the work of pure genius. Enjoy …

Vanity
“Do you know who I think I am?”-Bozung

Airline meals
“Eat ‘em all and let the toilet sort ‘em out.”-J2

The exchange rate
“Eighty dollars American … that’s like 40 dollars back home!”-Bozung

Discount airfare
“My flight should have been cheaper since it was so long.”-J2

The opposite sex
“A girl’s gotta be special to get with The Nuts.”-Bozung

Radiation
“Using an electric blanket is like using a microwave for a pillow.”-J2

Growing up
“I haven’t always been like this-I used to be a real angel.”-Bozung

One-night stands
“I’m not into that Scandinavian shit … Oh, wait, I mean scandalous.”-Bozung

it be about the food, events of the day, or thoughts on life, no stone was left unturned. I realize that some might read these quotes and think, “What a couple of idiots,” but those who know will realize that this is not the ramblings of idiots but the work of pure genius. Enjoy …

Vanity
“Do you know who I think I am?”-Bozung

Airline meals
“Eat ‘em all and let the toilet sort ‘em out.”-J2

The exchange rate
“Eighty dollars American … that’s like 40 dollars back home!”-Bozung

Discount airfare
“My flight should have been cheaper since it was so long.”-J2

The opposite sex
“A girl’s gotta be special to get with The Nuts.”-Bozung

Radiation
“Using an electric blanket is like using a microwave for a pillow.”-J2

Growing up
“I haven’t always been like this-I used to be a real angel.”-Bozung

One-night stands
“I’m not into that Scandinavian shit … Oh, wait, I mean scandalous.”-Bozung