Every minute I get to enjoy with my wife is special – she holds my heart. Between us we had determined that I needed a break as much as we needed some time together by ourselves.

I had some leave, initially only for Monday and Tuesday. Leave days at our place usually kick off before dawn. The further the intended trip, the earlier the start, and on the first couple of days we were on the road by 4.30am to arrive at our destination before dawn sometime after 6.00am.

Depending on where we went, we were greeted with wetland and riverside mists, which lifted as the frosty air warmed up or turned to fog once the sun rose. We also encountered grey skies over pine forests, and finally, yet ever so briefly, some beautiful morning light in the pine forest and native bush near the Tarawera Falls. Hours later as the early morning progressed, mountain mists added to the atmospherics, typical of the light and weather patterns of the southern Bay of Plenty and Te Urewera.

We so enjoyed our time together. I arranged extra days so we could have the whole week off to make the most of our time which we spent on the Tarawera River, after arranging access permits.

I revisited old hunting areas from my primary school days but we also saw country that was new to both of us. We stretched ourselves physically, walking most days and if the adage ‘Use it or lose it’ is true, we certainly used it to the max every day.

Even though each day ended with more than the usual aches and pains, there was also intense satisfaction and knowledge gained beyond the usual day-to-day activities.

We need to save our dollars for these trips, mainly for fuel, but the reward is that we’ve done and learnt so much that’s new. We love revisiting old, familiar locations because they always look fresh in different weather conditions. New sights are interesting too, even if we need permits to access private lands or property to see them.

These adventures bring joy and satisfaction in knowing that if we maintain a level of activity slightly beyond what we’re usually capable of, it becomes the norm. When we put our minds to it and consciously push those self-limiting fences back, we can keep them at a distance for as long as possible. They will close in soon enough if we let them.