Christmas in New Zealand

I felt it would be too confusing for me to spend Christmas at a sunny beach. So I chose one of the colder and higher altitude places to spend these days. And to make Christmas Eve a special day I walked the Tongariro Crossing on that day. And how it was special. The hostel I was staying at organized the shuttle to the start and the end of the hike. A group of six of us agreed to stay together for the day if we had more or less the same pace and we did. It was wonderful to feel part of this group, two men from the US who live in Perth, a young Dutch man, another woman from Germany and one from France. In the beginning there was some drizzle. We knew from the forcast that around the pass there might be snow and strong winds. I was wearing most of my clothes, woolen underwear, trousers and rain trousers over. It was very cold, thankfully the climb from about 1100m to 1800m warmed us. Near the pass the weather was crazy, hale, snow, strong winds, wind chill around -6, we hid from the wind behind rocks for short breaks, hands would freeze instantly when we took our gloves off. Some people turned back and still lots of others tramped on. The excitement of being fully immersed in the elements. For a long time we did not see anything. But then the clouds broke open and we started to have the views this hike is famous for. Some photos on facebook! Truely beautiful and then the sun came out and it was getting warm, all seasons in one day!

In the evening some of us and then others who were planning to go the trail the next day shared a table. Put ten solo travellers together at one table on Christmas and the most interesting and fun evening can emerge. Easily one of my happiest Christmas Eves.

The next day I took it very easy, a short walk in the afternoon, lots of reading, some handicraft and chatting with two ladies who were knitting.

Yesterday I took another shuttle to a small village closer to the mountains and went for a few hours walk to the so-called Tama Lakes. The closest I got to Mount Doom, in real life called Mt Ngauruhoe.

I started to think about independence. It all started with me having the impulse as I was so close to Mt Doom which in the book/movie is the place where the one ring was forged and the only place where it could be destroyed. And for the Maori these mountains here are sacred and represent the ancestors. So what deep ancestrial pattern could I let go off in the presence of this mountain?

What came up was fear of relationship. I asked the mountain what I would need to do to face this fear.

The answer: appreciate my independence. Interesting: Partly I do appreciate my independence, which allowed me to do many things, including this trip that I enjoy immensely. I put the highest value on being independent. And at the same time I dislike this part of me because I think that it kept me from holding a relationship for more than a couple of years. I put the blame for that on which I value most.

There must be some deep entanglement here as I don t get what this means and I wonder if I have to do the crossing again which includes an option to climb Mount Doom to feel and understand more.

Wondering if this is a bit too personal process oriented for my readers and at the same time smiling as I know the liberating effect of sharing in this way and my writing is probably mostly about this.

I am still sitting in the kitchen/lounge area of my super friendly and social „Christmas“ hostel, will take the bus to Turangi in just about 40 minutes to explore some hiking of this same region from there. Thus a second Crossing is possible.

Berlin – Taupo

I read the news about what happened in Berlin just before I wanted to start a long walk along the river up to a dam. It was through facebook. Somebody had posted that they were safe. Sensing some news I needed to sit down to, I did and read on. I was instantly in tears, some people around me, but they did not notice. I was considering to share with them what happened but then I did not. My feeling was to go ahead with my planned walk, earth would tell me how to face this sort of news so far away from my home town Berlin, my home for most of the last 10 years.

First I felt mostly helpless, would have liked to talk and be with my friends in Berlin as I know from similar situations that connecting and talking seems to be the only meaningful thing to do then.

But I walked on, along a beautiful trail, past the waterfall I had seen two days before. I wasn t able to connect to nature, even the waterfall seemed dull, I noticed my numbness, then after being aware of that I felt angry and sad and continued to walk. After a kind of bleak part of the trail all of a sudden nature just seemed to call out to me, abundance of green, palm trees, flowers in purple and yellow, I could see the beauty again.

Then at the dam which is opened every two hours for energy generation during the day watching the river bed fill in just 15 minutes I forgot my sadness for a while.

Then I walked the same trail back. I had packed enough food, there was nowhere on the way to stop in. I asked the earth what to do and I heard: be grateful that I am safe and well and then again and again to be grateful that I am able to be on this trip and have the experiences I am given. And send some love to Berlin.

