After Hokitika, I began to make my way down the dramatic West Coast of New Zealand’s south island. This drive is the most dynamic and impressive I think I’ve ever been on; you cross through mountains, past glaciers and waterfalls, and down onto flat plains threaded with turquoise meltwater creeks. I dipped my toes in the Tasman Ocean, and meandered through fern forests.
I passed through from Franz Josef to Wanaka in a blur in order to buy a sleeping bag: The West Coast is so sparsely populated that the closest camping shops were hours away. Having lived all my life in the middle of the UK, this was a bizarre experience for me, as you’re never really more than about twenty minutes away from at least a village and most likely a town. After a day or two enjoying Wanaka (and my new, warmer sleeping arrangements – no more wearing three layers and a hat to bed!) I retraced some of my steps back up the coast, this time at a more relaxed pace. There were some lovely sights along this stretch, and there’s something wonderful about going through the mountainous roads like Haast Pass, but driving alongside Wanaka Lake is probably my winner. The water is so clear and blue, and the scale of the mountains is awe-inspiring.
I really love Wanaka township, too. It’s a laid back little place, and it’s position looking out over the lake is spectacular. My memories of it are all vivid sunshine and warmth. But I was also having a bit of an existential crisis about my work. For most of the trip I felt like a fraud for claiming to be an illustrator. Fear of getting my career going and on the ‘right’ track has held me back since graduating. I work, I’ve had a lot of wonderful projects, but I still feel huge question marks about illustration whenever I think about it. Is this style right? What style should I specialise in? How do I find more clients? Is this what I really want to do? Generally, am I doing it right? It’s scary. I’ve still not figured all of this out. But I’m trying, and I decided in Wanaka just to go with the flow and do what the heck I like.