New Zealand is home, currently. I live in its quirky capital, Wellington, dubbed “the coolest little capital in the world”. Life here involves a continuous hunt for the best coffee in town, delighting in seasonal dishes at tiny establishments, and perusing boutiques and markets for local goods. Wellington is small, which means I can walk everywhere, and I’m never too far from the sea. The coastline meanders endlessly, so it’s incredibly scenic. Wellingtonians consist simultaneously of artists and public-sector workers, fostering a strong sense of community and innovation. It has been home for the last five years.
I used New Zealand as a command centre for the complex mission of healing and rediscovery. When I arrived, I didn’t know what I wanted from the experience or from life. It all seemed too complex, so I distilled it down to my simplest wish; I wanted to be in nature more. I explored the length of New Zealand in a variety of ways, and it became a mechanism for processing trauma, getting realigned, and igniting creativity. It was also when I fell in love with a New Zealander, which was not part of the plan… we’re still together five years later. New Zealand became home in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. There is spectacular beauty, yes. But I also aligned with its culture of Manaakitanga, slow living, and permission to be whoever I wanted. I reconstructed myself on these pillars and was finally able to tap into my potential.
I had to adapt significantly. Previously, I lived my life fast, but that didn’t work in New Zealand. The sudden change of pace cracked me open. Not only did it shine a light on everything I was running from, but it pushed me to re-evaluate what matters in life. It brought me from a state of disconnection and disintegration to connection and integration. The process took a long time. It wasn’t the smoothest journey, and I’m still not finished. But these days, I wake up a bit slower. I prioritise friends and community. I indulge in joy in many ways, from simple to sinful. I’m still a bit of a work junkie… I’m not sure I’ll ever shake that habit. But at least it’s aimed at something I believe in.
"I’ve formed a spiritual connection to nature in New Zealand. In a way, I can hear the trees and mountains talking to me. I use these wild spaces for my healing rituals, so my relationship to them is quite sacred."
New Zealand is very remote. It is a geological wonder with incredibly diverse landscapes and a place where one can experience the forces of nature firsthand - I’ve still not acclimated to earthquakes. Because there are no predators, the bird kingdom evolved generously, and the range of unique species culminates into the most beautiful birdsong. New Zealanders are spiritually connected to the land, and it’s not uncommon for someone to disappear on holiday for weeks in the bush. The values of slow living and reverence for nature are pillars of the culture here.
I’ve formed a spiritual connection to nature in New Zealand. In a way, I can hear the trees and mountains talking to me. I use these wild spaces for my healing rituals, so my relationship to them is quite sacred. The beauty and privacy of it all enable my most cherished practices, like meditation, yoga, running, and writing. Nature is where I go to be alone. It’s also where I go to reconnect with my friends or my beloved. It feels like home, an important reminder that the universe is a kind and gentle place and that I was put on this earth to enjoy its artistry.
Each region has something special. In the summer, I need the pristine beaches of Northland. Autumn and winter call for the wild of the South Island; Aoraki and Milford Sound are particular gems. For spring, I love the wildflowers scattered across Wellington, and it is usually a time when we break from our travels to reground at home.
Each season here brings a different set of crops, so my favourite seasonal ritual is venturing into the countryside and sampling from honesty boxes. Many farms will often sell their produce in small batches, particularly those along the main road. If you’re lucky, they will also include homemade jams, preserves, and honey. It’s a wonderful way to spend a Sunday… no matter the season, we cruise through the scenic pastures, collecting locally-grown produce, the New Zealand farm-to-table experience.
New Zealand native trees are evergreen, so there is no hallmark “golden autumn” in Wellington. However, it’s a great time for nature walks in that crisp, sunny weather. It’s also an exciting time in the kitchen as the markets (and honesty boxes) fill with pumpkins, walnuts, and lemons. If I’m feeling particularly drawn to a golden autumn, I may book a trip south to Arrowtown. The deciduous trees - albeit invasive - are dense across the hills there, and it’s a spectacular display of orange, red, and gold. It’s also when the village hosts the Autumn Festival, featuring a procession of markets and events, and crowds gather in intimate pubs and charming eateries.
“There’s a certain comfort in autumn, the cosy layers and early sunsets... ”
There’s a certain comfort in autumn, the cosy layers and early sunsets. What I love most about this time of year is the re-emergence of my tea rituals. After a hot summer, I love the shortened days and temperate weather, so I can light my candles and have a cup of tea. It’s my happy place, where I can have all my best thoughts and catch up with my emotions. Autumn also casts a buttery sunset, and I love going for evening walks without cutting too close to my bedtime.
I capture autumn in my photography by its emotion, wrapped in a thick knit during the blue hour with the insinuation of crisp weather. I capture autumn by its harvest, with a basket full of lemons and walnuts and jars of preserves. I capture autumn by the steady Wellington rain, casting low clouds over the hills and making a turbulent sea.
Follow Pamela’s wild journey @nutbrownrose_