Come with me; we are going to take off our shoes and walk through the hinterland.
I always loved that word, from when I first learned it at school. It means ‘the land behind the coast’, [German hinter: behind, plus land).
I think of it as ‘the hidden land’.
The hinterland we are going through today is a wide band that has become increasingly vegetated as the dunes stabilise and a succession of plants takes root. First the dune grasses came in, then lupins and flax, and now karo, pohutukawa and other trees.
Sometimes our way seems easy, and our bare feet follow other feet through sandy pathways. There’s a comfort in knowing that others have found the way.
And at other times the growth is so dense that the way through is not at all clear. There are false trails, where others have tried to force their way forward. We must beware of these, or we could easily get tangled and lost. Other people’s footsteps are not always reliable.
Let’s think through the soles of our feet.
Suddenly a pheasant whirrs out of the lupins like a mini motorbike starting up. It flies off fast, but not before I’ve glimpsed its fine autumn dress coat.
We will forgo the straight way ahead and skirt around to the left, staying high so we can see a pathway.
And sure enough, we are rewarded with a clear view, and a way through.
Not far now. The sight of the sea lures us onward.
And we are out! – looking back on the line of dunes, whose hinterland is well concealed. The sea is roaring today and the wind is brisk, lashing our faces. But it’s not cold, and the freshness is reviving.
And what’s this? whizzing along the beach with great speed, making the most of the wind?
—and then disappearing into the misty haze of the distance. Somebody is having fun!
We came through, and found space, freedom and exhilaration.
Thank you for throwing off your shoes and walking through the hinterland with me.