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before beginning the next part of our varied adventure. We stopped for coffee at Arrowtown, another reminder of the gold rush era, but this time one very much given over to tourism. Having said that the large brimmed cowboy hat I had purchased to shield me from the sun fitted admirably with the wild west frontier atmosphere and I drew much attention as I moseyed down the main street in my open top steed. Or at least I kidded myself everyone wasn’t only looking at the rare sight of a curvaceous Jaguar! We headed west through the steep Kawarau Gorge, viewing bungy jumpers and white-water rafters, safely cocooned in our own luxurious mode of adventure. The countryside became increasingly arid with every mile culminating in the desert like landscape around the Lindis Pass, exemplifying the astounding variety of New Zealand topography. This was soon to revert full circle to glacial splendour as I took a diversion to Aoraki Mount Cook village, sheltered beneath the country’s highest mountain. At the visitor centre just 30 miles away the day was cloudless and hot, but at the foot of the mountain it was cold, misty and drizzling. What a country of extremes! Lake Tekapo came next in the heart of Mackenzie Country whose tussocky grasslands became major sheep rearing country from the mid19th century. Generally dry and entirely surrounded by lofty mountain chains, this is a vast and desolate open basin whose immensity distorts any perception of scale. I was transfixed by these evocative landscapes yet still wholly unprepared for the magnificent panorama that awaited us from the lowly summit of Mount St. John, where an observatory exists to document this renowned area of ‘dark skies’. The view was simply staggering.





But the enjoyment of the occasion was slightly subdued by the fact we had not fuelled up for some time and the diversion to the mountain top was a little further than anticipated. On the final ascent the car gave a frightening lurch and I feared the worst but it regained power on the level and we made it to the top. We freewheeled much of the way down and kept everything frantically crossed heading for the nearest village, the five miles there seemingly endless. Surprisingly and despite the cough on the hill the XK8 turned out to still have around half a gallon in tank when refuelled.


A dash for the finish line Mark had chosen to leave our road trip on this day and fly back to Nelson from


18 GROWLER SEPTEMBER 2016


Rhinestone Cowboy: Peter and hat hit town, Arrowtown to be exact


Christchurch to save a long drive. Consulting our watches and the map, the fact dawned that we had rather dawdled throughout the morning and now had less than three hours to cover the 150 miles to the airport. Thankfully for the most part roads are quiet but policemen do lurk in surprisingly remote areas and speeds must always be watched.


suggested and I couldn’t help stopping off and taking yet more photographs, with the XK8 always providing the ideal foreground. After a night at a remote hotel I awoke early to brooding skies and so made a quick exit through the deep confines of Arthur’s Pass.


“THE COST OF JAGUAR HIRE WAS THE MAJOR EXPENSE BUT THE JOYS IT AFFORDED WERE MORE THAN ADEQUATE COMPENSATION”


Nevertheless the XK8 got a thoroughly spirited workout and we maintained the 100kph limit whether uphill, down dale or around even the tightest of bends, catching the flight with just ten minutes to spare.


It had been an eventful day but was by no means ended yet. With Mark safely despatched on a flight that took a mere fifty minutes, I meanwhile had a good seven hour drive between me and Nelson. Thankfully I had planned an overnight stop close to Arthur’s Pass, amidst more impressive mountain country. This alpine road was far more scenic than even the most generous guidebook


The rain soon began but with the hood up and the temperature nicely controlled I was snug and comfortable. The roads were so quiet I saw only two vehicles in well over an hour. The XK8 happily scythed through the damp bends with confidence, secure on the new tyres that had just been fitted prior to my rental period. Eventually the rain eased, the sun came out and by early afternoon I was back in the warm micro-climate of Nelson, amidst its customary blue skies. During my week’s tenure the XK8


covered 1,364 miles with a trip meter reading of 22.9mpg. Fuel is slightly less expensive than in the UK and hotel accommodation is a relative bargain so I considered the trip to be excellent value overall.


The cost of Jaguar hire was the major expense but the joys it afforded were more than adequate compensation. Because, if you are going to take the ultimate road trip you simply must do it in style ●!


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