I blinked to make sure what I was seeing was real.
The water rippled with a tint that looked like ink had spilled between the mountains. The rocky giants themselves cut through the sky and were bathed in sunlight in such a way that I wondered if I walked far enough I’d break through canvas. The wind rustled tufts of golden grass as black rocks turned the inky water white with foam.
I lay against a rock and sat amongst weeds for long enough that time ebbed away and I started to wonder if my feet were growing roots. The sun kissed my cheeks and I closed my eyes. When I opened them, awe filled me all over again and I had to check to make sure this was reality.
When I left for New Zealand, I was expecting the beauty captured in glimpses from the Lord of the Rings movies, which made the landscape famous as Middle Earth. I was not expecting that the real country would be so much better than the fantasy.
My two weeks in NZ included ferry trips, driving through windy roads, riding on horseback, walking until my heels wore thin and navigating public transportation. Being constantly on the move meant we got to see the different splendors the North and South Islands offered. Watching the landscape slide by as we cruised up mountains made me feel like a film was playing before my eyes.
As I sat alone in a secluded spot in the Queenstown gardens, for the first time I felt NZ’s beauty was tangible. I traced every detail with my eyes to remember when I lose hope in my life. I pulled out my journal to let my soul loose on paper. I listened to music and sat in meditation.
Part of me felt guilty for not seeing a new corner of the city before leaving it behind. Yet sometimes traveling isn’t about the times you’re on the move, but the times you have to stay still and soak in the wonders of the world.
I left the grass and returned to civilization after my grumbling stomach reminded me I was not part of the rock I was leaning against. A day later I left the country and its beauty behind. Even though my body may not be pressed in the earth anymore as my eyes admire the surroundings, the way NZ’s beauty touched my heart will forever stay with me.