Explore Your Backyard

As I sit here, on my bed with a cup of tea, Duncan to my right playing Pokemon Alpha Saphire on his Nintendo, and the world quiet after a busy sunny day, I contemplate something that happened today. It was just a small thing, insignificant in the grand scheme of the world, but it made me think. Today I went about my daily business. I cleaned the bathroom, I cooked a frittata for dinner, and I went to the gym. It was at the gym, that an extraordinary thing happened. I went on the CrossTrainer…

That might not sound like much, but it was on the CrossTrainer (a machine I am not partial to), that I discovered a new program. You can choose to “virtually” walk or run terrain around the world. Someone with a camera has walked and filmed famous tracks and you, as the person working out, can watch the video and interact with these runs. The purpose is to walk the terrain, with the machine altering its resistance, difficulty and speed based on the way the land is, and the way you move. You are given an hour to do all the walks, but I finished in just over 40 minutes. The most wonderful thing about this program was that it was filmed in New Zealand. Our unspoiled naturally beautiful backyard. From the safety of the gym in Takapuna, I was trekking the Franz Josef Glacier, climbing the peaks of national parks, and doing the famous crossings seen in adventure tourism videos! It was exciting, it was beautiful… and once it was finished, I just had to jump off the machine and I was back in Takapuna. It all seemed perfect…

That was until I realised, that I have lived in New Zealand since I was 8 years old, and I have never trekked the Franz Josef Glacier, I’ve never walked across the national parks in the South Island, and I have never bothered to do the 3-day Tongariro Crossing…In fact, the closest I have come is doing the program on the CrossTrainer today. This made me somewhat melancholic. People travel from the far reaches of the globe to New Zealand, just to do those things! Yet I, living in this country, have never bothered. Why? Why are my weekends spent in bed, watching television, or other useless endeavours? Why, when I spend my week stuck indoors, inside the mall working, or in a library studying, or in a gym working out; why don’t I go out and about at the weekends?

I admit, I have done it once or twice. In July Duncan and I visited a native garden near our house called Fernglen Gardens. It was very pretty, several acres of native bush designed to show us what Auckland would have looked like prior to human colonisation. It was one of those spontaneous “Hullo what’s this?” moments, where you happen across something and explore it. We really enjoyed ourselves. However, despite being in the middle of suburbia, there was nobody else around. We were the lone ventures. In October we visited the Auckland Maritime Museum. While this was a planned visit, we mostly went because we were broke, and it’s free to go. It was glorious fun, and very interesting. Yet that’s only 2 times in the last 6 months that I can count that we have gone out and explored our homeland. It is kind of sad. But I would say we are not alone in this. You almost never visit things in your home. It is such a shame, there are so many wonderful things you can do. They won’t be there forever.

I have challenged myself to explore of my city, and indeed my country. I live in the most beautiful country in the world. My city is a huge urban metropolis surrounded by beaches, forests, and islands. I will not let this go to waste. From this day forward I intend to try and do one thing a month that is new and exciting. Be it visit a garden or forest, or explore a new beach, or try a new area for restaurants and shops, or perhaps visit one of the many islands in the gulf? I also want to get out and about and DO the things I have never done. I want to do the Tongariro Crossing at some point in my life. I want to visit the unspoiled wilderness of the South Island.

I also challenge you, my dear reader, to do the same. I know it is easy to get into the monotony of working, cooking, cleaning, studying, and general modern life that it is hard to do new things. But do you really want to get to an age where you cant do it and wish you had? It doesn’t matter where you live – be it America, Europe, Asia or Africa – explore your backyard!

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