July 1, 2020
It seems like the last five years have been a pretty crazy time in New Zealand (and the rest of the world, for that matter!). Working outside exposes us to the unpredictability of the natural world more than most. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, storms, floods, raging seas....the list seems endless. Never in my wildest dreams would I have picked a virus to shut down our thriving tourism industry.
But it did, and it's not the end of the world. Being a seasonal business (October - April) we only missed out on a few weeks of our season before the borders were closed and the country locked down. This gave me plenty of time to pack things up and give the gear a good check and clean. I stayed on at Awaroa Lodge through the lockdown period and I'm so glad I did. Helping pack up and clean the lodge with the rest of the misplaced staff was a great way to pass the time and gave us a routine and sense of purpose. There will probably never be another time when the Abel Tasman National Park will have so few people, and the weather was amazing! Having access to short walks and the beach right there was such a blessing, and avoiding the panic and madness going on in the towns and cities is something I'm so grateful for.
Winter is usually a bit of a scrap for me regardless of natural disasters or global pandemics. Two years ago I was paddling around the majestic wilderness of Vancouver Island, last year I was helping a friend with his glazing business in Christchurch and this year I've found myself cutting down wilding pine trees in the Canterbury High Country. I don't intend to work all winter and want to make the most of this opportunity to see New Zealand without the tourists. I can't wait to explore some of the North Island and catch up with friends along the way. I don't have much set in stone but a big sea kayak trip in Northland/Bay of Islands is on the cards and some good old kiwi tramps to keep the legs from going stale.
Next summer we won't be changing much at all. I'm quietly optimistic that Kiwis will see Awaroa as one of the best options for a compromise to their overseas excursions. There are so many good reasons to visit this summer - quiet beaches, uncrowded tracks, less boat traffic on the water, great deals from accommodation and activity providers.... and it's all so easy to get to. We'll run our usual season, early October through to Easter Weekend, still offering the classic half day guided sea kayak trip and stand up paddle board rental service. I expect it won't be as busy as previous seasons, but what will be will be. I'm not one to complain about having time on my hands.
With all of the uncertainty and mayhem going on around the world at the moment its important that we spend our time and energy on what we have some control over. I've felt the relentless draw of news channels and social media over the last few months more than ever before and I'm really sick of it. It's time to remove ourselves from the drama going on in the world and spend our time making sure we're looking after ourselves, our friends and our family.
Stay safe, Kiwis! Hopefully see you in the summer.