Thursday, February 15, 2018

Waimangu Volcanic Valley, New Zealand

Another amazing place near Rotorua, a thermal hot spot on the North Island. 

Here are a few photos; I’ll put up more on Facebook on a wireless connection, when I have it.

Click through for the full-size photos!

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Karangahake Gorge, New Zealand

Towards the Coromandel Peninsula, Route 2 passes through the Karangahake Gorge. It’s a region of both historic gold extraction and modern, too, both in massive terms.

But the gorge that hosted early 1900’s industrial scale extraction is now largely cloaked with native bush, with a wonderful rail trail connecting the old gold towns and their ruins.

(These are the usual oversized images — click through for full-size.)

It made for a great hike today!

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Monday, February 12, 2018

Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

We’re staying in a lovely “holiday” home in Tanner’s Point, on the Bay of Plenty, named by Captain Cook. This is a HomeExchange for us- our NZ hosts will be in our Asheville house in July. They live nearby, so we were able to meet them; and if the weather is decent, we may be able to go on a favorite hike with them. (Unfortunately, the weather’s been rainy and warm, the rain unusual apparently this time of year.)

A view from the house and from a beach along the same estuary. (These are both panorama iPhone shots, so click through to see the entire image!)

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Ohope Beach

We’ve been in some great places lately, but it’s been showery and rainy, so not conducive for photos.

A interesting pass through a gorge in between Gisborne and Ohope was lush with native vegetation (not that common in New Zealand).

Ohope Beach is impressive, and the views from our small studio airbnb-fantastic.

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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Napier and Hawkes Bay

What drew us here was the Art Deco downtown, constructed after a devasting 1931 earthquake, mirroring the Art Deco roots of many of our downtown buildings in Asheville, North Carolina.
Hawkes Bay is also well-known for its extensive fruit-growing (apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots) and for numerous award-winning vineyards (30+).

Walking around on a rainy day, what struck us is how lush and abundant the gardens are, at least in the hilltop sector around our Airbnb. New Zealand’s climate is hospitable to plants from around the world, and Napier, being a milder climate than some places on the North Island, certainly reflects that.

Here’s the view from our room.
Perched on the edge of the Bluff Point lookout was what looked like a century plant in full bloom.
And even though I don’t ordinarily like unusual colors of Echinacea,this planting was striking.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Learning about WWI in Wellington, New Zealand

The capital of New Zealand is a pleasant city, hilly and windy, but full of cafes, restaurants, and museums. It’s a vibrant place.

The 100th anniversary of the Great War (the First World War to Americans) has brought two remarkable exhibits, one in Te Papa (the National Museum) about Gallipoli, the other in the War Museum about New Zealand in the Great War (developed by Sir Peter Jackson, better known as a film producer, but clearly hugely interested in history).

The First World War had only really been part of my experience in a honors high school class (history and english) where we somehow only learned songs of the troops (along with some context). Added to a bit of knowledge about Rasputin and the Czarina in Russia, how the war started, and knowing Gallipolli was an awful battle — well, I learned a whole lot more from these two exhibitions.

I had no idea how long the trench lines were on the Western Front, nor did I realize how many men (and civilians) died over the course of the war, even though I did know it was a lot, under awful conditions in the trenches, thanks to a visit to the Imperial War Museum in London decades ago.

It’s sobering to be in other countries (Stockholm’s museums were eye-opening about Northern Europe and Scandavian conflicts over the centuries, and why they were pacifist in WW II), not to mention South America and the liberation movements there, and to be in a small country, New Zealand, that lost so many men in the relatively small contingent that they sent in WW I — most at Gallipoli, but many others on the Western Front.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Wellington coast highway

This is a famous coastal drive — its reputation is well-deserved. Lots of great stops, including a lovely hike along the coast to Red Rocks. It was most memorable in our case, because we walked with a delightful couple who shared our interests in conservation, the natural world, etc.

Just click through on the photos for larger images!

The views along the coastal road were wonderful.


Monday, February 5, 2018

Tomatoes in New Zealand

Our last two AirBnB hosts have had lovely tomatoes in their gardens. Cherry tomatoes trained up trellises, regular tomatoes in hothouses, etc.

Click on the photos to see them full-size.

Our current Wellington host said her parents grow enough potatoes (5 different varieties) in their beach house in Taranaki for the entire year. They also grow all sorts of beans, greens, etc. She has wonderful herbs in her garden in addition to the tomatoes. She mentioned a community garden up on the hill above Wellington.
Maybe I can visit ~ what fun it is to explore new places and learn a bit about how both big ag and small scale gardens function.
We’ve so far just seen a small market garden region, in the southern part of Taranaki, with most of the agricultural land we’ve seen so far on the North Island devoted to cattle and sheep, along with some mystery cole crop.

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

Wonderful times in New Zealand

In spite of the tropical cyclone of late last week, we continue to enjoy New Zealand. It’s a great place. I’m not sure what to include re photos.

Click through to see the entire images!

Here’s Mt. Taranaki, near New Plymouth.
Here’s a view from Waikanae Beach, where we stayed before going to Kapiti Island (a wonderful reserve full of native vegetation and birds).
A view from Kapiti Island towards the mainland.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

The Forgotten World Highway

The scenic road from Tongariro National Park to New Plymouth is called the Forgotten World Highway, for its rural landscapes, remote gorges, and historic farmsteads.

These sheep were ahead of us for some time. This was early into the crossing, but more sheep than we’d seen herded at once. The “shepherd,” on an ATV, was aided by 3 dogs, one doing all the work, one elderly, but up for coming, and a younger dog, who wasn’t on task.

They formed a river of sheep as they moved along the road. An eddy (caused by our cars) was quickly corrected by the lead dog.
They finally headed up to a new pasture and were probably glad to get there.

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