6 years ago my hubby, Sim, went on a paragliding tour of New Zealand and he fell in love with Wanaka. He came home and told me we should move there. I burst into tears and said flat out “No!”. We had just moved from Brisbane to northern NSW. I was overweight, solo parenting most of the week and mentally not in a good place. My adventurous spirit was non-existent and a good weekend involved getting smashed on a saturday night and watching Buffy. Sim, knowing he would get nowhere with that idea, let it be for the time being.
Fast forward to March this year and the week before I left to run at Northburn. We were discussing where the race actually was, up until this point it was just “Jo is running a 100k race on the south island of NZ”. When Sim found out I would be staying in Cromwell he asked that I do him a favour, if I had time could I please go and spend some time in Wanaka and see what I think. I said sure, we had a week there, my friends who were doing support were also keen to do a little sight seeing, so why not?
My friend Maz played tour guide for us a few days before the race as we drove to Wanaka. Driving through the valley to see the lake and the mountains surrounding it, I was in awe of the beauty. I wanted to explore those mountains, mountains I had seen pictured in friends photos, trails I had seen on maps, but being 48hrs before my big race, I resigned myself for walking around the town centre and having a hot chocolate instead. We did all the touristy things, wandered along the lake, took our photo at the famous Wanaka tree, visited the tourist information centre where I bought a few maps, just in case, and spent time just gazing at the mountains. I was slowly falling love.
That night, chatting to Sim via email, he asked what I thought of Wanaka. I, of course, loved it and told him as much. His reply “Enough to live there?”. My head though, was full of my coming race and what that might bring, so I answered with a “maybe?” and left it at that, pushing the idea aside to think on later.
A few hours after finishing the race, I found myself back in Wanaka, standing in the lake, gazing once again at those mountains. I thought for a moment, maybe one day, if only…. That night I told Sim, yes, if we could it would be amazing, but I didn’t see how and there are the kids to consider. He said to leave it with him.
By the time I got home a few days later, Sim was already researching options for us and how we could get over there. We made the decision not to tell anyone, including the kids, until we were sure things were going ahead. That may seem harsh, but with a child who doesn’t deal well with uncertainty, change and struggles with anxiety, we needed to have a solid plan in place before we broached the subject. Both Sim and I told a few key friends, in an attempt to curb our excitement and have an outlet for the ups and downs to come. Over the next few months we came unbearably close to finding a property only to lose it to another buyer in negotiations. As the months seemed to drag, Sim made a whirlwind trip to New Zealand to lock in finance and look at some properties in person. Within a week we had a place and it was finally happening.
Most people assume that I am the driving force behind this move, but it has been from Sim from Day 1. He loved Wanaka long before I did. I’m just blessed that we both share a great love for mountains and water. I am so excited about the adventures we will have in our new space. There is so much to explore and learn. It is also scary. To pick up our family from our home in regional NSW and move to a new climate and new country, not to mention moving into town. Thankfully, running has taught me to be adventurous and that its ok to try and fail. Plus you never know whether something is right for you unless you give it a red hot try. I know the overweight, borderline alcoholic with low self esteem would never have thought running would have been something for her, but she gave it a red hot go and now look where she is headed 😉