Paihia – Waitangi Treaty Grounds

Nov 23

On Monday I travelled on to Paihia. I am staying at a campsite very close to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. Here, in 1840, many Maoro tribes and the English Crown signed the Waitangi Treaty, often disrespected and much discussed. I visited the Treaty Grounds yesterday, a good place to try to understand more about how the treaty came about and what both parties were hoping to get out of the treaty. The grounds are very well kept, nature is being regenerated, and near the treaty house, the then home of James Busby who kind of worked as a mediator between Maori and English, a Maori meeting house has been built. There a cultural performance is shown as part of the program that comes with the entry ticket. I thorougly enjoyed the Maori performance with song and dance and handling of sticks and spears.


A Maori man gave us a tour of the grounds. One highlight is a war canoe that was built using the old building methods, for the 100 year celebration in 1940. The building project had been the vision of a Maori elder and it is said that it helped Maori to strengthen their connection to their culture around waka (canoe) building. I found the whole experience of being there very peaceful.

The weather has been marvellous the last three days, warm with only blue skies. I love my new tent, have been sleeping very well and when I went out during my first night here for a moment I saw a shooting star right over my tent. Since then I find it much easier to connect to other travellers.

I met some of the Te Araroa hikers, I had already seen in the camping park in Ahipara and we had some interesting chats. It seems to be a nice community with many different approaches apparently. Some take it easy and rest a lot in between, others try to do the whole trail as fast as possible.

I am settling with my approach to go for day walks. And anyway I had to find out again that really nobody cares how you travel, everybody seems to have their way. Just old insecurities coming up, as I wrote to a friend, my patterns coming up in travel disguise 😉

I am also becoming more confident in joining others at the table after cooking in the camping kitchen. I can feel the nourishment in sitting in a group and chatting. Many young people, mostly Germans are here for 6-12 months on a work and travel visa. Finding a job for a few months seems to be easy. Otherwise lots of campervans on the camp grounds.

Now Nov 24

Yesterday I hiked to the nearby Haruru Falls, often on boardwalks through the dense bush and through mangrove forests. The mangroves like the swamps as do many other of the local pine trees. However in many places people have dried out the swamps to have land for dairy or other farming and thus trees die. But the Department of Conservation seems to do a lot to regenerate nature. Also new habitat for kiwi are created. I saw one today, or if not a kiwi, a very similar kind of bird.

Back in the 18th and 19th century when the first European came here they discovered the Kauri tree and must have taken lots of it for ship and house and furniture building. Interesting and intense to feel into that situation, people finding a new piece of land and taking from it what they need. And there must have been also some trading, and Maori received what they needed at the time in exchange for the Kauri logs.

My practice changes with the surroundings. As the weather calmed down, also my practice seems to be softer. I can feel the connection between heaven and earth in my heart, my walking becomes meditative. I am mostly happy and yesterday it occurred to me that by doing this I am fulfilling (at least) one of the missions we have as humans and I felt enough as I was there and then. And as I am feeling my heart in this way, I also never feel alone. Which does not keep me from wanting to connect.

When I meet people and we start talking I seem to be mostly listening, one woman told me how she hopes to be ready for a more community engaged work after her Te Araroa experience and a woman I asked for the way today told me about her husband of 19 years having left her very recently. I take those stories in and make them part of my practice. The space between heaven and earth can hold everything.

And I know I could feel more if I let myself. As I felt too overwhelmed in the beginning I started to drink green tea again. I had stopped drinking any black or green teas a few weeks ago but that just leaves me too open and vulnerable for our current world affairs. With a cup of tea I can reduce the amount I feel. Well, that is my type of addiction. Step by step I am intending to let myself feel more again …

Ok, sitting in the lounge of the camping park, loading my tablet, it is getting late. I ll see if the internet is strong enough to upload my blogpost. Photos might be a problem, if you want to see more photos please check my facebook page.

And I hear that some of you do not receive the email notifications when a new post is up. Any comments of those who do and how to succeed are welcome!



