The dream to move on to a bush section started in April 2008 after spending two weeks as a feed-out volunteer on Whenua Hou (Codfish Island). I loved living and working in the bush and hearing birdsong rather than traffic. It was an incredible experience and I decided on the way home that I didn't want to live in town any more. After a lot of thought I came up with my criteria for a bush section which had to be (a) not too big, (b) have a small house that was relatively new, (c) be within a 30 minute walk to a shop and (d) be within my price range. Rakiura/Stewart Island was an obvious choice, both for its proximity to Whenua Hou and for its kiwi population. I spent many hours looking at TradeMe listings and just before Christmas 2008, I found a listing that sounded ideal and my heart was already calling it 'my place'. I sent an email to the real estate agent and kept my fingers crossed. I had to wait until 14 January and after discussing the property with the agent, I made the decision to visit the island in early Feb and have a look.
Of course the place was perfect! One hectare of land with half in regenerating bush and half in wetland, a 50sq m house that was 5 years old, a 20 minute walk to the supermarket and within budget. I am so lucky to have found exactly what I was looking for and each morning I am reminded that I'm living my dream. In return, I will do what I can to reduce, reuse and recycle as there is no Planet B. I am definitely more aware of our unsustainable lifestyles, the damage we do to the natural world and feel frustrated that most people accept economic decisions without thought for the social and environmental impacts.
It's a privilege living on an island with temperate rainforest reaching down to the sea and kiwi calling at night; where there's 10km of walking track for every kilometre of road and native birdsong that wakes you up in the morning. These things are priceless and worth saving for future generations, not just for us humans but for all the species we share this planet with.
Doing the Open Polytechnic Native Plants course in 2005 opened my eyes to the wonders of the natural world and my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner! Think of the possibilities if everyone did this course and committed to protect what's left of our native habitat; if policies include social and environmental factors; and if teachers and parents could instil respect and wonder for all species. Wouldn't it be great if social media discussed new species of lichen and prime time television stretched our minds to new creative heights?
Enough of dreaming! I'm enough of a cynic to think that society has chosen a different path and that it will be a fight to retain the natural wonders that we currently have. If you want to experience it then don't leave it too late.
And yes, there are kiwi on my section, I have a part-time job and I love living in a small house. Some people may think I'm crazy but I don't think it's got anything to do with the size of the house :)