Back to Nelson Lakes with Megan to pick up my van, I stayed there for a couple of nights to make sure I was ok, getting used to batting away sandflies, enjoying the peaceful scenery and being reunited with my stuff. One evening we watched the sun go down eating popcorn by the lake and feeding the one duck who seemed to have stayed up late!
Then I set off with purpose towards Westport, which was dull, so I pressed on to Punakaiki, enjoying the drive. It felt a little bit different to places I’d been before, and I stopped briefly at an empty little beach, which made me start to see what travelling in NZ is all about.
In Punakaiki it rained. A lot. I’ve been lucky enough to have lots of dry weather and sun in the past 8 months so I really can’t complain! I found somewhere to camp and found that I still have a need to be alone in the world; I still have a lot to learn for myself. Before I’d set off on this new journey I felt trepidation, for a couple of reasons. First I knew there was a potential to be alone for days at a time again, but second I thought I might be underwhelmed: I’ve seen so many amazing beautiful places in the world, yet everyone tells me how wonderful the South Island is… it definitely has that potential to disappoint!
So I found myself alone, hearing only German conversations, on a dark rainy day, having to cook, which is one of my least favourite things: takes blummin’ ages, makes my back ache, chopping is slow and stressful and then you have to stand for longer to actually cook the stuff on the hob, I don’t want to do it so it doesn’t occur to me to start until I feel the imperative of hunger and then I have no energy to cook…! Hopefully I can get into much better habits with this!
I moved on without seeing the pancake rocks or blowholes; didn’t feel the need and surely the rain would’ve spoiled it?! Greymouth gave me a chance to pick up some food and do some more chores, then I headed for the glaciers to try to drum up a spirit of adventure! When I was there I felt tired from the drive but also a big sense of ‘safety’. It was so easy to drive here, every man and his dog are here, people in proper walking gear when they really don’t need to be, it’s all very civilised with signs everywhere and all amenities. In that sense it couldn’t be less challenging or dramatic than South America!
I fought hard to get some perspective here. The human brain is programmed to make comparisons with what it’s seen before, presumably to overcome fear, but it means the more you travel the more you have to consciously appreciate each new place on its own merits. I felt like a very lucky girl that I’m underwhelmed by somewhere like this, and it truly makes me appreciate more than ever the amazing experiences I’ve been able to have in my life so far.