The first day on high
Actor, writer and director Jackie van Beek pictured with her children Cassie (6 months), Emmett (3 1/2) and June (5) on Bealey Spur, outside Arthur’s Pass in 2012. This was one of the locations for van Beek’s short film Uphill, in which a teenage runaway
“Bealey Spur is one of my favourite places in the world. We have a bach in Arthur’s Pass, one that my grandparents bought and extended – it’s now a two-room bach. It’s the most beautiful, rudimentary climbing hut. It’s got pictures of my grandparents everywhere in their crampons and hiking books in the 70s, photos of my parents when they were young, and photos of my parents when we were young. And now photos of my kids. When you go there, it feels like generations and generations of outdoor walkers. There’s no TV, no printers, no computer. It was slightly disappointing when we started getting phone coverage there, because back in the day I’d go down there mainly to climb mountains but sometimes I’d go down there to write a film or plays. If I needed to email, I used to have to walk down into the village and get a coffee or a beer and give them my $2.
My husband Jesse would have taken this photo. I remember that day was the first time we’d got the kids up to that point. I can get up there by myself in just over an hour. With the kids it probably took a good three hours. On the way down we searched our backpacks for any sort of food they would consider a treat, and one of us would run down the track a bit further and hide the treat and come back and excitedly talk about what may be hidden just around the next corner. That’s a trick I learnt off my aunt.
But when you get to that point and you look out over that river valley, that feeling can’t be beat.
In one of my short films, Uphill, there’s a shot exactly there looking out over the river valley. I cast myself in that film – maybe just to get the walk up the hill again. I had to persuade all of the crew to lug their very heavy gear up there, which they thoroughly enjoyed.
There’s something about looking at those three young children at such an altitude that really lifts my spirits. My husband and I, we’re always getting our kids to strive for something that may, when they’re sitting at the bottom of the carpark, seem impossible to them. But when they’re sitting at the top, they have that sense of achievement and can think, against all odds, we did that. Britt Mann
EACH WEEK WE ASK A HIGH-PROFILE NEW ZEALANDER TO SHARE A PHOTO MEMORY