October 20, 2014

New Zealand, Winter : Going South

One misty morning, my friends drop me off at the ferry terminal in Wellington. They're going home soon, to France. I am going to the South Island for six weeks. I hold them into my arms and I think that I am so lucky to have them. The next three hours I spend drinking the salty air and the beautiful Marlborough sounds. The cold is petrifying but I stand outside the whole trip, just moving around the ferry to catch the best views of the sounds opening in front of us.

On arrival, I mindlessly board a bus to Nelson. From the first mile, the world is different. The woods around us are dark and mighty, the hilltops shrouded in white mist (or was it clouds stuck on their sharp edges ?). Mid-trip, I notice the girl sitting across the aisle. She has dyed blond hair, a red sweater, and features that could belong to a queen. One of those people that instantly attract my attention, because everything they are is visually striking. If you don't know this about me yet, let me confess that I am a little weird regarding how I behave with strangers. Pretending to photograph the landscape, I sneak a picture of her as she is looking out the window of the bus. Little did I know that she would do exactly the same thing to me, not two minutes after. We laughed about it and became friends. Her name is Charlotte, and she takes pictures too.

We spend the next day together exploring Nelson. It's warmer here, and all the trees are in bloom. A brown river runs through the town and guides us to the edge of the woods. There, we climb a hill and one of the most beautiful view is offered to us. We eat our picnic at the top of the hill, and talk about family stories and photography. In the afternoon, we climbed down the hill and wander around, walking in tall grass in a meadow and finding ourselves by a stream that we decide to cross barefoot. We giggle as the cold water strokes our legs, and spend a long time throwing pebbles into the stream, something that we find strangely cathartic.

On the way home, we find an organic shop and drink the most delicious juices. At the end of the day, we part and her laugh lingers in my ears. I am so grateful for these two days : movement, strangeness, reassurance, the warmth of the spring and the cold of the river, and the universe that always seems to open new spaces for me to breathe in and enjoy this trip. Next stop, Abel Tasman.

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