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Posts Tagged ‘new zealand’

There’s a lot of water in New Zealand, and it’s all beautiful.

Our next stop after Fox Glacier was Queenstown, so we took Highway 6 south. It’s a gorgeous route that follows the Haast River, first skirting around the edges of Mount Aspiring National Park and then delving through the park’s eastern sides. We stopped along the way to walk a quick track, cross a couple suspension bridges and see the Blue Pools:

© 2016. Blue Pools in Mount Aspiring National Park in the Wanaka region of New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Blue Pools in Mount Aspiring National Park in the Wanaka region of New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

Fun fact about this southwestern part of the South Island: If you stand still for longer than a moment, you will get swarmed by sandflies, which are gnat-sized flying insects that bite. The sandfly hordes were particularly bad when we were on the Blue Pools track, especially near the water, to the point that I worried I’d trapped a couple sandflies in my camera body after I changed lenses.

Onwards down Highway 6, there’s Lake Wanaka and its stunning views.

© 2016. View over Lake Wanaka in the Otago region of New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. “That Wanaka Tree,” a willow tree in Lake Wanaka in the Otago region of New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

That’s an Instagram-famous tree, by the way.

We checked into our Queenstown hotel pretty late, so we explored the historic gold-mining town Arrowton and Queenstown the next morning. Queenstown was by far the single most touristy place we visited, as it’s basically a huge resort town with seasonal adventure activities like bungee-jumping, paragliding, kayaking, skiing, mountain biking and more. It was nice to walk around the shops, but it felt good to depart for a quick northbound detour to Glenorchy before going to Te Anau for the night.

The Glenorchy-Queenstown Road is more of a “journey, not the destination” experience, and we lucked out with some gorgeous weather on our scenic drive.

© 2016. Glenorchy-Queenstown Road in the Otago region of New Zealand. Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

For the first half of this trip, I was obsessed with ferns. For the second half, I was obsessed with lupins.

© 2016. Glenorchy-Queenstown Road in the Otago region of New Zealand. Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Glenorchy-Queenstown Road in the Otago region of New Zealand. Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Glenorchy-Queenstown Road in the Otago region of New Zealand. Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Glenorchy-Queenstown Road in the Otago region of New Zealand. Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Glenorchy-Queenstown Road in the Otago region of New Zealand. Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

Glenorchy is a super teeny town, and we fortunately found the one gas station before it closed at 5 p.m. After filling up our tank, we returned down the same road and then on to Te Anau, where we’d spend the next two nights.

 


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The day after we relished golden sunshine and gallivanted on West Coast beaches, we were supposed to be ice-hiking on one of New Zealand’s two major temperate maritime glaciers.

But iffy weather made for less-than-ideal conditions for the helicopter flights necessary for taking us to and from Fox Glacier. Fortunately, we’d anticipated that weather could be an issue for the helicopters and so had already budgeted in an extra day in the area. So we spent the day hiking to see the glacier and then exploring the village.

© 2016. Pedestrian track to view Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

The pedestrian track to view the glacier’s terminal face is initially pretty level, following a stream that flows from the glacier.

© 2016. Pedestrian track to view Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. View from the pedestrian track to view Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

Then, the path becomes quite steep as it goes straight up the side of the valley, with no switchbacks. The worst part is, plenty of signage warns visitors to keep walking and not to stop, because the risk of rockfalls is so high. We arrived panting heavily at the path’s terminal, where we could finally get a good view of the glacier.

© 2016. Pedestrian track to view Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Pedestrian track to view Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Pedestrian track to view Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Saturday, Dec. 3, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

The next day, we returned to the Fox Glacier Guiding building and were delighted/relieved that the weather had cleared sufficiently for us to go on our ice hike. After getting a rundown on glacier and helicopter safety, we walked to the pad with the rest of our tour group: a couple with a young daughter, a brother and sister on holiday and three young women.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

Once on the ice, we met our guide, strapped crampons to our boots and began our three-hour hike.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

Our guide took us down the glacier from the helicopter landing area, where he knew there would be more interesting formations. He’d go on ahead of us, carve out steps in the ice if there was a slippery area and find features like crevices and ice caves that we could explore, once he’d inspected them for safety.

I’d heard that glaciers are constantly changing and moving, but there’s also the phrase “glacial pace,” so I asked him how dramatically the glacier changes. After a pause, he compared the glacier to a baby — day by day, it doesn’t seem to change much, but if you looked at it week by week or month by month, the differences are much more obvious.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Fox Glacier / Te Moeka o Tuawe in Westland Tai Poutini National Park on the West Coast, New Zealand. Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

The glacier hike was far and away the most expensive single experience we had in New Zealand, but we agreed it was absolutely worth it. Seeing the terminal face from the pedestrian track was awe-inspiring by itself, but it’s impossible to get a good sense of the glacier’s vastness until you’re flying over it or are exploring it on foot.

