An inspirational story about the life-changing possibilities of nature travel.

Contributed By RealAdventures

by Ron Marriott

I hate to admit it, but after a lifetime of hating people, I am starting to like them. They are touching me and it feels good, most of the time. I think now that most people want to be honest and decent, if their bloody lives will let them. It seems to me that, for a lot of people, a city life is a pressure-filled life. A sort of exciting merry-go-round, fun if you don’t fall off. And I think a lot of the people we get here are those who have fallen off, or at least want to get off.

Someone said to me that this place is a “turnaround” place. Right at the end of the Sound, it’s the place where you stop for a while when you find you can’t go any further. And then you turn around. Some go back to where they come from, at least knowing that they want to. And some go off to a new destination, having found that it wasn’t as hard to get off the merry-go-round as they had thought. I think that I came here like that. Only I haven’t left yet.

Heike was like that. I first met her when she came for a few days as a guest. At that early stage of her travels she was bright, bubbly and full of excitement at the prospect of travelling through the wonders of South Island nature. Later, nearly at the end of her travels, she wrote and asked if she could come again, but this time for a longer period and as a “woofer.” A woofer is a kind of modern tramp. They work a few hours a day for their keep. I said OK.

Heike this time was a little different – happy enough and full of praise for New Zealand and New Zealanders, but a little wistful at the thought of her imminent return to Germany. Over the next couple of weeks, bit by bit, it all came out. Her travel in NZ had opened her eyes to a different kind of life and environment. To her, NZ was a land of blue seas, green bush and crashing waterfalls, inhabited by people who put play before work and family life before money. In NZ, people had time to sit round and talk about things and did not live for work, she thought. While as a New Zealander I was more than a little chuffed at her feelings about my land, I privately thought that this didn’t quite sound like the country I knew. I said very little, hoping that in the end she would work it all through.

But she didn’t. A couple of days before she was due to leave, we were mustering the sheep. During a break, when we were gathering a few mushrooms for dinner and talking about how they were going to be cooked, she burst out with, “How can I go back to Germany after this? Look at me. I am here on this beautiful day in this beautiful land, and the thing which is most important is how we are going to cook these mushrooms tonight. This could never happen in Germany. I can’t go back.”

Her despair wrenched at my gut like a knife and we sat down, forgetting the sheep for a while. We talked, something like this:

“Why can’t this happen in Germany. Do you not have sunny days?” I asked.

“Yes, of course,” Heike said.

“Do you not have green grass and sheep and nice scenery?”

“Yes.”

“Well, why can’t this happen in Germany?”

“People there don’t have time.”

“Look, Heike, I don’t really want to tell you this, but I think you’ve got the wrong idea about New Zealanders. Most ordinary people in our cities are so busy competing with each other they don’t have time, either. In your travel here you have been meeting people like me whose job it is to have time to talk. I think that really we are not so different to Germans.“

“I hate my job,” she said.

“Well, what you rather do?” I asked.

“I want to work with children.”

“Why don’t you?”

“In Germany, this job is not considered high. It is poorly paid. In Germany you are only respected when you work to the maximum of your capability, and your capability is judged by the quality of job you have.”

“But the people who matter, your boyfriend, your parents, your friends, they would still love you, wouldn’t they?”

“Yes. I don’t know.”

I was stumped, she unconvinced, and so we went on. I don’t know who was the more depressed. I couldn’t begin to understand a culture apparently so rigid, and I didn’t really believe it, but I didn’t know. My rosy glow of self-satisfaction was gone. Her experience in my country, as good as it was, had made her miserable.

I was still sad when it became time for her to go, a sadness that even the warmth of her parting hug could not dispel. I felt such a bloody failure. I said that I would think of her and I meant it, but I knew that the thought would not bring me joy.

