Day one of our record trip started a little slow due to the fact that we didn’t set off till after 5pm. We arrived in Turangi and checked into our motel at about 10.30pm. Despite our sleepiness, we headed straight out into the night to find some quiet patches of forest.
We knew from the start that, being summer, this was not such an ideal time of the year to try and record air and forest ambience due to the masses of bugs an cicadas. However, sometimes you just have to take what you can get. Since we have time now to record, now is the time we shall record.
Even in winter, night time is the best time to try and catch good still forest air to avoid bugs and birds. So off we went into the Tongariro national park.
We headed down Kaimanawa road, back towards desert road and found a great patch of native bush that was silent and gorgeous.
I must admit that at first I was a little nervous. Ever since I worked on the sound for Wolf Creek 2, (an Australian film about a psychopath that preys on backpackers), I have become even more sensitive to the dangers of being in isolated wilderness at night. However, once I had settled in to the surrounds and opened up to the beauty of the nighttime New Zealand forest, I found the sense of peace and serenity that often escapes my attention in everyday domestic life.
After sitting for an hour in complete silence in the dark, listening to night birds and the gentle hum of night crickets I start to wonder why we humans have isolated ourselves so much from nature? We don’t just ignore it, we lock ourselves away from it. But, in the warmth of summer, it’s amazing how welcoming the night air can be. Why do we avoid being outdoors at night? It’s not just a matter of comfort and security, it’s almost like a domestication that our species had undergone which keeps us from seeing that we are still a part of this natural world. We belong here.
Recently I was at a bar with some friends, enjoying the soft candle lighting and I thought how much better bars and restaurants feel when they use dim lighting. I stopped to wonder why that is? Then I realised, with a slight sense of stupidity, that of course it feels better to be surrounded by fire light at night rather than the glare of fluorescent globes! For centuries we lived with nothing but flames to light our camps and our homes. Living at night by the fake illumination of the incandescent bulb is a new novelty and as far as our bodies are concerned, it’s unnatural. So get outside people! Light a fire and enjoy the warmth and light that we all once danced to. Better yet, don’t take a light at all and just sit quietly and look up to the stars.
Out in the bush, the sky is filled with stars. In everyday life, I only look up for moments at a time, never for long periods. I sometimes get out of the car and on my way to my front door I lift my head and think, ‘oh look at the stars!’ I then proceed into my house, turn on the light and go about my life.
But if I sit and look up for long enough to watch the stars tracking across the sky, I realise how much I miss out on by living indoors and how lucky I am to have an excuse to get out here and experience the world. Even if that excuse is still technically work, and even if it is just for a few nights a year.
Once we had recorded a few good chunks of silence, we then decided to spice things up with some branch crunches, foliage moves and of course a whole heap of stones thrown into the tranquil pond for some nice clean water plops.
All in all, it was a productive and invigorating evening, but we still had a long trip ahead of us so by 2am, we were ready to hit the hay.