About a month ago, I embarked on an impromptu adventure through the heartland of the South Island with my Mother, who was holiday in New Zealand. We booked a night’s accomodation in Arthur’s Pass village and set off from home. As Arthur’s Pass is famous for, we encountered spectacular scenery on the first leg of the journey. Reflecting back, I now notice how the landscape metamorphosed from the drought-dominated tussock, treeless foothills and bush of the East coast, to the more luscious, green and overgrown bush typical of the West coast.

We enjoyed a very simple but pleasant evening in a lodge, taking short walks around the ‘village’ (if a handful of houses, a train station and a collection of other functional buildings counts as a village), particularly enjoying the waterfall near our lodge. We then settled in for the evening with some books to prepare for bed. The next day, we decided to head to the West Coast for a nose around. This second leg was the most astonishing part of the drive, as we wound through the shuffling and shouldering alps, as if picking our way through a crowd. Abruptly, the mainland ended, dropping in steep hills into the Tasman sea. The west coast was noticeably warmer, overhung with a haze which seemed to lift from the damp bush. We then made our way to Hokitika, spending some time on an unexpectedly artistic waterfront (driftwood and rusty wreckage had been fashioned by beachgoers into a myriad of strange figures and objects, seeming to burst out from the sand). We then made our way back north to Greymouth, passing through the not-so-pituresque town and back inland on another route. Along the way, we stopped at Lake Brunner for lunch. In my recent travels through the south island, I have been most fond of quaint farmlands, dominated by the alps but nestled from sight of the ocean, areas like Moana and south of Motueka. Finally, we made our way homewards again.

The road back East was not as enjoyable as Westward, due to steep inclines (the car was not impressed) and frequent roadworks. However, we stopped at Castle Hill for a rest, lying quietly in the dry grass at the foot of the boulders, looking up at a summery blue sky.

Besides the scenery and adventure of the trip, I was deeply grateful for some time to spend with Mother, talking of many things and enjoying her company while she was on holiday. I had often feared the idea of road tripping with a parent, but it turned out to be a very joyful and memorable trip altogether.

Happy Easter all! Cherish the time with your families, regardless of the strains or commotion that may be going on around you.

The Alpine Wanderer.

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