Before I left for NZ I had many people ask me WHY. Why go all the way to NZ? Why go alone? Why right now? Depending on who was asking my answer would vary. I always meant to go there, I would say. I hear it is so beautiful, I would say. It is a pretty safe place to backpack, I would say. All of these responses were true but the most honest reason I gave anyone was that I was trying to find a place to feel quiet inside. I wanted to find some peace. I imagined moving to NZ and just sleeping for the first week in that hostel because my heart and mind were just so bloody tired. A funny thing happened when I got here though: I couldn’t rest. That first night in the hostel in Auckland I ended up sleeping on a couch in the common room because I needed the background noise. I sought company each day instead of the solitary experience I had come here for. Each bus trip earned me another character in that chapter to add to Facebook and keep in touch with. I stayed with families and made connections that have spanned the length of my trip so far.
But then, two months after I arrived in this country, on the most random day where the sun was shining and there was no schedule or plan to the day, I hiked to the top of Mt Iron in Wanaka with Dave the Upper Canadian. The peak of the mountain was set up with benches and interpretive plaques and amazing photo opps for the dozen people gathered there at noon on a Sunday. I took no photos, I did not marvel at the scenery with the crowd. I found a rock and sat down and just looked at what was around me. And I heard it…the quiet. The realization that I felt like I was exactly where I should be, all alone and looking at this giant, slow space around me brought tears to my eyes. I may have had to come all the way to New Zealand to find it, but I finally felt like my heart and my mind was resting.