KIWI BIRD CALLING – COLUMN #6 FROM NEW ZEALAND

Travel tears your world apart. In a good way.

Whenever a family member, acquaintance or work colleague comes to me ‘stuck in a rut’ – I repeatedly give them the same advice that was once given to me many years ago. Get away, go and meet new faces and see some of what the world has to offer. Get lost in the cobbled streets of Paris while hunting for the perfect croissant, hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail, go fishing in Panama or find a new job in another country. You don’t need to know exactly where you’ll end up – most people don’t. Challenge yourself and don’t settle. After all, you want several tales of mischief and adventure up your sleeve by the time you’re 100, as my nana always says.

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, ‘stuck in a rut’ means you have become ‘too fixed’. Travel can transport you from that ‘fixed’ or stagnant state and blow away those fusty cobwebs you’ve been avoiding for so long. If it’s time for a mental clear out, then get destination hunting my friend. And don’t settle for just an all-inclusive bundle close to home. While these can be great, if you’re looking for a real journey, they simply won’t make the cut.

Something I’ve always wanted to do is stand in front of a world map with a pin, close my eyes and travel to where it lands. Obviously if you end up in the middle of the Pacific Ocean or the depths of snowy Russia, I’d go for round two, but this could be intriguing right?

I’ve recently finished my six months of work in New Zealand and could not have asked for a better send off from the Communications team at Waikato Regional Council. We all finished work early and headed straight for my favourite watering hole where we drank heady margaritas and laughed over plates of spicy tacos. It’s a chapter of my life I’ll never forget.

Last weekend we had a day to ourselves (rare with Dave’s flying schedule) and we decided to make the trip to Karangahake Gorge. Situated at the base of the Coromandel Range, the Karangahake Gorge Historic Walkway follows the old railway line between Paeroa and Waihi, giving access to impressive remains from the mining and railway eras. The ‘Rail Tunnel Loop’ took us an hour, and we stopped for several photos and diversions to dip our toes in the Ohinemuri River.

Mossy boulders fill the gorge like a giant’s pebble pathway. Emerald water trickles down through nooks and crannies in-between the rocks before giving way to powerful waterfalls. Sandy, yellow trails and swinging bridges keep you on track below masses of stretching green ferns reaching towards the light. Then you come to the dark rail tunnel – a different ball game altogether.

It’s around 1km long and while we had cracked out our torches back home, we sadly forgot these as we hurried out in a flurry of applying sun cream and preparing snacks for the road. Thankfully our eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness and within minutes we were transported back to what felt like an eerie alleyway in Victorian London. The tunnel was surprisingly spacious. It was damp and just a little bit spooky. A group of young children just ahead of us made good use of the time by hiding inside various alcoves and shouting ‘boo!’ to passers-by.

Back out in the sunshine, we came across a grassy opening that gave way to a panoramic view of the Ohinemuri River. I don’t know why we didn’t come here sooner, but as is always the case, too many places and too little time.

My sister Lara has just arrived for my last few weeks here. We haven’t seen each other for over six months as she is currently travelling the world with her best friend. Don’t worry, I’ll report back on our shenanigans and my upcoming trip to Hong Kong. Watch this space.

I can’t quite believe my time out here is coming to an end. It feels like only last week I was rushing through Guernsey Airport security with a tummy full of butterflies, before watching the island disappear below the clouds. That’s the thing about time – it always finds a way of running away from us.

There is so much to see and do and New Zealand and I’ve become extremely fond of this dynamic and beautiful country. Due to work constraints we were only able to do a small amount of travel in South Island (around Abel Tasman national park – which I would definitely recommend), but we did see a great deal of North Island.

Here are my top 10 ‘must-do’s’ for North Island.  It’s by my no means a definitive list, but if you’re planning on visiting the Land of the Long White Cloud, this should get you started.

  • The Coromandel Peninsula (Hahei beach, Cathedral Cove, New Chums Beach, The Lost Spring, Whitianga)
  • Wellington (Te Papa Museum, Cuba Street, Library bar and restaurant, Oriental Bay, Lyall Bay)
  • Waitomo caves
  • Bay of Islands (Paihia, Urapukapuka island, Hole in the Rock, dolphin watching)
  • Lake Taupo ( Hot springs, Tongariro Alpine Crossing, cycling along the lake, Huka Falls, sky diving)
  • Blue Springs walk
  • Hamilton bars/cafes (Mexico, Iguana’s, Punnet Café, Two Birds, Mavis & Co, Bluestone Steak House, River Kitchen, Gothenburg, Chim-Choo-Ree, Duck Island Ice Cream, Grey Street Kitchen, the Establishment, Wonder Horse, SL28)
  • Mount Maunganui
  • Devonport and Auckland
  • Rotorua – Kerosene Creek, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland, Lake Tarawera trail, Redwoods Forest, Hamaruna Springs, white water rafting.

Until next time

Love,

The Kiwi Bird.

This month’s cultural snapshot

What I’m reading – Me Before You by JoJo Moyes, The Linnet Bird by Linda Holeman, The Expats by Chris Pavone.

TV shows I’m Watching – The Night Manager, How to get away with Murder, Mad Men.

Movies – The Danish Girl, The Intern, Spotlight.

Quote of the month – “I have come to accept the feeling of not knowing where I am going. And I have trained myself to love it. Because it is only when we are suspended in mid-air with no landing in sight, that we force our wings to unravel and alas begin our flight. And as we fly, we still may not know where we are going to. But the miracle is in the unfolding of the wings. You may not know where you’re going, but you know that so long as you spread your wings, the winds will carry you.”
― C. JoyBell C.

 

 

 

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