23 April 2012

New Zealand holiday: week three (and a bit)

I got back to Cusco this afternoon but my wonderful New Zealand holiday is still very fresh in my mind, especially as I've just been looking at all my photos. Here are my images for week three ... and I cheated a little by adding a couple of extras.

366/105 April 14, 2012
Though I didn't actually take this one but appear in it instead, I did take others of the same tree and I liked how my green tshirt makes me kind of blend in. And what a tree! It's at the bottom of my friend Rosie's garden in Titirangi (in Auckland, New Zealand) and is a kauri tree. This one may well be as much as 1000 years old, judging by its size. Just magnificent!

366/106 April 15, 2012
Taken inside Auckland Art Gallery yesterday ... looking at the lovely marble bust, and at the old part of gallery building and at the lovely trees in Albert Park beyond. The gallery currently has a splendid exhibition entitled From Degas to Dali which I enjoyed with a couple of friends. It was the first time I had seen the new extension to the gallery, which is a magnificent building in itself.

366/107 April 16, 2012
This is a flower from the metrosideros family, of which 12 are endemic to New Zealand. The most common here is the pohutukawa, known informally as the New Zealand Christmas tree as it produces its brilliant display of red flowers (made up of a mass of stamens) at Christmas time. This miniature variety is flowering now and provides a wonderfully colourful display.

366/108 April 17, 2012
The path around the Community Centre in Titirangi is lined with tiles made by local school children and designed to show aspects of life in the village. This is a good example of Titirangi, a beautiful tree-lined suburb on the shores of the Manukau harbour. The area has long been home to artists and other creative people, so these children probably have creativity programmed into their genes.

366/109 April 18, 2012
I went out for a long long walk this afternoon, partly through the tree-lined streets of Titirangi and partly around the bays that line the Manukau harbour. This was my view at about 3.30pm, and from here I walked straight ahead then turned left, crunching over oyster shells, sliding over muddy ancient lava flows and checking out rock pools. Bliss!

366/110 April 19, 2012
Another day of shell crunching today - I only have one full day of holiday left and it's busy with more friend catch-ups, so I was determined to hit the beach one last time today. I love the feel of the sand between my toes, and the smell of the salty sea, and beachcombing along the high-tide line. Pure delight!

This old tree has obviously seen better days, with barnacles and other beasties growing on it, but what wonderfully tangled roots it has.

366/111 April 20, 2012
On the last day of my holiday in Auckland I think it's appropriate to highlight the city's most well-known building, the Skytower, reflected here in another of the city's skyscrapers. At 328 metres, it's the tallest man-made structure in the Southern Hemisphere and, from the viewing platforms, you get breathtaking views for up to 80 kilometres in every direction. You can go up it, eat in it, and jump off it – and, I don’t mean anything suicidal by that. It’s one for the adrenalin junkies – it’s called Skyjump and basically you’re attached to a wire, then lowered off the side, very fast, 192m straight down. Not for me!

366/112 April 21, 2012
I couldn't resist one last beach picture before I left New Zealand and I thought this was so cute, with the kids' scooter and trike parked by a post at French Bay.

366/113 April 22, 2012
And I just had to add one more New Zealand photo before I left the country. This is the Percival Gull, the tiny plane that Jean Batten flew solo from England to New Zealand in 1936. It's on display at Auckland International airport and seems particularly appropriate as this was the beginning of 2 days spent flying half way across the world, from Auckland back to Cusco, though obviously in much bigger planes!

20 April 2012

New Zealand holiday: week two

So, week two of my trip back to New Zealand, and I'm definitely seeing the place with fresh eyes - maybe because I've been away for 11 months, though I've been away for longer before, or maybe because I've been doing so much photography this year that I've learnt to see more clearly, and look up and down and in every other direction. Here is what I saw during my second week ...

366/98 April 07, 2012
This was taken when my friend Rosie and I went for a long walk around the beaches of the Manukau harbour, There was no one else around so it was wonderfully peaceful and great for fossicking along the tide line and checking out the rockpools for little sea creatures.

I love this image! It was not staged or manipulated in any way - except for a little cropping, this is SOOC (straight out of camera). A sea snail has formed the perfect question mark ... but what is the question?

366/99 April 08, 2012
This is one of New Zealand's iconic symbols - a fern frond.