About six months later, a card came. It was from Heike. She said that she had chucked her old job in, was working with intellectually handicapped children, and that she was very happy and settled back in her country. It seemed that her fears had been unfounded. It was her mind that had been keeping her prisoner, not her country. Her travel experience had shown her a different way, which in the end she followed, and all was well.

I hope all is still well, Heike, and that one day you might come back and read this story and know how much happiness your card gave me that day. You touched me, and I liked it. I said I would think of you and I often do, particularly when I’m collecting mushrooms.





interactive map  Interactive Map








RealAdventures
Prisoners Of Our Minds
Canterbury, New Zealand

Website: Queen Charlotte Wilderness Park



Active Vacation Ideas   View More...

Yacht and launch charter in the Marlboro...

Yacht and launch charter in the Marlborough Sounds

53.7 mi away
Picton, New Zealand
Sailing & Yacht Charters


From USD $195 per Night
Cruise and explore New Zealand's pristin...

Cruise and explore New Zealand's pristine waters

53.4 mi away
Picton, New Zealand
Sailing & Yacht Charters


From USD $1,539 per Night
Nelson Hang Gliding Adventures...

Nelson Hang Gliding Adventures

87.3 mi away
Nelson, New Zealand
Hang Gliding


From USD $124 per Trip
Flying Kiwi Wilderness Expeditions...

Flying Kiwi Wilderness Expeditions

0.0 mi away
New Zealand, New Zealand
Bike Tours


From USD $75 per Trip
New Zealand Fun Family River Holidays...

New Zealand Fun Family  River Holidays

89.5 mi away
Mangaweka, New Zealand
Rafting Trips


From USD $50 per Trip
Great Boating Holidays...

Great Boating Holidays

0.0 mi away
Picton, New Zealand
Sailing & Yacht Charters


Queen Charlotte Track...

Queen Charlotte Track

53.1 mi away
Picton, New Zealand
Hiking & Trekking


From USD $967 per Trip
Cycling tours in New Zealand, Vietnam an...

Cycling tours in New Zealand, Vietnam and Japan

0.0 mi away
Christchurch, New Zealand
Bike Tours


Abel Tasman Guided Walks and Sea Kayakin...

Abel Tasman Guided Walks and Sea Kayaking

87.3 mi away
Nelson, New Zealand
Hiking & Trekking


From USD $460 per Night
Wilsons Abel Tasman - Sea Kayaking/Trekk...

Wilsons Abel Tasman - Sea Kayaking/Trekking

100.0 mi away
Nelson, New Zealand
Hiking & Trekking


From USD $36 per Trip


Nature & Wildlife Vacation Ideas   View More...

Kiwi Dundee Adventures Ltd. New Zeal...

Kiwi Dundee Adventures Ltd.     New Zealand

0.0 mi away
Albany, New Zealand
Eco Tours


From USD $230 per Trip
Queen Charlotte Wilderness Park...

Queen Charlotte Wilderness Park

89.5 mi away
Marlborough, New Zealand
Eco Tours


From USD $100 per Night
Bush & Beyond guided conservation walks...

Bush & Beyond guided conservation walks

87.3 mi away
Nelson, New Zealand
Wildlife & Safari Tours


From USD $105 per Trip


Personal Growth Ideas   View More...

Creative Tourism...

Creative Tourism

87.3 mi away
Nelson, New Zealand
Cultural Experience


From USD $50 per Trip


Tours & Vacation Packages   View More...

Helicopter Tours Queenstown New Zealand...

Helicopter Tours Queenstown New Zealand

0.0 mi away
.New Zealand, New Zealand
Scenic Flight Tours


From USD $100 per Trip
Real Kiwi operators Wine - Golf and Scen...

Real Kiwi operators Wine - Golf and Scenic Tours

87.3 mi away
Nelson, New Zealand
Sight-Seeing Tours


From USD $54 per Trip
New Zealand Custom Tours by Tailored Tra...

New Zealand Custom Tours by Tailored Travel

87.3 mi away
Nelson, New Zealand
Sight-Seeing Tours


New Zealand Attractions & Activities...

