Nature’s wisdom and the broken bridge

by | Apr 4, 2024 | Seasons Newsletter | 18 comments

We stood at the end of the broken bridge.

One step more and we would tumble into the sandy stream below.


Twelve air steps across the gap, and we would step onto the outstretched bridge section on the other side.



Before the cyclone, the bridge offered a way forward, to a long grassy paddock to the left where horses grazed.

Five minutes of walking took us to a style over a fence, and onto an upward-rising path.

This walkway would take us through bush and up the hill where we would pause to regain breath and take in the long view of the surf beach.



Continuing would take us to the next beach around, then up again very high and we’d be on the cliff-top walkway to Muriwai, about a three-hour return trip.



Now the sign said: ‘Walkway closed’.


My son had explored and discovered at least five large slips along the way, sudden gaps on the path that would be dangerous to try and cross. The bridge had been swept away in floods a few years earlier and recently rebuilt with stronger foundations. But it had been no match for Cyclone Gabrielle.



Finding peace


Sitting at the edge of the broken bridge, we knew the walkway would never be restored. My granddaughter Mira (15) had walked that very trail to Muriwai with her father a week before the cyclone and was glad of her good luck.

We fell silent. Birds sang all around, more than I’d known since the early days at Te Henga, fifty years ago. It was peaceful here. The grassy road to the bridge and carpark had been wiped out when the stream changed its course during the cyclone. It was a bit of a scramble to reach the bridge.

Nobody came here.





After a long time, we mused together on how good it felt in this place. This was surprising.

Maybe it was because nothing could be done but accept the change. I thought of how the English Romantic poets loved ruins and found them to be places of peace and reflection.

Broken places are soon reclaimed by nature. The former road was now so overgrown it took a while to find it. Nature unleashes fierce storms that change the face of the earth. Then nature begins her work of regenerating something new.

The stream seemed to meander more now, making beautiful snaking shapes in the afternoon light. The fringe of pine trees along one side had been knocked back, opening up more space for the wavy bank. A deep sense of acceptance settled inside me as I surrendered to the new state of this land.


The wisdom of hindsight


Fifty years ago the walkway didn’t exist. To create one along eroding cliffs was quite a feat, and with hundreds of walkers using it, many sections crumbled away, making it hard to find the path again. That was before the cyclone.

Maybe there are some places where we need to bow to nature and not impose our will upon it. As Mira and I sat on that broken bridge we made that bow to nature.


Books for the seasons

Dancing with the Seasons

Celebrating the Southern Seasons

Sun, Moon, and Stars








  1. Sue Hadley

    I loved reading this. Nothing makes me happier than to hear that some natural places will not be accessible to humans for a long time period. May this place host the creatures that can thrive without people.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Sue; I smiled as I read your comment. It’s like a kind of reversal, isn’t it, of the human belief that we should have access everywhere.

      • Phillipa Molloy

        I continue to very much enjoy your photos and wisdom

        • Juliet Batten

          Thank you Phillipa, what a nice thing to say.

  2. Theresa Rosborough

    Here at Waihi Beach I see the same changes with the sand dunes. The sand comes and goes with the seasons,tides and weather and creates a ever changing landscape regardless of sea walls build by people.
    The walls disappear over time and the sand keeps moving.
    Nature is in control.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Theresa for evoking the ever-moving dunescape so beautifully.

  3. Margaret

    I found something really settled in me as I read your newsletter. I have often felt it would be more respectful of nature if we left some places to simply be themselves rather than forcing our will upon them. This seems so fitting in the area you describe. Thank you.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Margaret. I’m happy to know that something settled for you. I think you speak for others as well. Yes, letting places simply be themselves; you put it beautifully.

  4. Denise Poyner

    I enjoyed your blog article. I felt a lightness to my body; that it all seemed sensible to me to leave well enough alone. I think as I grow older, I have a deepening value of nature.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Denise. How lovely that you felt lightness, and that the value of nature is deepening for you.

  5. Lea Holford

    When I moved to New Zealand, Juliet kindly loaned me her bach and I loved that walk, as well as the one to the lake, which has also reformed after the storm. I thankfully have many joyous memories and photos of those walks at Te Henga. Even though it is in the way of things, I also relate to the word solastalgia – missing a place that used to exist, even while you are still living there. Many people in the world feel this acutely now, as climate change takes their cherished places away.

    • Juliet Batten

      Lea, now nice to hear from you, and about those happy memories of the walks. Solastalgia is a new word for me. Thank you for introducing it; a word for our times and one to reflect on.

    • Grace

      Such a deep practice for us all in these times of climate change.

      I loved this beautiful reminder to make peace with change and letting go.

      So many species of plant and animal life flourish when we are absent.

      Arohanui Juliet

      • Juliet Batten

        Beautiful words, thank you Grace.

  6. Jasmine Sampson

    Thank you for your beautiful words, photos and deep wisdom Juliet. I too feel a peace and settling inside me.
    I share your newsletters with a shamanic colleagues in Australia (who are so delighted to find ritruals for the Southern Hemisphere) and in the USA who also comment on how much the appreciate your writings.
    So thank you for continuing to bring peace and beauty to many. And for the quiet wisdom of this post which feels especially timely for some reason. At an energetic level it feels like we are moving into the eye of a Cosmic Storm. Your wisdom is guide and comfort along the way.
    Arohanui, nga mihi nui ake ake ake.

    • Juliet Batten

      Kia ora Jasmine; I appreciate your thoughtful comments so much! and thank you for sharing my newsletters with colleagues in different countries. Others have also felt the post is timely, which is interesting. I wrote it in January but it wasn’t until now that I felt ready to send it.

  7. Sharon Lightfoot-Pound

    Beautiful story and photographs. Thank you, Juliet, for your perceptive wisdom.

    • Juliet Batten

      Thank you Sharon, I appreciate your response.


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