Sometimes the universe leads you in the right direction
My honeymoon was on the far side of the world. We chose a destination but made no plans.
We let our intuition guide us. We wanted to listen to our hearts, to follow our desires, to do what we felt we should do, and not what we were expected to do.
We followed winding paths through misty mountains, crossed one-way bridges over bottomless canyons, stopped at old hotels when their history called to us.
We drank divine coffee lying in wild and overgrown pastures beside silvery glacial rivers.
We lay outdoors at night in steaming antique bathtubs gazing at shooting stars and mysterious constellations.
We got lost on paths through primeval rainforests dripping with ancient moss and flanked by bright blue mushrooms.
We chose unmarked dirt roads and came unexpected and breathless on vast turquoise lakes rimmed by snowcapped peaks.
We travelled for a month in a natural world so spectacular that it stunned us into quiet and heartfelt mutterings: “I just cannot believe it ... how can it be so beautiful?”
We were, of course, on the South Island of New Zealand.
How did we discover the extraordinary? We made a pact not to plan anything in advance.
We did not book any hotels or cars or tours, we did not make a list of what tourist places we should and must see.
We only knew that after a visit to our friends on the North Island, we were on our own.
We listened appreciatively to their well-meaning advice and then, like travellers throughout the ages, we headed out and followed our own footsteps.
It opened us to the unexpected. After a few days, we came to a little mountain town surrounded by glaciers. Every hotel and home was full.
Desperate, we found a tiny cottage for rent far away on the western coast and set off on a six-hour drive over the Southern Alps and down to the sea.
We had no idea what to expect, yet the drive became so spectacular, we didn’t care.
We arrived at a tiny settlement 20 kilometres off the coastal road. No stores, just a handful of ramshackle houses and an abandoned pier on a tidal river.
We were happy that at least we had a place to sleep, even if there was nothing there.
We threw our bags into the unlocked cottage and, although we could not see the ocean, we smelled the iodine of seaweed and felt the rumble of a mighty sea.
It was almost sunset, so we went for a walk. We crossed an old grass airstrip and headed through a line of trees and underbrush and stepped out into the open.
We froze in shock. The sun was low on the horizon, and the sea was crashing with a force and fury that sent up plumes of mist turned golden by the light.
It was not a beach, it was a landscape, stretching as far to the north and south as the eye could see.
Wild and empty and savagely beautiful, with wrecks of twisted driftwood and sand the colour of steel. Sand dunes and sea-polished stones stretched for many kilometres and vanished in the mist.
It was primordial and untouched and wild beyond taming.
The current ripped with frightening force along the surf line. We went out to it and stopped.
Stunned and speechless, we walked along the beach.
It is difficult to find the right words to describe our emotions and feelings — gratitude and appreciation that there are still places so wild and untouched, and a feeling that you are just a speck on this exquisite planet.
We absorbed this splendour, drank it in, listened to the roar of wind and waves, smelled the fresh tang of salt, and watched the sun, slowly descending into the remote waters of the Tasman Sea.
Suddenly, in the distance, we saw an arbour made of grey driftwood, just four quaintly wriggling tree trunks. We went closer to better see it.
“This is a wedding gazebo,” we exclaimed. On the sand in the centre was laid a heart made of small white stones where the bride and groom had stood. By high tide it would all be gone.
What a crazy and beautiful idea to get married here, on this deserted, endless beach with a view of the raging ocean on one side, and on the other, the rumbling glaciers of the Southern Alps.
Why did they choose this place? What connects them to it? We started guessing, offering the most far-fetched and romantic reasons. Then, we joined hands and repeated our wedding vows.
We stood for a long time and looked at this heart and at the sea. Sometimes, we don’t need to plan something very hard. Sometimes the universe leads us in the right direction. We just have to follow.
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her here: www.ninalondon.com