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Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time. --Steven Wright

The Wordplay of Pathways

--by Joyce McGreevy, syndicated from oh-i-see.com, Jul 23, 2018

Glenorchy Pier prompts a visitor to New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)Glenorchy in New Zealand’s South Island is a gateway to many spectacular hiking trails. 
 

The Wordplay of Pathways

Everyday English reflects the wordplay of pathways. We speak of “getting off track,” or taking “the path of least resistance.” We express disappointment as being “led up the primrose path.” We tell new friends, “I’m glad our paths crossed.”

Glenorchy’s wooden pathway lets walkers of all abilities explore New Zealand on foot. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Glenorchy’s boardwalk takes birdwatchers into the wetlands. 

In New Zealand, a walker’s paradise, pathways crisscross language and the land like skeins of light.  Ancestors of the Maori walked the entirety of the country naming landforms and waterways. Today, walking is the Kiwi way, from short local bush walks to the 1,900-mile Te Araroa (“Long Pathway”).

Kiwis Walk the Talk

Here, walking is no mere footnote. Surveys show that for New Zealanders of every age and ethnicity, walking is the most popular recreation—by a mile kilometers.

Waiheke Island’s beach and bush walks inspire a visitor to New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Waiheke Island offers serene walks through bush and beach. 

Oh, I see moment: The origin of the word path is itself a kind of path. It begins, as many pathways do, with clear signposting: “Take Old English back to Old Frisian, then hang a right at Middle Dutch and keep going until you reach Old High German.”

These early words for path evoke footsteps:  paþpæþ pat, pad, pfad. But the ultimate origin for path has disappeared into the forests of time.

Mangawhero Forest Walk in Tongariro National Park inspires a visitor to New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Mangawhero Forest Walk in Tongariro National Park meanders through Rimu, Matai, and Kahikatea trees.

 Step Right Up

Let’s go wandering through the present. From the mainlands of North Island and South Island to smaller islands like Waiheke, pathways beckon.

A short path says, “Come on in! Plenty of views, no waiting.”

Devonport’s Victoria Hill inspires a visitor to New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Devonport’s bucolic walks are just a 10-minute ferry ride from the city of Auckland. 

A steep path says, “Not so fast. Good things happen in steps.”

Steep wooden steps in Queenstown inspire a visitor to New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Queenstown’s topography is truly on the up and up. 

Urban pathways are keen to get you where you’re going. “Hurry along! Hurry along!”

Island pathways are more laidback. Sun warms them, breezes ruffle their grasses and your hair. They whisper, “Wherever you’re headed, here’s nice, too.”

Steep wooden steps in Queenstown inspire a visitor to New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Waiheke’s Te Motu Vineyard is a gentle 20-minute stroll from Onetangi Road. 

Sometimes you meet the perfect companion, and if you’re lucky, you’ll walk the same path for a while. As people in New Zealand like to say, “Sweet as!” (Sweet as what, you ask? Just “sweet as.”)

A friendly Paradise duck in Te Anau inspires a hiker in New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

At Lake Te Anau in NZ’s Fiordland,  Paradise ducks and other birds tag along with hikers. 

The Ara Variations

The word for path in Maori is ara, and New Zealand’s first people have many other names for pathways. There’s ararātā, the path of native Rata trees, and ararimu, if the trees are Rimu. Or you may come to two paths, ararua; a blocked path, arapuni; or the pathway’s end, arapito.

In New Zealand’s mountains or along its coasts, one may encounter the sacred path, or aratapu.

A stone plaque at Queenstown Hill inspires a hiker in New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Queenstown Hill is known in Maori as Te Tapu-nui, “the mountain of intense sacredness.”

Some paths possess deep patience. After a long solitude, they welcome a lone hiker with birdsong.

The New Zealand bush inspires a hiker to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Put away the earphones. Even when you cannot see native birds, you’ll hear their songs

Some paths begin gently and rapidly become challenging. A Maori proverb says, “If you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.”

Queenstown Hill’s rugged terrain inspires a hiker in New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Queenstown Hill is a steep, demanding, and ultimately rewarding hike of several hours.  
 

“Basket of Dreams,” a public sculpture by Caroline Robinson’s sculpture inspires hikers who take the path up to Queenstown Hill, New Zealand. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Persevere until you reach the “Basket of Dreams,” a sculpture by Caroline Robinson.

Mindful Walking

A path can be metaphorical, even when it’s literal. What’s better than a long walk for sorting things out in one’s mind?

Wild mushrooms in a forest on Queenstown Hill inspire a hiker in New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

If troubles seem to mushroom . . .
 

A tree stump on Queenstown Hill inspires a hiker in New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Or you’re totally stumped . . .
 

Tree roots on Queenstown Hill inspire a hiker in New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

. . .  a mindful walk in the woods can help reveal the roots of an issue.
 

A tree branch on Queenstown Hill inspires a hiker in New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

A path may drop hints: “You’re grasping for the wrong things.”

Other Pathways

The path along a mountain ridge is called arapae, a path for the brave. But not all pathways are on the land. The horizon is a path for the eye, the sky a path for imagination.

Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables mountain range in Queenstown Hill inspire a hiker in New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Hikes in The Remarkables mountain range offer tranquil views of NZ’s longest lake, Wakatipu. 

Shadows and the rays of rainbows form pathways, too. And then there is aramoana, the sea path.

A vintage sailing ship seen from Devonport’s Victoria Hill inspires a hiker in New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

The views from Victoria Hill above Devonport in NZ’s North Island are pure storybook. 

What Pathways Do You Walk?

We’re all on some kind of path. We may choose it, stumble upon it, change it, or create a whole new path.

If we keep our eyes open, whatever path we’re on can become aratoro—the path of discovery.

Glenorchy Lagoon inspires a visitor to New Zealand to consider the wordplay of pathways. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

A walk to Glenorchy Lagoon is the surest way to inspiration. 

In the wordplay of pathways, it happens one step at a time.

Special thanks to Cleone Blomfield and Annette Caswell for their insights and hospitality in Queenstown and Glenorchy. 

To explore New Zealand on foot, start here.




Syndicated from oh-i-see.com. All photos © Joyce McGreevy  


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