So we're coming to the end of our trip. I'm writing this from Auckland, New Zealand knowing that we only have a few more days before embarking on the journey home. I'm thankful for the decision to spend two nights in Singapore, not only to lessen the jet lag but to also hold on to the euphoria of traveling a little bit longer.
While I've loved every place we've visited for different reasons, New Zealand has taken the biscuit in terms of unforgettable experiences and landscapes even though it is very spenny!!
What have we been doing?
Well, first off we visited some contacts on the north side of the South Island in a town called Blenheim. There we shared our journey and testimonies with a large group before attending a local young person's social event. The more we've done this, the more I realise that when I travel, I much prefer to see the place through the eyes of local people. One reason for this is learning about local heritage and history. I've been reading a book about the Māori, the indigneous population here and we were lucky enough to meet people of that heritage.
I'm not going to comment on any political issue here because I don't know enough about it. I will say that there's still a lot of pain surrounding the coming together of two cultures when Britain colonised New Zealand. However, there was a moment where we saw a seamless and joyful merging of those cultures. One of our new friends, Lawrence, is Māori and he shared with Stephen a traditional greeting called The Hongi; pressing your noses together and inhaling deeply simultaneously - so you share the same breath. This struck me as such a humbling gesture, two people coming together as equals in an intimate and spiritual moment. To be honest, on the whole, I've been struck by the spiritual nature of New Zealand, particularly through the land.
To explore more of the South Island, we hired a campervan! We drove from Christchurch, down to Franz Josef Glacier and onto Wanaka and Queenstown before heading back via Lake Tekapo. One surprise was the difference in landscapes between these places. At one point, it was like driving through Scotland to get to Australia. It was one of the best experiences and I feel like God has been talking about how he can speak through the land. Through the songs of the birds, the whistles in the wind, in the magnificence of a sheer cliff drop. To see the power and dominance of the land here has highlighted to me the spiritual aspect of nature like never before. That's something I'm taking home with me, for sure.
Oh, and another unexpected surprise! I love how on this trip things have happened that you just couldn't write. When we were at a holiday park in Lake Tekapo, we just nipped down to the lake edge and passed some public toilets and I saw a familiar face. There, getting into a campervan, was the sister of one of my best friends! Kate, who I went to university with and is still a great pal has an older sister, Claire who is traveling for six months with her boyfriend, Alfie. And there they were! Of all the places in the world and in fact, in New Zealand alone, they could have been - we crossed paths. Utter madness.
But there we are, God has a lovely way of working these things out, eh?
Hope you're well and have happy days,