& GOLDEN BAY
I have known that Takaka is my true home for a long time. When I was much younger, my family and I would take Christmas vacations along the beaches there - where you could walk out into the shallow water for what seemed like miles. We would visit the natural wonders together, but on some special days my mum and I would take off for a girl's trip to search the countryside for those small galleries that are really just sheds full of pottery and wonderful paintings.
When I imagined where I would like to live, as an adult (because even now I do not feel like I have reached adulthood), I always imagined myself as an old hippy, grey hair reaching past my butt, working and living as an artist in the backwoods of Takaka.
Tree touching along the pathways of the Te Waikoropupū Springs. Hearing the rush of the water running through stone hollows. That feeling of awe I get when I look into the heart of the Springs, seeing the waving water weeds that seem so close, yet knowing they are six meters deep.
The wandering sheep, and the odd horse or two.
The humpy green hillsides dotted with scrubby outbursts of trees.
A small tour of a candle gallery, where we are introduced to the five women that spend their days creating such delicious artworks.
Barefoot people in the village streets.
Beaches of fine white sand, whipped up into my hair and eyes, so I have to wash it all out the next morning.
Real-fruit ice cream on a scorching day.
Snatches of familiar conversation between friends and shopkeepers inside a store that sells coconuts and root vegetables out of woven baskets.
A huge bowl of steamed mussels and half a lemon, whisked fresh from the ocean to my seat at The Mussel Inn - where they have composting toilets, tire swings, and a strict 'no cellphones' policy.
Swimming through a liquid aquamarine ocean to this jumble of rocks off the shore, hoisting myself up and sunning my front-side like a seal.
Being asked if I want to pay for 'this item' by trading in one of my artworks or a few hours of my time working at handiwork.
Beaches of golden sand, so gritty underfoot, intermingled with bits of broken white and purple sea shells.
A couple meditating, knees touching, in the village green.
Walking through the mountains to a hidden cave, and through beech forests filled with fern fronds.
Free-camping amongst a handful of other travelers who spend their nights singing and playing guitar.