The End of the World

When I first told my mom I was heading to New Zealand, her first reaction was to say, “Samantha, what if you fall off a cliff?!”. I rolled my eyes and assured her that this was not a possibility (I do have more than two brain cells, contrary to popular belief). Today, however, I proved her half right. Sorry mom.

After a disappointing start to our weekend, with our plans to Akaroa being cancelled due to weather, I didn’t have high hopes. I had forgotten, of course, that here in New Zealand, all you need is some motivation coupled with a pair of hiking shoes and paradise is right around the corner.

Our group decided that after a rough start and a low-key day on Saturday, we needed to get outdoors, deciding to hike Te Onepoto (also known as Taylor’s Mistake) and Godley head. We took the bus to the absolute very end of the line, landing in Sumner and having to walk to the trailhead. After enjoying lunch on the beach, and chasing off some hungry seagulls, we made our way out to the hike.

Unfortunately, we had a bit of trouble getting to it. Asking locals for help, we eventually landed somewhere around where we were supposed to be, but with a lack of signage, we still couldn’t locate the bay very well.

Upon reaching several dead ends with fences blocking our paths, two of us decided to take matters into our own hands. My friend Wes and I hopped one of the fences and preceded on a little path carved out in the long grass. Our group was less than pleased, and continued to find their own way.

Wes and I continued a long this makeshift path and wound up looking over a ledge unto the sea below. The view was incredible; with wildflowers dotting the top and then a sheer drop to the bottom with nothing but ocean ahead. Content with our discovery, we opted to head back and rejoin the group.

However, upon emerging back onto the road we had left, our group was nowhere to be found. Not all that concerned, we continued along the road, looking for any sign of the rest of our party. We stumbled upon a sign labeled Taylor’s Mistake and of course, we followed it. Past a dirt path, a barbed wire fence, and an open gate, we found a tiny slice of paradise.

Jutting out several hundred meters from the mainland, a narrow peninsula filled with wildflowers and shrubbery laid just under the ledge we stood on, awaiting discovery. With the clay being quite soft from the previous day’s rain, we carefully made our way down the steep climb onto the thin patch of land. With the ocean waves hundreds of meters below thrashing against the side of the cliffs, and the sun beating down on our faces, I don’t think either of us has ever felt so at peace.

There’s something about standing on the edge of a cliff, with nothing but ocean out ahead, which provides an unparalleled sense of clarity. It felt as though we were standing at the end of the world. I have never felt so incredibly small in my entire lifetime. Not in a negative way, but in a way which provided perspective. The worries and stress of the world seemed to dissolve with each gust of the sea breeze that came over the rocks.

Flocks of birds made their way to roost in the sides of the cliffs and albatross dove beneath the waves below. The scene felt as though it had been taken from the movie screen. We stayed on the cliff for a good 45 minutes or so, taking in the sights and just the general relaxed vibe. Sitting at the top, we didn’t speak, just listened, watched, and relished in our little paradise. At one point, we both took turns, stood atop the very edge and yelled on the stop of our lungs, a victory cry of sorts I suppose. I don’t think anything has ever felt better.

Eventually, we elected to head back and rejoin the group, working our way down the road to the bottom where a small beach marked the start to Godley’s head. There we found our less than pleased classmates.

I don’t think either of us could stop smiling.

The rest of the trip proved to be quite nice as well, but nothing topped that peninsula. We hiked our way to the top of Godley’s head and then turned back as the wind warned of a coming storm. By the time we reached the bus stop, I was pretty spent. Looking at my Fitbit now, I have officially walked 11.07 miles today (this includes my walk to the uni and back, however).

I topped off my day by celebrating my host sister’s birthday. She turned eighteen this past Thursday, so we had a nice dinner and a cake to wash it down (I missed dinner and caught the end of dessert). Rachel moves out this week and I have to say I’m definitely going to miss her. While our paths don’t cross as often as I would like due to busy schedules, I always enjoy talking to her. She’s finishing out her college career at the University of Canterbury though so I do hope she comes back and says goodbye before I leave.

Today was definitely one for the books. Until this point in the trip, it seemed as though every day, something better than the last has come about. I don’t think that this can be topped, however. It is still hard for me to believe that such a place as this one can exist on earth. I think that the name of the destination we were searching for, Taylor’s Mistake, is quite fitting. A mistake is what led us to find this place, and I have to say that it was the best damn mistake I’ve ever made.