More Photos from the Goblin Forest

Goblin Forest, Taranaki

The Goblin Forest of Taranaki really does have to be seen to be believed. It’s like stepping into a fairy tale.

Goblin Forest, Taranaki

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!)

Goblin Forest, Taranaki

Goblin Forest, Taranaki

Goblin Forest, Taranaki

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…

Goblin Forest, Taranaki

And see how this tree has grown over its own sign?

Goblin Forest, Taranaki

Goblin Forest, Taranaki

Goblin Forest, Taranaki

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.

Goblin Forest, Taranaki

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Photos from Pukekura Park

Waterfall, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand

This magically lit waterfall is in Pukekura Park, in the middle of New Plymouth. Scroll down and you’ll see why Pukekura Park is one of the best city parks in New Zealand.

Waterfall, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand

This is a picture I took of the waterfall during the day. It’s man-made, but that doesn’t take away from it’s beauty. And at night, it’s beautiful in a whole different way.

Waterfall, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand

The colours are constantly changing. I’ll show you one more before moving onto the rest of the park, because, beautiful as the waterfall is, Pukekura Park would be impressive even without it.

Waterfall, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand

The park is centred on a lake, crossed by some quite striking red bridges. With the aid of a nifty filter, you can see just how striking striking these bridges look in real life.

Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand

And here’s the view from that bridge when it gets dark. (During the summer, Pukekura has a lights festival, which I attended back before I owned a decent camera, but this is without the additional lights!)

Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand

A lovely, old-fashioned teahouse sits on the edge of the lake. Their food’s decent, as, indeed, is their tea selection. Here’s a photo of one of their quirky birdfeeders.

Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand

The teahouse sits nestled amongst some gorgeous flowers. As I crouched down to take pictures of these flowers, I became surrounded by a ring of ducks hoping for food.

flower

That photo wasn’t edited in the slightest, would you believe? The petals look like an image from the Hubble Space Telescope! This next one, of course, is edited.

flower

It was actually the same colour as the flower above, but I like this picture. Okay, okay, one last flower photo before I get on with showing you the actual park.

flowers

Throughout the park, old-fashioned lampposts emerge from the trees in a way that makes one think irresistibly of Narnia. The park also has a fernery and a few mildly interesting sculptures.

lamppost in forest

One of my favourite features of the park is a grand, Victorian drinking fountain, sculpted out of marble. In fact, this is the image I will leave you with. Check back for more photos of my New Zealand travels!

Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, Taranaki, New Zealand

Okere Falls and a Wonderful Bookshop

Okere Falls

I got a new camera for Christmas. Keen to practise using it, I persuaded my family to visit one of the few easily accessible waterfalls in the Bay of Plenty I hadn’t already seen, Okere Falls.

Okere Falls

Okere Falls can be found just outside Rotorua. They’re by no means the best waterfalls I’ve been to, but they’re popular with kayakers and rafters.

Kayakers at Okere Falls

Word of warning: don’t visit Okere Falls during the Christmas holidays. I found it difficult to get a decent photograph partly due to the lack of room on the viewing platforms!

Okere Falls

(The other reason, I found out later, was because I didn’t have a Neutral Density Filter. I’m new to this “proper” photography stuff, okay.)

Okere Falls

One part of the path to the falls is a narrow tunnel with steps carved into the rock. With so many people there, getting up and down the steps was a nightmare, so just beware.

Okere Falls

There’s not really much more to say about Okere Falls. Afterwards, we drove into Rotorua, parked at Government Gardens and walked into the city centre in search of lunch.

I hadn’t explored the city centre itself in years, so I was surprised at how pretty it’s become. We made our way to Eat Streat, an avenue of fashionable bars and restaurants.

Eat Streat

The main reason I’d wanted to visit Rotorua, aside from Okere Falls, was to go to a certain secondhand bookshop my dad had found whilst geocaching. (Don’t ask.) It didn’t disappoint.

It’s called Atlantis, and I was in love with it even before I’d seen the Art Nouveau-style Firefly posters on the wall! It’s got two floors, and the selection is quite impressive, although I was slightly disappointed by the history section. By time I’d finished, I had six books in my arms, including a really old copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. So, there’s somewhere to look out for if you’re a bibliophile visiting Rotorua.

Kaiate Falls

If you’d like to read about another waterfall I’ve been to in the Bay of the Plenty, check out my article on Kaiate Falls. They’re much more magical than Okere Falls, I reckon.

Another Reason to Visit Hamilton

Sumatran Tiger Hamilton Zoo New Zealand
Brown Capuchin Monkey Hamilton Zoo New Zealand

Brown Capuchin Monkeys

Hamilton Zoo is a lot more than it first appears. It may not be as grand as Auckland Zoo, but it is certainly as good. Many say better. I went with my parents and boyfriend last weekend, and we found it more pleasant to walk around than Auckland Zoo. More intimate; more trees shading the paths.

