Take the Scenic Route

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Taking the Scenic Route...

Taking the Scenic Route isn't just a metaphor that could be applied to my decision-making process or lifestyle (perhaps we'll take that, er, detour, another day). Those who have ever travelled with me will know that I need little excuse to take a lesser known route, or merely drive down a road "because it's there".

Last week, as I was driving out of town, it occurred to me that I should really write about some places to go. I hadn't been out of town for a while, so was feeling pretty nostalgic for the "just drive" mentality. I was also feeling rather grateful that I'd been put off Subarus by a mechanic acquaintance, both for fuel and ongoing maintenance costs.

I was driving up the coast, to Kakanui, a small east coast beach settlement, a place were I lived for about six months after finishing varsity. It's a great place, I love swimming there, walking along the beach, and staring at the sea. But it reminds me also in some ways that I'm an east coast boy. For me, the sun should rise over the sea, and set over the mountains. I remember being surprised that my Dad, who despite being born on The East Coast (deep in the heart of Ngati Porou territory), felt himself a west coast boy, perhaps having spent a little too much time in the Rangitiki and Wanganui during his formative years. I bring this up, because there are some things I love about west coast beaches. They tend to have steeper bush-clad hills, wilder surf, and more breath-taking vistas. Or something. East coast means browned off grass, old-man pine and macrocarpa on the ridges. Marram grass on sand dunes. And while it's what I know, it doesn't quite take my breath away so much. That said, the sunnier climate of the east coast probably makes the beaches 'better' on some level in the long run. And I've spent many happy summers at Kakanui, and further north, on a little beach on Banks Peninsular.

And there are exceptions to the rule. There are wild bush-clad hills rolling down to the sea on the east coast, just not so common. Bushy Beach (perhaps the name indicates its atypicality) just south of Oamaru springs to mind.

Perhaps it is also something to do with the hills. My early life in the Mackenzie and further north in Canterbury, along with Mum's strong connection to central makes something about plains and wide open spaces gel.

The distance from hills and valleys may underlie my thing with the sun. Mostly a feature of Wellington and Dunedin, because of their hilly terrain, it is possible to live places, cold damp places, which don't see the sun for tracts of the day, especially in winter. I'm very, very glad to have found my place in the sun in this town.


At Wed Jul 13, 09:57:00 PM GMT+12, Anonymous Cleanie said...

i so hear you regarding hills. i grew up in canterbury and it did something mental to me. i freak out if there are no hills around. they are like parents to me, big nature parents. a place with no hills (ie. chch) is like Dante's purgatory. limbo. life and nature suspended until you go somewhere hill-ish. that's why i like Dunedin - immediately felt welcomed by the surrounding welcoming hills. could also be due to the fact that my line of work is with the Lake Country hill-stridin' Romantics.

At Fri Jul 15, 10:00:00 AM GMT+12, Blogger Jessie said...

Random aside re hills.. I recall my grandmother's somewhat bizarre comment that in the event of an invasion, Wanganui would be well protected by its surrounding hills. Hmm...

Just the kind of thing that could make a young impressionable Jessie a little paranoid. Did I mention I once spent a week on holiday near Ruapehu in perpetual fear of an eruption? (I was only small.)


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