CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand — Two years ago, my wife and I planned to drive from Blenheim to Christchurch. We hoped to take the famed New Zealand State Highway 1 along the Pacific Ocean.
But, a portion of the thoroughfare was out of commission following the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake.
Instead of taking the scenic coastal route, we took the beautiful inland path. The journey did not leave us disappointed — quite the opposite.
‘It’s the journey, not the destination’
Driving in New Zealand often takes longer than anticipated. It should take roughly four-and-a-half hours to drive from Blenheim, in the heart of Marlborough’s esteemed wine country, to Christchurch.
But, traveling a roundabout route via Murchison, New Zealand, took more along the lines of six hours. But, the scenic vistas we encountered made us believers of driving in New Zealand.
At one point, we pulled off at the road at the Red Barn Cafe and Animal Park in Murchison to grab refreshments and stretch. As we pulled into the parking lot, a kiwi jumped out and crossed the road.
It was perhaps the perfect New Zealand moment.
‘We’ll never find this route again’
A motorist might be mistaken for thinking he or she has approached the edge of the map driving the long route. My cell phone didn’t work, but my camera did.
I kept joking that “we’ll never find this route again.”
With my wife dutifully behind the wheel and my jaw open wide, in thorough awe of the beauty, I snapped one picture after another.
With each snap of the shutter, I convinced myself we just encountered the most beautiful vista. But we were proven continuously wrong. I would say disappointed, but nothing was disappointing about the drive.
Finally taking the coastal route
It took nearly two years, but last month, my wife and I traveled from Christchurch to Picton — passing through Blenheim — along the coastal route. Instead of driving, we moved by train.
But, that is a different story for a different day. Check back for that travelogue.