Friendship forged in misfortune renewed

Galen Peterson (left), Ross Mollison and Dana Peterson catch up in Dunedin, after the Petersons'...
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 Gerard O'Brien.
One year ago, Galen Peterson was minutes into a hunting trip in Hawea he had flown all the way from Savage, Minnesota, to undertake.

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 quiet''.

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 locals.

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 Hawea countryside.

He is taking the same hunting trip with the same guide in the same countryside.

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.

Add a Comment