We woke up in Kaitaia to a cool, bright day. The sky was blue, and the sun was shining. My idea of a perfect day. Seems that the weather forecast was wrong. If only we have ignored it, we would have been able to enjoy sunrise in Hauhora Harbor. Ah, well….

After stopping by in the Harbor (Cik Jamal and Hanif fishing; me, Cik Mah and Hanisah posed for photos), we proceeded to another hour’s journey along the Northern tip of New Zealand to the Giant Sand Dunes.  Nature is a great healer. The beauty of the gravel road and grass-covered hills and huge green trees was so mesmerising that all your troubles are left behind. Maybe the kids were quarreling. Maybe the roads weren’t smooth. It doesn’t matter, really. The air was so fresh that nothing else counts.

After all the greeneries, suddenly a humongous pile of sand appeared in front of us. Hundreds of acres and tens-of-meters-high of golden sandhills. Just sand. With the Te Paki stream separating between the green and the gold. We were amazed.

The place was empty. There were no one around. Cik Jamal parked the car and we excitedly walked (the children ran) towards the hills.

The first two meters climbed. Soft sands, really soft. It was like a desert up there. A few hundred steps away there’s another hill to be climbed. The kids ran over. They can’t wait to sand-surf. Cik Jamal, Cik Mah and I walked at our own pace. Took photos. We were so relaxed. It’s so safe up here.

Hanif and Hanisah were half-way up when we came to the foot of the the 30-meter sandhill. I looked up. “Wow. I can do this. If the kids could do it, why can’t I?”

So we started climbing. My feet sank into the sand.  “Right. This is not going to be that easy.”

I was not even one-third the way up. The kids were almost there. Hanisah cried because she was already tired and she’s not on the top yet. Cik Jamal hurried up to help her.

I stopped. I looked at Cik Mah next to me. We were both panting. I laughed. She laughed. We laughed. We climbed further.

I stopped again. Not even half-way there. My legs were aching. The climb was taking more time and energy than I thought it would be. “It’s the sand,” I told myself. “It’s the sand. Just go on. It’s worth the pain.” Cik Mah laughed. “Maya, you can! We can! Let’s move on!!”

So we climbed. We puffed away. We screamed. We laughed. We stopped. We climbed again.

At one point near the top I looked down. I was so tired. I don’t know how I could go on. My legs ached. They felt so heavy. I looked down. “Hey, I’ve gone so far! I can do this! Just another few steps….come on!!!”

I did it. Finally. I was speechless. Wow. Another wide area of just sands.

“Maya, if you walk further, you’ll be able to see the Tasman Sea,” said Cik Jamal.

I can’t possibly walk anymore. The sandhill was enough. But then again…’Hey, I’ve come this far, I’ve climbed this high. What’s another few hundred meters? It’s worth the pain.’

So I did. I walked and walked and walked. Cik Mah and Hanif followed. I walked and walked. Then I saw it.

The sea. The deep greenish-blue Tasman Sea. The waves hitting on the beach. Wow. Wow. Wooooowww…..

I was speechless. Not because of me being breathless. I was just speechless. Words failed me. I took in deep breaths. Wow. This was what I came here for. This overwhelming sense of peace and calm and wonder.

Then another feeling overpowered me. I wanted to run and cry, and run, and cry, and scream. I wanted to let loose. I wanted to cry til all the tears are dried.

And at that moment, without even looking at my face, at my expressions, Cik Mah asked, “Maya, are you ok?”

How did she know?

How did she know?