Anticipation for the short flight. Being picked up in a classic car with that diesel smell. Mmm, fumes. Enter Christchurch: an un-notable city except for it’s whimsy anglophilia and inclination for earthquakes. Flat houses on flat land, a flat beach and flat foothpaths. The only skybound things are the pine trees - not native - until they’re cut down. Hazards. Timber playgrounds centerpieced by huge swings called ‘flying foxes’ surround the city, making childhood memories, until they too are modified into bright plastic structures. Hazards.
When you want to escape the city - and you will - the flat roads lead into foothills. Follow and you’ll find old-timey hotels with splintering furniture, squeaky leather, fireplaces that work and raspberry coke on tap. Taxidermied heads stare other across the room. Is hunting still popular here? From the 1970’s volumes of outdoor magazines with hunting tips that are littered around, it’s hard to know.
Now the roads are no longer boring and the mountains no longer vague shapes but discernible peaks. With snow! Lakes await you, bright blue and too cold to swim in, but worth a shot anyway. Grey pebbles smoothed over millions of years make great skipping stones, and the purple lupins are objects of tourist lust. If only tourists paid as much attention while driving. Dawdling campervans + one lane bridges + impatient locals make for an eye-rolling display.
Further south there's bridges to jump off, hokey-pokey ice-cream to try and hikes to hike. But cover up! The sun burns, long grass spikes through fabric and the sandflies are pernicious. It’s not like the brochures, but charming anyway. The cold crack of wind makes it easier to be present. In town it’s busy with dogs, often wet after a swim, their owners sipping artisan coffee and sporting merino knitwear, even in summer. Summer in the South Island is slow way of life, unsuspicious of joy. A place of grass, stone, water and wood, a dash of Kiwi charm thrown in.
Where do you feel like a local?
Most of my attention on this trip was focused on my film camera, so these digital photographs are only a snapshot. Of course none of the rolls I shot in NZ came out (I was doing many things wrong haha, analog photography is a steep learning curve), but I’m satisfied with this bunch. Film photos (good AND bad, coming soon).
Until next time x