A place where no Blackberries grow…

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

The Moodie Report has opened many temporary bureaus down the years, refusing to let geographic position or isolation frustrate our publication schedule.

But even in an age of almost ubiquitous internet access, some places just defy modern technology.

Such is the case on the wild West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island where I took time out to recover from the shattering news of All Black ace Dan Carter’s injury over the past few days.

This is wild land; beautiful bush country where giant native trees such as rimu, totara, rata, kahikatea and miro climb tall towards the heavens.

You can drive for hours around the roads and even in peak tourist season see only a few cars. Much of the land feels untouched by human hand, and everywhere there are stunning views of New Zealand’s Southern Alps, full of huge, imposing, snow-capped mountains, jagged cliff sides and massive scree slopes.

It’s big country, resplendent with extraordinary vistas, panoramas as breathtaking as they are pristine. You could just sit here and gaze in wonder at the eternal, ageless beauty of it all.

What you can’t do is produce The Moodie Report. My good Kiwi pal Barry (‘Bazza’) probably knew that when he convinced me to come and stay for a couple of days at his bach up in the rain forest near Lake Brunner. “You need to slow down mate,” he said.

Somehow one feels like a soft, obsessive, nerdish city boy when reaching for the Blackberry or iPhone in such surroundings. At night time, sitting on the porch sipping a good Pinot Noir from Central Otago, the only sounds you can hear are the wind whistling through the trees and the rushing of the water in the stream below. The world of travel retail feels a million miles away.

And yet… old habits die hard. After two days, like a reformed gambler not being able to walk past a casino, I started to twitch. Breaking news is breaking news, even in the wild wetlands of the West Coast. And if you can’t access it, you can’t break it. But when the moment came, it was as unexpected as it was inappropriate.

High up above a windswept Lake Brunner at Carew Falls, a place of magical beauty, I heard the tell-tale bleep of a cell phone signal and texts and e-mails starting to crash in. As I sat down on a rock by the waterfall to read them, two Canadian hikers looked me as though I was a heretic. And I probably was. Bazza probably just thought I was beyond saving. And I probably am.

So if you wonder where our story ‘James Richardson and MGS win Tel Aviv Ben Gurion sports tender’ came from, the answer is from high on a hill by the Carew Falls, one of the most beautiful places on earth. A place where Blackberries should be things that grow wild, not tools to access a faraway corporate world.

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