Those people who are familiar with my website or my passions know that I enjoy driving around the South Island. I normally take a 2 week trip around my birthday in August as a treat to myself. The thrill is not just in the photography but driving a fast, good handling car on the many empty winding roads. The problem then is speeding tickets and demerit points.
I love small cars, especially great handling hot hatchbacks. These are particularly suited to the narrow sealed roads with lots of bends which are a feature of the South Island. The Ford Fiesta ST is one of those cars. It is what car people would call a Q car. It looks like an unassuming 5 door hatchback which your grandmother would drive or an older Chinese person would have. No Asian driver jokes please. Having said that some people would have muttered those words when they saw some places I parked to get a photo. Driving around Wellington the car feels like a stallion penned up in a corral. I just want to “floor” it, rev through the 6 speed manual gear box , and hoon around the corners. That opportunity came when the wife went to Canada and I was all alone…… Fortunately the 2 weeks were blank in my appointment schedule and I didn’t want to go to Canada as we were just out of Covid. So I booked the ferry to cross Cook Strait and off I went.
My itinerary was not the normal tourist routes as I have been there, done that. I wanted to visit places I haven’t stayed before. So off the ferry at Picton, turn right and go along the Queen Charlotte drive (windy road) to Nelson. Stay at Mapua one night and do wine tasting. Then through the Takaka hills (windy road) to stay at Collingwood 3 nights. Then down to Reefton for 2 nights (windy roads). Along the West Coast to Franz Josef 2 nights. Down to Queenstown via Haast pass (that didn’t happen see “worth a detour”). Then Glenorchy for 3 nights. Then along more winding roads to Geraldine. Visit Rangitata again . And finally to home town Blenheim via one night in Christchurch.
Surprisingly I did not speed much as most times I was doing 80 km/hr. This is the ideal speed when you are looking for shots along the route. I often had to pull over to let camper vans and trucks overtake me. Yes I was mostly driving like a senior. Lunch was easy to. I love all the little 4 Square stores in each small town Most of them sold cut lunches . That, plus my prepared thermos allowed me to have lunch in the most remote places. I just enjoyed the solitude with my 3 legged companion and camera beside me. And they never got car sick.