Part of the challenge of transformational change is learning to extend your imaginative capability to see a myriad of ways that the world could be made different.

No matter how much reflection and introspection you’ve done, we all have assumptions and beliefs about how things are that we don’t recognise – they’ve been with us so long that they blend into the background.

When we have an experience that is not compatible with our implicit beliefs, it’s a shock to the system. Suddenly we become aware of these assumed truths as we get busy updating them so we can make sense of this new jarring information.

NZ – Absolutely stunning everywhere you look

Despite the many similarities with Australia, my travel around Te Waipounamu, the south island of New Zealand last month delivered plenty of such shocks.

High on our to do list was a visit to the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers, as Australia is the only continent that does not have glaciers. Before we arrived, I didn’t realise how much glaciers impacted the shape of the landscape. We traded the undulating hills of Australia, shaped by wind and water over eons, for the jagged shale mountains formed by glaciers in the New Zealand alps.

The birdlife was enthralling. Everywhere we went, we saw birds playing and heard their songs. As we learned to tell our Wekas from our Kiwis, and our Yellowheads from our Yellowhammers, we got curious about the conditions that make this space so bountiful for birdlife.

A few searches later, I was stunned to find that there are no native land mammals in New Zealand – the only native mammals are marine (seals, dolphins, whales) and arial (3 variety of bats). I’d never before considered that a place exists without land mammals and all the complexities they bring.

This revelation was shortly followed by learning that there are no snakes in New Zealand. Unlike the Irish folklore of St Patrick driving away the snakes, in New Zealand snakes just never evolved.

I could barely imagine! A place where the concept of snakes just never came up? Incredible. Completely unimaginable – until I experienced it.

In fact, my very being in New Zealand was only because we had able to envision a way of marrying without all the fuss and fanfare.

Inspired by experiences of family and friends holding intimate and impromptu weddings, we chose to have an elopement-style wedding and went to New Zealand to celebrate our honeymoon.

I’m glad to be back, but a little part of me is still there, watching the birds frolic over the lake, trying to capture the light.