Monday, September 14, 2015

Northland (Day 6)

I've been wondering how I can possibly describe the past couple of days in a way that does them justice.  I think I just need to let the words flow in whatever order they come out, not try and carefully craft them, or necessarily give a coherent itinerary.  Bear with me - I'm going to try and take you to New Zealand's Northland.

Most of Day 6 was spent driving up to Cape Reinga, but we did not take the most direct route. 
A brief stop at a waterfall, because with a sign for a waterfall closeby, how can you not stop, and see the beauty of crashing water?

Hills upon hills of green, winding roads.  So many sheep, that would rival any postcard.  Leaping lambs.  Grazing lambs.  Sleeping lambs.  Cows and sheep. Turkeys and sheep, everyone grazing up and down all those hills, roaming wild and happy and free, no sheppards for miles.

Winding roads up and down mountains.  View after view of green pastures, every single kind of green that exists.  Picturesque beyond words.  And then the ocean!  Appearing around a wrong turn , we saw it from high, high up, and simultaneously gasped at the crisp blueness, the perfect sand, the remoteness.  "Let's go there!" we both said, and go there we went.  Down, down, down the windy roads, the trees in bloom with delicate purple and pink spring blossoms, the tiny lambs ever grazing and ever leaping after their mothers, and finally we were there, at a secret beach, ocean waves crashing against rocks, against the shores, against our hearts.  This is what we came for - these wrong turns.  These incredible accidents that bring us to incredible places.  We walked along the shore in the lapping waves.

Back in the car, windy road back up,  another wrong turn.  More incredible views.  Sometimes you just have to give up the camera.  There's no way you can stop and photograph every incredible scene in this country.  The beauty is everywhere.  You just have to sit and take it all in, capture it with your heart.  Every green hill with sheep, every curious stare of a cow, every baby lamb's baa, every shade of green hill against blue sea against gold field.

We stopped for lunch at Taupo Bay, yet another ocean all to ourselves.  We even made coffee with our coffee plunger, and took our mugs for yet another walk by the waves.  This is the way to do New Zealand - don't do it any other way.  Don't just rent a car, and stay in hotels or hostels, or join a tour.  When you carry your kitchen and bed with you, you're free for things like spontaneous lunches by secret remote beaches.  You can go wherever your spirit takes you.

And then, after a day's worth of driving ever north through the beautiful North Island, we finally reached New Zealand's northern tip - Cape Reinga.

Back on New Year's day, J and I spent that morning dreaming of all the places we wanted to one day see.  I have always wanted to go to New Zealand, but that day while googling, I happened upon this incredible location.  Cape Reinga, or Te Rerenga Wairua in Maori, is a sacred place for the Maori people.  It is from this tip and through the roots of an ancient tree that they believe their ancestors return to their ancient homeland after death.  I don't know what exactly drew me here so strongly, but little did I know back on that wintry January day that this would actually be a reality for me so soon.
We reached Cape Reinga just as the sun was setting, and dashed out of the car to catch the display of colours.


I can't possibly describe what I felt, gazing upon this incredible location for the first time.  As the red, purple, and gold danced across the sky over the green rugged tip, the impossibly huge mountains all around us, and the picturesque white lighthouse below us, I just stood there, a few tears rolling down my face as I contemplated the incredible journey that took me here, to this dreamed-of place.  New Zealand to me was like a fairy tale, an impossible-to-reach place like the fabled Avalon.  And now suddenly here I was, seeing the rugged and fascinating northern tip of the country with my own eyes.

Why did I travel here?  The question remains. 

Maybe it was for this one moment.  For the stunning moment of knowing that seemingly impossible dreams can come true.

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