I’m not good at leaving. In fact, I suck at leaving and I strongly dislike ‘lasts’. Every time I leave a place where I’ve had a good time I find myself feeling a bit lost and confused, trying to figure out what happened and what might be the point of it all. What is the learning? Where lies the lesson? Goodbyes per se are not that bad because I’ve come to learn what a small world it is that we really live in, but moving on from A to B to C and getting over a place and its people is a whole other nut to crack.

My time in New Zealand turned out completely different than expected, although I didn’t have a clue of what to expect when I first got here. Feeling like I’d been kicked out of Australia in order to, as I liked to put it, ”process my year Down Under” in what I’d heard is an absolutely magical country, I found myself wondering what the heck am I doing here when walking through the streets of gloomy Christchurch. How in the world did I even come to think of going backpacking when all I really wanted was to sit with my thoughts and let everything sink in? All of a sudden my plan to spend a total of 45 hours on buses in order to see every corner of the south island in less than three weeks seemed just a little too ambitious.

From a slightly shocking start in Christchurch to Mt Cook, where I tried to get rid of all of my frustrations by walking, walking, walking, to picture-perfect Queenstown that I did not seem to be able to enjoy at first, I arrived in Wanaka last weekend feeling massively frustrated. What in the world am I doing here? Why am I investing my money in this? What is the point? Despite plenty of hikes and walks and things to see & do, I was unable to get myself out of the door to go explore the area. The mountains were calling me to COME HIKE COME HIKE COME HIKE, but stuck in my head I just couldn’t be bothered. Instead, I met some nice humans with whom I cooked and had a few glasses of wine, and did a mini road trip to some blue pools that I had never even heard of. Is this what I came here for?!

And I poured my heart out.

WHAT AM I DOING HERE?

With a little help from my friends I came to the conclusion that there’s no point in rushing through the island with my phone in my hand, taking pictures here and there, wherever the bus stops, because– yeah, why? No. Reminding myself of the primary reason for my trip I concluded that that’s not what I want. I was obviously not enjoying it, so instead I decided to go back to Queenstown and have some fun. Embrace it, enjoy it and do whatever I feel like. Not isolate myself but give myself a break and live a little. Holiday.

It was the best decision ever.

Having done quite a lot of hiking and biking as well as a skydive the week before, this time around I had no plans. No must see’s, no must do’s, so I sat down at the lakefront and watched the seagulls soar back and forth above my head. It is funny how they shake their feathers into place when they land, have you ever noticed? I hadn’t.

I played frisbee golf (the first thing the guy at the hostel reception recommended me to do when I first arrived – say what?), badminton and a drinking game or two, had a crazy night out and spent a full day in bed and realized it’s not worth it, alcohol that is. I hiked up to 1700+ meters above sea level for a 360° view over Queenstown and its surroundings, Lake Wakatipu and the Southern Alps, and got back to yoga – ah, yoga. How I’d missed yoga! (It was about time!)

I signed up for a tandem swing with someone I’d met without really even getting what it was, and finally got the kind of adrenaline kick that I’d expected from the skydive that left me feeling nothing at all. I tried the ridiculously famous Fergburger, but also had a few Domino’s pizzas (whoops!) and pastries (far from as good as at Bellagio!!), and coffee, so much coffee (see previous brackets; the same applies). I hung out in cafés but was unsuccessful in my attempts to avoid cooking because 1) eating out all the time is just way too expensive, and 2) I can’t have oatmeal for every meal, so I had to give it a go. My banana pancakes ended up burnt and looking like scrambled eggs, but I had a far better success rate when cooking with others. How much nicer isn’t cooking with others?! Once again it was proven to me that it’s the people who make the experience.

Much surprisingly, I ended up spending a lot of time doing nothing much at all and it was so good. I went to Milford Sound the other day, took a cruise and while standing at the front end of the boat I closed my eyes, felt the wind in my face and the fresh air, the smell of the forest, the sound of the waves and waterfalls… Such presence, such disconnection from the rest of the world. With the mountains rising on each side of me I found myself thinking how small isn’t each of us when we put things into perspective? So very small.

A feeling of deep gratitude washed over me.

This is life, this is it. Why are we here, what matters the most? What is important to you, and what is important to me? I’d crossed paths with an amazing human being who’d made me think, think a lot, but not in a bad way – quite the opposite. Of values, virtues, life.

How amazing isn’t life when we take ownership of it? It might be a struggle at times but it is well worth it.

Then came Sunday and it was time for another goodbye; another piece of my heart to be left behind. Expected time of return: a couple of days, maybe? Hopefully no more than that. It’s like I’m scattering pieces of it everywhere I go, all around. No matter how I try I just can’t do otherwise, which is why I initially found myself thinking I’d better go through this alone, but no woman is an island, right? It is the people who make the experience.

Why do I keep doing this to myself, though? 

To look at the bright side of it – it is a “positive problem”, after all – it is yet another adventure, yet another chapter for my book, one that’s taught me the invaluable lesson to let go of (trying to) control (life) and listen to my intuition. To not force things, but let life flow and just go with it. Trust.

So many insights, so many learnings.

Beautiful people and meaningful connections in one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been.

But most importantly: presence. A feeling of being truly here and now for the first time in a long, long time.

And so, once again, everything connects. 

Queenstown, you’re a gem, and New Zealand, they’re absolutely right – you’re stunning!

Lots of love from where I’m waiting to board my flight back to Sydney,
Anna