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Waiheke Wanderer

November 15th, 2021

On nice calm evenings I would sit on the scraggly rock points and fish. I'd bait up the line and then sit quietly watching the stillness of the water as boats idly made their way to their evening spot and waited for dusk to settle. There’s something so serene about sitting and watching the world go by, the sky changing from bright blue to pastel pinks, and purples, finally to black. And the warm wind slowed, the birds softly crowing as they settle into their nests between the rocks for the night. Then small sparks begin to appear across the deep purple sky.

Life in these moments is beautiful.

How life on Waiheke came to be.

In a weird way I was pushed to live on Waiheke. It definitely wasn't in the plans.

It all began when my partner at the time was involved in a serious crash, in which he was nearly killed. I was suddenly faced, for first time in my little life, with a decision based on someone else's well being.

It's weird how you make better life decision when you have to think about someone else. As sad as it is I would have never moved for to Waiheke for myself. I thought convenience, such as proximity to work and urban centres was important and well, easier. But the minute it was no longer about me and instead about someone I really truly cared about, it became essential.

A Shift in Thinking

And wow. Oh how life changed. I had spent a lot of my working life using my spare time away from work resting in my room or on the couch, so that I had the energy to do short term things I loved (generally like a night out or a football game or a day at the beach).

I quickly found that my time in nature, even while doing things, gave me the same calm state of mind all while refuelling my energy levels, in just the same way. I didn’t have to travel more than 10 minutes to do it and getting there wasn't a chore and once I was there the opportunities of adventure and activities are endless.

I saw this quote the other day and it said something like

"Does society not realise how messed up it is that we spend 80% of your life awake, working to pay your way"

For me personally, I have no problem working in a job I love, I say if that’s the reality then lets make that 20% count.

If we have to kill ourselves for that 80% then we better be doing it for a beautiful cause.

Wandering on Waiheke

When I first arrived on Waiheke I grabbed a map down at the ferry terminal that marked out all the walking tracks and I am slowly began to make my way through them.

The thing I feel in love most on Waiheke was the diverse scenery and how quickly it could change from rich, dense forest to the rocky coast or wheat swept fields. Most of my favourite little spots I discovered wandering aimlessly along the array beaten tracks that weave their way around the island.

The Walking Tracks

The Ara Hura (Waiheke) walking track is 100km long and is made up of a series of interlinked walks that take you across the whole island. There are four key character walks you can embark upon;

The headlands walks are an introduction to the highlights of the island, all in one accessible space.

Beaches 'n' Baches
This walk is off the beaten track. You will encounter the island character of the villages.

Forest Heart
Escape the hustle and bustle and walk through beautiful native bush, old trees safe from possums, regenerating forest and streams, wetlands and birds aplenty.

Far End
The Far End of the network is a place apart from the rest of the island. Here, you'll get big skies, big views, and fresh air therapy.

Having all of this on your front doorstep means its never a chore or too hard to get there and its always exciting finding special coves, secret beaches and beautiful spots to lie under the stars and drink a glass of red wine.

The Foraging

The ability to forage in a range of different ecosystems makes for an even more satisfying activity. I forage for many reasons, for food, for beauty, health, sometimes for business. And each trip is always drastically different. Sometimes you uncover gems, sometimes you simply find what you need. The uncertainty of it is what makes it so rewarding.

Sometimes I snap a few branches of flowering Manuka for my bedroom or pick seeds to grow. Other times I pick sweet fern fronds for salads or deep purple hydrangeas to accompany the salad on the dining table. These little touches in my house make me feel more at home.

If you've never been foraging before and you don’t have anything in particular you want the best place to start is with a walk. When you walk with purpose, not for the sake of it, you often uncover things you would have never noticed.

Rongoā, which is a word used to describe natural Māori medicine has also become a passion of mine, which started through work. I now pick Kawakawa leaves (the ones that have the biggest holes as the looper caterpillar knows which ones are most nutritious) for brewing in my teas, which help with a range of digestion issues and sweet fern fronds for salads.

As hippy as this all sounds, if we did things the way indigenous people did, people who rely on a healthy ecosystem to survive, by taking but also giving back, I think we would be all the richer for it.

Making that 20% Count

After only being on this isle of paradise for two months I have done more in my spare time then I did all last year, but haven’t drained myself while doing it. Life feels lighter, there is more intent, more joy, more happiness. It’s more about the quality of things. The fresh salty air, the cool feel of the ocean on bare skin, the warm fuzzy feeling of the breeze and the light that seeps through wheat stalks as you lie in the middle of sandy coloured fields.

This. Is. Living.

Written by Whitney Brady

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