Postcards from Punakaiki 

A postcard is a small picture with a letter on the back. Short, about a place, personal, but not hidden. My postcards are a little longer, I tend to ramble, I use my own pictures, and they’re usually a little sad cause I’m feeling lonely or lost.

These are my Postcards from Punakaiki


I made it down! Flights went well, customs and quarantine were pretty easy considering two of my bags were lost. I waited a day to see if they’d show up. Christchurch is cool, architecture old and new, museums, galleries, and lots of art and graffiti. Bags made it, mailed my ski stuff on to Ohau and took the Trans Alps train to the west coast. I’m staying in Punakaiki for a few nights, this tiny little seaside village on the edge of Paparoa National park. It’s totally sub-tropical here, the southernmost point for this one variety of palm, with thick rainforest and a bunch of limestone cliffs. Really nice weather so far although the surf has been unforgiving. Staying at this nice backpackers hostel that’s right on the beach, trying to catch a few waves and see some of the west side before the snowy winter returns…

Punakaiki, the hostel I’m staying is just below the biggest cliffs.

Traveling solo can be hard. Maybe it’s not the travel, or the solo, but there’s these points, along the way, when you get way out there, on your own, and you can just feel so utterly alone no matter who or what surrounds you. It’s good though, I think, it builds character, or strips ego or whatever. Ha, I hope.

I don’t know if it’s just that I’ve been lucky enough to have such amazing interactions and connections, or if our biological urge is towards the social, towards those connections, but like all cruel ironies we inflict upon ourselves it’s always when I’m alone that I’m scared of it, always when I’m feeling smothered that I want to be alone…

Beach just to the south, where the Punakaiki River meets the Tasman Sea.

When I went surfing yesterday I walked way up the beach to get to a river mouth where I thought there might be something of a sandbar to work with. There was a big ass dead cow on the shore and I had to jump on my board to cross the river and paddle out, wild! It looked like the waves around there where a little more clean so I paddled out and gave it a try, man did I get throttled! There was well over 100 meters of shorebreak with some gnarly rips and currents churning things up. I kept at it, paddling every which way and eventually somehow I made it out the the outermost breakers. It was terrifying! All alone bobbing around on the edge of the Tasman Sea, wondering if I’d just get eaten by a shark or swept out to sea. Turns out that although the waves were maybe a little cleaner they were just as chaotic and twice as big as anywhere else and I had trouble even catching one, eventually high tailing it back towards the shore, catching a few breaking waves and just riding them on my stomach! As I got back on my feet and walked towards the shore I realized how worked I really was, my shoulders sore and my arms weak. I walked out of the water and started to cry.

I don’t really know why. I mean, I think I got really scared out there, which is powerful, but it was more than that, it was just so beautiful, and I felt so free, crying felt good. I was thinking of you, of wanting to share it all with you, I was thinking of Jen, how we had talked about feeling alone and how she had also mentioned remembering what a little ass I was to you, and how it was kind of a turn off. I remember being an ass to you, a lot, to everyone. I cringe when I remember all the damage I’ve caused to anyone along the way by being mean or unhappy, and I’ve come to peace with the fact that I can’t always repair it. I know that all I can really do is carry on, open, positive, nice… Ha! But even that’s hard sometimes!

Looking south from Pancake Rocks. Crazy karst formations and blowholes along the coast here. Far off you can see the Southern Alps.

The time I spent with Jen just before leaving was nice, feeling way out and alone at these hot springs, but having each other to talk with, to reminisce. Thinking back to when we were together, how passionate I was. Wondering what I’ve learned, how I’ve changed, who I’ve become.

It’s amazing how we how we go through these moments, these periods of time where everything feels so pregnant, so important, and how those feelings fade, settle, and ultimately shape who we are and how we see the world. I don’t know, I guess I just mean I’m happy to not feel so rushed anymore, happy to not feel such an impending sense of doom I once did. I don’t know if I’ve learned patience, but it definitely seems to have started to impress itself on me.

In a lot of ways I feel like things haven’t changed too drastically, which is good I hope. Curiosity hasn’t left, maybe just shifted. My need to be active hasn’t really slowed down, but my body is certainly changing. I still feel lost a lot, which is okay, I think that’s the only way you end up finding things. And I feel like I’m always being reminded that feeling alone seems to be more about confidence in my purpose or direction than anything else, something I’m still figuring out.

Somehow between the chaos of the forest and the power of the ocean, nature keeps its order.

When I got out of the water I walked toward the cliffs where there were these little freshwater waterfalls coming down and I stood underneath them and rinsed off. I looked back out at the ocean and thought about how you’ll never make it anywhere if you’re afraid of getting there. Lucky for me that’s never really been a problem, weather going up a mountain or jumping into love or a relationship I’m usually ready to GO! Ha! But being afraid of being alone out in the water, I knew I’d never be able to let myself get all the way out there.

The idea occurred to me about writing this letter, leaving it here for you, how it would be nice, be meaningful, but now I’m not really sure. I think in those moments of loneliness all you really want to do is reach out, and connect, but they pass and it’s all okay. I guess I though it’d be cool to contain that somehow, a long winded way of just saying I was thinking of you! I still think it’s kind of special, who knows really, but I think it’s good, sharing this with you, open to anyone, ripping open my heart for everyone to see and saying fuck it. You taught me that, it feels good.

I love you. I still don’t know what I’m doing but I’m learning, trying to find purpose, or at least live with a little. I’m so thankful for all your patience, understanding, and support.

Walking out the Pororairi River admiring the limestone.

As I was walking back down the beach I looked out and it somehow looked a little more manageable, so like the stubborn boy I am I paddled back out. It was a little easier this time but when I got out it was just as chaotic and scary, I tried to get in the right spot but just couldn’t make it, I paddled into a steep wave and got chundered. Again I started paddling back in but as I was making my way I realized I could play around on the smaller, closer shore break. Immediately this changed my mood, and I caught a few short rides. It started to rain and I looked back towards shore to see a crisp, full rainbow stretching across the beach, so beautiful!

I got out of the water and walked down the beach towards the hostel, admiring the rainbow, the ocean, the forest, the mountains. Far down the coastline I could see Mt. Cook, Huge, glaciated, coming right out of the ocean. Immediately I felt stronger, more confident, like my posture was corrected. It was like the mountain offered me strength, like I remembered where or why I could be confident, this large dangerous thing I could navigate, why I shouldn’t fear the ocean. But then I looked back out towards the sea, the setting sun, reminded of my fragility, my mortality. It’s good to be humble.

I’ll probably stay here for the weekend and then start making my way towards Ohau. I kind of want to go back down to Dunedin, I know the surf down there will be better, cleaner, but I’ll probably get down there at some point so I might just use this time to explore the west coast a little more. I hope you’re enjoying the spring, ready for summer! Have you been on any hikes recently? Overnights in the new tent? Stoked you got to see Umphrey’s! I checked out the set list from your show, you caught some good ones! And the Bowie cover!

I’ll be in touch!

Love you!


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