the Zine page for current issue of news and articles concerning New Zealand life and culture in 1996 NZine became New Zealands first interactive online magazine showing NZ to the world warts and all New Zealand Regional Information and Links to New Zealand Resources contact the publishers and editorship of NZine
clickable listings of previously issued NZine articles - over 1000 still of interest Add your comment to the NZine guestbook - also join and use forums for more interaction
 
Search Articles  

  
           Home >  Regions  > West Coast  :

Spirituality on the Move

Rob Ferguson - 27/11/08


Porters Pass, Craigieburn, Arthur's Pass, the site of the Brunner Mine Disaster, New Zealand's mountains, birds and bush - all are listed in brochures or articles about the Southern Alps and the West Coast. Travellers speed past them in car, bus or the Tranzalpine train and exclaim about the scenic beauty, but do they experience the lift to the spirit that can come with a closer acquaintance with these areas?

A Gallup poll in the USA found that a vast majority of American people found a sense of "God" when they were in the natural world – away from their concrete urban environment. No surprise in that result. For NZers the response would be similar, maybe even stronger. We market a "clean green image" to the world. Often we feel ill at ease with urbanite living. Gone are the days when everyone had an uncle who owned a farm to which we retreated from the city. So, a deep sense of spirituality and the mountains came together for me as I planned a ‘Spirituality on the Move' event for St Ninian's Presbyterian Parish in Christchurch.

What would happen in a small group of people if we took our time across the Alps? Instead of getting from coast to coast in a little over 3 hours, let's take as long as possible. In February 2008, eight of us did it; a four day exploration of the Southern Alps road between Christchurch and Hokitika and our responses to the changing landscape.

We stop often to look, listen, converse and learn.
We stop often to look, listen, converse and learn.
Click here to view a larger version

A sense of spirituality happens best when we claim space, which is time. Small groups are an encouragement to each of us to move past our old blocks and attempt something new. Several of us live on our own – there is safety in the encouragement of people we trust too. We found challenges on plank and swing bridges, and with our fitness!

Swing bridge walks build confidence!
Swing bridge walks build confidence!
Click here to view a larger version

We drove, but not for long each time. We looked at things we usually drive right past at 100km/hour. Like the old roadman's hut at the foot of Porters Pass. Like the summit of the pass itself.

We walked in the beech forest of the Craigieburn Ranges, and in the Arthur's Pass mountains.

Koru:  As we slow down, and learn to look, we see things which refresh our spirits.
Koru: As we slow down, and learn to look, we see things which refresh our spirits.
Click here to view a larger version

We followed the old coach road for a few hundred metres, hidden in the encroaching bush now, but still visible from the great track at Greyney's Shelter. On the coast we walked in the forest at night, and watched the sun go down and the full moon come up on a west coast beach. Magic, and moving. We found ourselves in tears in kahikatea bush as we contemplated the ways these huge, straight-trunked trees have been abused and taken for granted.

The West Coast forest abounds with tall trees, and tracks to walk amongst them - slowly.
The West Coast forest abounds with tall trees, and tracks to walk amongst them - slowly.
Click here to view a larger version

We pondered industrial ruins and mining disaster at Brunner Mine, and tracked gold-mining remains at Nelson Creek. We met a miner panning for gold who shared his booty with us – but kept it too! We met an expert on beech forest. We talked to each other and to strangers.

And we began to notice things we had forgotten. Time suddenly wasn't important – in fact we had conversations about when we had done such and such a walk, disagreeing at first over whether it was today or yesterday. Two days felt like a week. Our spirits were nourished by the experience of taking time to be still and quiet. By bellbirds singing to us from less than 2 metres away. By fish jumping, and gentle lapping lake water.

Lake Kaniere:  Even the waters reflect.  We learn to do the same.
Lake Kaniere: Even the waters reflect. We learn to do the same.
Click here to view a larger version

By conversation within the group and with those we met along the way. We found ourselves making connections, and discovering we needed to make room for new things. It was a spiritual experience that goes deep into the lives of the eight of us.

We want to do it again, and again. We want to encourage others to join us. St Ninian's is beginning its journey into Spirituality on the Move. We'll take anyone who would like to come on our journeys of slow discovery. If you'd like to come you can contact us at stninians@xtra.co.nz We'd love to have you along. We are on the road again in February 2009.

Contact Rob Ferguson if you'd like to join us on our Slow Down trips to the West Coast, or to Japan.
Email: fergies@paradise.net.nz.
Details will then be sent to you.

Photos used in this article were taken by Rob Ferguson.



 
Home       NZ Map       Contact       Recent Articles       Your Views      

Copyright 1996 - 2005 NZine - A Quality Service from Plain Communications LTD