Us kiwis are a stubborn lot; we like to think we can venture into uncharted territories, go ‘off the beaten track’ and find those ‘hidden gems’. Perhaps it’s because our pure country is considered excitingly isolated; or that we can easily walk into the Nz bush and be alone. It’s when we are alone that we tend to think we are walking where no one else has set foot before.
Truth is…..they have. Even the most desolate places on earth like the sand dunes of the Middle East or the glaciers of Iceland have been trodden on.
So why do I have this inkling to go where no one has gone before? Why do I cringe at the sight of tourists flooding off a bus to see a waterfall when I’m going there for the exact same thing? Is it because we class ourselves as true adventurers? Or do we want bragging rights on social media about being in a secret spot that we don’t want to disclose? Is it to show the world that you’re a risk taker or wild at heart? For me, it’s probably all the above, I mean, why wouldn’t you want to tell everyone how you ‘stumbled’ upon a secret waterfall?
Iceland to me was like a New Years Eve party you went to as a 16 year old. Initially, you talk about it for months, you prepare for the event like your life depends on it, ask friends for advice, save your precious pennies and note down things you need to do, all before the event. Just like a teenager playing that night out in their head, and how it would all go down: The anticipation killed me. I wanted to be embraced by Icelands wonders and the spontaneous adventures that awaited.
Imagine being that 16 year old. Once you were fully prepared for the party; clothed appropriately, eyes happy from a few pre-drinks at your mates; you rock up to that party prepared for the night of your life, with confidence in your stride, this is your moment. Then, half way through the night, your Levi jeans rip in the crotch, the hot kid palmed you off to their dimwitted mate and your friends got lost in the crowd before the fireworks went off. The liquid supplies just weren’t cutting it, you had enough and it was only 11pm. This is how Iceland felt…..the unplanned moments just weren’t happening.
Straight along the ring road, cruising past the road side waterfalls – their spectacular heights and wild magnificence – I wanted to believe it, but then we looked closer and saw buses, pouring out an influx of tourists……..we had lunch with the swarms and laughed at an American couple being filmed in the river in barely any clothes. We climbed apart of the cliff to avoid the crowds (thanks to the adventure seeker, Grace) where we could view the waterfall from another perspective and it hit us, magic was there and you could feel its wonder.
I feel like it’s a challenge and a competition to be that explorer who can find a magical waterfall in the middle of nowhere. This, mixed with a whole lot of social media expectations to document your conquest, is all a bit overwhelming.
Travelling to ‘it’ places is really a must do because once you’re there, you tick off your pre-planned wonderlust boxes and face reality, you can feel uninhibited – free of your own expectations and time restraints. Try to ‘act like a local’, go to a cafe (off the main touristy drag) and take it all in, all of its quirkiness: it’s tuna on toast, fermented shark, free flowing fresh water, fish skin jewelry and funny local fashion (I’m talking a fur trench coat and an Adidas tracksuit). Go for a walk with out your phone following the blue dot on google maps, look 1km in the other direction of a natural wonder and you’ll probably discover something far more interesting to explore. Be curious and you will find what you’re looking for, you won’t even realise it, because you’re living in that spontaneous moment we all crave.
If you would like to read our Iceland Itinerary click here and you’ll see how we chased nature with our mates and by ourselves x
What have we learnt from this? To learn from our mistakes. We are ready to do something that embeds itself in our souls, something that plants our feet heavily to the ground.
Do you think you would travel to Iceland? Would you do it just because it’s a trending travel destination? What would you do to seek things that are off the beaten track? What advice could you give someone if you’ve been before? Let us know in the comments below.