July 2008 / Ruahine Range / North Island / New Zealand
In the foothills of the North Island’s Ruahine Range, where the Southern Alps make a last desperate thrust from the land, a flock of sheep darts across a high ridge parallel to the road. They speed with terror across the hills, passing from the glow of the low winter sun on the crests to the shadows between. Black and swift,the herdsman’s dogs flanked them, tails stiff and ears cocked.
As the hooved and woolen mass moved across the hills, formless but coherent, I anticipated a grizzled man on horseback to follow. The classic image of a New Zealand cowboy – you know, like the kind you see on adverts for Speight’s beer. Instead a man tore over the hill on a quad. So much for that notion….