Cape Reinga

Nov 20

Yesterday I took a tour to Cape Reinga, the northern end of Northland. This is a place deeply connected to Maori culture. Maori believe that the spirits of the dead travel from wherever they are up the west coast of New Zealand and then along the 90 Mile Beach toward Cape Reinga. ‘Reinga’ is the Māori language word meaning the underworld, the cape is the point where the spirits of the dead leap of and travel home to Hawaiki. Hawaiki being one of the places were the Maori originally came from.

At Cape Reinga there were many other tour buses. The walkway starts with a gate and for each person passing a tone is sounded, a Maori greeting. The whole way to the light house everybody is asked not to eat or drink. From the round place at the light house one can see the place where the Tasman sea meets the Pacific Ocean. And the whole area feels sacred indeed. I am very glad that I went and that I waited for good weather, somehow after seeing and experiencing Cape Reinga I feel more ready to now discover other parts of New Zealand.

As part of the tour we drove along a good part of the beach, stopped at various places, had lunch – a nice barbeque lunch prepared by a Maori family at a beach on the eastern shore (so much more calm then on the west coast), did some sand boarding at high sand dunes and listened to our friendly driver. What I found interesting: there is so much money in the Manuka honey business that they fly in the bees to collect the honey from the many tea trees that are growing on both sides of the road. Avocados like the sandy soil up here and farmers are working in a cooperative to handle packing and transporting.

After three days in the Holiday Park I had moved to another accomodation hoping that the name „Endless Summer Lodge“ would help to bring better weather, which it did ! 🙂 And apparently this is ranked as the nicest hostel in NZ, very lucky that there was room for me. It is an 1870s restored Kauri villa, the whole house and furniture built from Kauri wood. Most people who stay here are surfers, as is the owner, the next surfing beach is just 5 minutes away.

I watched the surfers for a while on Friday, the day I moved here, the lodge is at the other end of the little village and it took me 40 minutes to walk here.

Today finally a long walk on the beach as I had envisaged the whole time. I started out early to be back for high tide. 4 hours of walking practice, this felt good. I am getting a sense of how I can integrate my practice and finding my ways. For now probably 4 hours of walking each day will be enough, the rest of the day for digesting, writing, reading and connecting with other travellers.

On the beach with the roaring sea beside me I noticed myself starting to make some sounds. I don t think I have ever made sounds like this before and it felt good. I walked barefoot often in the shallow water.

The beach could be even more wonderful if there were not so many cars going by. During low tide people are allowed to drive on the beach, according to the rules 30km max. in reality more like 100km/h. Our bus driver told us that for a while there was a garage near the beach and people tried to break speed records on this beach until they found it was not flat enough for more records. But sure still many people get a kick out of speeding here.

And then stories of cars lost in soft sand and taken by the sea …

Tomorrow early in the morning I will travel on towards the east coast, about 2 hours on the bus. So will put this online now and get some rest.





Ahipara – 90 Mile Beach

I am in Ahipara now, in the very North of NZ. I had chosen Ahipara because it has access to this super long beach, called 90 Mile Beach, in reality I think „just“ 68 miles long. In the beginning of my travel planning I had considered to walk some parts of the so-called Te Araroa, a long distance trail through the whole of NZ, starting on the northern edge of the North Island through to the South of the South Island. Looking at that made me aware of this beach and I found it tempting to walk for 3 days along the beach. But I changed my mind and will stay at different places for a few days and go on day walks.

Things turn out a bit extreme these days, so access to the beach was not possible this morning due to a very high high tide. I started with some inland walking and then closer to low tide I went for a walk on the beach. The beauty and wildness is nearly bewildering. Mixed with the intensity my practice seems to bring, I am often in tears. When I consciously take in the heaven and try to connect parts of it through me to the earth I feel my heart expand and then I feel sadness, somehow beautiful sadness, in a depth I have not known before. Or it is just feeling very touched, washed by a wave of love.

There is something about the sea, which seems to be a third force. And of course it is, particularly on an island. I don t know yet how to include the sea in my practice.

Yesterday it rained the whole day. My friend M., I had stayed with for two days, drove me to the starting point of my NZ walking adventure. We shared a picknick in the cabin that I booked, as sitting in my tent in this weather felt a bit daunting. So glad that I did, as it is also colder then I thought and I am happy to have my extra down jacket, even now wrapt into my sleeping bag.

