Chasing Fifty Shades of Fox Glacier in New Zealand

Desperate for a slice of Mediterranean and Asian cuisine, I settled for a hearty slice of Italian ciabbata served with half a dozen mussels dipped in Thai green curry.

Oh the perfect combo!



All I needed at the Mussel Pot Restaurant and Cafe in the Marlborough Sounds. Photo Credit: Leina Isno 

The Thai Green Curry was beautiful-I can still remember the spicy smell and its salty taste. Slowly, it was washed down with that racy, aromatic Wairau Riesling in the glorious sunshine. Still a personal favourite.

It’s a secret love affair with a rural cuisine.

In the quirky heart of Havelock. World famous for being the Mussel Capital. Near to the Pelorus Bridge where Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth’s Magic happened in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug¬†film.

A heavenly slice of New Zealand at Lake Matheson. Photo Credit: Leina Isno

I would have loved to share a plate of sun-dried tomatoes and red pestos with girlfriends too. Just for the company.

But I am in a summer haven. The spectacular natural backdrop of the rolling hills and landscapes reflected in the quiet, still lake. Perfect for meditation. A quiet space from all the chaos. Who could argue with New Zealand and it’s natural beauty? The drive through Queen Charlotte from Picton has been an absolute stunner.

I highly recommend it.

This cuisine was satisfying.

The hospitality was welcoming.

A French Waitress as part of the welcoming team at Mussel Pot Restaurant and Cafe in the Marlborough Sounds. Photo Credit: Leina Isno

As a young single woman travelling the West Coast of New Zealands’ Southern Island backpacking, I couldn’t be more happier. Exhausted from finishing summer school, indulging in postgraduate research and six weeks of a recent international humanitarian mission, I needed rest.

It was proving to be one of my best summers. It gave me an opportunity to soak up and reflect on a very eventful year of 2019.

The long drives along the West Coast of NZ was absolutely worthwhile. Photo Credit: Leina Isno

I felt safe.

I had the freedom.

The independence.

The music.

And I could dance in the rain anywhere I wanted to.

You could dance anywhere; rain, hail or shine and be comforted. Photo Credit: Leina Isno

Sir Michael Hill, the New Zealand Jewellery Mogul millionaire reminded me in his segment on Your Money in The Press¬†that success wasn’t easy. Its’ the path and the lessons he learnt along the way that contributed to him being a millionaire.

His advice:

“Be frugal” with your savings and “find out what you are good at.” At times, be able to push boundaries. You have to keep things simple and stay true to your brand.

Arriving at the Fox River Market in Punakaiki at the Paparoa National Park was a complete surprise. I felt like I was in a natural wonderland to discover another haven. Under a jaw-dropping location beneath overhanging cliffs, a community came together. These were a colourful group of thinkers, dreamers and creators who connected through gathering every Sunday in Summer.

I felt like a kid again. The kid after the best hot chocolate found at the Rusty Cup Cafe! Trust me, after all that driving through the National Parks, you will welcome that break and relief.

A wonderful thriving community along the West Coast. Photo Credit: Leina Isno

The people here reminded me of the importance of community and unity. They showcased their unique skills. Their originality shone through their products. They showed me the importance of kindness and staying connected despite (80 residents) being so geographically isolated along the coast. They had a reason to still come together and support each other and greet the thousands of international visitors through the region.

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Mary and Gordon McMillan inspired me greatly with their creativity and their produce through their Intarsia brand. While Mary showcased her sewing skills and crafts, Gordon spoke about his love for woodwork. Being creative with his chainsaw on the beach sawing washed-up driftwood to create some of my favourite childhood characters. His attention to detail and craftsmanship was highlighted in his products.

Gordon brought back many of my childhood stories; a very original narrative through reminiscing. Photo Credit: Leina Isno

Needless to say, I brought Miss Piggy and the Lion King home. His lesson?

Find out what you are good at and build on it.”

The best thing about backpacking through New Zealand is the unexpected ability of strike up a conversation with complete strangers. Beatrice, a beautiful but recently heart-broken German backpacker shared the same room with me in a girls dorm at the Fox Glacier.

Beatrice, my German friend added to my life chapter in unexpected ways a friendship of building trust and moving forward. Photo Credit: Leina Isno

We connected. We planned on going chasing fifty shades of Fox Glacier together.

Beatrice reminded me of my own trauma.

The emotional grief.

The brokeness.

The despair.

The crushing hope.

The suicidal thoughts over a breakup more than 10 years ago.

It broke me in every way.

But here I was.

Completely a different being. Ready to go chasing fifty shades of Fox Glacier over the mirrored magic lake with her.

Chasing Fifty Shades of Fox Glacier at Lake Matheson. Photo Credit: Leina Isno

The path to Lake Matheson was filled with lots of girl talks. It was a beautiful calm late afternoon as we headed out to the lake. I could feel the trees listening and the still lake watching and absorbing every word we were saying. It was almost spooky. A slight breeze gently swayed the trees and a duck waded out to the side of the lake in the marshes. An eel fish swam across through the lake weeds.

The mirrored Lake Matheson of the Fox Glaciers in the distance. Photo Credit: Leina Isno

I was ready to talk and share.

I am in my zone of mindfulness and reflection mode.

Not only is this the perfect place to chase the fifty shades of Fox Glacier over the lake, it is the ideal spot to welcome healing.

And to think innovation and growth with a friend.


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