“I want to run, be free, on both land and sea – feel the wind in my hair and know that all I need, is the air that I breathe.”
Positioning myself upon a hillside, breathing in deeply the crisp, fresh winter air. I thought, ‘I am standing in God’s own country.’ For the first time in my life, I truly knew what the saying meant.
I surprised myself, with my minds preoccupation. I didn’t particularly feel connected to God – any God, at the start of my travels but what I did feel, and was beginning to encounter on a daily basis as I stood in the South Pacific, was a reverence for the land beneath my feet and the ever expanding vista sprawling out in front of me-the further away from the shores of the UK, we travelled.
I didn’t realise how much freedom, a country with so few people, could provide for my creative mind. Not that I knew, that was what it was, at the time. The expansive space, the minuscule atoms making up our marvelous world, allowed my mind to gallop across the surface tension of the water on the lakes – playing like a nymph – free and unencumbered. I stood in awe, looking at natures wonder, with eyes that acted as if what they were seeing, had played some trickery and tomfoolery with me.
No photograph or picture, had ever offered this location a true justice, to its illuminating beauty.
I realised why I had desired for so long to come here.
The Kon Tiki Expedition had brought to life for me these islands; the Pacific Ocean; this country. Offering me the childhood insight into standing on a fertile land, halfway across the world from my natural home.
I felt as if I had come to the place I was meant to live. No longer was I connected to my culture. I stood free, unencumbered. I existed fully here.
From the first minute I saw it, I gorged myself on the mountainous landscape, as it poured out in front of my eyes.
In the moment our flight began its descent into Queenstown Airport, circling the Remarkables mountaintops, the evening sunset brought out a deep pink hue in the ever darkening sky, casting a warm shadow across the backdrop of the mountains.
This country held my heart in its hand and all I wanted to do, from the point of landing back in the UK after our trip, was get straight back on a flight and spend more time in its bewitching environment – connecting heart, mind, soul and spirit in the flicker of a flame.
For the first time in my life I had fallen madly, deeply and passionately in love with a different country and one place specifically-Picton.
From inside my belly, the words ‘I could live here,’ bounded out and bounced off the invisible prickles of air, bristling all around us, as the mirage of a Palm tree lined harbour appeared in front of the little village, as the undulating sea drowned valleys and peaks, allowed me to imagine the motion of the sunken wakas of Aoraki, digging their oars deftly into the deep blue waters of the Sounds.
The South Island gave me space for my creative mind to breathe and as we travelled through the glacier carved fjords, tree lined highways, this little country nestled its way into my heart a little deeper.
On each roadside stop along the way, there were treasures to be found and our family spent as much time exploring the landscape and forests of this magical place as we did driving. We were connecting with nature in a profound way and it was incredibly important to me that the children could just spend their time exploring, with no structured activity arranged – mini discoveries showed their selves to us, along the sharp bended, steep mountainous way, we found ourselves travelling upon.
In one moment we stood atop a swinging bridge, at another the bottom of a waterfall.
The Pacific Ocean slammed its way onto desolate beaches, leaving a shimmer of mist hanging haughtily above the sand. There were no other sounds but those of the waves and the children’s laughter glittering above their thrall and I found myself wanting to stay for ever. Setting up home where my friend and closest companion would be the crashing whitecaps and my eyes would become accustomed to staring upon the snarly body of ocean so vast and deep, that most likely I would never understand the measure of its depths.
Yet on each step of this journey I had to turn away, continue on our trip, abandon my desire and leave this connection, for another moment, another day, another year or even another lifetime.
New Zealand left its mark on me and what ever happens, I know my heart will be forever tattooed with the throaty, deep bellied sound of, “ka mate, ka mate,” reverberating around its circulatory system, reminding me of where I once stood. Proud, free and aloof.