Gloworms are really cool. They hang on in the insides of damp caves full of stalactites (the hangy down ones) and stalagmites (the pokey up ones) – which are also really beautiful. They have little lights to attract their prey & the brighter the light the hungrier the worm.
In some caves where lots of glowroms are hanging out, they actually look like the Milky Way and I think it’s definitely something you have to see for yourself if you can…I don’t have a camera good enough to capture it. Also, I’m not convinced I’d be able to capture the feeling!
I’m the kind of person who never really gets bored of staring at something so beautiful in nature. I get a lot of happiness from little things like this and I’m glad about that.
Round two: on to the times when solo travelling can be ace!
I remember almost desperately hunting down blogs about solo female travelling before I left the UK back in 2015. I had never done ANY travelling by myself and was about to embark on just a teeny couple of weeks by myself in India and Bali. My Dad thought I was going to get kidnapped (admittedly he never said these exact words but I saw it in that worried expression I got whenever I spoke about my trip), which wasn’t the most helpful thing. The blogs I read were super positive and practical. Pretty much every article ended with something along the lines of: solo travelling was the best experience and helped them to understand themselves better. A little bit Eat Pray Love, but I am totally cool with trying to figure out the inner workings of my brain. I’d felt a bit cheated when my first bit of solo travelling didn’t provide me immediately with all the answers I wanted about myself. Classic impatient millennial.
Fast-forward 18 months to a slightly more chilled out, potentially wiser, more confident and happier-in–my-own-skin me planning a solo trip after previously swearing against them.
I travelled around the Northland (The North of NZ’s North Island, how many times can I get North in here?!) without a moment of hesitation. I had a car. I had a bivy tent. I had a box of food. A little stove. Most importantly I was actually excited to be hanging out by myself.
I was at Cape Reinga at about 5 in the afternoon, the sun was still pretty high in the sky and there were only a handful of other people there. Cape Reinga is the most Northern point of NZ. It’s where the Pacific ocean meets the Tasman sea which is an awesome sight. For Maori people Te Rerenga Wairua (Cape Reinga) is where their spirits travel to after death to bid farewell to the land and return to their ancestors land, Hawaiiki-A-Nui. It is a spiritual place. The sound of the ocean and being on the tip of the NZ was a beautiful experience and whilst I wanted to share it with the people I love, it was also humbling to be there alone. I felt a huge sense of peace at Cape Reinga.
I camped at a pretty empty campsite next to the ocean with no phone signal. Dinner was pasta and a can of tuna. I slept in a tiny tent that was actually meant for storing bags in and wasn’t sealed. The sleep was terrible and I woke up in a wet tent with a zillion bug buddys (bugs make me unhappy but I appreciate their importance in the world, so I juuuuuust about tolerate them, if they’re not touching me) but weirdly I wasn’t even vaguely phased. I just got up and moved onto the next place.
I visited beautiful, empty beaches where I really was the only person. It was extremely calming. The North is vast and it feels quite empty but there is an abundance of natural beauty that gives me this kind of achy feeling in my heart. I arrived back from this little trip happy to see people, but glad that I had experienced these places by myself. I felt like I got at least a little bit of what those blogs were saying that I’d read 18 months before. I was totally stoked that I had returned feeling a weird sense of accomplishment and a thirst for more travel.
Two different trips. On both I couldn’t believe how amazing and varied the land is in NZ, I couldn’t get enough of the ocean and I loved driving through the many small towns. But the emotions attached to each trip were entirely different – anxious vs. happy. Sometimes I think I might be absolutely bat shit crazy. Other times I’m grateful that I have this polarising range of emotions within me. I feel like without these I would be like a human slug (love you long time slugs) and whilst this may make my life easier from an overthinking point of view, I also feel it would make it crazy dull.
It’s amazing when travelling leaves you feeling super content and you enjoy every second, but it’s also okay when it doesn’t and you don’t. Both experiences are valid and I’m learning to embrace it all.
(I’m experimenting with putting the pictures in, it has the potential to look a bit shit ha! Humble iPhone photos by moi)
This is the first of two posts about travelling around NZ by myself and how travelling in general isn’t always the best time of your life, not because anything particularly bad happens, but because your brain decides to riddle you with anxiety.
Raglan is a beautiful little coastal town on New Zealand’s North Island renowned for being a great surf spot. (I went surfing once in Bali where I shared the ocean with a dead chicken which was incredibly off-putting, believe it or not). There are heaps of other adventurous things to do in Raglan like kayaking, paddle boarding, caving, rock climbing and hiking and these are pretty heavily advertised around the town. This is a place where you come with your mates and do fun shit. There is a relaxed, holiday vibe and all the Kiwis I’ve met rave about it.
I arrived there on a grey Wednesday afternoon. I was slowly making my way home and had planned to have a day there. The oracle (aka iPhone) had predicted a miserable forecast of rain, like continuous rain for the next 24 hours. Those little rainclouds all had 100% underneath them. NZ summer at it’s finest. I’d kind of missed the boat on doing any activities for the day so searched out some yoga classes instead. I drove to one about 10 minutes away which was atop a hill with beautiful views of the ocean, but when I got there I realised it more like a retreat and freaked out a little about all the yogis that were there. I found another yoga class here to go to and it was super chill, the teacher was lovely and there were hardly any people there which was kind of perfect for me. I felt physically good afterwards but my brain still hadn’t caught up.
I sat in my car after the class and the rain started to pour. I couldn’t decide on staying in a hostel or my tent. I really wanted to drive back to the city because I wasn’t feeling hanging out on my own, but I was also stuck with the thought that I should be having a good time and I should be doing fun stuff. This is point that I figured out that I’d had this building sense of anxiety all day – it had been staring me in the face. Anxious me does not want to engage with people I don’t know or do any activities. Anxious me struggles to make little decisions. Anxious me feels like a failure and worries too much what other people think. I phoned a hostel but they were booked out so I decided to drive back to the city. I felt like a bit of a loser but knew I’d made the right choice for me at that time. I also realise that going home is not always the answer.
I can laugh about the fact that I essentially went to a super cool place in NZ had a coffee and a sandwich, did a yoga class and then drove home. PRETTY RADICAL. Similar experiences include the time in India I ordered a take away pizza which I then ate alone in my homestay room and hanging out in a shopping mall in Malaysia all day because the air-con was great.
I think that for me, it was better to not try and force myself to have a good time when I really wasn’t feeling it. Life is not going to be fun all of the time, despite what social media will lead us to believe. When you are travelling round there is sometimes a pressure that you should always be seeing new things and doing things and they should always all be incredible. Oh and you should always Instagram them (don’t get me wrong I love IG). The times like this when things don’t quite work out how I’d imagined don’t negate the awesome times I’ve had. It’s all relative. I’m sure that one day I’ll go back to Raglan and do some of that fun stuff and I’ll make sure I Instagram the shit out of it too.
(Side note: I’m fully aware my life is pretty easy and brilliant most of the time, pesky anxiety doesn’t give a shit about that though and I believe in being honest about feelings)
(Also: I managed to distract myself from some of the anxiety by listening to the Women of the Hour podcast which one of my amigas introduced me too. Go check it out, they cover some important topics and you get to listen to some amazing, inspiring women. It makes me laugh and cry.)