“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world” – Mary Anne Radmacher
I’m baaaack! And New Plymouth is just as glorious as it was two years ago 🙂
For those of you that don’t know… I decided to quit my job, sell my car, and travel back to the place that felt most like home. The place that I’m referring to is New Zealand. And if we’re getting really specific, it’s New Plymouth (a small coastal city on the West coast of New Zealand’s North Island). This is actually the third time I’ve written about New Plymouth (see Part 1 and Part 2).
I decided a one month vacation in New Zealand was just what I needed to restore myself and relax. Plus, there were quite a few spots on the North Island that I missed on the first time around. But what I’ve realized is that it’s not about how many places you can see or how many things you can do. Sometimes, the best thing we can give ourselves is a break.
I’ve been in New Zealand for a little over 2 weeks and most of that time has been spent in New Plymouth. I have felt the urge to see other places after comparing myself to other travelers. It’s common for many people to ask you where you’re going and/or where you’ve been. But traveling is not a contest. We’re all on different journeys. And from past experience, I know it’s better to have flexible plans that allow you to go on unexpected adventures. The future is filled with amazing opportunities. The key is to stay open to them.
When I arrived in the Taranaki region (which is where New Plymouth is located), I had a huge smile on my face. There are signs that say “Woo Hoo!” “You’re in Taranaki” and seeing them always make me happy. It was quite cloudy for the first 5 or 6 days so I was unable to clearly see Mount Taranaki (the famous dormant volcano that this region is named after). However, when I finally caught a clear shot of the mountain, it was a gorgeous sight to behold. This region is also known for its surf highway and black sand beaches. I think that’s what makes New Plymouth so special. You get both the ocean and a volcano in the landscape. Absolutely amazing!
Let’s go back to the beginning though. I arrived in New Zealand on March 4th and I stayed in a small bed and breakfast in Cockle Bay (close to Auckland). It was lovely to have my own room and bed for 2 nights. Jet lag can be sneaky and luckily it only lasted about 5 or 6 days for me this time. Also, not sleeping for 36 hours probably made it a bit worse. It’s all in the fun of traveling and the sacrifices are always worth it. Always.
I arrived in New Plymouth on March 6th but I decided to stay in another hostel called Ducks and Drakes. I made this decision for a few reasons. Number 1, this particular hostel is right across from the supermarkets and the city centre is only a 10 minute flat walk away. Number 2, I always wanted to stay here because I heard really good things about it. Number 3, I wanted to adjust to being back in New Plymouth while staying in a new place with no past memories. I stayed there for 1 week and had a fantastic time. I would definitely recommend it 🙂
In that first week in New Plymouth, I accomplished things that I hadn’t while I was last here. Everything happens when it’s supposed to. I was able to visit the contemporary art museum (Govett-Brewster Art Gallery), see the Te Rewa Rewa bridge (an artistically designed white bridge that resembles a whale’s ribs and picturesquely outlines Mount Taranaki from afar), and walk on the black sand at Fitzroy beach. I also visited the Puke Ariki museum and walked through Pukekura park (a large stunning park filled with lakes, walking tracks, and a zoo). I made a few friends at the Ducks and Drakes hostel and it was sad to say goodbye. Although, that is the nature of backpacking. You get really good at making friends and then biding them farewell within a short time.
March 13th was the day to change hostels and check in to the Sunflower Lodge. I was somewhat nervous about staying here this time due to tons of past memories. However, it was definitely time to come back. Although there were different people, everything was pretty much the same. One of the things I love about this hostel is how quite and serene it is. It’s like coming back home. There’s a special energy here for sure.
I was able to catch up with Julie, Richard, and Marvey (the dog). I actually went over to their house for lunch (which was delicious). Their house and garden is gorgeous. It was great to talk about old times.
I made a few friends while at the Sunflower Lodge as well. I was able to finally see Mount Taranaki up close (thanks to my french roommates). We hiked through the forest to see Dawson Falls which was breathtaking. I definitely got a ton of exercise that day but it was well worth the effort. I was able to go back to Fitzroy beach with the French receptionist and I can now say that I’ve been in the Tasman Sea! It was so blue and clear 😀
And to sum this up (because I could talk forever about New Plymouth), here’s 10 things I’ve learned/realized while being back here…
- Culture shock still occurs even if you’ve already visited a place before and it can be emotionally unraveling at times. It’s important to recognize it’s happening and let it run its course. It will pass.
- It’s best to remain present instead of living in the past. Memories can be overwhelming but pleasant simultaneously. However, the past is in the past. If you’re in a place, be there with all of your being. Make new memories and take everything in.
- Things are never as bad as we imagine they will be. It may be hard sometimes but feeling frustrated means you’re growing and expanding. Keep moving forward.
- Some areas will hold a special place in your heart forever.
- I am strong, capable, and resilient.
- Less thinking, more feeling. If you enjoy staying in a place, then stay there. If you feel urged to go somewhere, go there. We don’t have to have it all figured out. Just be sure to make decisions from a state of love rather than fear.
- Everything is happening as it should and it’s all good.
- Allow yourself to feel. Work through these feelings and release them. You’ll be glad you did.
- Let go of all the distractions. Observe your surroundings, interact with different people, and immerse yourself in nature. Healing happens in the present.
- Just be yourself and allow others to be themselves as well. Release the judgments and criticisms. Be the imperfect person that you are and embrace all of it. Most importantly, discover self-love and know that the person you are right now is enough.
There are so many other things I’ve learned so far but I’ll save that for another day 😉 Lots of challenges have been overcome and I wouldn’t change any of it. I’m right where I’m supposed to be and I’m absolutely loving it.
It’s a mystery where I’ll travel next. But I’m following my heart and having faith in the process. Everything is working out in a beautiful way.
Until next time, I send all of you peace, love, and happiness!