:: adventure :: New Zealand part 3 :: fiordland

“So lovely was the loneliness of a wild lake.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe 

The Doubtful Sound awes you with its scale and beauty.
Vertiginous mountains rise straight out of the water, clouds hovering their tops, smothered in thick rainforest of fern and podocarp trees. Sheer cliffs at sharp angles stoically impose their presence, often with waterfalls starting so high that the water becomes mist on before it reaches the ground.

It’s magical here. Mystical even. A place that has essentially remained unchanged since it was discovered by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. After months of exploration up and down the entangled waters that snake their way into the mountains and sub-aquatic valleys of the South Island’s fiords, Cook was doubtful he’d be able to find his way back to the ocean from this maze of epic but rugged waterlogged beauty. He named it Doubtful Harbour.

It’s so calm and peaceful. On average it’s 400m deep (1300ft), and with protection from off & on shore winds, it’s surface is often glassy and mirror-flat. Because it’s logistically difficult to get to, tourist numbers are minimal with only a few boats sailing it’s expanse at any one time. We didn’t see another boat the 4 hours we sailed The Sound’s pristine waters.

It’s status as marine & nature reserve ensure the only inhabitants are dolphins, fur seals, native birds like the kiwi, weta and morepork and the world’s rarest little penguin the Fiordland Crested Penguin. We stopped for a while and saw this beautiful little couple…

We cruise aboard Real Journey’s Patea Explorer. It’s freezing outside, the mix of wind from sailing across the water and the light rain whipping around us boring through the layers of clothing and chilling us to the bone. But it makes for a more authentic experience; us in the elements, engulfed by the wildness and remoteness of The Sound.  

The captain announces that we’re anchoring at a sound reserve for a few minutes to experience the true nature of Doubtful Sound’s moniker ‘Sounds of Silence’. I can’t quite explain the experience of pure silence from static noise. Bobbing aboard a boat in the middle of a mirror lake, surrounded by 4,000ft of forested mountain walls, with only the occasional call of a bird and the distant rush of a waterfall is incredible. Your ears ring in the silence, your throat catches and your chest aches with pure wonder. It’s soulful.

If you get a chance, you need to experience this place for yourself.

***

We stay in the closest town, a 2 hour journey by boat & bus, nestled on the shore of NZ’s second largest lake, in the peaceful little town of Te Anau.

We stay at a little motel; Lakeside Motel and Apartments, our room is on the ground floor that looks out to the most amazing view, below.


 The motel owners really love their garden and all their care is evident, the trees are neatly pruned, the grass is short and intensely green and the tulips are an explosion of colour; a welcome contrast against they endless grey-blue of the lake and surrounding mountains.

The first night we eat at a little pizza place where the owner’s 12 year old son pours our beers from the bar tap, and the food is simple but homey and welcoming. The next night we have take-away fish’n’chips sitting on the dock overlooking the waves and watching the day’s last rays of sun shimmer on their rippling peaks. It’s a quiet town, simple in its beauty and lovely how it doesn’t try to be anything flashy.


 It’s the gateway to one of the most transcendent places on earth, so it doesn’t need to be.

***

Read [Part 1] or [Part 2]

//all photos my own//

:: adventure :: New Zealand part 3 :: fiordland

“So lovely was the loneliness of a wild lake.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe 

The Doubtful Sound awes you with its scale and beauty.
Vertiginous mountains rise straight out of the water, clouds hovering their tops, smothered in thick rainforest of fern and podocarp trees. Sheer cliffs at sharp angles stoically impose their presence, often with waterfalls starting so high that the water becomes mist on before it reaches the ground.

It’s magical here. Mystical even. A place that has essentially remained unchanged since it was discovered by Lieutenant James Cook in 1770. After months of exploration up and down the entangled waters that snake their way into the mountains and sub-aquatic valleys of the South Island’s fiords, Cook was doubtful he’d be able to find his way back to the ocean from this maze of epic but rugged waterlogged beauty. He named it Doubtful Harbour.

It’s so calm and peaceful. On average it’s 400m deep (1300ft), and with protection from off & on shore winds, it’s surface is often glassy and mirror-flat. Because it’s logistically difficult to get to, tourist numbers are minimal with only a few boats sailing it’s expanse at any one time. We didn’t see another boat the 4 hours we sailed The Sound’s pristine waters.

It’s status as marine & nature reserve ensure the only inhabitants are dolphins, fur seals, native birds like the kiwi, weta and morepork and the world’s rarest little penguin the Fiordland Crested Penguin. We stopped for a while and saw this beautiful little couple…

We cruise aboard Real Journey’s Patea Explorer. It’s freezing outside, the mix of wind from sailing across the water and the light rain whipping around us boring through the layers of clothing and chilling us to the bone. But it makes for a more authentic experience; us in the elements, engulfed by the wildness and remoteness of The Sound.  

The captain announces that we’re anchoring at a sound reserve for a few minutes to experience the true nature of Doubtful Sound’s moniker ‘Sounds of Silence’. I can’t quite explain the experience of pure silence from static noise. Bobbing aboard a boat in the middle of a mirror lake, surrounded by 4,000ft of forested mountain walls, with only the occasional call of a bird and the distant rush of a waterfall is incredible. Your ears ring in the silence, your throat catches and your chest aches with pure wonder. It’s soulful.

