We spoke to Moa Raud – the Swedish surfer, photographer and outdoor junkie currently spending her days off the grid among sandy beaches and steep mountains in New Zealand. Honestly, we’ve been stalking her for a while here at Astrid Wild through cyberspace, not only for her incredible ways to capture life through her lens, but also because of the relationship she seems to have with nature. We were also a bit curious about what it’s actually like, moving across the continent, and settling down in a place so far away from “home”.
For those of us who never met you, who are you? What places do you call home?
For those who have never met me - hello and nice to meet you through this beautiful platform full of inspiring stories. My name is Moa and I grew up in an eco village in southern Sweden and have been living in Aotearoa, New Zealand, for the last five years. Or, more accurately I’ve been living on the road between New Zealand, Sweden, France and Spain for the last few years (at least until last year when the pandemic threw all my plans out the window), never really stopping for long enough to spread my roots and make myself fully at home. I’ve always longed to see the world, to break free and to flow with the seasons like the birds and that’s what I’ve built my life around since finishing school.
About New Zealand - what brought you there and what brings you back?
Since I started exploring the world after finishing school my mum wouldn’t stop talking about New Zealand, where she had been with my dad 30 years ago and it was their favorite place in the world. When I decided to go to NZ she suddenly changed her mind and told me (jokingly) I shouldn’t go because she realized I would fall in love with the place (like they did) and get stuck there. I think the love for NZ was somehow passed down from my parents, because as soon as I landed I felt like I came home. The wilderness of the raw coast and deep native forests, the rolling waves, the loving and open people, the connection to nature that’s part of the culture thanks to the Maori population, seeing how life can be lived in such harmony with nature made me realize that’s the way I want to live my life.
...After the pandemic put a hold on my plans to come home to Sweden a couple years ago, I’ve been waiting for the regulations to allow me to come back to Sweden without risking never being able to go back to my NZ home again. This summer my kiwi partner Dave and I finally made the decision to go to visit my family in Sweden, and I’m so grateful we did. We’ve spent the last two months exploring Swedish national parks, camping on beaches and spending lots of time with family and friends. Dave’s in love with Sweden and I’m excited for a future where we can call both Sweden and NZ our homes.
Photos by Otto Raud.
What has nature (and maybe surf) taught you through life? What role does nature play in your life?
I was brought up in an eco village and went to an outdoors school (Ur och Skur) and I feel like nature has always been a solid foundation and big part of my life. I’ve always felt at home in nature and it’s where I go to recharge my batteries. When the pandemic put an end to my travel plans and made me stop and stay in one place for a while, Dave and I made the choice to live a lifestyle that’s more connected with nature, living off the grid out of our van and a small caravan in the NZ countryside. Living this way has taught me so much about the basic truths of human life on this planet, the footprints we leave and the daily choices we’re often not aware of, disconnected from the origin of it all. An evolving aspect of my life is choosing to live a conscious lifestyle, learning more about natural ways and building a life in harmony with nature.
Do you view/appreciate Nordic nature any different from spending time in NZ?
Since moving to NZ I've appreciated Sweden more and more every time I come back home, and feel blessed to have grown up here. The Nordic nature is lush and deep and magical in a different way than NZ and seeing it through a new lens has been a beautiful experience. I’ve absolutely loved spending time in Sweden with my partner Dave and showing him around the eco village, the national parks and the coasts close to where I grew up. I think it’s easy to take a lot for granted when you grow up in a place but seeing it through his eyes I’ve realized how magical my little eco village is, how beautiful the tall and old trees are and how much character the old towns have. The last few weeks have definitely made me see Sweden from a new perspective and appreciate a lot of things I haven’t truly noticed before.
Photos by Otto Raud.
Where are you in life right now, what’s the feeling of writing your story?
At the moment I’m enjoying my last week in Sweden, spending all the time with family and going on daily adventures to the coast or the forest. I’m sad to be leaving this lovely home so soon but am also looking forward to coming back to Aotearoa, where I’m slowly spreading my roots and building a beautiful base. I feel incredibly grateful to call both Sweden and New Zealand my homes and am so happy I made it home during these crazy times and got to show Dave everything I love about Sweden.
What are you looking forward to?
When we get back to NZ I’m excited to see our little dog Otis again, to go on road trips in our van, surf every day and explore new places. I’m also feeling drawn to finally slow down, find a place to spread my roots and dig a garden. Dave and I are looking at buying a piece of land someday and build our own little house, grow all our own vegetables and live in harmony with nature. I’m not sure where this next chapter will take us but I’m very excited to turn the page and see!