When I came back to the camp I had walked around 23km, I was super tired, longing for a shower and some soaking in the pool, which I did. I was even wondering if I had enough power in me to get up and cook. And then I had and a man from Spain invited me to some meat he was preparing on the BBQ, I shared some of my rice and we had one of the most interesting conversations so far. He seemed to know himself so well, and he shared lots of his wisdom with me.

river

The next day, that was yesterday I did not feel like moving at all. Spent the day on one of the sunloungers at the pool, reading my book. I never spent a day like that I think, I secretly judge people who lounge around the pool like that. But yesterday I was even too tired to swim. M. who I talked to on the phone this morning helped me to see that that might have been one of my best days. I  have this judgement about myself being lazy, must be my protestant upbringing. My father had this super strict protestant work ethic which I took on completely. Well now I know how nice it can be to lounge around for a whole day. And somehow sometimes the body really seems to need rest like that so that other parts of the body/mind system can process and there was a lot to process.

Also interesting that I assume I should be able to get up everyday and walk for miles. Yes, I have been a long distance runner for many years and take pride in having run a marathon but I did not seem to get it that I need a break sometimes. Lesson learnt!

This morning finally I followed my impulse to connect with Berlin. I talked to A. who is renting my apartment while I am away. So good to connect and hear that apparently Berlin is taking in what happened in a rather mature and peaceful way. I am glad!

Over dinner last night I had a strong impulse to have a little solstice ritual. It is very confusing that I am celebrating summer solstice when most of my friends are celebrating winter solstice. I consider myself to be well travelled, however being on/in the Southern hemisphere is still very new to me, a real expansion of travel consciousness.

My little ritual felt very good and afterwards I knew that today a new phase of my life is starting.

And yes, my energy is back, I walked along the big lake, found a nice coffee place, right here actually I am sitting on a runway over the lake.

Tonight I will have dinner with somebody I met in Mt Maunganui.

Taupo

The last two days in Mount Maunganui were enchanting. Something happened. I think I am one more step towards feeling what my practice is about.

The longer I felt the Mount beside me or behind/before me when walking on the beach and the more often I climbed it, the more sacred it appeared to me. For me there is always a special feeling to climb up a mountain. Some sense of achievement, the endorphins and then the instant treat of the views and the views from up there were some of the widest, bluest, sunniest I have seen. But there was more there. In the Maori stories and legends the hills have names and some are more holy or important then others and some have moved. With this particular Mount I believe I could feel the effect it has on the people who climb it and who live close to it.

When I was waiting for the bus yesterday morning, there was a group of trees just behind me. From there I had a last direct view of the Mount and it felt like there was a connection between those trees and the Mount. Those connections need to stay in place if we want to stay sane. So that would mean also not too many tall buildings in those areas. And as far as I understand some of the healing work the Maori are doing is about lands and plants and the connection between them. A few areas they have been able to reclaim are dedicated as reserves.

For me it is good to slowly get a feeling for these things. I need to feel it, any abstract knowledge would not help me at this point I believe. I also had moments of sensing the path beneath my feet, a very sensual feeling of walking, like being caressed by the earth at the same time.

I understood one more aspect of why I am on this journey. I need the practical experience and the walking while connecting heaven and earth is very practical indeed. I can look with more ease now at all those situations when I wanted to see things applied, abstract knowledge does not satisfy me.

Some thoughts about fields. Over the weekend the now yearly so-called cave meditation took place. For 46 hours a group of people worldwide comes together in meditation. Doodle calendars where you put your name and hour when you decide to join the field in meditation give an overview who is sitting when and if every hour is covered. And I believe a few hundred people participated. This year I only joined for one hour and still could feel the effect for the full 46 hours. It is amazing, as if for this time everybody who is participating is lifted into a higher state of presence or energy, and love. Yes in those moments it is tangible that we are all connected through love. I had very blissful moments, lovely encounters, people smiled at me and then the inisghts I described above. Another beautiful taste of what is possible with presence and committed and intentional groups and fields.

On a less subtle level I took the bus to Taupo yesterday, 3 hours away from the sea now, more towards the mountain region inland and my last stop before my planned Christmas adventure in the National Park. I booked a shuttle to do the Tongariro Crossing on the 24th. This is supposed to be one of the best day hikes in the world 🙂 and this is also where the Mordor scenes of the Lord of the Rings movie were filmed. Actually I would not mind if on a rainy day I could watch all those movies again.

