Michelle Reflects On New Zealand’s Beauty Despite Having Few Good Pictures To Show For It

I thought to break up the monotony of bad news and Virus discussions I would take everyone back to a simpler time. Close your eyes and take a deep breath, then open them back up because otherwise, you can’t read the rest of this blog.

Now, with your eyes open, imagine you’re walking down a runway toward a plane with your carry-on in tow. You find your seat, pack your stuff away in the overhead compartment, and settle in for a long flight. Are you there on the plane with me? Great. Now imagine it’s the year 2016. I had just decided to try my hand at a fresh start in the stunning country of New Zealand, and I was on the plane you just imagined with a flutter of butterflies in my stomach. I applied for a work visa and was granted a glorious year to make a place for myself in the great unknown of a truly majestic country, and make a name I did. Well, I made a mark, which in my opinion is just as good.

My first few weeks there were a whirlwind of adventures, epic scenery, and very drunken nights. If you’ve had the good luck to visit Queenstown (which is where I was staying), then you already know how much fun this little lakeside town is. If you haven’t gotten then chance to visit yet, make sure it is at the top of your trip list when things eventually go back to normal. For now, I thought I’d share some of my experiences in hopes it brings a smile to your face and gets you excited for a little adventure, even if that is just to your backyard to watch the stars under the deep blue midnight sky.

Staring off into the distance thinking deep thoughts, definitely not eagerly debating what kind of wine to consume later. Definitely just deeeeeep, deep thoughts.

Once I settled in to life among the kiwis (and English and Aussies and every other nationality imaginable), I got a job selling excursions and tours across the north and South Island. One of the perks of my job was getting to enjoy some of the excursions, and the one I will absolutely never forget is river surfing. Let me set the scene: you head out to a river filled with small (but intense) rapids, where you gear up in floating wet suits, helmets, life vests, and your very own ‘surfboard.’ It is actually more of a boogie board and the idea of that being the main thing that will get you through the fast paced rapids is more than a little daunting. After a quick safety spiel (which includes something about letting a whirlpool pull you under should you get stuck in one and it’ll hopefully just pop you back out- they are a whole different level of ballsy out there), you’re taken into the river by a guide. From there, it is anyone’s guess if what I really did was surf the river or almost die from swallowing half of it, but the pictures at the end were more than enough to prove there is a thin line between fun and fear. 

Pictured: Michelle really getting acquainted with the “thin line” between fun and fear. We may open this one up for a caption contest.

While I can honestly say it was terrifying at points, it was like nothing I’d ever done before. While in Queenstown, I also got to try hang-gliding, electric bikes mixed with traditional biking across a stunning island- where I nearly almost died again when I pressed the gas on my bike that I wasn’t actually sitting on and let it drag me to the edge of a cliff- horse riding, sky diving and a variety of other adventures. The year I spent in NZ pushed me so far out of my comfort zones that I came back a completely different person- a person who forced herself to try different things despite being afraid.

Apparently also became a completely different person between the photo of me rafting and this photo.

The reason I switched gears in this blog and brought up a trip from years ago to a foreign country instead of our usual piece is to urge you to fight fear during these trying times. Be safe at all costs, and take precautions to keep yourself and loved ones protected, but do not be afraid to create tiny adventures that challenge your courage and bring back an inkling of excitement that may have felt lost during the shutdown. Take a short road trip to a new place (as long as you’re comfortable and can find semi-isolated areas, which we are happy to help with and consider ourselves pros at). If a trip doesn’t feel right yet, take up a new hobby that you’ve always been too afraid to try. Or simply go outside your house and set down some pillows and blankets under the expansive sky and take in all there is to be thankful for to change the tide of fearful thoughts running through your mind. If my trip to New Zealand taught me anything, it was that pushing myself in ways I never had before was an adventure in itself, and it has helped me during these wild times to find wonder in the smallest tasks or trips. I hope one day soon to lead you through journeys spanning far and wide, but until then we are right here with you, still seeking the magical and wonderful side of life.

Ugh, remember wineries? Remember the lower half of peoples faces?


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