New Zealand is (and always has been) my happy place, ever since I first watched The Fellowship of the Ring at the age of 11.
Anyone who knows me could verify this, as I am (and have always been) positively obnoxious about professing my love for the gorgeous land of the Kiwis.
Admittedly, this love is closely linked to my obsession with Lord of the Rings, as New Zealand is essentially every beautiful land of Middle Earth all rolled into one magical country (proof below):
“Sam led him along several passages and down many steps and out into a high garden above the steep bank of the river… Shadows had fallen in the valley below, but there was still a light on the faces of the mountains far above. The air was warm. The sound of running and falling water was loud, and the evening was filled with a faint scent of trees and flowers, as if summer still lingered in Elrond’s gardens.” – The Fellowship of the Ring
“The land was rich and kindly, and though it had long been deserted when they entered it, it had before been well tilled, and there the king had once had many farms, cornlands, vineyards, and woods.” – The Fellowship of the Ring
I could continue, but I think the point has resoundingly been made: New Zealand is Middle Earth.
As the years pass and I continue my not-so-secret double life as a New Zealand enthusiast, a shadow and a threat has been growing in my mind (props to Legolas for that quote). In reality, I hold a dark secret that could undermine every single one of my passionate sentiments about New Zealand, one that brings me shame and makes me feel like a complete fool-of-a-Took.
I’ve never been to New Zealand.
From the first moment I laid eyes on the rolling hills and picturesque mountaintops of New Zealand through the tri-color screen of my family’s box TV while watching Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, I fell in love. Head over heels, breathless in awe-struck astonishment that anything could be so beautiful.
And yet, here I am 15 years later, utterly devoid of any real New Zealand experiences. Here I am, watching the people around me take amazing trips to New Zealand. Here I am, growing increasingly bitter every time I see their photos and hear their stories of New Zealand’s beauty.
When it comes down to it, I blame myself and my own unrealistic expectations. I’ve certainly had enough time and money to visit New Zealand for years now; what’s ultimately holding me back is a ridiculous fear of disappointment, and a tinge of denial.
I want my first New Zealand experience to be nothing short of absolutely magical. I want to feel like I’m in Middle Earth; and perhaps my hesitation stems from an inability to admit that I’ll be visiting New Zealand, not Middle Earth. I want my first visit to be a life-changing experience and quite possibly the highlight of my life. I want to “do it right” when I visit New Zealand for the first time, by which I mean I want to walk everywhere, camp in the wilderness, live off the land, and live completely free for at least a few weeks.
Which brings me to another realization: I don’t think I have what it takes to live up to my expectations for myself visiting New Zealand.
I’m not entirely sure that makes sense. All I know is that it’s even more ridiculous-sounding once I write it out and admit it to myself. And that I need to GET OVER IT and GO.
So, here I am, fifteen years after first falling in love with New Zealand, and I am making a promise to myself. I vow to visit New Zealand within the next year, even if I have to go by myself and can only spare a week. No more self-loathing, and no more holding myself back from going.
Because the root of my problem is fear of disappointment and regret. It’s a commonly recurring theme in my life, and I’m pretty sick of it holding me back. And maybe allowing myself to visit New Zealand will help set me free. Only one way to find out.
Visit your happy place
I’d like to address a message to anyone who’s been wanting to visit a place of his/her dreams, and isn’t restricted from doing so by money or time. GET GOING, because if you lose the opportunity, whatever was holding you back will not have been worth-it.
If you’ve got the money and the time, what’s holding you back?