There’s a road I like to take to get away from the city. It carries you north out of Wellington, passing the Hutt on your right.
At first, there are cars everywhere, but once you clear the motorway the vehicles thin out. You pass quaint tea rooms, cows in a paddock and old huts you assume must belong to DoC because who else would put a hut all the way up there?
The road begins to climb, gradually at first. The two lanes north reduce to one. And it’s narrow. But you don’t mind because from this road you get a stunner of a view. Bush, clouds threading through the hills, snow sometimes.
The road zigs left, then right, like a river winding around the mountain. You have to slow right down to make the corners. The drop down one side is scary if you stop to think about it. There’s only a ruler length between you and the edge.
This road isn’t a secret find of mine. It’s our second most important drag. State Highway 2, heading over the Rimutakas. It’s one of only two ways to get out of our capital by car, and it’s a road tourists drive every day.
In this outrage about the carnage tourists are causing on our roads, I reckon we may be forgetting our part in the crashes. These are our roads and they’re dangerous.
A couple of years ago I stopped for a drink at a roadside bar in South Africa. The light was failing so the barman told me to get going. “It’s a bloody windy one,” he warned.
I did as I was told. I drove through a gorge and the corners came. Even though the curves were sweeping, I began slowing down. I didn’t want to be surprised by those sudden turns.
But the sharp corners never arrived. I was back on the straight.
What the South African barman considered winding was nothing for someone who knows the Desert Rd, or that gorge that runs between Napier and Taupo, or Arthur’s Pass. Read more »