This month marks the fourth anniversary of Kiwi Adventures, a milestone I scarcely imagined when I began the blog way back in 2015. Since then it’s become a driving force in my life as I learn and adventure and write – and from that, I grow as a person.
This year I’ve published a lot less than in previous years, a lot less than I’d have liked. Some months have even passed without a single post. Part of that is the increasing complexity of my articles, but a major factor has been that this year has been an unusually tough one for me, leaving me so mentally and emotionally drained that mustering the effort to write sometimes seems like an insurmountable barrier.
And yet there’s still so many stories I want to tell.
My year of meh began when I took a week from the pressures of my day job for a great road trip south with my bestie. Alas, my Adventurer’s Curse struck and nothing went as planned, leaving me cruising southward on my lonesome. While I ultimately had many great adventures on my solo journey south, the incident poked at old wounds – ideas I thought I’d long since squashed, ideas that suggested a reality where I’m simply not fated to enjoy nice things, a reality where I’d be better off not to waste time seeking to indulge myself.
In February, my life was turned upside down when my Mum had a serious medical event – completely without warning. One day she was active, making art, coordinating the family, the next she was in the ICU and I had no idea if I’d ever talk to her again.
So my next “holiday” was spent in Christchurch as I wandered the banks of the Avon between sessions at her bed side, hoping against hope that she’d wake up as the same person that I knew.
Mere weeks after Mum was sent back to Dunedin to continue her recovery the entire country was brought to a standstill by the terror attack at the mosque, once again upending the safe world I thought I inhabited.
But perhaps I shouldn’t dwell so much on the bad. This year has brought good things too.
Mum is recovering and starting to seem like her old self again. The injury to her brain has affected her speech and writing and movement but miraculously her personality and wit and cognition are still in tact. I am so, so proud of the progress she has made, and her good humour in the face of adversity.
She has a new granddaughter and I a new niece, proving that life continues even when the world seems most grim.
When it comes to adventures, I may not have surpassed myself in quantity but I have made some strides in quality. I completed my first multi day trek walking the Kepler with my Wellness Walker companions. This is an important step for me, as there are some remote adventures on my List that require daring hikes into the wilderness.
Last year I commented that I’d almost adventured over every region of the South Island but Nelson. Perhaps this year I could have made it a clean sweep if not for the fact that I broadened my horizons and ventured to the North Island for the first time in a decade.
The north has many intriguing things to offer, and I’m still astonished at the sheer variety of wonders our small country has on offer. The thermal springs of Rotorua were charming, but the most meaningful stop for me had to be the place that my family holidayed when I was a child. Conventional wisdom says you can never go back, yet Pakuratahi seemed frozen in time, an island of my childhood to which I could anchor myself in a time of uncertainty.
Home again, and even right outside my door adventure beckoned. I explored my own neighbourhood and in partnership with Wellness Walkers Trust I lead two tours of Caversham, each attended by just shy of fifty people. It’s heartening to know that even as so many decry New Zealand history as “boring”, there’s still so much interest in our local heritage.
That brings me to today. Something drastic was required to get me out of my 2019 rut, so I’ve seized upon an intention I’ve had for at least two years, and taken myself away from the complications and responsibilities of my life in New Zealand to the tiny nation of Niue. Here in the Red House of Avatele I hope to find the time to catch up on my reading, writing and adventuring. Best news yet – no sign of the Adventurer’s Curse!
Looking to the future, I have begun to make concrete plans once more as I emerge from this time of uncertainty. I have two grand adventures planned which I hope will eventuate over the next year – one to seek my earliest New Zealand ancestors in Taranaki, and another very ambitious adventure to the USA and Europe, for reasons I hope you’ll stick around to learn.
This blog is about place, and in the end it seems so much comes down to that very thing. When my world is crumbling around me I can seek refuge in the place of my childhood, or the place of my ancestors, or perhaps a place that allows me to throw off all such ties. The common thread is that each sort of place connects me with something greater than myself, with what has gone before, and with the promise of a future.
Readers, what place is your anchor? Where do you go in times of trouble, to connect with the past and the future?