October 4, 2016
And I hit the road.
Not gracefully—not running smoothly. The car makes sounds that sound alarming so I take it back and a very kind man explains that I was putting it into the wrong gear and that it's a common mistake but good thing I came back or else the engine would have exploded on the highway. And I don't have insurance.
I don't leave Christchurch until afternoon. I have some used, dilapidated sleeping bags and a few maps that I grab from the airport and a silver SUV that I name Fitz. There are six days burning holes in my pockets and so many miles on the tip of my tongue. I am looping the whole South Island of New Zealand and then dropping the car off in Auckland. It's so big and exciting. I meander down side roads following interesting signs, drive through the countryside, wander through Omaru, see no penguins, eat wraps for dinner. There is no feeling quite like this one. Wheels and a world. Full freedom.
October 5, 2016
I awake in the back of the SUV in a car park looking over the grey waves, swaddled by a grey sky. Oceanside. It's cold at dawn. I decide to backtrack to the Moeraki Boulders and spend the morning rainfall walking along the beach and examining the giant, cracked spheres with their molten insides. I never research anything so everywhere is unexpected. The boulders are ten times bigger than I anticipated and a hundred times more fascinating. "Thank god I came back for these," I think.
It's so wet and I'm soaked and the waves play tag at my feet and the world is murky and ethereal and incredible. Like shattered marbles, the boulders have split open. Their insides resemble the stomach of a planet. Open cores. Like giants tossed them carelessly in a game.
I wonder how I came to be anywhere at all, especially here, so far from where I sprung.
South. Always South. Through Dunedin to the Otago Peninsula where a gull sits on the hood of my car and the roads are curvy as they hug the shore. I don't see any penguins or nesting albatross but it is gorgeous all the same. The pavement takes me through hills and along cliffs and past more screaming gulls and sandy beaches where kids are playing. It's only day two but I already feel like I've stepped outside of society—ceased to be a member of the ranks in the rhythm of every day life and more of an observer with greasy hair and bare feet who steals wifi from hardware stores and roadside rest-stops. Places slip by like water between my fingers.
And I find so many beautiful places. Beaches strewn with red seaweed, the greenest valleys, a little spot called Picnic Point tucked away from the road and surrounded by brilliant blue shallows and puffy bushes. New Zealand is so stunning. On my way to Slope Point, the southernmost tip of NZ, I stop by Curio Bay where there are the remains of an 180 million year old forest. The trunk bottoms have been petrified by volcanic debris and you can still see the rings where the wood was. No penguins though.
I reach the lights of Invercargill after the sunset and keep driving to Bluff, saving the drive north for the daylight.