Hello from Auckland! As most of you know, I attended solo to Wanderlust 2017, Great Lake Taupo, NZ as a guest of Wanderlust Australia last weekend. It’s a wrap! And, well, WOW. What a beautiful, eye-opening week it has been. While I’m busy collecting my thoughts for post-Wanderlust writing, I’ll first share with you what I had hand-written daily in my personal journal on the ground. I thought this would give you a broad overview of the yoga festival, as well as some insight to what it’s like going alone and to not be afraid to do so. Stay up to date with my future Wanderlust-related articles as well as all things travel + mind, body, spirit here.
Day 1 Thursday Morning
Wanderlust Festival 2017, Great Lake Taupo NZ
Location: Inside My Tent
Good morning! I just woke up from the best sleep ever. No alarm. Just the sound of chirping birds and hissing cicadas. Mmmm, cicadas are always nostalgic of Australian outback camping with Dad. It felt empowering to pitch my own tent and roll out a mattress and sleeping bag. I found the cutest spot underneath a leafy tree. I know, I’m not roughing it up in the middle of nowhere but I still feel like a fierce female camper. Ha, look at me, la di da. Standing there looking at my mini Taj Mahal within these rather enchanting forest grounds, I automatically wished my partner was here with me. He would enjoy this. I even took my phone out to take a picture to send to him. But no, I’d really like to switch off from the world this weekend so I put my phone away. This Wanderlust Festival experience is for me to be fully present. Well, besides the occasional Instagram story. Ohhh, I hear someone playing the guitar! I should stretch and head out now. I hope I meet nice people. There were a few who passed hellos and smiles at me yesterday. A couple solo like me too. Hey, we’re sleeping in tents! Surely us campers are down-to-earth folk (quite literally).
Day 2 Friday Morning
Wanderlust Festival 2017, Great Lake Taupo NZ
Location: The Relax & Rejuvenation Lounge
The sun is finally shining today. I’m cosying up amongst rugs and cushions at a chill out station drinking free organic, medicinal, herbal tea. There’s a girl passing her didgeridoo around for everyone to give it a go. Oh man, I’d really love a soy cap but I’m going to do my chest a favour today. That reminds me, you know you’ve found your zen when you reject a pinot gris as a welcome drink and opt for the carrot + orange + turmeric juice instead. “I want to protect this energy,” I said to the bar staff, orbiting my palm above my heart centre. Gosh, who am I.
Day 1 was a success. To kickstart this occasion, The Pōhiri welcoming ceremony blew me away. It’s a traditional practice where Maori people welcome and host the manuhiri (visitors aka us) into this land through this highly spiritual ensemble of song, dance, stance and speech. New Zealanders are incredibly in touch with their roots, it’s beautiful to see how they embrace their heritage.
Everyone is super lovely here. It’s easy to make friends but at the same time it feels nice to do my own thing. Yoga is a personal journey so I think it’d be great to take in this soloness to deepen my practice without distractions. I have back to back yoga, meditation and talks all day every day and the small 30 minute breaks in between are needed to recollect each experience, which by the way, have all been lovely so far. Wowee, these teachers are on another level. I’ve been so present with every pose with much thanks to the live downtempo beats on play. Transcendental, actually.
I really like the crowd here. We look from mid-20s to 40s with the odd toddler running about. Everyone is glowing. These darn healthy, happy yogis. I was worried I’d come across elitists but this genuinely feels like a safe space. Everyone came to learn and share and is supportive of each other. Wanderlust Festival feels like a dive into one giant life affirmation. All the really hard introspective spiritual work – the deep soul-penetrating stuff that tends to hurt as it strips you bare revealing inner fear, anxiety and insecurities – that’s for somewhere else I think. Here, we celebrate yoga. Hello, we should be having fun in the process! Wanderlust also celebrates community and sustainable living as well. Yes! I’ve found my tribe who share the same values with me. Talking about energy, life force, self-alignment, the universe, presence, [insert the works] rolls off the tongue in conversations without feeling judged. Isn’t it nice to be surrounded by your people?
