I’ve seen an obscene amount of beauty since arriving in New Zealand.
After a week here, I caught a bus to Taylor’s Mistake Beach and became overwhelmed by nature’s beauty for the first time since leaving the US. I’d never stood on a cliff overlooking dark blue waves that crashed continuously on the black rocks beneath me.
I then traveled to Lake Tekapo and saw the most incredible stars that lit up an ominous black sky.
Swimming in Lake Pukaki’s electric blue water and then falling asleep in my hammock just a few feet from the water’s edge gave me a tranquil mind.
At Lake Taylor I opened my tent to the sight of a fiery orange and red sunrise.
In Kiakora I witnessed baby seal pups playing in the pool beneath a waterfall.
I visited Hobbiton where my surroundings made me feel like I was living among Frodo and Sam from Lord of the Rings.
At Cape Reinga I watched the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean collide and become one.
I hiked to the top of Mount Doom during the Tongaririo Alpine Crossing and gazed at the inside of an active volcano.
When standing on Mare’s Leg Cove I was able to walk through a cave to bury my feet in the sand at the renowned Cathedral Cove.
All of these locations are widely recognized throughout New Zealand as incredibly beautiful places that travelers must visit. All of them except one: Taylor’s Mistake. Taylor's Mistake is the first place in New Zealand that made me pause and stand still, just quietly acknowledging it's beauty. Sure it's a place that locals in Christchurch would recommend people to visit, but it hasn't recieved recognition from magazines or articles like the other locations have.
As I continue to travel through New Zealand, I have had to become mindful of what beauty is and where it is found. I started asking myself why I find some parts of nature more beautiful than others? I also realized it was getting harder to be blown away by the scenery around me. Why did I find Taylor’s Mistake Beach insanely striking in January, but now I find myself overlooking it’s beauty.
I realized I was becoming a traveler who only saw beauty in what the guidebooks directed me to look at.
I was looking at the earth but forgetting to live in it. I was forgetting to focus on the emotions that nature can produce in my soul. I wasn’t accepting the prizes that the earth wanted me to receive.
It isn’t the height of a waterfall that makes it remarkable. It isn’t the depth of the pool beneath it or the color of the water. It is its loveliness, purity, and power that makes it beautiful.
It is the way that a clear, starry night makes me feel like a tiny part of the universe that is twirling all around me. This feeling of being small allows me to stay humbled, and become a person who is focused on being kind, and having a servant heart towards others.
This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned since being in New Zealand. Being constantly exposed to the infinite beauty of New Zealand’s most popular landmarks shouldn’t blind my eyes from beauty that isn’t presented in the guidebooks. It should allow me to spot beauty in places that others may overlook.
I have two months left in New Zealand and I hope to take my own advice and focus more on what the earth can do for my soul, and less on how photogenic the scenery is.
“Keep close to Nature’s heart, and break clear away, once in while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your Spirit clean.” –John Muir
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<p>I'm Caroline, a native to Southern California, and a student at Texas Christian University. I'm studying Social Work and hope to eventually work in the field of child welfare, where I'll give children who haven't had the best start to their lives a chance to be successful. I love to play soccer, surf, go on backpacking trips, and eat delicious, healthy food. I'm hoping to meet new people, explore as many places in New Zealand as I can, and gain cultural awareness through my experience abroad. I'm ready for some new adventures and in New Zealand, those aren't hard to find.</p>