Mt Cook & Kea Point: 10 Years Of Pilgrimage – Part Three


“You don’t have to be a fantastic hero to do certain things, to compete. You can be just an ordinary chap, sufficiently motivated to reach challenging goals.” – Sir Edmund Hillary

The pilgrimage started here, two days and ten years ago. We continued here, yesterday, when I’d grown up a little. We finish here, today. I don’t know when I’ll next be at Mt Cook and I’m excited to think what may have happened by then – going from history, something will have…

I missed Bella the van when I got to Queenstown, however hard it had been to get rid of her. I also missed Partner-in-crime – we were parted for a couple of months while I tried to sell Bella on the Gold Coast. Cai went to work in Adelaide and I went to stay with our pal, the late and loved Kade, and his family, after an abortive attempt to live alone in Bella, in Byron Bay and off bread & butter (alliteration unintentional). I wasn’t sure when or even if we’d be together again.

But we were 😀 Cai’d been in Auckland for the world cup semis, because Wales were doing so well (we’d even been in the same bar the same night without knowing it), but had never been further south than Auckland. So when he came to join me, I gleefully hired a wee camper van and picked him up from Christchurch. First stop – the hot pools of Hamner Springs. Second? Mt Cook. 

We walked to Kea Point and stared at… well, where the peak should be. We were shrouded in mist, the mountain in cloud. You couldn’t see the landscape but I knew it was there. Remote and overwhelming, the sheer magnitude of the place surrounded us. “This…” I said, “This is New Zealand.” 

That was winter 2012. Come summer, we had a place of our own and were road tripping every weekend, exploring, fishing, loving life. We went back to Mt Cook. This time we had bluebird skies. Only a year before, I hadn’t known where I was going – this time, I’d arrived. 

Last weekend, Easter 2014, our good friend came over from Sydney. The last time we saw him in New Zealand, we’d road tripped to Ohau with Kade & co. Since then, so much has happened. We lost lovely Kade, one of the wonderful ones who, along with his whole family and girlfriend, wrote us letters to help us gain the passport stamps declaring us NZ residents that arrived last week. I’ve moved house, written a book and planned a trip back to the UK to visit. It’s been a crazy few months.

It was so good to be together again. We reunited in the pouring rain, but it cleared the next day and the cloud slowly swirled around Mt Cook like a halo as we trekked to Kea Point. The sun even popped out, warming our backs and lighting up the glaciers. We played peekaboo with Coe’s new camera (which brought us the above view) and yarned while we tramped about. Perhaps it’s not just been Mt Cook, but the company I’ve had on every visit there that has made it such a special place in my mind.

I’ve been awed by nature so many times now in that national park – and I’m sure I will be again. I’ve gone there for beauty and wonder and wanderings. But I’ve also lived and laughed and loved. It’s people as much as place that can call fond memories to mind. I feel lucky.

Do you have a place you visit by which you can measure the changes in your life? What makes you take stock? If you’ve not already, I hope everyone finds their Mt Cook. 

4 thoughts on “Mt Cook & Kea Point: 10 Years Of Pilgrimage – Part Three

  1. Piper Bayard

    Sounds like a wonderful trip!

    We had a place like that. It wasn’t far away from our home. Just a wide spot along a mountain river. I went there first with my dog right after I met a certain man, thinking about whether or not I should go out with him again. That man and I went there together when we were thinking of getting married, debating whether to buy a house, pregnant with our first child, taking shadow pictures with our family of four, scattering the dog’s ashes, taking my mother out for her last day in the mountains before she died, and mourning her once she was only the voice I heard on the wind and in my heart. I can’t count the life moments we shared at our wide spot in the river. Last year, that wide spot changed forever. A flood ravaged the canyon, taking away the road, the soil, the trees, the animals . . . everything. I realize that perhaps, as I write this, it is only appropriate. We are here. We laugh, and we love, and then we are gone.

    1. Sara Litchfield Post author

      Ah Piper, what a place to have had and lost… you can tell by the wonderful way you write about it that it must have meant a lot. Sometimes you can’t go back, but the important parts are held in your heart.

  2. Deborah Makarios

    I don’t have a place 🙁 I tend to take stock when I move house. Or when I want to move house. Or when I haven’t moved house in a while and my feet are getting itchy (also a good time to move furniture).
    But since you mentioned it, Hanmer Springs is a place I’ve been a few times, at varyingly important times in my life. Best on a weeknight in the cool months – soak in the quiet pools while watching a crisp white moon rise through the pines.

    1. Sara Litchfield Post author

      Lol I like to move but I’m not a fan of moving house! I’ll be doing that soon as well… But I do love Hanmer Springs! It’s the first place I took my boyfriend when he landed on the island because he has a thing for hotpools… I love the forest walks there as well 🙂


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