I thought I was going to go crazy when we first arrived at the most landlocked location on the north island of New Zealand – Blue Duck Station. 10 days away from the ocean!? Sounds great! I don’t think I have ever had a better landlocked experience. No sarcasm intended.
The first morning, Alison and I got up for a new kind of dawn patrol: a 2 hour horse trek up the highest mountain on the station. Imagine inhaling some of the cleanest air in the world, sharing Clif bars and apples with a cowboy (and his horse) for breakfast, and watching the fog dissipate over 5,000 acres of pristine native bush and ranch land as the sun rose to heat up the day. This one will rank high in my list of top 10 sunrises for a long time.
After that first morning, we were hooked … dawnies just about every morning. It was amazing to wake up (usually before 5am) and not feel sleepy or groggy … at all! Could be the lack of air pollution, or because we were so excited for the new adventures every morning, or because maybe this place is just way too magical.
It was absolutely revitalising, not only to be surrounded by bush and ranch land, but also by spending a concentrated amount time around a highly passionate person, who was so tuned in with the present moment and making the most out of what was at hand. Chad is the man. He was someone you couldn’t help but get inspired by being around, as he so passionately (and patiently) shared so much of himself and his “job” with Alison and I. Chasing cattle down steep hills, mustering stray shrek sheep, breaking in horses … none of these experiences (or photos!) would have been possible without him.
The last night, our dawn patrol craze nearly got out of hand. It was someone’s crazy idea to shoot a night scene at “The Depot,” a 200+ year old structure with a fire pit, cobblestone flooring, and hand-hewn walls, AND get up before sunrise to shoot one last interview on the top of the mountain. (The Depot was used back then as a storage house where settlers of the land would come to collect their supplies and mail that were boated in from a river connected to the sea). Exhausted, we ended up stoking the fire as high as we could and sleeping all spooned up together (it was freeeezing!), beneath layers of plastic bags, jackets, and a deer hide. Tempur-Pedic cobblestone mattress, anyone? It felt like such a luxury, finding a spare life jacket to use as a pillow. 3 hours later, it was raining. I was ready to call it quits and head back to a comfy warm bed and steamy shower but Alison, persistent as ever, wouldn’t give this this last dawn patrol up. We made it to the top, the rain cleared, and the sunrise was brilliant. Such a unreal morning.
Blue Duck Station is amazing. The owner, Dan, and his employees, are doing a fantastic job at preserving the native bush land and keeping their operations green and sustainable in a practical manner. Definitely a place that seems to be leading by example. Check out Alison’s blog on our experience at Blue Duck Station here: www.alisonsadventures.com