A Brief Sojourn in Wanaka

Maybe it’s because the weather cleared up, maybe it’s because the Fall colours were on full display, maybe it’s because I FINALLY got to do some adventure sports – but I freaking LOVED Wanaka!





Since the campsite I was planning to use was already full, I had to stay somewhere else that was nearly three times more expensive and with no facilities but a drop toilet. Ah, well – I was only going to be there at night, anyway. I set to exploring the township.

As I was not previously able to do paragliding or heli-hiking due to poor weather conditions, when I went to the iSite, I kept my eyes peeled for something extravagantly fun to do. I was thinking something along the lines of sky diving, but when I saw aerobatic lessons with U-Fly, I signed me right up! Thankfully, the weather was perfect and they were able to book me for the same day.


Finally, I would be as cool as Snoopy

The woman who took me up was Gabrielle, she was in her early twenties and had been doing this for years. We got along famously.

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It was a glorious day, perfectly clear and calm. Gabrielle took us to 10,000ft and started the aerobatics. They were fun to go through and created a very curious sensation – utter weightlessness then 3x your actual weight as you came back around and upright. She went through a number of moves then taught me step by step. I then took over full control and did a Barrel Roll, Spin, and Stall Turn. The Stall Turn was my favorite, and I was able to execute all three flawlessly by my second attempts. Before we went back down, Gabrielle took over again and, since I was still feeling ok at this point, I let her go all out with whatever tricks she wanted to take us through. I had an absolute BLAST and it was such a unique experience – truly a memory I will treasure forever. IMG_0048

The day after flying was a bit drizzly. I had been planning to go hiking but wasn’t really feeling it. Even though the day before had been glorious, now I was feeling anxious and unsettled – as is so often the case with depression and anxiety. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and I was just feeling vaguely upset. I took to good ol’ Google to see what there was to do on a Sunday and turns out it was Easter! I hadn’t been to church in Lord knows how long, and I wondered if being around people might help me feel better. So, even though I was venturing outside my comfort zone, I went to a church service.

I grew up in the church, but over the past 6 or 7 years, they make me wildly uncomfortable, much of which has to do with how cult-like I find them. Maybe it also has to do with being an Empath and seeing/feeling so much of what’s going on behind the happy masks and positive exteriors of the people who attend. Of course, being a new, solo woman in a small church in a small New Zealand town on Easter, I was immediately set upon by well-intentioned people trying their damndest to be friendly. Everyone wanted to talk to me, and not only was I invited to go to an Easter luncheon at the associate pastor’s house, but an old lady invited me to stay with her at her house! I went to the luncheon with a woman closer to my age and it was utterly delicious – a really fun and relaxing way to spend an afternoon that had cleared up nicely. It felt good to talk with new people (and weren’t trying to force any religious talk). I was wary about taking the old woman up on her offer, but then I thought, “Eh, why not?” So I gave her a call and ended up staying at her house for two nights, sleeping in a proper bed and getting a real shower. Not to mention she and her husband even fed me every day! They were such a lovely couple, very kind and generous and it was a moving experience that I definitely needed at that moment.

I spent these few days trying to calm my anxious spirit by doing some easy exploring and a touch of wine tasting. I can definitely say, New Zealand is soothing for my soul…


About juliamenn

Performer. Artist. Author. Lover of food and travel. Animal enthusiast. Avid reader. Globe-trotter.
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