Fresh Eyes: What a Fantastic Country We Live In

Some friends recently stayed at home with their motorhome for a few days. From Taihape, they journeyed south to explore Cape Palliser, Castle Point and Riversdale Beach, all on the Southeast Coast of the North Island.

Amongst the messages, I got from them was this one. “What a Fantastic country we live in👍.”

This message got me thinking.

When much of your working life has been spent in nature amidst beautiful surroundings, it is so easy to take it all for granted—the stunning vistas, the towering cliffs, the native forest, the rolling farmland, and of course, the river itself. So what do you find yourself doing?

You find yourself viewing all that natural beauty as just a backdrop to whatever activity you are involved in, whether riding a horse, a raft or a bike. The scenic setting is the appendage to whatever adventure pursuit you are engaged in. It becomes all about the horse, raft or bike. In some ways, you could be doing those activities anywhere.

Having a little reminder about what a fantastic country we live in forced me to reevaluate how I had, again, succumbed to taking it all for granted. It forced me to look at what was around me with fresh eyes, and it has not been the first time I have had to do this. Nor is it limited to myself.

I often hear guides talking about the technical nature of a trip, how a horse was ridden, how a raft was guided, without recognising where they were while doing the thing.

I remember years ago, taking a party of people into the bush. On that particular trail was a huge, massive Red Beech tree. The first sight of it stopped a young man in the group in his tracks. Gazing upon it, he yelled, “Check out that tree!” and then ran towards it and threw his arms around it – not that his arms reached very far 😊

It was a spontaneous demonstration of wonder, joy, and, dare we say, love at first sight.

How often do we rush to see something, pause for a bit of time mentally ticking it off the list, and then are off to the next must see scenic delight? Have we humans always been like this, or has the ease of transportation now allowed us to become like this?

I am riding the Alps to Ocean cycleway in a couple of weeks. I’m looking forward to it.

There is one thing you can guarantee that I will be doing, even if it rains or the wind blows, I am going to be thinking, wow, check out that mountain, check out that lake, check out that view. I will make sure I have my fresh eyes and come back knowing even more that Aotearoa/New Zealand –  what a fantastic country we live in.

Brian Megaw

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