A wide berthday.

Well this is 30. It doesn’t feel ultimately different from 29. That’s always the expectation as a kid, that the annual shift will suddenly make itself known as another 365 days turn over to the next. Then as you’re an adult and the passage of time seems smoother, slower you realise it just ain’t like that. I already had the aches and pains that periodically make themselves known. It’s not like I suddenly reached the magical age of “old” and my limbs fell off. I’m also not the bastion of wisdom that comes with age. Still got years to collect it all. Dribs and drabs, drip by drip. Three decades in I’m surprised at how young I feel, but with the knowledge of how young I’m not. The ability to be as reckless as I was ten years ago, but the insight to know that’s unlikely to go well. Drip by drip.

Today’s weather, on the other hand, has not gone drip by drip. We’re away on the Milford Sound tour in a cross between overcast and downpour. Asking our guide if this weather was standard, he cheerfully replied to my friend “oh no, this is the worst weather I’ve seen in years. It was 28 degrees and sunny last week.” Happy Birthday, I guess. Regardless of the wetness, it’s been a pretty rad way to spend the day. Away on an adventure with my girlfriend and best mates. It’s kind of tough to feel hard done by when any shit situation becomes fodder for more jokes. Misery alchemists, turning tragedy into comedy in record time. If my limbs did suddenly fall of at 30, I’ve no doubt they’d help me find the silver lining.

Despite anything nature could throw at us, the scenery has been unbelievable. I’m not sure I’ve used the word “incredible” sincerely quite so many times in one day before. Enormous mountains towing above the clouds. Streams becoming waterfalls. Huge green gorges, gushing rivers and crystal clear lakes. The tour guide has been offering helpful, interesting commentary along the way. Well versed in history about the area, he’s also delivered insight on both flora and fauna. Okay, so now I sound like I’ve aged another 30 years, but it’s bloody fascinating. Apparently the karearea falcon (on the NZ $20 note) can fly at speeds of up to 180km per hour. That’s insane.

We saw ducks that dove underwater to find food and keas posing for photos on top of a car. One also walked up to the bus door and started chewing on the insulation. The guide told us it’s pretty common for one kea to attract attention while several other keas, unnoticed, sow disorder. Mischievous little bastards. Dolphins are pretty rare around the Milford sounds, showing up around once every ten days, but we had a big pod jumping and splashing in front of the boat. The driver stopped and we gawked, passengers cooing accordingly. They were pretty damn rad. A cluster of sea lions adorned a large rock, sleeping despite the rugged terrain. Sea lions don’t give a fuck. We passed right by a huge waterfall and it was amazing just how powerful it felt. The gust at the bottom was almost enough to blow us back. We got pretty soaked, but it was worth it to be so cowed by the elements.

Maybe the waterfalls washed off on me, but it’s hard not to gush about how fortunate I feel. I’m 30, celebrating in the time zone of my birth, surrounded by a bunch of my favourite people in the world. I think I’m doing pretty damn well. I even still have all the limbs I was born with.

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