So day 25 of this virtual wander down my travel memory lane.
From tomorrow, for the last 5 days of these wanderings I will be tackling the “big shaping” journeys of my life so far.
In light of that, I thought today would be a good opportunity to pause. Returning back to NZ for a retreat “travels with mom” reminisce. We stayed in the Valley Hut at Kōmanawa. A pure space if ever there was one.
Today these pics have helped me soak up that retreat “atmosphere” once again. In these last days of lockdown here in New Zealand and with it being Anzac Day too, there is much time for reflection.
Time for this quiet revolutionary to take stock, re-evaluate and keep dreaming. I still believe in magic…. the magic that makes hope float up.
That’s what momma always says. She says that beginnings are scary, endings are usually sad, but it’s the middle that counts the most. Try to remember that when you find yourself at a new beginning. Just give hope a chance to float up.
“Hope Floats” (1998) – Sandra Bullock as Birdee Pruitt
“I want to see mountains again, Gandalf, mountains, and then find somewhere where I can rest… I might find somewhere where I can finish my book. I have thought of a nice ending for it: and he lived happily ever after to the end of his days.”
J R R Tolkien, Fellowship of the Ring
Today’s wandering takes us to some very special mountains. The volcanoes of the central plateau in New Zealand’s North Island. I have visited this area many times over the years and experience a different mood each time.
Again, quite a bit of filming around here for Lord of the Rings movies…. it definitely has a Middle Earth magic.
I highly recommend the evening banquet tour. You enjoy a wander through Hobbiton at sun down including a visit to Bag End, Bagshot Row and the Party Tree. Then arrive at the Green Dragon for a fabulous feast fit for Hobbits and finish with a lantern tour back through Hobbiton.
Professor Tolkien’s descriptions of Hobbiton and surrounds leap off the page and you are magically transported to the Shire for a little while.
For today’s wandering we are back in beautiful Aotearoa/New Zealand remembering another “travels with mom” adventure in search of Middle Earth.
New Zealand’s North Island. State Highway 3 takes you through the King Country west of the Waikato River. The landscape here is mystical and intriguing – limestone and sandstone bluffs surrounded by ancient Podocarp forest.
Take State Highway 3 and wind your way through the Awakino gorge till you hit the west coast and its black sand beaches.
Stay at Struan Farm if you like a green country garden setting with the sheep wandering by.
And then definitely adventure into the hills near Piopio to find the Hairy Feet tour – a perfect Middle Earth location. On this farm they filmed part of the first Hobbit movie – An Unexpected Journey.
The day mom and I were there it was pouring rain. It was just us and the guide…. and it was magical. Not just because I am such a Middle Earth fan but also the karst landscape. I am a bit of a geology geek too!
Still on the same “travels with mom” adventure that brought us to Queenstown, New Zealand’s South Island.
We took a side trip – a bus ride from Queenstown to Fiordland National Park. Then onto a boat for an overnight stay on Milford Sound.
More of Middle Earth to discover. Here we glimpsed the River Anduin, the Dead Marshes and Fangorn Forest.
If I put my ecologist hat on for a moment. Here is a raw, pure Aotearoa/New Zealand environment. Magnificent in scale. Teeming with biodiversity. Truly showcasing the power and awesomeness of Mother Nature. A pure space.
A pure space – this paradox of serenity in harsh, isolated spaces keeps coming up for me as I wander these travel memories. Something that speaks to my soul, I suppose.
So I haven’t posted in a month. It has been a difficult month filled with
disappointed hopes, winter illness, a family health scare and a somewhat
overwhelming feeling of disillusionment.
For me, I often have these feelings of overwhelm at this
time of the year. I am beginning to
believe it is the universe’s way of telling me to slow down, pause and take
stock – what is urgent and essential and what can simply wait a little while
until it is addressed. This is seasonal,
cyclical…. And perhaps something I should be able to plan for by now…
It also seems to me at times like these that the only
solution is to reconnect with nature.
Not something I can always act on easily with living in the city but
this year the opportunity to retreat presented and I took it…
Disclaimer: I am about to reveal just how much of a
Professor JRR Tolkien geek I am!
I retreated all the way to the end of the second age of Middle Earth…. It is truly wonderful how much of Middle Earth is easily accessed right here in beautiful Aotearoa/New Zealand. In a little corner of Northland not far from Whangarei I found another little piece of Tolkien’s Middle Earth. To me it felt like the forests at the very end of the Second Age or the very beginning of the Third Age when the Dunedain first establish the Kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor and High Elves still linger in Greenwood the Great. There is a peaceful watching of the Sacred Kingfisher and magic on every path up ahead and around every bend. Magic also sparkles in the song of the waterfall and the trill of the Grey Warbler.
It was cold – the fog rolling in of an evening and a light frost in the morning. Just as it should be this time of year. The perfect space to get back in the natural rhythm of things. A better perspective on the first world problems that brought me to retreat in the first place. A moment to refocus in gratitude at the grace afforded me and mine.