Harrison Candlin takes you on a journey into travel relationships and natures ability to bring people together, with photographs of the always Epic South Island NZ as the breadcrumbs. Not exactly like the Dale Carnegie book of similar name, not at all really, but equally as important. Warren Harrison explores the nature of friendships and travel dynamics when you’re all bunkered in together on a trip. Ride along on a fifteen-day escape around the ever beautiful New Zealand with the group of like-minded adventure-addicted outdoor friends.
The scene is set; A 15-day road trip around the South Island of New Zealand. Am I dreaming right now? For this has been a dream of mine for years, surely there’s no way this is really happening…Nope… it’s happening, and we’re landing shortly in Christchurch.
I’m writing this on the plane, looking out the window in complete excitement and anticipation. I’m travelling with my partner, my best mate, another good friend and two American buddies. You could say I’m excited to feel the dynamics of this group. I know it might get annoying at times but regardless, I’m ready to bite the bullet and spend the next 14 days hiking the magnificent southern mountains with my fellow friends. I’ve done camping like this in Australia… but nothing on this scale. Part of the reason my anticipation is palpable.
I’m looking forward to the conversations we will have around the fire, the chat we’ll talk on the trail, the memories we’ll make, the inspiration we’ll soak from the mountains, and the lack of words we’ll have once we reach the most awe-inspiring of views. I have so many pre-conceived ideas of what this trip might entail, and equally as many uncertainties. New Zealand is certainly overdone photographically, so one of my biggest goals is to stay away from cliché work and venture into scenes that are more fleeting, memorable and ones that evoke meaningful emotion. I wish to capture our character… that being our struggles, joys and triumphs, all while documenting and portraying our groups growing interconnectedness.
I love leaping head first into the unknown, taking a risk or engaging in something new and exciting. This trip has the recipe for exactly that.
I’ll check back in soon. 20/05/2018
In May this year, we took a trip across the ditch to experience the South Island of New Zealand for our very first time. Being such an over photographed tourist destination, we all longed to feel that genuine ‘New Zealand’ without being bulked down in cliché scenes our eyes had already seen online. I guess we went in search of the unknown, and as cheesy as that sounds, not knowing what to expect is a whole lot better than knowing it all before you’ve even arrived. Nothing could have prepared us for the magical scenes and events that would unfold over the next 14 days. So let’s go…
Nature has a tendency to inspire and bring together collectively. Whether it’s that rush of adrenaline you feel while running to avoid missing sunset, or perhaps it’s that triumphant ‘YEW!’ screamed by everyone at the summit, or whether it’s the campfire vibes on a mountaintop after a long day of hiking, we all crave that sense of togetherness in one way or another and New Zealand really brought us together.
The overarching emotion to our trip was friendship, as that was the real reason we were there in the first place. The group relationship was tested from the minute we picked up our car at the beginning of the journey. Designated drivers, backseat sitters, window cleaners, music choosers, tent-pitchers, trail baristas, you name it… we all did things we didn’t really want to do, but it was for the benefit of our team that we did what we had to.
Getting up early to hike kilometres on end or staying up to the early hours of the morning to shoot a photo, we all had to compromise in a way from our norms.
To succeed you have to compromise and you need to come together and look at the bigger picture. What do you want? Is it the end goal, or is it one particular view on the trail? Maybe it’s the feeling of standing on a mountaintop with your best friends. It’s not easy sometimes after your legs don’t want to carry you any further or your halfway to starvation. Nature and particularly New Zealand has a unique character that builds determination to keep going and keeps the stoke always alive.
During a moment of rest on the trail in front of another awe-inspiring mountain, a travel companion I met in America less than a year ago turned to me and gestured at the mountain;
“Look where we are… in front of Mount Cook. We didn’t even know each other 6 months ago and now look where we’re standing all together”
That statement hit home and made me realise the power of friendship and how much we’re drawn to these wild place to connect even more.
We found ourselves attempting to relive moments through words and reflect on the things we’d just experienced. It was a beautiful way to compare opinions on a place and more than ever to have shared a moment with others, in a place you may never get to again. Fleeting moments are most memorable and remarkable to me. I think it’s the pure luck of the draw, those three seconds of light or that perfectly still water for a spot-on reflection. Nature again has a way of impressing through details and gifting inspiring around every corner. No other country has inspired me to continue living this outdoor lifestyle like New Zealand did.
Another element to our travel relationship was endurance. Endurance doesn’t flourish alone, as for any team situation you rely on others to bring you up and get your blood pumping. We planned to hike the Brewster track in Mount Aspiring national park up to the little red alpine hut at 1450m. Tackling such a demanding hike required teamwork and words of support from each other.
From climbing near vertical sections of rock, and slipping almost every second step, what got me to the top was that feeling of accomplishment for our team and those magical alpine views that awaited us.
The urgency to witness a new place in the afternoon light and to be up there with my favourite people provided me that endurance and made me embrace the physical pain that came with it. It’s a thing of nature, it pushes you until you conquer, and you can never give up until you do. There’s no turning back.
Places and people mix together extremely well. It’s just meant to be… It’s the appeal of mountains that lure us in and fixate us on the end goal. Their presence is overwhelming and irresistible… it’s a presence that screams for adventure.
I will always run into the mountains to feel most alive. The feeling is something I can’t convey accurately in words, but I guess that’s why our friendships grow in nature… the more time you spend there the more you can appreciate.
As much as the urban world can fix temporarily, going back to nature can mend a broken heart, put reason to a situation, heal a burned-out soul and reignite a once lost passion. Is there any other element in this world that can keep us so alive?
I know I’m saying this from an outdoor enthusiast’s mindset, hence I might be a bit bias, but I’ve had friends that were once merely interested in the outdoor scene, that now share the same raging desire to be perched in the mountains and to feel those nature vibes. What I’m getting at is, nature gives us as humans, relation and the ability to share common interests, bringing us ever more connected and intertwined with each other.
New Zealand is more than just a road trip, it’s an experience of a lifetime.