• 24 octobre 2022
  • WORDS BY Harrison Roach
  • PHOTOS BY Anthony Dodds et Oscar Hetherington

Le col du Haast

Nous étions en route vers l'Ouest de la Nouvelle Zélande pour une mission surf et camping avec Blair, un pilote de brousse ; nous avons commencé à traverser les Alpes du Sud juste après minuit.

As we chugged through the pass, the vibe in the Land Rover was high as its revs. It had been a big first day - 2 hours in the surf and 14 hours on the road.

With Parker behind the wheel, tunes pumping on the stereo, and cold Speights flowing to those of us who’d finished our stint of driving, we talked story and caught up on each other’s lives. Somewhere on the pass, I started spinning a yarn about hitting a Kangaroo in my ute - next minute, a head flashed into the light by the edge of the Land Rover’s bullbar, “What the fuck was that?” Parker yelled, “surely not a Kangaroo.”

Tout ce que nous avons vu, c'était deux grands yeux blancs.

Juste devant nous, un type, affublé d'un long manteau et de bottes en caoutchouc, nous fait signe de descendre en faisant des appels de phare avec son camion. "Bétail sur la route, les gars ! Faites attention si d'autres voitures arrivent pendant que je vais chercher les bêtes que vous avez failli heurter." Nous sommes alors sortis de la voiture avec les lampes de nos téléphones et avons remarqué une vingtaine de bovins noirs éparpillés sur la route.

Et effectivement, la seule chose visible dans le noir était le blanc de leurs grands yeux.

Inspired by the bloke in his Welly’s, we thought we'd better try and help, and in a short while, we found a toppled farm gate and began ushering the cattle back through to the paddock beyond. With about half of the herd through the gate, another car approached, and it soon became apparent that the light of our phones wasn’t enough to caution the driver. We watched helplessly as one of the heifers got in a fright and rammed the oncoming car. Fortunately, the car was moving slow, and in what appeared to be a bit of a harmless-hoorah for the heifer, it head-but the car’s door before running into the paddock. With more cattle down the road and danger still present, one of the boys went off to wake the nearest farmhouse, and while the rest of us waited, we got talking to the woman who’d just had the run in with the heifer. Her car door was dented, but otherwise everything was fine. She was actually pretty excited, because she was on her way to join the bush pilot named Blair, who had a camp/surf mission on the go with a ragtag group from Roark. Hell of an introduction, Elly. Eventually, the farmer arrived, got the cattle under control, and sent us on our way. By this stage, a few more Speights had been sunk, and it soon became apparent that the time for catching up was over - a new story had begun, and if the first day was anything to go by, it’d be one to remember. The next day we’d be on a couple of bush planes with Blair and Elly, headed into the southern wild, AWOL in Aotearoa.