Galen Peterson (left), Ross Mollison and Dana Peterson
catch up in Dunedin, after the Petersons' last trip to
Otago ended with him spending a week in hospital. Photo by
One year ago, Galen Peterson was minutes into a hunting
trip in Hawea he had flown all the way from Savage, Minnesota,
In New Zealand with wife Dana, the American tourist was
following a trail across the edge of a mountain high above
Lake Hawea, when he slid about a metre and his New Zealand
holiday came to an abrupt halt.
But the dark clouds of misfortune - his broken foot had to be
put back together with screws in a three-hour operation at
Dunedin Hospital - have had a silver lining.
A year after his fateful experience, Mr Peterson was back -
not just to hunt - but to visit the friends he made during
his week in hospital.
Dunedin resident Ross Mollison was in the hospital a year
ago, recovering from a hip operation.
Mr Peterson was in the same ward, ''lying there, very
But with input from another patient in the ward, Bill
McBratney, that silence did not last long.
In fact, in the end, the three had to be warned by nurses to
keep the noise down - that was when the nurses were not
stopping by for a chat themselves.
The three were firm friends by the end of the week, and Mr
Peterson ''said he would come back''.
He kept a picture of the mountain range above Hawea on his
computer when he returned to Minnesota.
''It was on my mind every day. I had to finish this trip.''
Apart from the hunting and the scenery, the friendships he
developed in hospital and the care shown to his wife, Dana,
by Dunedin people during his ill-fated stay brought him back.
Mr Peterson was effusive yesterday in his praise of Dunedin
He has had daily visits to Mr Mollison and Mr McBratney, and
tomorrow he will attempt to catch up with locals he was
unable to meet last time - the red stags and tahr of the
He is taking the same hunting trip with the same guide in the
And while he is probably again open to making some new
friends, with a little luck that will not require an alpine
fall, an operation, and a week in hospital.