“Sal, we gotta go and never stop going ’till we get there.’
‘Where we going, man?’
‘I don’t know but we gotta go.”
― Jack Kerouac, On the Road
Arriving on the other side of the world, jet lag hung heavy on my brain, my first impression of New Zealand was the comically ghetto suburbia of Middlemore, Auckland. What struck me most is that it was peaceful. Lackadaisical even. I had given myself two weeks to find the perfect self-contained van to call home for the next four months. It was not long enough, however, before I found a van at a dealer in West Auckland and in just two days I would be on the open road.
Not. I was camped out, with several other hopefuls, in ‘the yard’ for almost two weeks. I look back fondly on my time at the yard however. In silent acceptance of our new trailer trash life style, we set up a beer pong arena with some scrap wood, encircled with beat out old car seats and back-dropped by some classic vans that now resemble garden features. Life at the yard is slow. Anything goes, and with scrap wood strewn liberally about, we could build fires to our hearts desire. The yard was our oyster.
I wasn’t terribly upset to leave my new found red neck lifestyle. Headed South, my first stop was the rickety surf town of Raglan. To say Raglan is bohemian doesn’t do it justice. The pharmacy sits up the road somewhere, but in town there is a convenient ‘herbal dispensary’, so there’s really no need for a pharmacy anyway. There is live music in town every Sunday afternoon, consisting of a quirky lineup of reggae bands and life is mindfully chilled. I had come in search of waves and it was baking for my four days there! Not the surf, the sun. Swathes of blood red tourists melted into the sand, too chilled to care. Even by Muizenberg standards the surf was flat, and so I abandoned my first outpost. It was time to head South, to Kawhia.
The road to Kawhia is reminiscent of the famous Road to Pai. It snakes along the spine of a twisty mountain ridge, skirted by tropical forest, every now and then affording a view of the magnificent valley below. It cried out for a top down Porche, or at least a cheap rental scooter.
Kawhia itself is as tropical as the name suggests, despite being decidedly sub-tropical. My stint here was brief, and the scenery floated by. Not much happens here, in a good way. Just down the way is a ‘hot water beach’, but someone forgot to turn the geyser on. It was soporific and wonderful. I could have spaced out in the beauty of Kawhia indefinitely, but Matata calls!
It is refreshing to finally be on the road, and there are many roads to travel.