Land gone wild

Somewhere near the side of Te Hutewai Road in Raglan possibly still lies the remnants of a C90 cassette tape with a dub of the Smiths self-titled debut on one side, and their second album, “Meat is Murder”, on the other.

See, about three years ago I’d gone for a drive around Mt Karioi. I couldn’t get any radio stations on my Japanese car radio, so I played the only tape I had in my car at the time. It had been my only source of in-car entertainment for a few days at least, and I was getting pretty sick of it. “It’s time the tale were told,” Morrissey warbled, “of how you took a ch-” Before he had a chance to complete his introductory warble, I pressed eject, yanked the tape out, wound down the window and threw it out, cast into the wilderness.

The road around Mt Karioi is kind of scary. The bit along the coast is a perfect tourist road, sealed, wide and safe, but eventually the road turns from the coast and curves around the volcano and starts to become a bit little wild. The road narrows and the seal ends, making the journey a bumpy one.

I didn’t really know where I was going, but I knew that if I got horribly lost, I could at least turn around and go back the way I came.

The road continued around the mountain’s base for a while, then suddenly, strangely, the road became wide and sealed; a brief return to civilisation before the wild metal road returned.

Eventually I turned on to Te Hutewai Road, disposed of the Smiths tape, quickly found myself back on sealed road, and soon enough I emerged in the middle of Raglan West.

I relate this tale because Te Hutewai Road is near where the millionaire liquor baron fellow was found with his passenger in his crashed helicopter last night.

I spent the weekend in Raggiz and most of the time there were planes and helicopters flying overhead after having taken off from the Raglan airstrip. They all seemed to be flying away from the airstrip and heading north and inland (from news reports, it seems they were looking near Mt Pirongia), but it appears that yesterday they returned to search around Mt Karioi.

But the strange thing is that the crashed chopper was found so close to Raglan town. It didn’t go down in the middle of nowhere – it was a quick drive from a populated part of Raglan. But yet few people reportedly saw or heard the helicopter as it flew by.

But that’s what I reckon makes New Zealand so interesting. There are parts of the country that are wild or barely tamed; parts where driving a car along a road on a sunny summer day can seem a little scary; parts where a helicopter can crash not too far from a populated area and barely anyone notices.

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