Conquering Rimutaka

Some photos have meanings beyond the subject that has been captured.

This image has special significance for me as it is visual proof of me overcoming a fear, of setting a goal and reaching it.

Just a little background ….

For those not familiar with Wellington and it’s surrounds, there is a part of the country to the east of Wellington city called the Wairarapa. It is a beautiful region of New Zealand – wineries and lots of sunshine. It is also one of the two main routes you can take if you want to eventually end up in Napier on the East Coast and this is the way I wanted to go on my jaunt to that destination earlier in the year.

In order to do so you have to cross the Remutaka Range which means driving the Rimutaka Hill road. I had been a passenger on this journey before but had never been the person in charge behind the wheel and I have to be very honest … the thought of traversing it on my own terrified me.

But I had to do it if I wanted to get to Napier.

Why is it so scary?

Very narrow. Very twisty. Lots of sharp corners and double backs. Blind corners galore. A sheer drop down hundreds of feet on one side and a solid wall of mountain on the other. Very steep going up and the reverse going down.

It isn’t for the faint hearted especially when you have to watch for other cars and very large trucks. Sometimes you only have millimetres to spare and more often than not nowhere to go if there isn’t enough room. There are pull over spots scattered about but long stretches where there is nothing.

I wanted to do it at least once on my own before D-Day and as this picture attests I did.

I really cannot remember much about that first trip except that when I reached the summit (where the photo was taken) my arms were shaking considerably, I was sweating just a tad and I needed to get out of my vehicle for fresh air and to see if my legs would keep me upright. Spoiler: they did.

To commemorate the occasion I grabbed my camera and managed to keep still long enough to focus and click. Then I had to muster the courage to get back in my chariot and continue on. I mean I couldn’t just stay there …

I have now driven that road a total of three times in all. I won’t say I am comfortable doing it. I still try to head over when I think there won’t be much other traffic on the road and I would never attempt it in bad weather (rain or high winds). But I think we have reached a cold peace with one another that road and I.

And that makes me quietly happy.

Subject Photo by Sarah Kreig

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