When I was fifteen, I wrote a mad short story called Full Circle as an English assignment. In it, a detective travels to a sleepy seaside village to investigate a string of peculiar suicides. The plot climaxes with the discovery that all the villagers are related to people who died in an ancient shipwreck, and are being called back to the sea to be with their ancestors. It concludes as follows: He continued to watch, as the villagers threw themselves off the cliff, and into the raging sea.
So there. My penchant of writing depressing stories is nothing new.
I feel like I’ve completed my own full circle, I suppose. In the last month, I’ve been making a mad dash around New Zealand, filling in gaps and falling into reunions, as I attempt to ensure that I leave the country with a sense of completion. Of sorts.
From Stewart Island at the very bottom of the country, to Cape Reinga at the very top, there is a sense of a narrative ending that pleases my perfectionist nature. In a scarcely believable moment of poetry, my camera literally stopped working as I looked out at the very last new piece of New Zealand I ever intended to see. It won’t turn on any more, so I guess that’s that.
The Maori believe that the spirits of the dead travel to Cape Reinga to leave New Zealand. This is the point where oceans meet, waves frothing up in the middle of the water as the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide. This is the point where souls depart, their life in New Zealand fully complete.
In my case, just two weeks to go.
Here are some photos of my time back on the North Island…
There’s a labyrinthine underground cave network in the heart of Waikato on the North Island. In particular, the famous glow-worm cave has been a tourist attraction for over a century, and includes a magical boat ride through an underground river, where the only light comes from the thousands of glow-worms lighting up the cavern with breathtaking constellations of blue stars.
However, you can’t take photos in there, so instead here are some photos of another awesome cave nearby.
Raglan, a small surfer town on the west coast, is as mad as a box of frogs and all the frogs have hats on and the hats are made of pesto. Everyone is a surfer hippie. Even the hostel is mad. Look how mad the hostel is. It’s just made out of abandoned train carriages on top of a hill.
Northland is huge. It’s one long peninsula north of Auckland, and it takes about seven hours to drive from one end to the other. If you stick to the highway. I came here at the start of the year but I didn’t get very far north. On this trip, I stopped off at Kerikeri (first picture) before staying on an incredibly friendly farm in the middle of nowhere (Kapea Farm Hostel if you want a recommendation of a great place to stay). The owners gave me some gumboots and sent me off into their acres of farmland until I ended up on top of a hill with the late-afternoon sun drenching the grass. Awesome.
And here you go. The top of the country. You can see the froth out in the ocean that marks where the two different bodies of water – the Pacific Ocean and the Tasman Sea – just smush into each other, like endless weird sea sex.
Here’s a question for all you intellectuals. How many kilometres long is ninety mile beach? Go on, try and work it out. Get a calculator if you want. Ready for the answer? It’s ninety kilometres long. Really. Don’t ask.
You can drive along it, which is incredible. You can also climb (or surf down) giant sand dunes, which are huge and make you feel like you’re in the middle of a desert. It’s windy and cold at the top of these dunes though, and the sand gets blown everywhere. Like into the inner machinery of your camera. Oops.
The last photo in this set? The last photo my camera took. Thanks for everything, Mr. PowerShot SX 280. You were great.