Monday, March 26, 2012

We don't know how lucky we are, mate

Have you got the song in your head now? Sorry about that... but I do too. It's a song that pops into my head often, especially when, from my seemingly secluded place in the quiet, friendly suburbs I call home, I am 15 minutes drive from the beach, albeit a rocky, rugged beach. I'm 40 minutes from golden sandy beaches. I'm 30 minutes from the city. I'm 5-20 minutes away from stunning bush walks (they're everywhere) where you feel like you're on another planet that is far, far away from the city. I'm 5 minutes away from a river where many childhood summer days were spent cooling off and jumping off cliffs. I'm 20 minutes away from a regional park where my friends and family and I have more than once rocked up with a couple of tents and a chilly bin and set up camp wherever we wanted, taking up as much space as we needed, for just $5. I'm even just an hour away from "the country", a place full of farms, side-of-the-road fruit stalls, world class vineyards, and boutique bakeries.
Now, I hope you don't think I'm showing off... But I truly love where I live. I feel so lucky. How many other places in the world can you be within an hour of pretty much EVERYTHING?
I didn't always feel this way. As a teenager, I always dreamed of travelling the world for years and years, of experiencing all the beautiful places there are outside of New Zealand. But what I have begun to realise over the last few years (even though I do still want to travel, but for months, not years), after leaving New Zealand once for three months to travel across America and then moving away (within New Zealand) from where I grew up, is that I live in one of the coolest places in the entire world.
I now see the city of Wellington in a whole new light. I look around in wonder as I walk to work, marvelling at the historic buildings, thinking of the people who created them; the buskers and travellers sitting on the footpath selling their wares and entertaining lunchtime crowds; the harbour with wind that literally nearly knocks you over, the historic houses piled up on the hills; the cable car that has carried many generations of Wellingtonians up to the Terrace and down to Lambton Quay.
When I see tourists fresh off the cruise ships that dock in the habour, I swell with pride, knowing that this is my city. These are my buildings, my people - it's all of ours and that makes us all extremely lucky.
A five and a half hour hike up Belmont Regional Park last weekend drove this point home yet again. Even though we've lived here all our lives, we still can't get over the fact that just 20 minutes drive away from home, you can be in the absolute wilderness, climbing up a hill.
It was all my idea, of course. You might remember I wrote a post about my fitness goal: to walk the Tongariro Alpine Crossing next summer, to make my gym efforts worth it. So I roped in my family to come hiking with me and we thought we would start small with a nice walk through Belmont Regional Park. We went up one hill and I decided we hadn't quite done enough, so we walked up another hill because we had been told there were amazing views. I don't actually know how long it took to get up there, but it was absolute torture. Every time we emerged from the bush and saw a small clearing, we thought it was the end. But there was no trig station in sight. So we had to keep going. With Josh walking behind my sister and I physically pushing us up the hill, we made it to the top, lungs burning, legs aching, faces beetroot red, trying not to think about the fact that we had to walk back down the hill.
But man was it worth it.
There we stood, on top of the world, our world, with a 360 degree view of all that we call home.
Lucky, lucky, lucky.

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