Wild Wows

Have I mentioned how much I love New Zealand?

Godzone. Not meaning the zone of God but more the country God created for himself, God’s own. Without getting into a theological discussion, let’s just appreciate the most awesome country hidden away at the bottom of the world.

Today I did the Coast to Coast. East coast to west. Pacific Ocean to Tasman Sea. Leaving a city filled with demolition and construction, earthquake damage and still suffering from a massive flood earlier this week. Roadworks and Friday afternoon traffic slowing our departure.

But soon we were travelling west, slowly climbing across the Canterbury Plains towards the purple ridgeline of the Southern Alps. It was a long slow climb up Porter’s Pass as our elderly Pajero struggled with a furniture trailer filled with a tonne of gear. No hyperbole here – we actually were towing a ton.

It is the 25th Wild Foods Festival in Hokitika tomorrow. It is our 24th year of having a stall, or two. The trailer was chocka with the actual stall, which is being erected in the marquee while I blob out in the motel. (Yay for teenage boys!) plus all the equipment and a lot of the ingredients needed to feed the festival goers.

We reached the summit of Porter’s Pass and began the beautiful drive through the alps to Otira. This country is used a lot in film sets: Narnia, the Lord of the Rings, and even this great ad. It never fails to impress me. Something about the clean simple lines, contrasting colours. Especially on a day like today. Blue sky, golden tussock, sharp grey rocks, purple mountains, green bush. And the rocks. So many opportunities to be amazed at the construction of a wild country as evidenced by whole hills thrust upwards by some ancient, or not so ancient, subterranean force.

We drive pass two small lakes, leftover from melted glaciers. Traverse the wide river bed of the Waimakariri River, remembering fifth form geography and alluvial plains, shingle screes and braided river systems. Learning is so much easier when you live among it.

A short stop in Arthur’s Pass. We were amused that the Doc centre’s stone wall was fenced off, probably because of “earthquake risk”. Hello, red tape bureaucrats! Arthurs Pass sits right on the Alpine fault, in a cleft in the Alps. If there is an earthquake, the whole bloody mountain will land on the village. Who cares about a five foot high wall? And we won’t mention avalanche risk!

Onwards and upwards over the Otira Pass, down the viaduct and the gorge. Even though these days it is a “feat of modern engineering”, I am always relieved to be down the bottom again.

From there it is a simple drive through Jackson’s, Kumara, and along the coast south to Hokitika.

Kumara is known as being the base for the start of the Coast to Coast multisport race. Also famous for its cop. Today he was hiding as a tradie in a white van. Just past the junction the booze bus was busy catching the revellers who could not wait to start drinking.

It was a lovely journey. Uneventful. I would say let’s hope the weekend continues like this but my “workers” have just turned up and announced they forgot to bring kebab sticks. A necessary item when planning to sell 700 wild kebabs. The only supermarket in Hokitika did not have any. Neither did the main Four Square. But the last wee store they tried had some. We have their entire stock now.

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