I spent four days in Golden Bay this weekend. Think of a map of the world. Then think of the small collection of islands in the bottom right hand corner of the globe, to the bottom right of Australia. That's NZ. Of the two largest islands in the cluster, think of the southernmost one. See how at the top it curves away in an odd spit of land known as Farewell Spit? Golden Bay is beneath the Spit, sandwiched between two national parks, and is pretty remote, as far as places on earth go. It is inhabited by dairy farmers, hippies and transient German tourists, so far as I can tell. It's pretty much my favourite.
We went for a wedding and it was lovely, despite torrential rain that ruined the marquee two nights before and saturated the grass and guests on the day of. We crammed into the local hall and celebrated loudly the illegal marriage of two old and dear friends (illegal only in the sense that they're doing the licence thing later and had an unregistered celebrant, not illegal in terms of consanguinity or anything scandalous, should you be concerned). While they don't live in Golden Bay, they are civil servants who would love to be hippies making goat cheese off the land. We gifted them chooks and a coop for their backyard as their wedding present. They're chuffed.
We stayed in a bach beside the water with fourteen-ish old friends from scattered corners. We laughed, we reminisced, we hugged, we swam, we ate together.
The sun came out the day following the wedding. We celebrated by a taking trips to the clearest, cleanest springs I have ever seen and to a remote, windswept beach on the Abel Tasman coast where seal pups were playing in a rockpool. It was magical. Te Waikoropupu Springs and Wharariki Beach, respectively, should you ever find yourselves in that neck of the woods. The springs are wai tapu or sacred water, so you can't touch or drink the water, but nothing I have ever seen has made me so thirsty in my life. And the seal pups! Well, I have no words for the seal pups except for horrific things like ADORABLE.
It was restorative. I used to have family living in that neck of the woods, so I called Dad every day for recommendations and to discuss the lay of the land, the size of the ice-creams. It was a lovely way of reminiscing about childhood trips spent swimming in the river, panning for gold and running over the dunes. It was precious.
On the way home, we stopped in Nelson for lunch with Dad's two surviving sisters, his brother and their spouses. Dad is the youngest by a reasonable stretch and it is tough to see them grapple with the mortality of their naughty, independent wee brother. We focussed instead on my baby and the next generations of grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. It was lovely to see them.
We came home last night to a plastered master bedroom, two happy kitties and a boat load of washing, following an unfortunate incident in P's bag with a bottle of red wine. I really, really needed that trip. I needed the laughter and the happiness of a wonderful life event and the natural beauty and the escape from the everyday and the time with family and the sleep, oh god, did I need the sleep.
I am really a lucky girl, I think.