In Taupo I am staying on the biggest campsite so far, hundreds of powered and unpowered sites, many empty still, can t imagine them all filled. There is a huge heated swimming pool with a bar you can swim up to. I had a nice relaxing swim after my hike to the Huka Falls in the afternoon. We are at the Waikato river here, the longest in NZ, its power is adding 15% of NZ energy.

Today the forecast was for rain, so I went down into town and to the lake. A sign advertising not so expensive haircuts got my attention and without much further thinking I had my hair washed and cut. Feeling like new and soon ready for the local museum after a comfortable break in this coffee place with a sofa, always great for having a bit of a home away from home feeling.

I am now back at the campsite. After the museum I did some food shopping and cooking. No more eating out for a few days as I spent my money on a new swimsuit to meet the local pool standards and as I am doing much more swimming then I had imagined.

Magic Mount

My last evening in this beach town. Just walked around the little city center, first along the harbour side, then back on the beach side. A magical evening after a very busy day (for the town). There was a race today at the beach which I watched first from the mount then from the beach. First running, then kayaking, then paddling.Lots of participants. Also two more cruise ships. I have seen four of them during this week, stop for the day then leaving until only a dot on the ocean. In the afternoon a few paragliders used the clear air to fly from the mount to the beach. I come to the conclusion that the mount is sacred, it seems to look after the town. I have been up twice today and brought my blessings up again this evening. Feeling fulfilled and happy now. Off to Taupo tomorrow morning. Will miss this place I feel although I will be happy to get out of the constant music and noise from the hot pools.

Mount Maunganui

Dec 16th

More than a week since my last post. Wow, Rotorua and all around it really got to me.
I spent some days with friends of a friend of my friend M. Which was good, A very enlightening constellation afternoon in Whakatane. After the workhop I received a lift with D. to beautiful Mount Maunganui where I am still staying. I also had dinner with her and her family and one night in a most comfortable bed. Thank you D! The next morning I moved to the local campground. I had hoped for sun and beach and nice walking to recover from recent upheaval. And that is what I am getting. 🙂 I have been eating well too, some camping cooking and no more scones … Eating out more here as the kitchen area in the camp is ok but not made to relax. Most guests here come for the whole summer I found out and they have their campervans and big tents with own eating spaces.

And eating out options are good here. Although I still have not understood why cafes are closing at 3pm or at the latest 4pm when I would be ready to eat around 5pm. But I found a Turkish eating place with good food that does not follow local time tables. I am also still expecting to find nice little eating and cafe places at the end of my long beach walks. But no, there is either nothing or a shed style building with a little shop or sometimes a posh restaurant. This is my European travel experiences interfering I notice and how I found those old little harbour villages always beautiful and comforting. But this is New! Zealand which is indeed a very new country, populated probably only for a max of 1000 years and most of old Maori settlements destroyed. The whole land is kind of new as I experienced in Rotorua where the ground is still boiling and moving.

And the focus can be on the direct nature experience here which most people come for. I would just wish for a more elegant „Übergang“ between nature and modern NZ life. It feels violent to me at times.

And I keep finding my little comfort niches. A cafe, run by a couple from China with excellent food and tea with a free 60MB internet voucher. I really enjoy staying in one place for a whole week. I slowly get to know my camping neighbours, shops and find my favorite spots at the beach. I enjoy getting a feel for the town and this town seems to be very sports oriented.

They have this Mount here, 223 m high, right at the end of town, of the beach of everything. Nice trails up and some of the best views I have seen, endless ocean, islands, mountains in the distance.

mount_manganui_mount

The mount doubles as a gym for locals, running groups, young mamas with their babies on the back, I have never seen so many fit people. There must be a high peer pressure in town to be fit, many seem to walk up the Mount every morning. Me too. It is a good start into the day.

Two days ago I walked 12km along the beach away from the Mount, barefoot, a real treat and it felt good, my feet feel awesome since then.

Then yesterday I met D. again for a morning meditation thing she offers every Thursday. We did a 11 direction ceremony with shells at the beach, beautiful. It confirmed my impulse to start to take more care of my back which has been hurting recently. I used to have my daily exercise routine for my back but I have been slack with it because I felt I am getting enough exercise anyway and then I have to get used to doing the exercises somewhere outside where people can see me. It is still about this, what will they think … Well this morning I exercised on the grass in front of my tent and a neighbouring camper came up to congratulate me on my fitness 🙂 so will focus on the possibility to inspire people.

