People often ask me where they should go if they were to visit New Zealand. Kiwis living aboard, or anyone living away from their place of origin, often become ambassadors for that country, being able to offer inside information on where is best to visit. Up until last week I would have suggested that anywhere in New Zealand was a great place to visit but after spending the last 5 days in Cromwell, I really must insist that you come to the south of the South Island when you next visit New Zealand.

My parents retired earlier this year, moving from our family home in Wellington to a beautiful spot called Cromwell which is 55km east of Queenstown. After our quick jaunt in Wellington last week we flew into Queenstown to see Mum and Dads new place and I’d get to show off more of New Zealand to Matt and the kids. Queenstown certainly made me look good.

It’s almost like an episode of the Simpsons when they exaggerate the features of a place by having them all happening at once. On the way out of the airport we passed a river that had a shotover jet whizzing past. There were paraguilders off in the distance and tourists everywhere - it sounds overwhelming, even tacky possibly but once you look around you see why so many people want to come here. The landscape is extraordinary. 

Queenstown and its surrounding area was carved out by the melting of the Wakatipu Glacier and has some of the most picturesque mountains and valleys in the world. Everywhere you look is stunning and it doesn’t just stop at Queenstown. The drive to Mum and Dads place was amazing as we followed the winding Kawarau River through incredible valley’s until the valley widens and we get plains of fruit orchards and vineyards. At this time of year you MUST stop and get some freshly picked apricots and cherries.

Mum and Dad are 2 minutes walk from Lake Dunstan which is a man-made lake that is a result of the Clyde Dam. It’s so clear, I can see why Dad wanted to move here to fly fish. The kids have swam in a different yet equally as magic lake everyday. I feel extremely lucky that this part of the world will become a regular spot for us to visit. Thanks Mum and Dad for choosing to retire here!

I realised that this is the last blog of 2023. I had originally planned to think about some New Year's resolutions but on my run this morning I decided that I didn’t need any new year's resolutions. This is not because I’m smashing it and don’t need to improve at all but is because over the last few years I’ve come to realise that all the things that are important to me, the tools that will make my life as fulfilling as possible are life long pursuits and all I have to do to maintain the current course as best I can.

This doesn’t mean doing the same thing, NO WAY, it's more about keeping the same mentality or perspective no matter what you’re facing. Going for a run this morning is a great example. It took all my might to get up at 6am instead of sleeping in so I could run before the sun came up. It’s hard but getting my heart rate up and really working my body for a good 30 minutes has immeasurable effects on my mental health as well as my physical.

Being on holiday gives me the opportunity to take my time and enjoy the scenery more but I still run. It's not a chance to have a break, take a week or two off. If anything I need it more than normal since Mum’s been feeding us for the last week. My runs this week have also been along the banks of Lake Dunstan. I can’t really begin to describe how amazing the scenery is. I have mountain ranges on either side of me and there is not a single soul (if you exclude all of the wildlife) out but me. 

Being present in these moments and appreciating how incredible they are is another life long pursuit I’m forever working on. Gratitude truly is the key to a fulfilling existence. It was easy this morning while I was running in this beautiful landscape but I'm also good at finding it in all the places - the custom queue at the airport example. This mindset in itself is a lifelong pursuit and the most important one I can ever have.

As 2023 draws to a close I wish you all the best for 2024. Put Reasons not to Worry by Bridget Delaney on your New Years reading list if you want some help to start things on the right foot. Last year’s Summer of Stoicism has helped solidify and put to words some of the ways I was thinking. Living each day as if it is our last really is the only way to live.

Video of the week
Mr Beast: I built a 100 wells in Africa
Podcast of the week
20 Square Blocks: The seagull that soared
Font of the week
La Contraste: Font of the week by Naïma Ben Ayed Bureau

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