The day before I left New Zealand I recorded this interview with Kim Hill of Radio New Zealand. She has a reputation for being a tough interviewer, and she certainly asked some incisive and searching questions - but overall I came out of the experience relatively unscathed, and was in fact delighted that we had bypassed the small talk and got down to the personal stuff.
Few people can relate to rowing across an ocean, but many can relate to relationships, a frustrating job, or feeling the fear of life changes - all of which we discuss in this interview.
Reviews so far:
"Brilliant! We may have a few more ocean rower potentials in KiwiLand now!" (Rob Hamill, NZ ocean rower)
"Awesome! ...informative, inspirational and entertaining" (George van Meeuwen, NZ speaker agent)
Click here to hear the interview in full. Available for 7 days only, according to the Radio New Zealand website.
Life is all about getting outside your comfort zone. This is what I kept reminding myself as we trudged through horizontal rain on the Routeburn Track. But life is also about flexibility and spontaneity, I reminded myself when we decided to bail out and head back early to the drier climes of Queenstown to explore other fun outdoor options.
Until the deluge set in, the Routeburn had been great fun, and a suitably challenging physical workout. The day before we (Sinead, Daisy and I) had reached the highest point of the track - Conical Hill, at 1515 metres (5,000 feet), a climb of about 1000 metres (3,280 feet) from our start point - and enjoyed spectacular views over snow-capped mountains, lakes, and the Tasman Sea. On our descent to the Mackenzie Hut we'd passed back below the treeline, into mossy woods reminiscent of Lord of the Rings, which was filmed near here.
But the rain started to pour the next day and was forecast to get even worse. We had planned to do the Greenstone Track as well, but took a joint decision to quit while we were ahead, having already enjoyed the best of the scenery that our route had to offer. We caught the bus back to Queenstown for a bonus two days of doing something different instead.
It turned out to be an excellent decision. Queenstown is the outdoor capital of New Zealand, with options aplenty for the outdoor enthusiast - and I was feeling a lot more enthusiastic about the outdoors now that we were back on the dry side of the mountains.
New Zealand is the home of the bungy jump, and I was keen to give it a try so I signed up for the original A J Hackett bridge bungy. But as with many things that seem like a good idea at the time, I started to feel a lot less keen as the appointed hour approached. By the time I was standing teetering on a tiny wooden platform on a bridge over a deep river gorge, staring down into empty space, my instinct for self-preservation was telling me to run very fast in the opposite direction.
"How much of a dunking do you want?" Adam asked me as he set up my bungy cord.
"Hardly any. Just my fingertips," I'd said, impressed that they had this down to such a fine art. I assumed that they factored in my weight, the dunk-quotient, and calculated a suitable length of bungy cord.
It turned out that it is a rather less precise science than I had fondly imagined. As I hurtled headfirst towards the water a vague thought went through my panic-stricken mind, "I'm still going really fast and that water is getting really close..."
Totally dunked. Water up my nose. Soaked to the skin. A bystander later showed me a photograph of myself in the water, only my feet visible above the surface.
As I bounced inelegantly, dripping water and dangling upside down on the end of the bungy cord, awaiting the retrieval boat, I yelled up at Adam, "Fingertips, Adam, fingertips!!"
But hey, what's the point in doing something new if you know exactly what to expect?
[photo: about to pass the point of no return]
[Click here to see the video of the bungy jump - apologies for blurry quality, but you can just about tell it's me. What you can't see is that I'm hyperventilating...
"Tramping" is New Zealander-speak for hiking, and today I set off with Sinead and Daisy to tramp the Routeburn and Greenstone Tracks on New Zealand's South Island. If I manage to get mobile phone reception I might be able to post a blog, but this is probably unlikely. So I will probably be offline until next Monday.
But do come back then, and hopefully I will be able to share some spectacular photos of our hike.
If I'm off tramping, does this make me a tramp?
Last year Phil Keoghan, a New Zealander who now works as a TV presenter in the US, did a nice little feature about a certain female solo ocean rower (click here to watch it on YouTube). He and I have stayed in touch ever since, particularly regarding a pet project of his to make a TV piece about the North Pacific Garbage Patch, a pet topic of mine.
So when he heard I was coming to New Zealand, he suggested I drop in on his parents. They run a small but very lovely B&B outside of Christchurch.
I arrived here yesterday after a meeting in Christchurch with Renzie Hanham, a sporting coach who focuses primarily on the mindset needed for success. His company, Gazing Performance, helped me out with my preparations for the Atlantic and yesterday's session was a useful refresher course.
There was a particularly useful exercise we did that I would like to share, in case it resonates with anybody reading this. I suppose you could call it a clash of priorities - but this clash is taking place within one person's mind, and can lead to feelings of conflict and stress.
Do you ever feel like you are being held back from being all that you could be, and you can't figure out why? It could be that you have another goal that clashes with the one you think you are trying to achieve.
An example that Renzie gave was of a very talented athlete who also had a strong desire to be liked. Anyone who is at the top of their field runs the risk of being DISliked, at least by their competitors, so she also had a conflict of desires that led to problems - and could even have led to her failing to reach her potential because she didn't want to accept that we can't necessarily be successful AND popular, all of the time.
And here is my example: I feel I should try to be perfect, yet one of my goals is to be at peace. NOBODY is perfect, so while I strive for perfection I can never be at peace. This may sound obvious, but for me it was a dazzling insight. I either need to accept that I will never be perfect - or face an ongoing tension over my imperfections.
Sometimes we need someone else to hold up a mirror so we can see where we're going astray. Thanks, Renzie.
And thanks also to Beth and John Keoghan for their hospitality at the Garden View. Dinnner last night (corned beef and home-grown veg) was delicious - and all the better for being fresh from the garden.