My time spent in New Zealand was like a peaceful dream on this journey. I started living with such ease that I didn’t want to leave. Time slowed and the beauty of the country settled in. I spent one month on each island and traveled by car, bus, plane and boat. I also rode a horse into the ocean.
A visit to historic Russell on New Zealand’s North Island was a step back in time. Normal architecture fell away, while charm and style from days past shone here. White picket fences lined the small streets that have kept their original layout since 1843. The time capsule town was a place of firsts, being the first European settlement and first sea port in New Zealand.
Tonight I walked south on Hahei Beach, the light a golden hue on the cliffs at the far end of the sandy stretch. I marveled at the orange bluffs with huge trees growing over the edge supporting a rope swing weathered by kids of summers passed. Water etches patterns of fire into the sand and snails are formed from sea plants.
The recipe for the ultimate summer’s day includes sunshine, blue skies, the sea, a sailboat, running barefoot through long grass and laughter in good company. My friend Sonja and I had just that when we bought our two tickets for a day on the sailboat Gungha in the Bay of Islands.
I traveled north in New Zealand to see the giant Kauri trees that grace the Waipoua Forest there. They are the oldest and largest trees in the country, some aging over 2,000 years. Being the tree lover that I am, the Kauri Walk was one of my favorite walks during my time here.
A popular destination on the North Island of New Zealand, Cathedral Cove was quiet this morning as the sun rose over the water in a golden light. I left the popular cave area and walked to this rock formation that was sculpted anew when the sun’s glow graced its side. I treasure moments like this when the world first wakes up and shows how brilliant it can be. To find out more about Cathedral Cove visit this website.
When I first drove to Golden Bay, my rental car heaved up the mountainous and winding road seeming to head off into the sky. Then another turn would take me higher, at times making me dizzy. Blue skies were the destination up above and soon white feathery clouds were passing me by. It seemed to take ages, but finally a descent took me down into the area of Golden Bay. Green hills and teal waters spread out before me. Small stretches of colorful beach houses with flowers out front and weathered mailboxes lined the coast. It felt like endless summer and barefoot walks on the sand awaited.
You’d think this photo was taken in India, but in fact, it’s New Zealand. The Indian Char Bagh Garden in Hamilton is like stepping onto a different continent. Paradise is contained between ivory walls and a carpet of colorful flowers spreads out to the four corners.
Today I visited Hobbiton, a colorful camp of Hobbit houses and gardens used in the filming of The Lord of the Rings film series. I had seen all the movies and thought, when in New Zealand! So I made my way through the countryside to the Shire.
A few weeks ago, I explored Rawhiti Cave in New Zealand. The hike was an easy level which equates to a difficult 40 minute uphill trek that had me dripping with sweat and out of breath. I’ve come to the conclusion that no treks are easy in New Zealand. Gone are the flat fields and smooth rolling paths of Michigan, everything is uphill here. I had just reached the point where I wondered if I would ever make it, grumbling under my breath and then there it was. I saw it peaking through the trees, stalactites hanging and framed between green foliage.