If you get a chance, you need to experience this place for yourself.

***

We stay in the closest town, a 2 hour journey by boat & bus, nestled on the shore of NZ’s second largest lake, in the peaceful little town of Te Anau.

We stay at a little motel; Lakeside Motel and Apartments, our room is on the ground floor that looks out to the most amazing view, below.

 The motel owners really love their garden and all their care is evident, the trees are neatly pruned, the grass is short and intensely green and the tulips are an explosion of colour; a welcome contrast against they endless grey-blue of the lake and surrounding mountains.

The first night we eat at a little pizza place where the owner’s 12 year old son pours our beers from the bar tap, and the food is simple but homey and welcoming. The next night we have take-away fish’n’chips sitting on the dock overlooking the waves and watching the day’s last rays of sun shimmer on their rippling peaks. It’s a quiet town, simple in its beauty and lovely how it doesn’t try to be anything flashy.


 It’s the gateway to one of the most transcendent places on earth, so it doesn’t need to be.

***

Read [Part 1] or [Part 2]

//all photos my own//

death & what comes next

for the few weeks after my husband’s father died, there was this overwhelming feeling of numbness.

all these emotions were just under the surface, but I couldn’t access them, or maybe I didn’t want to.

when I admit it, Rudi has been dying for three years; his body first fighting cancer of the bowel (defeated!), then lung cancer (holding like in a stasis, not obliterated but not advancing forward) then finally after swelling & subsiding & swelling again, 11 months after the cancer invades the kidneys, he is overrun and can no longer fight back.

Fuck cancer.

when the doctors said that his kidneys were shutting down, we flew, me a few days after my husband who was there with his sisters on a hospital bedside vigil. when I arrived 3 days before he passed, I don’t know if he knew it was me. his eyesight was very depreciated and the toxins that were building up in his body were causing hallucinations. everyone was packed into the small hospital room; Rudi’s two daughters, his niece, his two sisters who arrived from NZ, comings and goings of 6 grandkids, a son-in-law, me the daughter-in-law and his son, my husband. when we all arrived his wife ceased coming to the hospital. it caused tension but was not addressed but in the weeks after he’s passed, Jay and his sisters are no longer speaking to their mum. they are angry and don’t understand how she could stop visiting her husband in hospital. i don’t understand either, but i can imagine it would be a combination of things; acceptance of the inevitable, complete exhaustion for being the primary caregiver for years, withdrawal from being overwhelmed by so many people when she’s so used to being alone in that remote location. or maybe she’s just a terrible person. I don’t think so. I don’t know. no-one else knows the intimate details of a marriage that lasted 49 years. I don’t want to judge.

sometimes I forget that he’s gone. I see something and go to tell Jay that we should tell his dad about it. I remember just before I say something or sometimes halfway through the sentence.

these emotions are accessible through the numb surface now. it’s like a cloud of feelings. there all at once but slightly indiscernible, like you grasp onto one emotion and before you can fully feel it, it bleeds into another. a jumble of sadness, loss, anger, regret, denial, acceptance, relief. it’s almost too much to put into words.

my friend Grace has always spoken about ‘love languages’; how each of us naturally express and receive love. my love language is action. I show my love through doing things for those I love. at the farm, while my husband and sisters spent every moment, awake and asleep, next to their father, I became the General of the household. I organised people into teams for Duty; food, washing, bedding, runs to the hospital with provisions, airport run to collect family members, gardening, etc. I felt useful and in control. everything around me could fall apart but I could control something. if I could have gone into his body and cut out the cancer I would have. I still didn’t believe he would actually die. neither did Jay.

Rudi came home to die. his grandkids built a bonfire outside of his room, which he saw momentarily before his eyesight was gone completely. the night he came home, he slipped into a coma before taking his last breath two hours later. Jay was holding Rudi’s hand when his fight ended. that’s what it was; a fight that he didn’t want to give into to. three years of subpar health, but three additional years.

my husband is broken. he can’t deal with this noxious cloud of emotions. last week he was at breaking point. he’s agreed to see a councillor to discuss his feelings. he signed up to do it the 21st century way; counselling via phone & email. hey, I’m just proud and relieved that he’s seeking help. everyone deals with things differently. It breaks my heart to see him hurting so much. It breaks my heart that I can’t take care of this; that I can’t take his pain away. he’s a man of few words which especially doesn’t bode well during times of emotional turmoil. I do know that he won’t feel this raw forever. I don’t think that time heals all wounds but it definitely makes them easier to live with.

                                                            bonfire for Rudi

collections of earth & sea


O sweet spontaneous

earth how often havethedoting          fingers ofpurient philosophers pinchedandpokedthee,has the naughty thumbof science proddedthy      beauty      .howoftn have religions takenthee upon their scraggy kneessqueezing andbuffeting thee that thou mightest conceivegods        (buttrueto the incomparablecouch of death thyrhythmiclover          thou answerestthem only with                        spring)e.e. cummings