Road and ra West Coast adventur
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.
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.