A few days ago a friend of mine posted an article about how the West Coast in the South of New Zealand, and the only access road in and out of it is overdue to crumble to pieces. 

It stated that when the overdue earthquake hits the deep south there will be around 20 seconds for people to run to higher ground before a tidal wave emerges, the only way in and out of Haast (main town on West Coast) would be via helicopter and there will be hundreds of people trapped and killed along the way.

So...my family and I decided we would take a road trip to the coast the next day.

I'm really not sure what got into us. Perhaps the hubby and I thought it would be great to let the children see the great views and experience the giant mosquito bites for themselves before there may never be a chance to see it in all its glory again. Perhaps we were feeling fearless and stoic, ready to tackle any earthquake that came into our path. In all honesty, I think we just needed out of the bubble (Wanaka), and away from housework, gardening and the routine of everyday.

The drive from Wanaka to Haast is breathtakingly beautiful and even growing up in New Zealand I still have to pinch myself when I glance out the window and witness first hand the majestic mountains, lush greenery, snow, clean lakes (to the naked eye) and litter free roadsides (long may it last). As the kids squabbled about who the dog loved the most, in the back seat, I turned the music up in the front and tried to breathe deeply (in and out, in and out, in a meditative state) and convinced myself I was lucky to be able to enjoy journeys like this.

We passed the top of Lake Hawea and crossed over 'The Nook' to find the top of Lake Wanaka, wound our way down to Makarora passing the well known 'Blue Pools' and then hit the Haast Pass and 'the gates of Haast'. To me, 'the gates of Haast' seriously sounded like impending doom...but to the children it sounded like an opportunity to try to spot an extinct 'Haast eagle' - yes, even though it is deemed 'extinct', they were certain they could find one.

As we hit the steep shingle cliffs of the Haast pass, the rocks below the bridge started to scream at me and everything I had read in the article about an earthquake seemed to be like an alarm going off in my head. I continued to breathe in for 7, hold for 4, and out for 8 seconds...this did the trick a little. Bloody anxiety man...it's not pretty! I became a little claustrophobic as we wound our way down, but I focused on the fact that we were headed to the coast and that this scenery really was priceless. I put every ounce of effort into not letting my kids know I was having small heart palpitations (damn earthquake article that put me on edge!) and chatted about topics I couldn't now not remember if you paid me.

Crisis averted. We made it through the pass and out onto the beach, with no earthquake. There is nothing quite like opening your door and being eaten alive by mosquitos as a warm welcome. After then slamming the doors shut I climbed into the boot and rummaged to find the copious amounts of bug spray, I had remembered to pack. So once that was applied, we were off.

We fished, we got saturated, we had a picnic, we laughed, we collected shells and rocks, the dog frolicked. A few hours of fun. It was totally like the movies man.

Then the sun broke through the clouds and it was almost like being on a tropical island, it really was that warm - yes, the West Coast of New Zealand was cranking. Master 6 decided he needed more food so Master 9 took him to the car to get some so I could read more of my book and their Dad could fish (tough day, I know). 

Then the unimaginable happened. Master 9 told us he'd left the keys in the boot and shut it...and yes WE WERE LOCKED OUT OF THE CAR, WITH THE KEYS IN IT.

  • No cellphone reception
  • No people for miles
  • No spare key hiding anywhere
  • No wire to break in
  • Panic station

I'll make a very, very, very, very, very long story short....

Hubby ran a long way to find some wire, I tried to shade my children who had no food, 1 small drink bottle of water, no sunblock and were starting to do that cool thing that kids do where they start to freak out.

"what if...", "what if...."  "what if..." they laughed, unaware of how serious this situation actually was!

They pulled me up every time I tried to "change the subject". They made plans for how we would cope on this '24 hour challenge' and how they would turn it into a youtube movie (kids these days, pffft)

Oh and the dog, did I mention he was with us...and panting...already...

I was becoming mildly concerned about the fact that I was actually getting seriously sunburned and that my contact lenses were starting to dry up! Ha! Silver lining was that I hadn't thought about a natural disaster in at least a couple of hours, as we had our own human one going on.

The wire just didn't work. Turns out we all make useless thieves.

The gas bottle that we had used to cook lunch was GLEAMING at me. "We have to smash the window babe, we have to" I suggested.

Poor hubby. The last thing he wanted to do was smash his car window! After 2 hours and FINALLY accepting that we had no other choice, he threw the mini gas bottle into his window (and cringed).

The window shattered, but stayed in place and a small hole formed so he used the wire to grab the keys (I don't know why...maybe to prove he was good with wire? I would have gone all crazy and smashed everything to pieces) and we were set free!

I don't think I have EVER packed up so fast. We drove home, VERY quietly and Mr 9 apologised profusely (which was sweet).

Once we landed back in our own driveway, I finally breathed a sigh of relief.

Lesson learned - don't fret about natural disasters! You can't control anything out there...go visit, go travel, go enjoy life...be free, appreciate what you and your body are able to do. Live it. Suck it up and go do it. We all certainly found a new perspective on things yesterday!

GET OUT OF YOUR BUBBLE...say yes, do the thing that you are invited to do. It helps the anxiety, in the long run, as you learn that you can make it through certain situations with your 'tool kit'.

Getting out of your bubble (your day to day routine) also helps the stress. A change of scenery, a giggle, or a cry...an appreciation of what you have and what you may experience.  

Oh - and the West Coast is amazing. Beautiful, idyllic and serene. I highly recommend a journey (haha, with your tool kit of course ;-) Oh the fun of overthinking.

Live life, you only get one xxx

Written by Jess Eastwood

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