Ella Kite in Queenstown New Zealand
A trip to beautiful New Zealand | by Ella Kite
Having left my front door 36 hours before, landing in Queenstown Airport with rain gushing all around me was not quite what I had hoped the New Zealand summer to be like. Though I have spent a great amount of time in NZ, I hadn’t been back for nine years, which felt far too long away from this amazing place. I didn’t let the weather discourage me, as I new that once the sun was out, I’d forget that it ever had rained. When I was little, I lived and went to nursery in Queenstown, whilst my dad was helping an old friend build a house out there overlooking the Shotover River. My parents, keen travellers and extreme sports enthusiasts decided to take me travelling all over the world for a couple of years before I had to start school. I don’t remember much from our travels, but one of my first memories I suppose is at nursery in Queenstown, having to do earthquake practice drills. We were told that should there be an earthquake, we must rush to the nearest table, hide under it and pretend to be a turtle, adopting a foetal position and covering our heads. Perhaps a slightly different first memory to a lot of people, but its something that I’ll always remember and something that ties me to Queenstown as a place. If you haven’t visited Queenstown, you really should. It’s a fantastic hub of extreme sports and beautiful landscapes and scenery. True it is becoming slightly dominated by tourists and is not what it used to be 20 years ago, but there are still ways around the tourists. It’s a place that you definitely should live in for a bit to experience it fully. So before I start to sound like a tour guide, I’ll move on to the next part of my trip.
After a few more stop offs on the South Island, we travelled up to stay with some very close friends in Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty on the North Island. These guys are pretty much my second family and I know I’ll always have a bed there when I need it. They (Jan and Ewen Willis) live on and run an Organic Fruit farm called Fruit Forest, and as the name suggests it really is a dense and exciting mass of trees and plants to get lost in. We were staying just down the road from them, right on the beach and there was small but near perfect surf everyday for me and my dad to have some fun in, which was pretty ideal. One of the days we were sitting out on the balcony and an Orca and her calf swam right past and so close to the shore, it was so mesmerising to see them in the wild and untouched by humans. If you get a chance to explore NZ you need to drive around this part and the rest of the East Coast, you can really get a taste of what NZ used to be like, this area is home to a lot of Maoris still and learning about their culture is really special. We had Christmas with the whole Willis family, which was a great feast of veggies from the garden, Ella (J+E’s daughter) and James’ beef from their farm and some fresh crayfish that the boys had gone free diving for that morning. A fantastic spread beautifully cooked by Ella and Jan and a chance to show how you can live off just what you grow and produce yourself.
I am a photographer and a filmmaker, and I got the chance to interview and film some short documentaries about a few of the people I know and met out in NZ. My favourite had to be of Ewen Willis, the owner of Fruit Forest, I have known him all my life, he his a kind and humble man who lives off what he grows and tries to have as little impact on the environment around him. He is wise, and I managed to capture some stories and advice in my short film, which will hopefully inspire people to live a simpler and happier life. Surfing almost all his life and now nearing his 70s he still continues nearly everyday, keeping a diary where he notes down the conditions, which break he went to and an overall rating out of ten. It was great to film him and see just how fulfilling his life is, I found out a lot about him that I didn’t know before.
Have a watch and see if you get inspired, I hope to show people that its easier than you think to have the life you want, embrace nature, get outdoors more and you’ll feel a lot better for it.
You can see more films from my ‘Life Series’ on my website – www.ellakite.com