Dreaming at Whatipu

I took a trip out to Whatipu a few weeks ago and was blown away by the beauty of the landscape. There’s something otherworldly about the wetlands there that I tried and failed to capture on camera, so as an alternative, I’ve tried to do catch a glimmer of what I saw in a creative writing piece.

As soon as the road turns to dirt, you know you’re headed somewhere special. House-lined avenues are replaced with thick scrub as the road winds its way across the hills. Your heart is already lightened when you step out of the car. You make a beeline for the coast, navigating through a maze of shallow swamp waters. With every step, you slowly leave the world behind.

Dr Seuss trees pop their heads up from the swamp and the long grass rolls and waves in the wind

There’s a odd beauty to the wetlands. The long brown grass hides the treacherous marshes from view and gives the impression of a dry savannah. Dr Seuss trees and miniature lakes dot the landscape with a strange cartoon quality. The track curls gently to the west and the muddy swamp gives way to a sandy goat-trail across the dunes. You quietly follow a butterfly through the long grass. It makes its way to the top of a small hill. A castle for tiny kings. You stop to sit and survey the landscape. With a glance, everything changes.

No sound but the wind. There’s a beautiful desolation here that defies reality. The landscape has a dual personality that confuses the senses. Through a dream-like haze you taste the ocean, feel the scorching desert sands, watch ghostly ships part the rolling waves of dry grass. Is this one place? Or a collisions of worlds lurking beneath the plain brown grass? In vain, you try to capture what you see in a snapshot, but it only catches one of the shifting faces of the land. What is real? The pretty reality of the marshlands, or the magical vista in your minds eye with its many changing masks?

From your vantage point you can see the ocean in the distance. You get the curious feeling that another reality begins at the coastline. The waves crash violently at the edge of the world. Somewhere out there is your life with troubles that you can’t quite recall.They belong to another place, another time, and you’re safe within the borders of this dreamland. You sit quietly and let time pass you by. Mind overtaken with a raging calm. Eyes shrouded with joyous loneliness. For a long while you stay still and pensive in the long grass, but somewhere in your heart you are flying.

Whatipu has a beautiful dream-like quality that is difficult to capture on camera

Listening to: The Humbling River – Puscifer


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