One of my long-time ambitions has been to make it to the West Coast. Not the West Coast of the US of A, which I saw a long time ago, but West Coast NZ. Smallsville, if you will.

You’d think that this ambition is actually kind of lame, considering that I live in NZ and all, but the West Coast is actually pretty remote and therefore requires capital outlay if you live in the distant Bay of Plenty. We can cut to the good news in this blog and state that yes, I finally made it.

So why the West Coast? Well I heard that it’s beautiful for one, and that climate change (to use the PC term for the old “Global Warming”) is likely to see the demise of the glaciers. To the Fox and Franz Josef it was then.

And in a word? Bloodystunning. The West Coast is without doubt the best scenery in the country. Having now travelled all over this fair land of ours I can state categorically that the Coast leaves all other scenery in its tracks. From the sunburnt and golden plains of Central Otago, to the heady, humid light of the Far North, to the barren and windswept Central Plateau; nothing has the drop on the Coast.

Most of it that is. The bits around Hokitika are pretty much Papamoa with the water on the wrong side. We also got ripped off by the local Indian Restaurant. Excellent. One stereotype you work your whole life to ignore, and there’s some shifty bastard in Hoki overcharging on meals and mixing the wine in a barrel before charging variable prices…

I should be more charitable though. He had just had to endure a party of Americans demanding to know the location of the nearest “Peat-sa” place in ever-loudening voices. The owner was helpful. Eventually they insisted on speaking to someone else. I can only imagine their shock when a young Maori woman walked out to speak to them as the local representative of the English-speaking population. Turns out that the pizza place was closed, and wouldn’t make a special exception and open for them. You’d a thunk it.

And now back to the main commentary.

A long-time habit of mine has been to pick some of the worlds most stunning scenery to view. Something awesome and naturally inclined to inspiration. Something remote. Something that you know will fundamentally change the way that you look at the world.

I then drive through it reallyreallyreallyfast.

God I love road trips. There’s something about taking in a huge variety of people and places and compressing them into these blipverts of a national consciousness. Because you can see so much variety it allows you to get a shallow “feel” for a place you can only really get from an extended stay. And extended stays only encourage what I like to call “moron tourism”. Moron tourism is basically the provision of a million meaningless and ultimately expensive distractions provided to people who can’t actually figure out how to entertain themselves sensibly. By lounging about and reading a book in an exotic location, for example.

But a road trip? There’s no time to laze about, and no time to waste on methods to part fools from their money. That said, a decent road trip builds in time to laze about on riverbanks reading or eating picnics. It also allows time to stop and look at wonders, natural or otherwise (such as the Christchurch art gallery. I saw the original of Summer Morn by Evelyn Page! It wasn’t Pohutukawa Rina, but still pretty exciting).

And finally, I realised that lots of other people are likely doing the same. Which is a good thing. I worked out while tripping that those autos you see parked on the side of the road? The ones you see everywhere anywhere you travel? It finally dawned on me what they are. Once upon a time I thought maybe they were abandoned cars, but now I know.

It’s people having either: A pee, a poo, a poke, or a picnic.

What else is there?