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A Year Around The World

Middle Age in Middle Earth.

NEW ZEALAND | Thursday, 5 February 2015 | Views [607]

I consider myself a youngish 44. I’m not saying I look any younger than I am. Possibly the opposite. But in spirit….I feel younger, or at least act younger than many people my age. I like hanging out with younger people. I’ll get up on an improv stage and run around like an imbecile to elicit a laugh. I’ll get down in the dirt to play with kids or pets. I’ll say inappropriate things. I’ll eat inappropriate foods (e.g. pop tarts slathered with peanut butter). I enjoy staying up late and getting up late. I don’t golf. I could happily live the rest of my life without attending another wine tasting.


Despite, my self-ascribed youthful demeanor, I am simply too old for some things. For instance, I can’t stay up drinking and clubbing until 4am anymore (not that I ever really did much of that). I can’t sleep in dorms at a backpackers. In fact, I can hardly sleep at all if I don’t have a decent mattress and pillows. I can’t see the menu in dark restaurants without reading glasses. I can’t stay on top of every internet meme or new app. I loath selfies and most pop music.


For those of your who don’t know, I visited New Zealand before, about twenty years ago. During that trip, I engaged in several of the adventurous activities for which New Zealand is known. I repelled into a cave and hiked an underground river. I white water rafted over a 7 meter waterfall. I bathed in hot mud pools. 


Given my greying hair, stiffening joints and well formed sense of my own mortality, I questioned whether I’d be willing or able to tackle such adventurous pursuits this time around. Well, I’m happy to report that I am, and that I’ve lived to tell the tale. 


Two of the greatest highlights of the trip so far occurred in the past few days, and they were both quintessentially New Zealand extreme. First, I went canyoning. Not familiar with that particular sport? It basically involves traveling down a raging, narrow river by any means necessary. You repel (or “abseil” as the call it here) down waterfalls. Zip line across gorges. Cliff jump. Water slide, and essentially just have the best time you can have in a wetsuit and helmet. Second, I took a three hour helicopter flight across the Southern Alps, with the door taken off the helicopter so that I could shoot clear photos of all the spectacular scenery between Mount Aspiring National Park and Milford Sound. It was truly one of the most breathtaking things I have ever done. We zoomed over countless waterfalls pouring out of massive blue glaciers. We landed at a pristine alpine lake, a sprawling mountaintop snowfield and an isolated beach swarming with baby seals. It would take days if not weeks to drive, hike, climb and swim into all of these places, but thanks to the magic of the whirlybird,  I was able to access them all in the span of an afternoon. 


I’m very blessed to have the time, resources and (even at 44) the physical ability to do such amazing things. 

Tags: aspiring, canyoning, glacier, helicopter, milford sound, new zealand


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