Waiting to board my flight home to Australia.
When I was growing up, one of my best friends was an older male. Most people would see him as an older brother figure and to a degree he was, but really, he was my best friend. He was from New Zealand and for many years he was what I’d think of when I thought of New Zealand. It was with him that I sat in the cinema falling in love with the landscape of J.R.R Tolkiens Middle Earth come to life, it was then, I fell in love with New Zealand.
Me, in around 2005. Being a hobbit/wizard at the LoTR exhibition in Sydney.
This time last year I was in new Zealand, I landed in Auckland to the darkness of midnight, breathing in air colder then Sydney, butterflies in my stomach for many reasons. I didn’t see any landscape on the hour or so drive to where I was staying. I just sat thinking “I’m in new Zealand”, and trying to pronounce some crazy place names.
I was visiting New Zealand for a man, for a whirlwind romance, but DC wasn’t the only one who swept me off my feet, New Zealand left me breathless. It was so similar to Australia, but more raw. The land didn’t stretch in far off plains, but mountains jutting out all over the places. The sheep half kneeling to eat grass on hills. I only saw the teensiest area of the north island, but it was all I needed to know I’d found a country that touched a part of me, maybe more then my home land.
Being in a foreign country, so close to home, so similar, was like an alternate universe. The attitude of New Zealanders is very much like Australian. Laid back, easy. Though they fully embrace their culture, the lands heritage, where they came from. The money was different, I enjoyed that the AU$ was worth more. They had many of the same stores, some great clothing. Weirder TV channels.
The food. I could dedicate a post about the food. Hungry jacks was burger king. All fast food seemed the have aoli as an option. Burger Fuel! Hell Pizza! I fell in love with Kumara (which I later learnt is just another name for Sweet Potato, duh!). My favourite, the fact that Mountain Dew had something like 5 flavours. I wanted to cry and worship the fact that I had easily acceable and cheap grape soft drink. Pitch black mountain dew became my drug of choice.
I explored natural hot pools in Roturua, swimming in a creek in the middle of nowhere that was warm and bubbly, a natural spa. I met animals I’d never heard of, birds that would chew through rubber, I drank water from Te Waireka freshwater springs and watched trout swimming the Ngongotaha Stream.
I spent days relaxing with an amazing cat, who to this day I miss. He’d bring me presents of dead birds & didn’t like his belly being rubbed, but he helped heal me from the pain of missing Henry. I’d sit and write, looking through the window, at the view, and I had this calm happiness.
That month was the most amazing month. It was soothing, healing. It opened my eyes to many things, I learnt more about myself, it made me grow. While some of it was painful, it was the happiest I’d been in a long time.
I’m going back to New Zealand, I don’t know when, I have ideas, but no plans. But I will be back, because my soul yearns for it. I want to explore. I want to see more of what new Zealand has to offer, see its beauty, find its hidden treasures.