At the height of summer the road to Paradise is long and dusty and you never know who you’ll come across along the way.
The final destination to this ‘journey’ is easy access to the Routeburn Track and for some, while it might be tough, the consolation is that you have to pass through Paradise to get there.
The funny thing about this trip is that weeks afterward you still can’t get it out of your head. Don’t be surprised if suddenly, in the early hours, you wake up with these amazing images still rolling through your mind.
Maybe that’s what a good holiday is all about. Some might easily say it’s just unforgettable and they would be right but what can bug me about some of the great holiday experiences I’ve had is, what exactly is it that makes them that way.
I’ve often thought the measure of a good movie is reflected in your thinking the next day. If it’s good, bits of it keep coming back. You smile to yourself when you recall a funny incident or have that “oh yeah” moment when a piece of the plot finally falls into place.
The road to Paradise is not like that. Of course you do recall it the next day and you might say to friends “hey, it’s great” and “you should go there.” The fact is though, you somehow feel you haven’t done it justice.
Of course, it would be much simpler to say, “oh yeah, I think I just saw a really good movie”, except words like that might leave your friends wondering whether you’d just gone off into La La Land.
As you can see the mental picture I’m trying to draw here isn’t easy for me but its likeness to a great movie is the best way I can find to clearly describe what I saw.
To make matters worse, at this point I’m not sure really where this piece is going – and I haven’t even introduced you to my new found foreign friend I met along the way. Or maybe I just have.
Lucas Caiado is a young Brazilian lawyer who goes travelling all over the world whenever he can. Wow, how cool is that! And on this trip he brought his friend, ‘The Goat’, one of his little cousin Carolina’s favourite soft toys – as you do. He said he liked taking pictures of The Goat all over the world so he could explain to Carolna where he and The Goat had roamed.
Now the ladies in our party thought this was ever so cute but I’m standing round not sure what to say and watching Lucas take pictures of this bug eyed stuffed toy goat sitting on a rock by a stream, resting on a tree stump or on top of his car and just generally chillaxing on its stopover here in Paradise.
How bizarre. How Hunter S Thompson. No, couldn’t be. That lawyer was Samoan and they were travelling across the United States searching for the American dream.
At least that was just a book and a complete work of fiction but I’m pretty certain I’m right here with Lucas and his mate The Goat and we’ve all just passed out of a place called Paradise on our way to the start of the Routeburn Track. I had to get my bearings.
Ok, so we travelled out of Queenstown, up the road to Glenorchy, saw the red shed (it’s just a shed) and then headed up Paradise Road to the world beyond.
For the last part it’s a gravel road and there are a couple of streams to forge but in summer they’re easily passable even in a standard car. In winter I wouldn’t go there in anything less than a four wheel drive vehicle and you won’t even make it with that if DoC has closed off access.
The journey in is absolutely stunning and the trip beyond totally unforgettable.
If it were a movie it wouldn’t just be a block buster it would go down in history as one of the great behemoths – something you might think about for years after and with scenic shots that keep rolling back.
I went to La La Land.