366/100 April 09, 2012
I've just been staying in Hamilton for a few days with an aunt and uncle (I managed to catch up with 18 relations in 3 days - pretty good going, I think, and so lovely to see them all), and one morning we went out for a long walk along the banks of the Waikato River. It was a beautiful clear day and there were lots of ducks scattered along the river bank. These two were still slumbering.

366/101 April 10, 2012
A sign that winter is coming here in New Zealand - the crab apples are ripening. I love their bright red colour!

366/102 April 11, 2012
Today I had a short drive around my home town of Ngaruawahia (and I challenge you to pronounce that name correctly!). Ngaruawahia is the home of the Maori king and this is one of the carved wooden gateways into his marae (sacred tribal meeting place).

366/103 April 12, 2012
Considering what a lousy wet summer everyone's been complaining about here in New Zealand, I've been really lucky to have enjoyed hot sunny weather during my holiday so far - or, at least, I was until late yesterday and most of today, when it has rained rather a lot. Still, the rain brings its own delights ... like these reflections on the deck here at my friend's house

366/104 April 13, 2012
Auckland architecture, old and new. When I posted this on google+, someone commented that it was like Inception, and the photo got more hits than almost any other photo I've posted. It's the glass wall at the back of Britomart train station in central Auckland.

19 April 2012

New Zealand holiday: week one

Either I used my return ticket to New Zealand, or I would lose it. No contest really! I also needed to use my annual leave or I’d lose it. And, though I hadn’t really missed much about New Zealand – no great cravings for peanut slabs or pineapple lumps like some people do – I yearned particularly to see the sea again. I hadn’t realised how much I would miss living close to water until I lived in land-locked and mountain-enclosed Cusco. And I knew it would be wonderful to catch up with friends and family again.

Plans were made, flights reserved, accommodation booked in – THANK YOU SO MUCH, dear Rosie, for welcoming me into your beautiful home so I could enjoy the delights of Titirangi again.

So, how has it been? Well, this year one of my projects on Google+ (where I am daily inspired by the amazing images of my photographer peers, have been welcomed into their photographic community, have been co-opted to co-curate a daily theme page, and frequently contribute my own humble pictures) has been to take one photo every day and post it to a special album. For me this has become something of a personal diary, as I’ve taken images that show aspects of my life, where I’m living, what I’m doing, what surrounds me, what I see.

To document my holiday in New Zealand, I thought I would share the images I have been taking as part of my 366 project, so here’s week one.

366/90 March 30, 2012
I lost a day travelling here to New Zealand so I'm adding two shots for one day to make up for it. Both epitomise my first day back in Auckland, as the friend I'm staying with lives in the bush (NZ's name for forest) so we are surrounded by greenery. This is looking down from her deck into the top of a huge fern (punga in the NZ Maori language).

366/91 March 31, 2012
One thing I have greatly missed living in Cusco has been water! Coming from New Zealand, an island nation, I have been surrounded by water most of my life. It was so amazing yesterday going to Piha beach, on Auckland's west coast, for a walk along the beach.

366/92 April 1, 2012
Another day, another beach ... this is the long long beach at Waipu Cove, on New Zealand's east coast, just south of Whangarei. It feels like you could walk forever!

366/92 April 2, 2012
This is the bark of New Zealand's most famous tree, the kauri. They grow straight and thick, and have very dense hard wood so, when the Europeans arrived in New Zealand in the early 1800s and quickly recognised the value of the kauri, there was mass felling of the trees for use in ship and house building, and for making furniture. As a result of this mass destruction of the kauri forests, it is now a protected species and cannot be felled. The largest kauri tree in New Zealand is approximately 45 feet (14 metres) in circumference and 169 feet (52 metres) tall.

366/94 April 03, 2012
Winter's coming ... but isn't it pretty?

366/95 April 4, 2012
This is one of the oldest buildings on Auckland's waterfront, the former Union Steamship Company office. The architecture of the newer buildings is not particularly inspiring, so I'm glad they haven't demolished some of these older ones.

399/96 April 05, 2012
A sunhat ... an essential accessory in New Zealand, which has the second highest rate of skin cancer in the world.

366/97 April 06, 2012
It's been a glorious Good Friday here in Auckland so my friend Rosie and I joined the throngs at Muriwai, a stunning 60-kilometre-long west coast beach not far from the city. A superb day for a long walk on the sands!