People are always saying how warm and sunny New Zealand is.
In 2014, my Kiwi partner and I were in Britain visiting relatives, and he was baffled to find that the British summer was warmer and sunnier than the New Zealand summer! Surely this wasn’t the norm?
Well here we are in 2018 and we’re about to visit Europe again.
Summer temperatures in Auckland usually waft around 25˚C. At the moment, in the dead of winter, it’s 15˚C. In three days, we’ll be landing in Zürich, where it’s currently over 30˚C. Britain’s facing record temperatures, and everyone here in New Zealand is wishing us comically pessimistic good lucks.
Care to join?
The world had been grey for so long that the blue sky above Bethells Beach was a beacon. We were drawn to it, as were many others. The air was frigid, but the sand was sparkling, silver and black. Each footprint pressed into it seemed an act of liberation.
Excited dogs splashed through the stream; babbling tourists took kooky selfies. The stream had changed its course, forcing people to forge a new path to the sea – the result, perhaps, of those epic storms a while back. (Bethells residents had ended up without power for a worryingly long time.)
Aside from that, the beach was the same as it always had been: the bushy cliffs; the grassy dunes; the rocks jutting into the waves. We made our way to the cave at the southern end of the beach, always a deceptively long walk.
No one was surfing – not even Westies* being that insane. As we walked back up the beach, I appreciated, as always, a particular chunk of bushy cliff that resembled a giant, sunbathing woman. Its curves undulated against the sky… face, neck, breasts, belly and thighs…
Mother Nature enjoying (or guarding) one of her better creations.
Now here’s what I think are The Best Beaches in New Zealand…
I’m always surprised by how quickly darkness falls in winter. We were driving home from my parents’ the other day – not that late in the afternoon – when I realised the world was draped in an indigo veil. A thought struck me.
“Can we stop at McLaren Falls?” I asked Tim.
We were about to drive past McLaren Falls anyway. They’re not hard to get to; you can park right next to the lookout. Dusk is a good time for taking long-exposure shots of waterfalls, you see.
There were more cars than I’d expected, but a spot soon opened up. I prepped my camera and crossed to the lookout.
I hadn’t been to the falls in a long time. I was fairly certain I hadn’t seen a footbridge over them before. It was one of those slightly shaky suspension bridges, which unfortunately meant I couldn’t get any decent long-exposure shots from it. (These ones I’m showing you are the least blurry ones I got.)
The falls weren’t at their best anyway. That only happens on certain dates when the water is released from the McLaren Falls Dam. Still, they were quite lovely in the winter twilight. The water seemed almost luminous.
When they release the water from the dam, you can go whitewater kayaking for free!
I’ve already written an article about how awesome McLaren Falls Park is. Here’s a photo I took a few years ago whilst kayaking on Lake McLaren:
It’s a frightful day. The rain’s so loud I can barely hear myself think. I look outside and see a slush of autumn leaves. The last surviving flower in our front garden, a perfect pocket of beauty in a stack of ragged stems, is finally defeated. Winter is coming.
I miss the beautiful flowers of summer. I miss them more than I ever have, because this year I’ve taken more notice of them than I ever have. I got my first DSLR camera for Christmas, you see, and flowers make great subjects for practise.
Consequently, I’ve got lots of photographs of flowers that I’ve been looking for an excuse to share. Well, this is it. I hope, therefore, that if you’re sitting somewhere murky and rain-lashed, they help to brighten your day.
And… I guess I shouldn’t go crazy. Here’s hoping the weather clears up so I can explore somewhere new…
The Goblin Forest of Taranaki really does have to be seen to be believed. It’s like stepping into a fairy tale.
But I’ve already waxed lyrical about it in a previous post, called The Goblin Forest, so I’ll leave the talking now to the photographs. (Even though I know I’ll probably never again get a photo as good as the one from that first post!)
I thought this branch kind of looked like the head of a dog, or a dragon. You know, in that stylised Celtic sort of way…
And see how this tree has grown over its own sign?
But now we must leave this enchanted forest. Pass through the archway and return to the real world… I hope not too much time has passed and your loved ones are still alive.