Since I got to the other side of the world, I was likely to stick around for a while. After one year in Australia, I just could not ignore the proximity of New Zealand, a land I have been dreaming about for a long time. The three months a Tourist Visa can grant did not sound enough to wander around this shockingly beautiful country, so once again, as for the land of kangaroos, I went for a 1 year Working Holiday visa.
I landed in Auckland, which, apart from a few interesting sights, proved to be essentially just another by-product of western civilization in a remote, lush land. My palate was watering for nature and adventure, especially considered that I had just purchased new photography toys. So, I had the tools, and I had the will; I just needed four wheels. I believe the destiny helps who pursues his or her dreams, and that has been outrageously confirmed as soon as I stepped into my hostel’s room, an hour after I set foot in the country. On top of my bunk bed there was Marie sitting. A smile, a chat, nothing more needed to find ground to our next move: buy a van. For the sake of truth, I was quite screwed, while she had already planned to invest. Two days later, we set out on her hippie-style van.
We got the magic vehicle on a Saturday, and even though it still needed the attention of a mechanic for a few details, we decided to test it with a quick weekend trip. Just over the westernmost suburbs of Auckland lays the Waitakere Ranges Park, with several trails and the black sandy beaches of Piha and Karekare. That’s all we needed to dive into the wilderness.
The weekend off confirmed the good vibes about the van, and between the two travel mates. So, after a quick pit-stop in the big city to fix our brakes, we headed straight towards the unexploited, and warm, Northland of New Zealand.
Our destination was the idyllic Bay of Islands, an enclave consisting of steep rocky cliffs, pristine water and over 140 islands lined along the coast. Just pointing our finger randomly onto the map, we ended up staying in Russell, which turned out to be a romantic little sea port inhabited by adorable people. Nevertheless, we came to know it also represented the first colonial capital of New Zealand. It is definitely impossible to blame the settlers for picking this gorgeous spot.
After three days at Russell, mostly spent just fishing, walking onto the cliffs and generally chilling deeply, we headed onto the opposite coast, in order to visit the mystic Waipoua Forest, home of the Tāne Mahuta, a giant Kauri tree dating about 2000 years.
Māori creation mythology tells of how before light existed in the world, Ranginui, the sky-father, and Papatuanuku, the Earth-mother, were bound together in a marital embrace. But their children, including their strongest son Tāne Mahuta, felt trapped in the darkness of the world and began to crave light and space.
One day, frustrated, Tāne Mahuta laid on his back and forced his father away from his mother with his strong legs. Rangi and Papa wept and cried, but, as Tāne held his father up in the sky, light seeped into the world, and new life began to burst forth all around his feet. Tāne Mahuta helped to foster this new life, clothing his mother with vegetation. The birds and smaller trees in the forest are considered Tāne’s children.
The rugged beauty of these woods creates a magic atmosphere that makes human beings feel lost, yet secure within. A primordial feeling arises from the deep of the soul, making you feel a whole with the surrounding nature.
Photography: Matteo Fabi