Day 3 Saturday Late Afternoon
Wanderlust Festival 2017, Great Lake Taupo NZ
Location: Wareikei Resort Lobby
Last night for the first time in my life, I ate a raw asparagus and tasted what an asparagus should actually taste like. It almost brought me to tears. Or maybe I was emotional because of the flowing pinot gris. At the gorgeously laid out, insanely delicious Earth To Table dinner presented by New Zealand’s top chef Megan May, I felt like I had quite literally tasted the ground beneath me. It was perfect timing after the ‘Why Your Veggie Garden Is Key To Your Health’ talk. On my table was a screenwriter from Melbourne, a private chef who works on a yacht, an extreme sports enthusiast and of course a couple of yoga teachers. Some of us went dancing afterwards then snuggled up over banter in suspended tree tent. We all went to bed early. Ahhh, how nice it felt to rest a sober head with tired legs.
To be frank, I’m quite yoga’ed out at the moment. I skipped one class today (I felt like a rebellious teenage student) and instead sat on the grass amongst many others outside the True North Cafe listening to acoustic jams under the sun mindfully slurping on my blueberry + banana + peanut butter smoothie. Mindfully, you ask? Yes, I closed my eyes and meditated on every sweet sip bursting with flavour. It was brilliant. I’ve only been consuming healthy foods these past few days and I must say my face skin looks and feels amazing! My permanently round cheeks are also less bloated. It’s a miracle.
I kindly rejected an invitation for a local wine tasting this evening. I’d really like to sit with this fully conscious state of mind. Everyone’s out to party tonight (Saturday is the main event) but I think I’m going to curl up in my tent instead and read “The No Excuses Guide To Yoga”, a gift by the NZ book author Kara-Leah Grant herself whom I met during her ‘Journal Yourself Awake’ workshop.
Day 4 Sunday Evening
Wanderlust Festival 2017, Great Lake Taupo
Location: Auckland City
I can’t believe Wanderlust Festival is over. So many feels today.
This morning I left the Wanderlust grounds for a short nature hike to Wareikei River. The cicadas were so loud it felt like one was behind my ear. A steep rainforest trek led me to “Hot Beach”. What a name. I had the place to myself so you know what that means. Nekkid o’clock. After all this yoga and meditation, I became extra sensitive of my bodily sensations. Sitting in the river feeling crisp New Zealand water on my lower half as my upper half is drenched in warm kiwi sun… Oh my.
I came back in time for ‘Choosing Plants For Positive Change’ presented by Megan May – the lady who gave me my asparagus awakening last night. Ha, Asparagus Awakening. Sounds like a vegan food blog. I know I was making jokes pre-Wanderlust that post-Wanderlust, I’ll be converted into a vegan. And um, it’s kind of sort of happening right now. I remember a distinct moment while listening to her talk where I felt the need to just sit by myself and cry for a moment. Not in a sad way. Moreso for release because that talk was exactly what I needed to take the next step in manifestation for the socially responsible, eco-conscious person I’ve grown to become this past year, and to regain control over my life with health. It was the perfect ending to Wanderlust Festival. No wait, the 150-person chain of linked arms during Elijah Ray’s closing performance that broke out into this flash mob free-spirited dance was pretty special. I never met the two people beside me but we held each other tight and swayed together like one big family. Oh yeah, and all the conversations on the road trip back to Auckland with three lovely ladies I just met. Exchanging crazy travel stories, heartbreak stories, life goals. They were all in their mid-30s so I asked them what they’d tell their 25-year-old self (I couldn’t help it). To summarise:
- Have trust in your own gut, don’t follow what others want of you.
- Don’t get so worked up with “your mission” in life, just relax, it’s okay, you’ll figure it out.
- You really can do whatever you want to do in life. We are very privileged that way. Just put your mind to it.
- Forget the idea of having that “perfect life”. If you’ve got a life plan, you might as well get rid of it.
The girls shared with me their personal back stories for their responses. I’m reminded of how nice it is to connect with strangers friends you haven’t met yet along your travels. My partner recently told me a part it is because you’re meeting people who don’t hold the baggage of old you so there’s no prejudgement. It leaves room for a fresh connection and makes you draw in yourself again to tell your reworked story. It’s you, at that moment, present.
The writer attended Wanderlust Festival 2017, Great Lake Taupo as a guest of Wanderlust Australia/New Zealand.
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