 


A selection of these photos can be purchased as prints at prints.christhedunn.com.

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On the second day of New Zealand summer, Jeff and I took a ferry across the Cook Strait, tasted wine at a Blenheim winery and drove halfway down the entire South Island on the West Coast, surviving some hairpin turns on the Great Coast Road, making spontaneous stops at Tasman Sea beaches and famous rock formations and then hurtling south past a glorious sunset and under a brilliant canopy of crystal-clear constellations on the clearest night we’d had yet.

It was a long, glorious day from Wellington to Franz Josef Glacier.

© 2016. Fox River Beach on the West Coast, New Zealand. Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

New Zealand, we found, has nicknames for its major highways — Highway 5 south out of Rotorua is the “Thermal Explorer Highway” — and the Great Coast Road lives up to its name. After enduring mostly cloudy skies for much of our North Island escapade, we were overjoyed to see beautiful, golden sunshine as we drove down the South Island’s beautiful West Coast.

The Great Coast Road offers access to a number of small Tasman Sea beaches. We happened to pull off at the Fox River Beach, where we discovered the tide was low enough for us to cross the rock-lined river mouth…

© 2016. Fox River Beach on the West Coast, New Zealand. Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Fox River Beach on the West Coast, New Zealand. Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Fox River Beach on the West Coast, New Zealand. Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

…to access a really pleasant sandy beach with towering rock formations.

© 2016. Fox River Beach on the West Coast, New Zealand. Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

Oh, and a beach cave:

© 2016. Fox River Beach on the West Coast, New Zealand. Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

We also took one of my favorite photos of us together on the trip at this beach:

© 2016 by Jeff Lautenberger. Self-timer on a DSLR camera.

After brushing the sand off our feet, we got back in the car and continued racing southward, trying to see as much of the West Coast for as long as we could before the sun set.

© 2016. Paparoa National Park in the West Coast, New Zealand. Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

Fortunately, we arrived at Punakaiki at just the right time.

© 2016. Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes in Paparoa National Park in the West Coast, New Zealand. Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes in Paparoa National Park in the West Coast, New Zealand. Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

Punakaiki itself is a “blink and you’ll miss it” community on the West Coast Road. To access the Pancake Rocks (which are limestone formations 30 million years in the making), you park in a car park on the east side of the highway, cross the highway and start walking on a paved trail. It couldn’t be simpler.

© 2016. Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes in Paparoa National Park in the West Coast, New Zealand. Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes in Paparoa National Park in the West Coast, New Zealand. Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

As for the “Blowholes” part? The tide was too low for us to experience the sea waters roiling and bursting about the limestone formations. I was happy enough that we got to enjoy the view on such a fine evening.

© 2016. Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes in Paparoa National Park in the West Coast, New Zealand. Friday, Dec. 2, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

After we’d walked the entire trail and relished the sunlight, we got a small pizza at Pancake Rocks Cafe and then continued our drive southward under what would be the only night sky clear enough for us to see the stars. Ironically — because our trip hashtag was #wherethestarsarestrange, in reference to being in the southern hemisphere — I couldn’t find a safe spot in the utter darkness to pull off the highway so we could enjoy the stars.

I guess we’ll just have to go back.

 


A selection of these photos can be purchased as prints at prints.christhedunn.com.

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The day after we toured the Hobbiton Movie Set, we hiked a short ways on New Zealand’s largest active volcano. It was very cold and windy, but I guess that’s the better alternative to violently erupting.

© 2016. Tongariro National Park in Ruapehu District, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

Before driving halfway up Mount Ruapehu, which also happens to be the highest point on the North Island, we hiked the ridge track. In retrospect, one of the waterfalls tracks might have been better — plus, the Forbidden Pool scene from The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was filmed at one of those waterfalls.

But, after enjoying the lush rolling hills of the Shire, it was nice to get back into real mountains.

© 2016. Tongariro National Park in Ruapehu District, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Tongariro National Park in Ruapehu District, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Tongariro National Park in Ruapehu District, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Tongariro National Park in Ruapehu District, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

Of course, as soon as we were driving south outside the park, the clouds parted over us and so we pulled over for this quintessential New Zealand scene:

© 2016. Outside Tongariro National Park in Ruapehu District, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

We then drove on to Wellington, where we would stay the night before boarding the ferry for our South Island adventures. Before turning in for the night, we visited the Weta Cave and then, on a whim, went to Mount Victoria.

© 2016. Mount Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

Mount Victoria is a hill in the middle of Wellington that offers excellent views of the city and of Cook Strait. There are some residential areas on the slopes of the hill, plus a tunnel runs underneath to connect the sides of the city.