Yesterday I treated myself to a massage and a soak in the hot pools (37-39 degrees). My tent is on a terrace up a slope of the mount and I can hear the playing children in the pool and music of the morning aerobic classes as if I was there anyway, so wanted to try it. I might have overdone it, hot salt and mineral water seem to have a strong effect on my body. Could not sleep and instead read my current book Zorro by Isabel Allende with my torch. Which was kind of nice too. I do like my little tent and the world I can create inside.

Surfing is taught at high school here. I watched some lessons on the beach. Looks like hard training, before they get to go on the board they run in the sand, jump into the waves, then paddle out, in, run again. Lots of stamina needed for this sport. And they do sea kayaking here. I would join a kayaking club if I was living here.

More things to write about in my head and I will stop here and load the post up and possibly write more tonight.

Photos are available on my facebook page.

Rotorua – Slow and Sad because of geothermal activity?

Dec 6th

Today I arrived in Rotorua. I am discovering a new area, now south of Auckland, still on the North Island of NZ. I made a stop for one night in Hamilton, I was curious about the city and wanted to check if it is a good place for my last night before I fly out of Auckland again. I found it to be quite nice, there is a river walk, wide streets and friendly people. However, somehow the night was difficult for me. I woke up at 4am from a very vivid dream. In the dream I met my first boy friend again, he looked good, was with a woman who looked like Jennifer Lopez. But we met and that was good and important. I was very sad after the meeting noticing the love we had had and remembering how I was just not at all prepared for us when I met him in France when I was 17. In the dream my mother was there to be with me and my sadness. I don t remember her being like that while she was alive. It felt so good. It feels like a shift has happened, things can indeed change also in the past, the dream felt powerful and healing.

This morning I felt ok after tea and breakfast, but when I left the hostel for another stroll through the town I had a small crisis. I only noticed when I went to the museum and was very irritated that every five minutes I was approached by somebody who wanted to help me. I asked if I could please be left alone, the being so triggered made me aware of how I felt. I left the museum and was suddenly very weak. Thought that maybe my usual NZ treat, tea and scone would help. But I did not find a scone place, then saw a Starbucks and went in for the comfort zone feeling I was hoping for. But no, they did not have the usual Starbucks tea selection – what is the point of chains if you can t get the same drink in every country cried the troubled part in me. I was served green tea with mint, I spoke up because I had understood that it would be pure green tea, the manager came to me, he really tried to help and brought me a different tea, he was nice, but still I would have liked to go back home and stay in my room for the day and cry, only I did not have a home and needed to be at the bus 30 min later. In these moments travelling seems challenging.

After 1,5 hours on the bus (5,5 hours yesterday) arriving in Rotorua, I felt a little better, still not really up for camping as the forcast is for rain the next two days, I tried one hostel but then settled for a seemingly very nice camping site and looking forward to the night in my tent.

Travelling by bus and being in cities gets to me easily, really my perfect travelling would be just walking and mostly in the nature. This is also why I was so fascinated with the Te Araroa walkers. And I just don t feel up to the challenge of carrying 12-15kg on small trails. So, still looking for my perfect balance. I will keep trying to find small towns as a base to start my walks from.

Something else I wanted to share. The situation in Standing Rock had moved me deeply for the last few weeks. I did say my prayers for them daily and then on my last day in Whangerei I had the impulse to dedicate the whole day of walking practice to a good outcome at Standing Rock. Around 20km total and on my way back to the camping place I choose to add another loop up a hill because it just seemed to be neccessary.
I was very happy to hear the next morning that for the moment the building of the pipeline has been stopped. This really feels like an important step. And of course I have no idea if my walking helped. And I am sure thousands of people felt called to pray and walk or do what they do to join the field. I think this is a way how things can be moved in the subtle worlds.

And maybe me joining into global movements like this triggers also some personal healing, ie. the dream I had.

After some highs yesterday, enjoying ever more hobbit/shire like landscapes outside the bus (we are close to Hobbiton here, the movie set for the Hobbit movies), I felt very lonely the whole day, for a few days it did not seem easy to connect to other travellers. And no wonder if I even ask people to leave me alone …

Tomorrow hopefully I am ready for a day of walking in the nearby Redwood Reserve.

