As George Michael once said, “you’ve got to go to the city”. City life is amazing. The hustle and bustle of a city is palpable, there’s always something to do, and never a dull moment. I have been in love with city life ever since I moved from a small town to Nottingham when I was eighteen for University and then Budapest when I was twenty for a year abroad. Despite my love for this life, I sometimes felt suffocated, often finding it difficult to relax, and it wasn’t until my recent Contiki trip to New Zealand that I realised nature was just the remedy I didn’t even know I needed.
It was my second day in New Zealand and I was still reeling from the after effects of my thirty-eight-hour journey to the country (it might have also had something to do with dire need of caffeine). Just as I found myself beginning to doze off, I glimpsed the most amazing sight. Endless rolling green fields stretching for miles, mountains that looked like they’d been dusted with icing and the bluest of blue skies. I was absolutely spellbound by the scenery laid out before me and the tiredness I once felt was quickly forgotten—I was in in Rotorua and utterly transfixed by the raw beauty of the nature there.
I quickly learnt that New Zealand is spectacularly beautiful, each landscape like a postcard. I never had to walk more than fifteen minutes to find a lovely little (or not so little) nature spot that absolutely took my breath away. From rainbow-coloured mountains to crystal blue lakes and iconic glaciers, each sight was truly magical. It’s no wonder New Zealand is often the location of multiple fantasy film series with otherworldly landscapes like Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.
As the days went by, I found myself falling more and more in love with New Zealand and all its wonders. Early morning hikes up Queenstown Hill, an afternoon picnic on Castle Hill and late-night swims under the stars in Lake Taupo—each moment brought me undeniable and indescribable joy.
My favourite memory is the day we drove to the top of a Mount Ruapehu, an active stratovolcano at the southern end of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, to watch the sunset. It was phenomenal. As if the sky had caught on fire, illuminating the entire landscape surrounding me in brightly-coloured oranges, yellows and reds. Then, as the sun began setting, it was as if a candle was slowly flickering out. It was breath-taking. This was all topped off when a meteor shower followed shortly after and honestly, I couldn’t even make up such a magical story. I don’t think I realised what true bliss was until that exact moment.
My time in New Zealand made me aware of a key thing I was lacking in my life, nature. At home, I had been so caught up in finishing my degree while juggling an internship and my part-time job, that I completely neglected the natural beauty of the world. I have now made it my mission to try and get daily green space, and you know what? It’s incredible. I no longer experience these feelings of suffocation, I’m no longer frantically running from one job to another panicking of how I can fit everything into a day, I have a stronger sense calm and contentment in my life. Being around so much nature has really taught me to just slow down, take a deep breath and appreciate everyday life.