New Zealand Attractions & Activities

0.0 mi away
Christchurch, New Zealand
Sight-Seeing Tours


Ahipara Luxury Travel...

Ahipara Luxury Travel

0.0 mi away
Auckland, New Zealand
Sight-Seeing Tours


Christian Holiday Experiences in Godzone...

Christian Holiday Experiences in Godzone

0.0 mi away
Tauranga , New Zealand
Sight-Seeing Tours


From USD $2,550 per Trip
Experience New Zealand Travel...

Experience New Zealand Travel

27.0 mi away
Wellington, New Zealand
Sight-Seeing Tours


Explore New Zealand with Black Sheep Tou...

Explore New Zealand with Black Sheep Touring Co.

96.4 mi away
Mapua, New Zealand
Sight-Seeing Tours


From USD $2,300 per Trip


Accommodation Ideas   View More...

A Luxury Getaway in the Wine Region Marl...

A Luxury Getaway in the Wine Region Marlborough

61.9 mi away
Blenheim, New Zealand
Bed & Breakfasts


From USD $388 per Night
McCormick House Luxury Accommodation...

McCormick House Luxury Accommodation

52.1 mi away
Picton, New Zealand
Bed & Breakfasts


From USD $234 per Night
River Valley - Award Winning Adventure L...

River Valley - Award Winning Adventure Lodge

97.2 mi away
Taihape, New Zealand
Hotels & Resorts


From USD $21 per Night
Kanuka Hill Lodge...

Kanuka Hill Lodge

87.3 mi away
Nelson, New Zealand
Bed & Breakfasts


Farm Vacations in New Zealand...

Farm Vacations in New Zealand

0.0 mi away
North Island, New Zealand
Bed & Breakfasts


From USD $70 per Night
Kershaw House Boutique Accommodation...

Kershaw House Boutique Accommodation

93.7 mi away
Nelson, New Zealand
Bed & Breakfasts


From USD $120 per Night
301 Oxleys Rock Apartment...

301 Oxleys Rock Apartment

53.0 mi away
Picton, New Zealand
Vacation Rentals


From USD $167 per Night
Flash Backpacker Accommodation in Wellin...

Flash Backpacker Accommodation in Wellington

27.5 mi away
Wellington, New Zealand
Youth Hostels


From USD $16 per Night
The Waterfront Apartments Picton Marina...

The Waterfront Apartments Picton Marina

53.4 mi away
Picton, New Zealand
Vacation Rentals


From USD $180 per Night
Nutmeg Creek Country Homestay...

Nutmeg Creek Country Homestay

64.1 mi away
Blenheim, New Zealand
Bed & Breakfasts


From USD $130 per Night
Aporo Pondsiders secluded Luxury Cottag...

Aporo Pondsiders  secluded Luxury Cottages

87.3 mi away
Nelson - Nelson, New Zealand
Vacation Rentals


The Opua House...

The Opua House

0.0 mi away
Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Vacation Rentals


From USD $300 per Night


Advertise Your Accommodation or Travel Services


Create A ListingCanterbury, New Zealand Articles Listing
Add a multi-page listing promoting your accommodations, tours or travel services to customers on our network of travel sites. Your listing page can have up to 26 images, unlimited text, interactive map, availability calendar, ecards, photo-gallery and more.
Rates From US $17 Per Month    » View Details


Disclaimer: Information provided through RealAdventures website, newsletters, emails or other services has been provided directly by the companies and/or individuals owning or offering the products/services. RealAdventures does not guarantee or warranty the accuracy of the information contained herein. It is the sole responsibility of the user to ensure the accuracy and clarity of any posted material and to determine the suitability of any service for their particular needs or requirements. Likewise, it is the responsibility of advertisers to determine the suitability and credit worthiness of potential customers prior to any transaction.


Listing # RA-1024426