© 2016. Mount Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Mount Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

A couple of scenes from The Lord of the Rings were filmed on Mount Victoria as well (the hobbits hiding from the Ringwraiths, plus Dunharrow), which only deepened our appreciation for talented film location scouts. But the web of trails, with many variations in grade, is excellent for anyone looking for exercise. We shared the trail with bikers and runners alike, as well as two women walking their dogs and cat.

© 2016. Mount Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Mount Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Mount Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Mount Victoria in Wellington, New Zealand. Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

 


A selection of these photos can be purchased as prints at prints.christhedunn.com.

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There are no hobbits in Hobbiton.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

Before we left for our New Zealand honeymoon, I joked that the whole trip would be a failure if we didn’t find hobbits at the Hobbiton Movie Set. We spent several hours there and saw nary a hobbit, but our evening banquet tour was nevertheless one of the most delightful things I’ve ever experienced.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

We booked the evening banquet tour, which was a solid choice because:

  • Our tour group was the last on the property, so there were no groups crowding behind us and the hardcore fans among us could lag behind the more casual tourists;
  • We ate to our hearts’ delight during the hearty, rich and plentiful banquet at the Green Dragon Inn, which was especially welcome after a couple days of light eating;
  • We had a second, twilight tour of the movie set after the banquet, so we got to see the hobbit holes lit up and had the entire set to ourselves.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

The actual movie set is not super large — when we watched The Fellowship of the Ring recently, I could see how economical the cinematographers were in utilizing every angle of the set to make it seem like Hobbiton was a bucolic sprawl when in fact the entire walking paths could easily be trod inside of an hour. But this just added to the magic of getting to see the set in person. Even Jeff, a cynic, was enchanted by the evening’s end.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 400+3, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 400+3, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 400+3, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hobbiton Movie Set in Matamata, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 400+3, Pentax 6×7.

 


Due to trademark law, prints of the Hobbiton Movie Set are not available for purchase.

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When we found ourselves with some free time between cave tours and our Hobbiton Movie Set evening banquet tour, we found ourselves at the Hamilton Gardens.

© 2016. English Flower Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Modernist Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

Built on the remains of a rubbish dump, the Hamilton Gardens is a collection of 21 gardens themed by different varieties of architectures, lifestyles and traditions. It’s technically not a botanical garden, but it might just be one of my favorite gardens I’ve ever visited. Each garden led to another, or sometimes several. After spending a couple hours underground touring the Waitomo Glowworm Caves and the Ruakuri Cave, it was lovely to explore this maze of green growth.

© 2016. Modernist Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. English Flower Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Chinese Scholar’s Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Chinese Scholar’s Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Indian Char Bagh Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Indian Char Bagh Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Indian Char Bagh Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Italian Renaissance Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Italian Renaissance Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Kitchen Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Kitchen Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Tropical Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Tropical Garden in Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand. Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

 


A selection of these photos can be purchased as prints at prints.christhedunn.com.

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When we travel abroad, we’re fascinated by the familiar. For Jeff, this often means fast food chains with a “local” twist; for me, plant life that I didn’t expect to encounter on another continent.

Such as California redwood trees.

© 2016. Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6×7.

If you drive about 5-10 minutes out of the city of Rotorua in New Zealand’s South Island, past some homes and warehouses and auto shops, you’ll come to Whakarewarewa Forest. There’s a visitors center, an extensive web of trails in constant use by runners, walkers, cyclists and horseback riders… and a stand of California redwoods.

Among other native and exotic plant life, as well.

We visited Whakarewarewa in the late afternoon, as the trails swelled with after-work users. But no matter how long we had to wait, on occasion, for the trails to clear enough for us to get people-less photos, the forest never felt crowded.

What a beautiful, and priceless, resource.

© 2016. Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Whakarewarewa Forest in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Portra 400+2, Pentax 6×7.

 


A selection of these photos can be purchased as prints at prints.christhedunn.com.

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We live in a very strange, very beautiful world. Take, for instance, Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley.

© 2016. Frying Pan Lake in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

The valley, formed in 1886 after a volcanic eruption outside of Rotorua, is now a tourist attraction that markets itself as the world’s youngest geothermal system. Frying Pan Lake, one of the more famous features, averages a temperature of 131° Fahrenheit, resulting in a steaming surface, and has a pH of 3.5. But amid the geysers and hot springs and extremely acidic waters is an abundance of vegetation and microorganisms that repopulated the valley after the eruption.

