Road and ra West Coast ad­ven­tur

The Press - Escape - - 4 ESCAPE -

Mel­ton and Darfield be­fore climb­ing a mist-shrouded Porters Pass – crest­ing the sum­mit through thick cloud into sun­shine is a mar­vel­lous sight. We stop for mid-morn­ing re­fresh­ments at Arthur’s Pass.

As we chat, a kea poses at a nearby ta­ble for a cou­ple, the man snap­ping pho­tos fu­ri­ously. Sud­denly, the bird snatches the woman’s pack­aged sand­wiches (the ta­bles have ‘‘Do not feed the keas’’ signs at­tached) and scrab­bles off into a bush. Laugh­ter.

While it’s the first time they’ve been in New Zealand, Matt and Elaine are no strangers to driv­ing MX5s. They have two 1996 mod­els back in Scot­land.

‘‘We use a MX5 in the Scot­tish sum­mer. One’s only done 25,000km,’’ says Matt, who found out about Laws’ MX5 tours while he was search­ing the net for MX5 spare parts.

Matt be­came en­am­oured with MX5s in 1996 while look­ing for a new com­pany car. ‘‘I saw a green MX5 and the dealer said he had one. I just had to have it.’’

It’s hard to ex­plain to peo­ple what it’s like driv­ing a sports car like an MX5, he says. ‘‘You have to ex­pe­ri­ence driv­ing in an open-top car to know what it feels like. It’s hard to de­scribe to peo­ple. You hear things, you see things, you smell things driv­ing in one. You have a sense of free­dom.’’

We stop at a look­out over­look­ing the Otira Gorge for pho­tos. A kea jumps onto Laws’ red MX5, eyeing up the rub­ber sur­round­ing the car’s poptop. It’s quickly shooed away. We drive on through to Jack­sons, then hang a right, pass­ing through the set­tle­ment of Moana, on the banks of Lake Brun­ner. I’m about 100 me­tres be­hind the other two cars as we pass a group of walk­ers. ‘‘Look, there’s a third one,’’ a woman says as we cruise past. Mitchell looks at me and grins.

Af­ter pass­ing through Tay­lorville, we reach Grey­mouth close to 1pm. Sadly, our MX5 ad­ven­ture is over and it’s back to Christchurch in the TranzAlpine train. It’s a re­lax­ing trip – I even catch a few ‘‘Zzzzs’’ while Mitchell watches a movie.

Photo: IAIN McGRE­GOR

Primed: Bryan Laws, ofMX5Tour­ing South Is­land, spruces up his sta­ble of sports con­vert­ibles.

Happy duo: Ger­ard Camp­bell and son Mitchell Camp­bell, 11, reach the West Coast.

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