Monday, October 10, 2011

A Beautiful City for Rejuvenation

There were a lot of reasons I chose to come to New Zealand to do my research on children’s lawyers. First, and most important for the research, is that New Zealand is currently the only country that routinely appoints lawyers to represent children in custody (not the word here) cases. Second, I knew some people here in the legal profession who could help me get acquainted with it. Third, it is beautiful. 

I got to see a lot of the NZ beauty back in January when I first arrived, and I took a wee trip up to Napier in June to grab some sun, but much of my time here has been spent in front of a computer. Sure, the scenery is gorgeous, but my back is also to the window. And don’t get me started about the wind . . . it’s killing me. So, with my rough draft sent to my advisor, and Yom Kippur approaching, I knew it was a perfect time to take a few days and get away to somewhere beautiful.

I chose Queenstown. Had I done more research, I might have chosen not to go, but luckily, I’m not very good at planning. Queenstown exists as a city for one reason – tourists. The population of 15,000 all work in some form of tourism. Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world, claiming fame as the city where bungy jumping was invented. But that is just the beginning of the possibilities. You can skydive, parasail, paraglide, jetboat, swing through canyons, etc. Of course, I knew about that, but I tend to not like incredibly touristy places, and had I known that Queenstown is New Zealand’s number 1 tourist destination, I may have stayed away. But I did not know that, so I went.

There are no words to describe the awesomeness that is Queenstown especially in the spring. The city sits on Queenstown Bay, a small inlet off the massive Wakatipu Lake. Overshadowing the lake is the Remarkables, a mountain range also known as the Southern Alps. It is an alpine land of epic proportions, and each step reveals new beauty. But the beauty is deeper than the eyes. The Earth itself is full of vibrant energy, and I have no doubt the Maori were right to call what is now Queenstown Hill, “Te Tapu-Nui,” which “signifies intense sacredness” according to the plaque on the hill. It was on that hill where I found my breath again, where I felt my shoulders drop away from my ears on their own accord, and the beauty of the world filled my soul again. And it was while taking the time to stop and notice that I saw how spring emerges.

Sometimes you just have to get away.

I also took a day away from news on Saturday, which was Yom Kippur. Fasting from food is difficult for me because I get sick, but I decided to fast from my internet addiction, and it was a great decision. Several times throughout the day, I found myself reaching for my phone to instinctively check my email only to remember that there were beautiful mountains, trees, and a lake beckoning me instead. I was happy to give them my undivided attention.

And Queenstown offered one more thing I have had trouble finding in New Zealand - healthy food in restaurants. Do not misunderstand, I love Indian food as much as anyone, but it is not the healthiest, and the one thing I miss more than anything from the United States are healthy salads/sandwiches. Ok, Trader Joe's is still up there, but the sentiment is the same. Healthy food is not easy to find here, especially outside of Wellington and Auckland. But Queenstown had two great restaurants . . . and a Mexican one, where I did not eat, but you have to see this sign.

Some things should not be allowed.

Going to Queenstown was one of the best decisions I have ever made, and it also helped me face another fear – heights! I jumped off a mountain, but not with a rope attached to my ankle. Instead, I was attached to another person and a glider. I went paragliding. It was absolutely incredible. Not only was the view fantastic, but the feeling of being in the air and gliding back down to the Earth was unlike anything I have ever experienced before. If you have the opportunity, take it. I was scared to go, but I made sure to announce my plans on facebook. I did not want to face the public ridicule of backing out from fear. It was awesome.

The Remarkables at sunrise.

The next morning at sunrise (yes, I get up early)!

No words, simply incredible. :)

A view from the sacred mountain.

Emerging pinecones. I finally took the time to pay attention. Nature is amazing!

So the cheesy Lord of the Rings Tour, paragliding, hiking, and sitting and meditating on a beach helped me place the thesis behind for a few moments and remember there is more to New Zealand, and life, than sitting with my back to a window staring at a computer screen.

Thanks, Queenstown!

© Rebecca Stahl 2011, all rights reserved. 


  1. I like your idea of "fasting" from the Internet. Might take that from you next year. (I really should do it every week but just can't imagine it!)

  2. Funny, you look the same in your picture with Brendan as I did - great smile and joy being up in the air. And yes, he is definitely the same "guide" that I had. Glad you faced your fear and that you re-connected with nature. Love, me