Since I am not a poet, there are places that I can only describe with images.
In New Zealand I visited a lot of breathtaking places, but there are three that cut my breath and left me speechless more than any other: Banks Peninsula, Tongariro National Park and the geothermal wonders of Rotorua. For those, it is difficult to find the right words.
So I will try with images. It is said that one image is worth a thousand words. Nothing can be more explicit than the colors, shapes, light, and composition of a photograph. But is that enough to share with you my experience? From the same image, each of us will get a different feeling, will be inspired in a different way.
This is why I would like to complement my photographs with a few words. Or rather, with a single word. I like to attribute one word to special places. Not to label, not to stereotype, but to concentrate all these ocean of emotions and ideas that fly in my mind in a single drop. One word.
And for Banks Peninsula, which word would that be?
But oh, sorry, I got lost in my thoughts of images and words, photograph and literature, and l forgot to start from the beginning. Let me introduce you Banks Peninsula.
Banks Peninsula is a little off the beaten path peninsula south of Christchurch, out of the most common circuits in New Zealand. Its unusual cogwheel shape is the result of its formation by volcanic eruptions. Best of it? The views from the Summit Road and specially the numerous hidden bays. So many hidden gems.
I usually move around by public transport, but in this case I was traveling with an Argentinian friend that I met in Queenstown, and he had a car. Needless to say that it was by far the best option there, being able to stop anywhere was priceless.
‘Ohhh podemos parar acá el auto? Es que es taaan lindo!!’ / ‘Ohhh could we stop the car here? It is sooo beautiful!!’ I would exclaim again and again, and he would stop and and we would come out of the car to take photos. All day.
Beautiful. Is it beauty the word I am looking for? Not sure. When I think about beauty, I think of the Taj Mahal, the elegance of its architecture, the harmony of its symmetry, the delicacy of its decoration. Banks Peninsula was beautiful in a different way.
Is it magic? I do not think it was a LOTR film location, but sometimes I felt like in Middle Earth there. I would not have been surprised to see a hobbit eating and smoking under a tree, or an elf singing and dancing in the wind. But that happened only sometimes, it does not describe my overall feeling.
I open an (online) dictionary of English synonyms, and type ‘beautiful’ in search of a word. There are so many synonyms! Charming? No, small, cute little villages are charming. Gorgeous? No, a paradisiacal tropical beach comes to my mind. Wonderful? No, I use this word too often.
I am searching a unique word, because Banks Peninsula was unique, a landscape like no other I have seen in my travels. It is a place that surprised me for its awesome beauty and at the same time inspired me to imagine and dream.
And now I see it in the screen: awe-inspiring. I did not even know that this word exists. Did the dictionary create it just for me? To help me condense in one word everything I wanted to express?
Yes, there it is: Banks Peninsula was awe-inspiring.
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