So I was off to see the Shire (of Lord of the Rings fame); however, I must have not set my watch on New Zealand time after hopping a flight from Melbourne, Australia the day before. I missed the bus to where they filmed the Hobbit's home village -- it was probably too touristy anyway, so I took a mindful moment to center myself, not to be disappointed on my best laid plans, breathed in and out and took a bus in the opposite direction. To where? I had no idea, just to the end of the line.
I ended up in Titirangi, a suburb some 13 kilometers southwest of the city of Auckland at the southern end of the Waitakere Ranges. Long stretches of farmland greeted me as I set off on South Titirangi Road, hopefully the direction of the nearest beach, not for any water sports, just because it signified the end of my journey that day. Like a hobbit, I kept walking figuring I would end up on some end of the island.
It wasn't exactly The Shire, but it was a very peaceful place that included a small church and a small population that included A New Zealand cow, who followed me along a fence trying to communicate with me, but my "moos" fell on deaf ears, but he kept me company. I kept looking for the beach but only found more mountains and a trickle of rain signifying that I should take a break, lo and behold, there was a small cafe 500 feet away.
I enjoyed the unusual cherry with my espresso as I browsed my maps. My phone had no signal whatsoever and the timing of my South Pacific trip was before many phones had GPS, the Pre-App days. I asked a local Kiwi for directions to the beach.
"Not much of a beach," she said.
"Just trying to get to the end of my journey," I said. She told me to continue down Titirangi Road and so I would, after the rain let up a bit.
The rain began to subside and a rainbow appeared in the distance, the direction I was supposed to go. I took that as a good sign and began the end of my journey. After I made a brief stop at an artist's home (she invited a stranger like me into her home and showed me her stained glass artwork), I eventually made it to the end of the road.
It was a muddy beach and the sun refused to make an appearance, but I sat down on a damp log at the end of the forested road and looked to the horizon. It wasn't the journey I planned to make that day, no Hobbits to enjoy a pint of beer with but I took a chance and had a real mindful experience in a beautiful destination that definitely was on no one's "off the beaten path" but my own.
In Māori language "Titirangi" means "long streaks of cloud in the sky" or "fringe of heaven". My unexpected journey couldn't get anymore real than that.
Now Get Lost!
My Journey: I took the 172 Bus from Auckland to Titirangi, stopped at the Rahui Kahika Reserve and walked the rest of the way down South Titirangi Road, stopping at the Stripe Cafe and continuing on to the end of the road at Jenkins Bay.