Who knows where the path will lead?


I searched for Joe Wellington at one of New Zealand’s best beaches!

Back in December, I packed up my family and forced them to keep their eyes peeled while we went on holiday to the South Island. One stop was at Wharariki Beach near the Farewell Spit, the northernmost part of the South Island. It was a trek that reminded me of The Goonies and The Princess Bride movies, which offered a healthy dose of nostalgia.

After a slew of rainy days, we had to get out. So the five of us piled into the car and drove around the area, desperate to see some sights even if it would be through the fog. We missed the tour for the bus that goes out to the Farewell Spit (no cars allowed), but we found an awesome little farm that had a sign for a walking track to a beach. At the time, none of us were aware it was one of the best in New Zealand.

A beautiful male peacock greeted us in the parking lot, begging visitors for food. A gate led to a green hill section with a narrow gravel path to follow, one foot in front of the other. When we reached the top of the hill we were among roaming sheep and cows. I could’ve sworn I heard Wesley from The Princess Bride call out, “As you wiiiisssh!” but it was only my son repeating, “I’m a fisssh!”.


My boys following the path.
Photo by Steve Waller
My dad meets a native
photo by Steve Waller

At this point, judging by the grassy landscape covered in steaming cow pies, I was in disbelief that a beach would greet us in the end. The sheep baa’ed and the cows moo’ed but otherwise, they left us alone. I asked one cow if he happened to know anyone named Joe but he didn’t seem amused so I stayed out of his way.

Before we knew it the track turned to soft, fine sand and we were surrounded by woods. The landscape went from pastureland, to a paddock in steep hills, and now bush! Only in New Zealand. I could smell the salt of the sea and hear the crash of the waves so I figured we must be close. The others in my party went on ahead but I hung back to snap photos.



Um, wow.

The sight was a scene from Goonies: the movie with Chunk and the scary old lady and the weird Baby Ruth-guy named Sloth. Complete with Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” song in my head, I chuckled at the thought that perhaps I am now living a life movies are made from.

The past few years have been the most enriching. And that’s only because I ran full speed ahead into a life that I knew I always wanted, plus some surprises. That’s not to say it hasn’t been difficult, because it has. But there has been a lot of difficult things in my life that I’ve had to endure, and I’m grateful for those experiences that have taught me how to keep going. I guess I could say I needed the cow pies to get to the white sand beach that offers more than I ever could have dreamed.



Catching up with my whanau (family), I ran to the beach toward the sand dunes. My son, who leapt for joy and offered the sea his dance of youth, was so happy. I was so happy. This world was ours to discover, cow pies and all.

Like the movies from my childhood, I try to embrace the challenges of adventure and risk-taking. It’s  about fighting the giant, which might seem impossible because of its size. But if I try with all my might I may just be able to conquer. In order to outsmart the narcissistic scientist whose poison can get the better of me, with enough training and experience, maybe I can become immune. If I take my time to calculate my way around the booby traps, I might recognise the patterns in order to find the treasure at the end. And no amount of shock treatment can keep me from the one (or what) I love if that love is true.

Returning to our car, I was again in awe that one narrow path led us through such different landscape to this magnificent beach. As someone who has taken a few different paths in her life, it’s nice to know I’ve finally found the right one.


The seal is not Joe Wellington. Sorry.
Photo by Steve Waller

Alas, I’m still searching for Joe Wellington. But I found Wharariki Beach, which HuffPost calls, “Heaven on Earth”!

To be continued…

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