Monday, April 18, 2011

80 Million Shades of Beautiful

Mr Joe and Jaques

Photo by Judith Kitzes
jmnh Two weeks on the North Island of New Zealand, and I feel infused with peace. Green, both in energy use and the abundance of trees; clean (ditto); serene - I love New Zealand. So, a quick overview of the details: Flew Air New Zealand, Premium Economy arriving Auckland April 3. Two nights Auckland at the hip Hotel De Brett. Picked up car; drove (via the back of beyond on a twisty gravel road) to Russell in the Bay of Islands, two nights at Eagles Nest in a 3 bedroom villa (entry level). Drove back to Auckland (the sensible route, via Ferry to a real road) for one night at the charming Mollies Boutique Hotel. Drove on to Taupo for one night at the iconic Huka Lodge. Drove on to Wellington for two nights at the well-located Intercontinental. Drove to Palliser Bay for two nights at Wharekauhau, a working sheep & cattle station with amazing accommodation and the warmest people. Drove on to Cape Kidnappers for one night at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers (with a world-class golf course in the top 10). And then ended back in Rotorua at the peaceful Treetops Lodge and Estate. Then flew home to LAX in Air New Zealand's new Space Seat Premium economy. It was a road trip. We put a lot of miles on the car, and by the end of the trip, the car was so covered in road dust, I could barely see it. My friend put I Love NZ (the heart shape) in the dusty back - when the car was washed rinsed, that remained for all to see. All the accommodations were amazing, not just because they are all luxury, unique and in magnificent locations. People make the difference, and New Zealanders are real, kind, and decent. They are much like MidWestern Americans in their down-to-earth nature. I found this experience to be true in each location; each restaurant; each shop. I've yet to meet an unpleasant Kiwi. I don't think they exist. That said, nothing is perfect and there were the occassional hiccups. The shower at Hotel De Brett leaks out the door - it's not set at a deep enough angle. The Intercontinental is well located but it's not a great hotel - the staff, on the other hand, is terrific. The rooms are a bit tired, the bathrooms small, but the Concierge is great, and so is overall management. The trip was well-timed: I was ready to leave a job for a new beginning. Where better to sort out the emotions of this than in the youngest (geographically) country on Earth? So many symbols of new beginnings, from active volcanoes spewing new land, to the Maori symbol of new beginning


Photo by Judith Kitzes

the Koro, the new growth on a fern. For me, everything was renewing and refreshing. But the closer the end of the trip came, the more anxious I became about returning to a job that was draining me of all energy. I had to find a way to a decision about how to leave, and I had to find a way to stay in the moment while I was in New Zealand or I would go insane. So I took photos. Lots of them. And I hope the peace stays with me when I begin my next phase this week.

May your heart always be full. Wish me luck!

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