Moving house is hard enough. Moving towns is a right stinker.
So when I upped sticks last month and moved from Christchurch to Hokitika for work it was stressful, to say the least. As well as the normal moving chores, like sorting out leases and power accounts and the rest, there was the added pressure of 3 hours driving between the two houses.
Driving carloads of belongings, including a sulky cat, over the pass was tiring. Even just getting out of the roadwork-strewn Christchurch roads sent my blood pressure through the roof.
Your shoulders hurt, you're trying to remember whether you've left anything important behind, while navigating other drivers' "interesting" decisions. I really started to believe some drivers thought the centre-line was just a suggestion.
But no matter what kind of trip I'd had, there was a point when I'd well-and-truly reached the Coast and everything was right with the world.
Coming out of Kumara, past the start of the Coast to Coast, there's a sweeping bend to the left. You stop travelling west and instead start travelling south to Hokitika. The home stretch, if you will.
The first time I drove over to inspect my new home, I arrived at this spot right on sunset. If you haven't seen a West Coast sunset for a while, I recommend you book a road trip. To me, there's nothing like the sun setting over the ocean to put you in your place.
I hauled over to the side of the road to take photos. Deer in a nearby paddock inspected me lazily. I couldn't believe the drivers whizzing past, ignoring the sight.
When I'd taken my fair share of pictures, I leaned back against the car and just looked. It gave me a moment to catch my breath and realise what I was leaving behind (my friends, the newsroom, my beloved Christchurch - home for 11 years) and what I was gaining. The sunsets being just one part of West Coast life I could get used to.
On subsequent trips, that spot has become the marker to show I'm nearly there. I heave a sigh, my shoulders relax a little and I take a beat to enjoy the vista. If I'm particularly wound-up or the view is especially spectacular, I pull over again to admire it.
I'm certain if asked again in a few months, I'll have dozens of favourite places over here. But right now, at that sweeping bend, watching the sun bounce its last rays off the ocean, this homesick Cantabrian feels at home.
- The Press