– Whananaki North –
A few weeks ago my kiwi friend Tee told me about one of her most treasured places in the world, her bach (kiwi slang for holiday house and pronounced “batch”) in Whananaki, which is where she spent all her summers growing up.
She described it’s beautiful bay-beaches, crystal-clear oceans full of colourful fish, islands, and green hills home to sheep and horses. When she invited me to spend the long weekend with her my answer was a clear yes!
As kids, Tee and her siblings used to play in a small river next to their plot, if lucky the river would wash them all the way down to the ocean. There used to be a small garden bridge crossing the river, that they used to climb, but it had been unfortunately ripped out by a storm a couple of years ago and they had grown out of replacing it.
She told me how they would go kayaking to the small island opposite the beach and take barefoot walks on the sharp cliffs, swimming and snorkeling in salt water rock pools on their way to nearby beaches. Sometimes they would go scuba diving to catch dinner, they picked up crayfish and other sea animals by hand and placed them in nets. Their mom would always collect green sea urchin shells to decorate the shelves in the kitchen.
Listening to Tee describing her childhood summers and seeing where she had created her personality got me thinking about my own childhood… Growing up in Sweden is, obviously, very different compared to growing up in New Zealand, there’s more snow . . .
It always amazes me how, every time I live in a new country and meet it’s people, I wish that I could’ve experienced a bit of their childhood… It’s not that my own childhood is any less beautiful or unique, after all it made me, me.
It’s just that I’m so curious as to how it would’ve been, and more so: who I would be today, if I would’ve grown up on the opposite side of the planet… with flippers on my feet and salt water in my hair, or with a 30 minutes train ride from New York City. I would’ve been a different person, possibly with different dreams and aspirations.
If I wouldn’t have spent hours of wild winters inside drawing and reading books as a child, would I still be writing today? Would I still love photography? I would’ve most definitely be a much more skilled surfer than I am today that’s for sure…
But… which interests, talents and passions come with the souls of humans… and which are we grown into loving?
Anyway… even though me and Tee have grown up miles apart in different natures and cultures, unaware of each others existence only a couple months ago, there we were exchanging memories and stories at the same table, snacking on crackers and hummus.
I sometimes forget how lucky we are, living in a time where sharing faraway cultures can be as easy as a 40 hour flight across the ocean.
What is one of your most memorable cultural experiences?
I’d love to hear about it, tell me in the comments 😀
Whananaki is located about 4 hours drive north from Auckland (close to Bay of Islands).