From Dirt Issue 136 – June 2013
Words by Mike Hopkins. Photos by Camilla Stoddart.
When a message from photographer Camilla Stoddart arrived in my inbox asking if I would be interested in a two week ‘Road Trip’ around New Zealand’s South Island…I was all ears. The plan? Link a sampler pack of the island’s finest surf and singletrack. Before long I found myself wedged in a turbulent tube jet–lagging my ass across the Pacific.
Flying half way around the world gives one ample time to ponder the tight quartered travels that is life on the road. I found that success in this department boils down to one necessity…character. The cast, the venue, the transport, it has to have an undertone of awesome. It’s the make or break, it’s the wine to the cheese, it’s the beer to the pizza…you get the point. The framework of the trip hinges on it. Luckily on this venture we were in overwhelming supply of this keystone trait.
The Venue: The southern island of fabled ‘Middle Earth’ was our oyster. A caldron of geologic soup. New Zealand can only be explained as a rare breed of amazing. My first impression…the economic recession had a deeper impact than previously expected. The hard times even hit the likes of Peter Pan who was clearly forced to part with a small slice of ‘Never Never Land’, which was promptly tossed into the south Pacific sporting a new nametag. Conveying the visual mastery of this country through text is no task I wish to tackle. As in doing it justice would surely result in a novel. But I will attempt a small offering of literary enlightenment. Take a continent. A full fledged, thriving continent. Cut out all the mediocrity, and your left with a condensed landmass of tectonic and vegetative extremes. Surf dimpled coastlines hosting horseshoe beaches, towering cliffs grow bearded faces of Jurassic green, fjords don waterfall laden locks, and dry lowlands house lonely cathedrals of the stone marking glacial graveyards. Mountains of scree, ridgelines of tussocks, forest of beech…this my friends was our ‘character’ rich venue…