In the sun it can be very hot, but the air is cold. Very extreme country this. Very comforting to be accompanied to my „real“ starting point.

Yesterday after M. had left, I put on my rain gear and went to the beach. The rain gear did indeed keep me dry, but my shoes dont seem to be waterproof. Hmm. Well, good thing, that I brought 3 pairs of socks and not only 2.

And I am still dealing with some jetlag symptoms, my bodys fluid system still thinks that my now night time is a good time to get rid of fluids, otherwise I sleep ok.

The Earthquake, mostly on the South Island two days ago, was a bit of a shock. As far as I know most people are ok, one village has been hit hard and there were land slides on the major road to Christchurch.

Next morning, now Nov 17 here. The night was very windy, so glad to have my cabin. Today the forcast is for thunder storms. I hear rain drops on the roof of the common area where I am sitting. With the help of another traveller I connected my tablet to the internet, will try to add photos from my smart phone later.

Today I will go out for some short walks, trying to get the dry spells for that. I have some issues with my left leg so will take it easy, maybe indulge in some Maeve Binchy reading on a sofa in this common area. Kitchen for hot drink cooking not too far away. some new comfort zone building possible.




Nov 13

Auckland, I have been here nearly 24 hours. I arrived at 6 am, all well, my backpack made it too. Then with the Skybus into the city center. 10 minutes walk from the bus station to my hostel. I knew check-in was only at 2 pm and I had hoped that I could check in early and get some sleep. They were fully booked. I was so exhausted that I slept near to a running tv in the common room for 2 hours. Then I felt less zombie-like 😉 Had some tea and little breakfast in the hostel kitchen. Very interesting chat with a teacher from Malaysia and two young people who work and study here. A good landing into the world of travelling.

Then a walk through Auckland to the harbour, checking the place where my bus to the North would leave the next morning. When I arrived at the hostel after my first city stroll, I really needed some rest. My room was ready and I slept for another 2 hours. That seems to be a good nap length for me to keep me going.

In the afternoon I was setup to meet S., a friend of my friend K. from Finland who I had met while she was studying in Kiel, my home town, when we were 21 or 22. S. and K. had spent a high school year in the US. In my experience, those are some of the best friendships you make when living abroad, or getting friends with people from abroad.

S. and I had a very good time. She took me for a drive over Harbour Bridge, we took a walk at one of the many beaches in the North of the city. She showed me a tree which will blossom in red around Christmas time, making it the “Christmas tree”, learned about the housing situation, the rise of dairy production in NZ and how after realizing how bad dairy farming can be for the environment, people want the sheep back. More sightseeing in the South, and we went to a sacred Maori site. Tea and a very nice potato dish in a coffee place close to the sea and back to the hostel. Thank you S! What a beatiful and lively introduction to Auckland. Uups was told that of course Wellington is the NZ capital.

Woke up this morning at 4 am to a party in front of my window. But feeling rested ok after 7 hours of sleep now.

And so many impressions already that want to be communicated and digested. I remember 2 years ago when I was travelling in Iran how I started to write in my head toward the end of the day, longing to express what I had experienced and then the relief and joy in sharing which made it possible to start to integrate the events of the day.

Nov 14

I wrote this yesterday morning before my bus trip to the North. After 4 hours on the bus through super beautiful green scenery, I am now in Kaikohe staying with a friend. She picked me up from the bus and had prepared a picknick which we had in a loveley little park. It is noticeably spring here. The young people in the hostel had warned me to always put on sun screen and wear a hat because the sun can be very strong here.

Oh, and the sun is in the North, that will take some getting used to.

Then some shopping and to the house she is staying in at the moment. I joined in for some work in the garden, some weeding and picking strawberries which we had after dinner.

I am invited to stay here until I have adjusted to NZ time and climate before I start my walking. We are 12 hours ahead of Europe time, so as some of you are starting your Sunday evening I am getting ready for a new Monday.