Next day

No, not ready for walking, I started out from the campground, then sort of broke down crying 200m further on. I sat on a bench, waited until crying was over, then the sun came out, yeah and I lay on the ground in the sun until I felt I could continue. Walked slowly, had one strange encounter, more sitting on the ground. The afternoon I spent in a coffee place I had discovered yesterday, they had a comfortable sofa for me to sit on and soft music playing. I spent some time in facebook and found one post with comics about sayings in different languages. A Swedish one really got me, I keep breaking out in laughter, this crazy laughter at the edge to crying, when I think of it. I shared it on my fb page. „to slide in on a prawn sandwich“ meaning „having an easy life“ 🙂 🙂 Thank you to whoever posted that, got me out of my strange mood.

I bought lemon and some spices and now drinking healthy teas with ginger to recover.

I forgot to mention that in Rotorua there is a lot of geothermal activity. All over the place water holes, boiling and smoking. Maybe that adds to my current emotional instability. Certainly not so firm grounds here. Interesting, I do react to the ground underneath, feeling best on a rocky ground like I experienced in South Sinai. Hmm, this place obviously brings me to some new edges.

Whangarei

Nov 29th

Time for a new post. I am in Whangerei now, staying in a small camping and hostel place outside of town, close to some nice trails and close to the Whangarei falls.

I had a few low key day, yesterday I hitchhiked to the coast (Tutukaka with access to as advertised some of the best diving experiences if you go out to the Pour Knights Islands), no diving for me. I walked along a few small and empty beaches, feet in water and then slept in the sand. My practice also works sitting or lying down. The regenerating effect of lying on the sand and imagining to be a connection between heaven and earth is amazing.

Speaking of wholeness the people I met while hitchhiking have been interesting. In the morning after literally half a minute of waiting, a young woman gave me a lift to Matapouri, approx. 30km up the coast. She told me she is a farmer, raising sheep and beef for meat production. On the way back, a butcher gave me a lift, he was in surfing gear, telling me about getting up at 4 in the morning, to start work at 4.30am and having the afternoon free to follow his surfing hobby. In the evening I chatted with two vets, one of them responsible for checking regulations also in the meat production. And then this morning a chef from Argentina, who praised how well he gets payed in NZ and that he plans to stay here and how he loves his job. They might all be handling the same piece of meat. Sorry vegetarians and vegans ….

This afternoon Ken, who runs a company which produces pies, to add to the whole picture, gave me a lift back to my temporary home.

Today I walked on a part of the Te Araroa trail, 14km total, first on the road, then a beautiful trail through bush and over fields. Part of the trail building must have been very hard and the result is wonderful. I keep meeting hikers doing the whole trail, actually met a couple today who I had met in Ahipara over a week ago.

the_trail

 

Dec 3rd

Lots of beautiful walking since I wrote the first part of this post. It is good to stay at on place for a week to explore and get to know the surroundings a bit. Have been out to the Tutukaka Coast two more times, more Te Araroa trails, I reported on Facebook …

On Thursday I must have walked for 30km, a super beautiful track along the coast. I had put my mind to reaching a little place called Whananaki, the last bit was over the longest footbridge in the Southern hemisphere and at the end of that I knew from my Loney planet book that there would be a shop. They even had hot tea and I so enjoyed my tea and lots of biscuits. Oh, the joys of eating as much as you want as the body will burn it all anyway 🙂 And I noticed my tendency to become competetive with myself, how long I can walk. Hmm. And I also listen when it is time for rest like today.

I am very happy that my body seems to heal while walking, legs and knees are doing fine.

I had many highs on that beautiful long walk. At some point I was so taken by the beauty of nature around me that I started „drinking“ the different colors. They are there for us to heal I believe.

Yesterday I spent the day with T., a friend of my NZ friend M. She happens to live just 2km away from my camping site. She took me for a drive to another beautiful coast in this area. We had a wonderful time and I felt very lucky indeed. She connected me to another lady doing constellations near Rotorua where I am heading to anyway next week. So will be taking a constellation workshop next Saturday and meet more locals. Things are flowing well.

And I started to connect with a tree on the way to the city center which I am looking forward to meet again this afternoon after I posted this.