© 2016. Frying Pan Lake in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Portra 400, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Frying Pan Lake in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hot Water Creek and Springs in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Cathedral Rocks and Frying Pan Lake in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hot Water Creek and Springs in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Hot Water Creek and Springs in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Bird’s Nest Spring in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Inferno Crater Lake in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Mt Haszard hiking trail in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Warbrick Terrace in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Warbrick Terrace in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Warbrick Terrace in Waimangu Volcanic Rift Valley in Rotorua, New Zealand. Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

 


A selection of these photos can be purchased as prints at prints.christhedunn.com.

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Our first morning in New Zealand, we got to be the early bird who were handed lemons and made lemonade.

© 2016. Te Whanganui-A-Hei / Cathedral Cove Marine Preserve in the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

Our first day in New Zealand gave us a good preview in the temperamental weather patterns we’d experience for the rest of the trip: Widespread cloud cover would give way to brilliant sunshine, only for a quick and cold rain shower to emerge out of nowhere, and vice-versa.

Our second day was much of the same. We left Auckland early enough to laugh at the morning radio hosts fretting over why Angelina didn’t invite Brad for Thanksgiving and arrived at Hahei Beach for an 8:45 a.m. sea kayak tour to Cathedral Cove. The sky was blue, the water was clear and we were ready to go.

But the winds were unusually strong, so the tour guide canceled the tour for safety. Undeterred, we drove to a half-full public access lot and hiked to Cathedral Cove instead.

© 2016. Te Whanganui-A-Hei / Cathedral Cove Marine Preserve in the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Te Whanganui-A-Hei / Cathedral Cove Marine Preserve in the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

When we arrived, there were maybe a dozen other people on the entire beach, and it almost felt like we had the place to ourselves. We left our sandals on a tree trunk near the trail and began exploring. It was a gorgeous morning, and life was good.

© 2016. Te Whanganui-A-Hei / Cathedral Cove Marine Preserve in the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Te Whanganui-A-Hei / Cathedral Cove Marine Preserve in the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Te Whanganui-A-Hei / Cathedral Cove Marine Preserve in the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

By the time we left, an hour later, the beach was fuller and we encountered more people on the trail that took us back to the now-full parking lot. I’m not sure when we would have arrived at the beach had we kayaked from Hahei, but as disappointing as it was to have that tour canceled, I’m pretty okay with the way things worked out.

© 2016. Te Whanganui-A-Hei / Cathedral Cove Marine Preserve in the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Te Whanganui-A-Hei / Cathedral Cove Marine Preserve in the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand. Monday, Nov. 28, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

 


A selection of these photos can be purchased as prints at prints.christhedunn.com.

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“I have crossed many mountains and many rivers, and trodden many plains, even into the far countries of Rhûn and Harad where the stars are strange.”
— Aragorn, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

For our much-belated honeymoon, Jeff and I crossed the equator for the first time and spent two weeks in New Zealand, where we hiked a glacier, walked through a redwood forest, explored the world’s youngest geothermal system, cruised a fiord Rudyard Kipling called the eighth Wonder of the World and, of course visited the Hobbiton Movie Set.

It was all Jeff’s fault.

When we were floating ideas for a honeymoon, I wasn’t sure how big we could or should go. There are plenty of places in the U.S. I’d love to see for the first time or revisit. But when he suggested Middle-earth, there was no looking back.

So, a year and a half after our wedding, we found ourselves in Auckland, jet-lagged but high on adrenaline, as we navigated highways, roundabouts and Christmas parade road closures while driving on the “wrong” side of the road. Once we unloaded bags and took a quick shower at the hotel, we immediately went out again, eager to explore and not waste a minute of our long-expected journey.

© 2016. St Kevin’s Arcade, at the start of a self-guided walking tour through Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. St Kevin’s Arcade, at the start of a self-guided walking tour through Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. St Kevin’s Arcade, at the start of a self-guided walking tour through Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. The walk to Myers Park from St Kevin’s Arcade, part of a self-guided walking tour through Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. The walk to Myers Park from St Kevin’s Arcade, part of a self-guided walking tour through Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. The Edwardian-era Queen Street Shops, dating to 1909, part of a self-guided walking tour through Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Women’s Suffrage Memorial mural, depicting Amey Daldy, Anne Ward, Lizzie Frost, Matilda Allsopp, Elisabeth Yates, Annie Jane Schnackenberg, Fanny Brown and Ida B. Wells, in Te Hā o Hine / Khartoum Place, as seen on a self-guided walking tour through Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Ektar +2, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Vulcan Lane, as seen on a self-guided walking tour through Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Auckland harbor, as seen on a self-guided walking tour through Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Sheep and the Auckland cityscape, as seen from One Tree Hill Domain in Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Cornwall Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Sheep graze in Cornwall Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

© 2016. Cornwall Park, as seen from One Tree Hill Domain in Auckland, New Zealand. Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Portra 160+1, Pentax 6×7.

 


A selection of these photos can be purchased as prints at prints.christhedunn.com.

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