Chimpanzee Hamilton Zoo New Zealand

Chimpanzee

Auckland Zoo has more animals than Hamilton Zoo, but Hamilton Zoo is almost twice as large as Auckland Zoo in terms of land area. In fact it feels deceptively large. Entry into Hamilton Zoo costs $22, which is an absolute bargain, and it’s wonderful to see the animals in such massive enclosures.

Sumatran Tigers Hamilton Zoo New Zealand

Sumatran Tigers – aww!

The Sumatran tiger exhibit was especially impressive. When we arrived, three of the tigers were sleeping all snuggled up together. It was a mother and two cubs, although the cubs were a year old and didn’t look like babies anymore! I spent a long time ‘awwing’ at them, but was soon reminded that tigers aren’t always so cute.

Ostrich Hamilton Zoo New Zealand

Ostrich

One of the other tigers looked like it was actually trying to stalk the keepers that had come to feed them! The keepers were safe on the other side of the fence, of course, but it was only a few months ago that one of the Hamilton Zoo keepers was mauled to death by one of the tigers.

Cheetah Hamilton Zoo New Zealand

Cheetah

Thankfully, the tiger in question wasn’t euthanized. It was just being a tiger.

Hamilton Zoo doesn’t have any lions, but it does have some rather majestic cheetahs.

Giraffes Hamilton Zoo New Zealand

Giraffes

It also has giraffes, rhinos, monkeys, meerkats, red pandas, chimpanzees and an array of other creatures, including native New Zealand birds and reptiles.

Hamilton Zoo has the largest free flight aviary in New Zealand, complete with pond and waterfall.

The meerkats were adorable. One of them seemed intent on digging a tunnel to Spain, (Spain being the antipode of New Zealand,) and was already well on its way.

Meerkat Hamilton Zoo New Zealand

Meerkat

The giraffes were spectacular, but their limelight was stolen by the rutting blackbucks that shared their enclosure, almost beneath their notice.

Rutting Blackbucks Hamilton Zoo New Zealand

Blackbucks

The kea were amusing – as if one could expect anything else. They are, after all, New Zealand’s funniest birds. One of them was playing dead right next to the fence. Very convincing. It even had a wing cocked at an odd angle!

Kea Hamilton Zoo New Zealand

Kea

And no, it wasn’t actually dead. It realised we were onto it and shook its head in annoyance. Apparently, it pretends to be dead a lot. Maybe it’s part of an elaborate escape plan.

All in all, we were walking around the zoo for three hours. We needed all day, really. We only just got round everything before the place closed, and we could have spent so much longer with many of the animals. I definitely want to go again at some point.

The gift shop and the café are nothing special, but there’s a playground and some okay picnic areas. The main focus is on the animals, which is as it should be.

Sleeping Peacock Hamilton Zoo New Zealand

Peacock

Land of the Ice Dragons

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I was sorting through some old files on my computer the other day when I came across a poem I wrote when I was thirteen. Reading it for the first time in years, I was overcome by a surprisingly visceral memory: I wrote the poem after visiting the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers with my family while we were on a campervan tour of the South Island and, setting aside the cringeworthiness of the words, they capture the experience of walking down a valley towards the foot of a glacier fairly well… the cold, refreshing wind coming off the ice like it’s the glacier’s breath… The photographs do not do it justice, so here is the poem, for which I apologise in advance… it’s called Disturbing a Dragon

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Jagged crown of gleaming white

Cold heart of blue

Retreating slowly, night by night

’Cross the mountains through

154 Glacier Franz Josefcropped

I approach the icy fortress

Asleep for a thousand years

The great dragon, the mountain’s mistress

Suddenly she rears

 

Ghostly breath so deathly cold

(Bare arms in the chill)

An ice-formed dragon in the valley old

The sun hides behind the hill

 

I see the ice queen study me

Crystal eyes a-glare

Cathedral wings, she hauls them free

Slicing fangs a-flare

 

My frosted hand grips my sword

I raise my shield in fear

The time comes, the dragon roars

And then she sheds a tear

 

The tear drips down her shining snout

And crashes to the dirt

Something stirs in me, I shout

“Great dragon, are you hurt?”

 

“Why seek you to destroy me?

There really is no need

The warming world does that, you see

Watch how I recede

 

“It does not matter what you wield

I’ll soon meet my end

Put down your sword, put down your shield

Stop playing pretend”

 

The dragon lowers her melting wings

Lamenting her defeat

A piece of ice falls as she sings

Rolling to my feet

 

I pick it up, the chunk of ice

A silver witch’s orb

153 Abigail with icecroppedBut now my jacket does entice

I feel the cold absorb

 

One last look at the glacier

Before my mum says “Come

Put that down, it’s freezing here”

My hands are going numb

 

Visiting the Franz Josef and Fox glaciers was one of the highlights of that South Island campervan holiday. I would recommend it to anyone travelling around New Zealand. There’s a variety of guided tours that take you onto and around both glaciers, with activities including ice climbing and helicopter rides, but these are quite expensive. Happily, you can walk up to both glaciers by yourself on easygoing tracks for free – just make sure you don’t cross the safety barriers!

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