Along the narrow, snaking road that nestles snuggly against the grey crumbling cliffs, resisting, for the most part, the chance to drop away. The gorge starts at the roads edge, with no more than a slight ridge of a few centimetres between in some places. This was the road to church each Sunday. As a child, I was terrified of travelling it. Falling off the road felt imminent. But now, it is tarseal, and wider to the point of being able to pass another vehicle in places, and the slips cleared regularly to keep the pathway safer. Home. It beckons.
Past the Home-stays. Past the rest-stop. Past the beekeepers. Past my old music teacher’s house. Past the stand of pines. Past the turn off to the Ranges. And into Rangiwahia: where once stood a school, but now only a piece of short, painted, brick fencing and a sign saying “private property”; where once there was a petrol station, with a singular pump housing metal numbers that clunked over as the fuel pumped, and a small office with a grimy counter, everything smelling of oil; where once there was a cheese factory - now an environmental centre; and where, when I was five, our school bus had to stop suddenly as a result of the engine catching on fire. Justine had helped me out. She was 12. Home. It beckons.