A friend sent a message asking if I was safe because of the Earth Quake that happened in NZ. We did not notice it here, I am in the very North of the North Island and the Quake was around 1000km away from here. I hope everybody is ok down there. And hope you are safe and well wherever you are. I am feeling blessed and being taken care of, was just served a cup of tea to my bed and M.s friend promised me to sit with me tonight at dusk and listen to the different birds sing.

On my way – from Perth, Australia

Sitting in the very nice airport lounge in Perth. So far so good.

Some interesting things happened. We left Berlin 1 hour late. Maybe around 80% of passengers had connecting flights in Abu Dhabi and as it seemed most of them only around 1,5 hours to change gates, me too. The lady sitting beside me started being very negative. She did not stop talking about how bad it was and that she would be missing the festival that she was going to. I get very easily triggered with such negativity. So I was getting really annoyed. Normally I would sit and take it and sometimes throw in something positive into the conversation. But then I felt into how it would feel doing this for 6 hours and I heard myself say to her to please stop complaining that it would only disturb her mood and mine and that it would not change the situation. I even said that she had some control to make it all work out ok if she would hold a positive perspective. It did not come out very elegantly given my distress … It lead to her being silent for the rest of the flight. So I could enjoy a film and some rest and fairly good food. Not perfectly handled, but an improvement to my usual silent suffering 😉

When we landed at a time my ongoing flight was already boarding, I was nervous myself. Then Abu Dhabi turned out to be one of the best managed transfer airports I have seen; they opened all security lines, serviced fast and I was at my new gate 15 minutes after we had landed.

Then 10 hours flight time to Perth the big ocean underneath. I started marvelling over how flying is at all possible and with such high service and comfort. Later the dark sky turned purple and I cried some tears about being able to go on this adventure. The seat beside me must have been one of maybe 5 empty seats on the whole plane, and I could fit myself quite comfortably into a lying position thanks to my size and flexibility and get some sleep. Later I watched Matrix.

I thought about Teilhard de Chardins concept of the noosphere and that my project is also about embodying that. Believing that the more people sense into that realm/sphere and embody it, the more it becomes real and activated. And as I am according to Human Design a Manifestor this is a very fitting role for me to be part of. And noticing that this is my mind trying to understand better what I am doing. It might be best to follow my heart and just walk for now …

Also happy about my tablet, free internet access, a comfortable lounge sofa and that posting on my blog feels easy.

Erde ich spüre Dich

For my German speaking friends a poem somebody sent me when I told her about my walking project.

Erde, ich spüre Dich,
leise berühr ich dich,
duldest den Menschenfuß,
nimm meinen Liebesgruß.
trägst mich mit jedem Schritt,
nimmst meine Last noch mit,
schenkst mir die Heimat hier,
Erde, ich danke Dir!

Hedwig Distel

Ready to go

Ready to go! Tomorrow I will be leaving for New Zealand my first destination of my walking project. My backpack is filled., I made it: 11,1 kg including tent, sleeping bag, pad, pots, etc. This is still too much, if I want to carry it for long stretches, but hey this is the start of the journey and I will find out what I really need while being on the way.

An interesting day to start a blog. Many people I know are trying to digest the results of the US election. In the comments I read, I like the perspective to take this as a wake up call to get real about what is going on in our world and in our culture. To find in ourselves what we want to bring to the world to create a culture we can respect and love. And this is part of why I am starting my walking project, to do and be what I feel I can, to change myself and my life to live more according to what I believe in.

Walking it is. I have always loved walking and hiking. My most intense walking time was while I was living in Sinai (Egypt) and was working as a tour guide in the mountains and desert. The photo is showing me on Mount Sinai in 2010.

But this time it is not just about the joy of walking and being in nature. It is a walking practice, a spiritual practice. In this practice I am consciously connecting to the Earth and blessing it, with every step. I am becoming a moving connection between Heaven and Earth. During my first practice walks I noticed how I feel more love for the Earth with every step, how I want to tread softly and lovingly. In my mind I can see myself as this little creature somewhere on our big planet. And the Earth seems to crave this kind of connection. And I crave this kind of connection. Walking like this helps me to be present with the wild, the feminine part in me.

For me this seems to be the perfect way to reconnect to Earth, to discover more of the wild part in me. And a strong feeling that I want to follow this path of discovery full time for a while.