When you love someone, you go distance to be with them. It’s all about the adventure, right? Because no matter how daunting that distance may be, when you wrap the time in a something exciting, well then – let the journey begin! We have travelled so many places, taken our kin to view countries, colors, creed and cultures. These journeys, these adventures have left imprints on our souls and spirits, a kindredness with so many people and animals, and a softer footfall on the earth. Most places we visit and enjoy, but we don’t return.
Then came New Zealand. Past the exhausting 16 hour flight, sleeping in economy class amidst wailing children and coughing passengers was the growing anticipation of arrival, and some really long hugs. Such a mysterious place is New Zealand, shrouded in legend, blanketed in green and graced with wildlife we had never seen. Given the draw of seeing beloved family who live there at present, this visit suddenly hit the top of our to-do bucket-list.
We stayed a few days in their beautiful little home in Ellerslie, which at first glance seemed as common as any town through our tearful eyes; we felt more happy just to see Nevis and Samantha than anything else for the first few days. Aukland presented itself as just another city as we drove the highways toward better views. And we weren’t disappointed: New Zealand’s oceanside hamlets, parkland and landscapes were another matter entirely.
We drove an astonishing exploration through the countryside – oh how green and lush this countryside! Rocks and crags dotted the brilliant emerald hillside and pastures laced with the likes of chicory, white and strawberry clovers, birdsfoot trefoil and plantain, where the land is naturally terraced by the footfall of (remarkably) numerous sheep and cattle.
From rolling surf on black sands at Waikato and the mystery of Tawharanui beach after sunset, the throaty call of a thousand gannets at Waitakere to surfing at Muriwai beach, strolling coastal shores where sea lions hid their pups, wandering the Redwood trails of Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua, lost to the world in Matamata at Hobbiton (naturally dressed as hobbits), staying at beautiful AirB&B at Reporoa, meandering through natural hot springs and thermal streams, cellphone flashlights on as we gingerly groped our way against the surprisingly cold, strong rivulet into a pitch-black cave (with warning signs to avoid sinkholes); whose walls where etched like reptile skin and vaulted into a ceiling covered in an alien skyscape of glowworms … these breathtaking memories still astonish us.
As world travellers, my husband and I can heartily state that New Zealand is truly a land among the super-extraordinary, with views and scapes vivid beyond imagining, a wild and elegant palette brushed with the kindness and empathy of her peoples, and where flora, fauna and folk flow sustainably through life on islands that hold peace with their ancient roots. We were awed. We will return.