Here, in the Taranaki region of New Zealand, I can walk from my home to the beach in five minutes. If I choose, I can follow a pathway that leads from that beach to the next beach and so forth for 12kms of gorgeous coast line. Interspersed between the beaches are parks and farms, rivers and homes. I pass people who smile to me while they walk their curious dogs.
You see, Taranaki isn’t on most travellers ‘New Zealand Must Do’ list, but it’s still a beautiful place to live in and it shows that you could go anywhere in New Zealand and encounter stunning landscapes and friendly people – it’s not just the tourist towns.
I often meet travellers who have seen much more of New Zealand than I have, who have done all the adventure activities that we project out onto the world as our ‘extreme kiwi lifestyle’, but that’s not really what New Zealand is about to the average kiwi.
To us, this is it. The peace and quiet, a shared beer in the backyard on a summers evening, that languid bicycle ride past cows with an ice-cream balanced in hand, letting the dog run amok on an empty beach, the flax bushes and pohutukawa flowers.
This is what it means to be kiwi.