It's difficult to overrate the outdoor adventure you can have in New Zealand. It's difficult to find much else to do. I'm likely spoiled by the Sierras, but New Zealand didn't blow me away. It was spectacular, certainly. But I miss parts of the world like China or the Greater Mekong that pair natural beauty with color, culture, and vibrancy.
There's a thing here in New Zealand called Southland Sushi. White bread and cheddar cheese. Rolled. I'm not kidding. In the US we'd probably call it a Redneck Roll.
Each bend had a new vista to gawk at. Every trail led me to new plants and shrubs. Each pause let sandflies bite new holes in my legs.
You can't go very long on the roads here without stopping to take a photo. It's jaw-dropping anywhere away from the endless farms, which never make it into a normal tourist's visit.
If you aren't careful, you'll get accustomed to seeing deep green forests blend upwards into rough brush, slip into alpine lichen, and then soar into pinnacles of ice and rock. You'll take them for granted, or at least I started to. It's sad, because I'm amazed at these places after looking at the photos I myself took.
There is a sense of awe deep inside of me that soaring mountains have always reached. They reach into me and pull out happiness. The sense of awe was blocked off. I could look up at the mountains and convince myself very soundly that I was looking at spectacular views, but not truly feel a bit of it.
I don't think I was in a place where I could go on an outdoor adventure. Too many pressing personal things to deal with; Too much that preoccupied my mind and distracted me from the outdoors.
The trip was priceless to see my parents while here, and for that the trip was worth it. But I'm a little sad: this trip didn't reinforce my love of travel and may have lessened it slightly. Perhaps I've over-invested my identity in the startup world. Perhaps I just need somewhere with new people to meet. New Zealand, especially the west coast, is spectacularly devoid of those.
I fly back to the US tomorrow, with many things up in the air.