Not all who wander are lost

I’m sitting on the Interislander Ferry headed to Wellington on the North Island, from Picton on the South Island. I’ve got my new birthday hiking boots propped up on the ledge, as I admire the passing mountains over the deep turquoise water.

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Joe is writing postcards back to his family, as we make a list of all of the incredible new things we’ve done in the last two weeks. We left my parents back in Nelson this morning, so they could catch their flight back to the states.

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We woke up early to the sunlight bouncing off the mountains of Abel Tasman National Park. Then we sped through winding roads, where clouds still lay sleeping in the grass. We made our way to the ferry just in the nick of time.

I feel a mix of emotions this morning – a twinge of sadness (huge understatement) to say goodbye to my parents and see this particular trip come to a close, a feeling of calm and gratitude as we sail across the beautiful sunny waters of the Cook Strait, and a bit of excitement at the reminder that I still live in New Zealand and all of this beauty is at my disposal.

I’m eves dropping on a group of silver-haired kiwi ladies at the table next to me, who are about to embark on a trip to the north island. They can hardly contain their excitement, as they snap photos and rave about the great weather. It’s amazing and wonderful that even the locals appreciate the beauty that New Zealand has to offer. (Sometimes I think we Americans often take the beauty of our own country for granted!) Especially in New Zealand's South Island, there is just so much raw and unspoiled splendor. Every location feels so remote. Just when you think you’ve seen the most stunning view or taken the best photo, another one appears around the corner.

 

This trip has been unlike any other family vacation I’ve taken.  It wasn’t about sitting still on a beach or sticking to a regimented timeline; it wasn’t about the destination, but rather, the journey. It was about pulling over on the side of the road to admire a double rainbow or deciding to randomly zip line across New Zealand’s longest swing bridge, as we passed through a small town in the mountains on the South Island.

Joe got to taste the rainbow.

Joe got to taste the rainbow.

My parents zip lining across New Zealand's longest swing bridge.

My parents zip lining across New Zealand's longest swing bridge.

When it rained (and it poured!), we moved on to the next town, (and there was that one time we sat in the Rotorua mud baths in Gail force rain and winds). The quote by J. R. R. Tolkien (which I've seen on countless tshirts in New Zealand), rings true. "Not all who wander are lost." We wandered with a purpose: to absorb as much beauty, culture, and adventure as we could in our two-week road trip. Some of our best experiences were spontaneous. And I think it’s safe to say that we wandered with great success.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing some of the highlights and memories from our two-week New Zealand tour of the North and South Islands. I hope you’ll re-live it with me!