There and Back Again
Continuing on from the first postcards from New Zealand, this is … the sequel. With a twist…
Sometimes plans change in an instant. And this New Zealand trip changed a fair bit when we were involved in an accident in our car two weeks into our seven weeks of road tripping. To cut a long story short, on a narrow windy country road, a very large tractor with a large spiky earth cultivator tool on the back, taking up 100% of the width of the road, driving way too fast in the rain appeared around a blind turn and came straight at us. The driver panicked, braked too hard and blocked the wheels and came sliding toward us. Charlene had already steered off the road, into the ditch and we were almost stopped but there was nowhere to hide from the oncoming sliding tractor. That is probably the scariest thing I have ever seen. I remember thinking “Now we are going to die” as I braced for impact. The car was a complete wreck but we were incredibly lucky and walked out of the car with only sprained ribs, bruised knee, elbows, bit of whiplash. This is in no small part due to Charlene being a great and experienced driver and reacting very fast. I am so grateful, I am an unexperienced and nervous driver and am quite sure if I had been driving I would not be writing this right now.
That changed the trip completely for us, and it is still traumatic and the source of nightmares. To recover from the crash and limit the driving we chose to stay on the North Island for the rest of the trip. This is not a bad thing, the North Island is wonderful and home to one of the coolest things I have seen, the black sand beaches. New Zealand is super beautiful and every person we have met have been so welcoming, friendly and helpful. I do want to return and see the South Island some time in the future, absolutely. It will just take quite a while I think before I have any desire to sit inside a car on the narrow roads of New Zealand. The rest of our trip was not exactly as I had imagined it before this, but gotta just focus on being really grateful that we are still around to return another time for another trip.
Ok, phew, I had to get that story out of the way and off my chest. Let’s get back to pictures, in chronological order, from the very gorgeous New Zealand. I do really miss our forest home, the wonderful kiwis, the spectacular wines and the amazing landscapes.
Black sand beaches
After Auckland, we spent a week in the most amazing Airbnb place (highly recommended) exploring the incredible black sand beaches on the west coast. I have never seen a black sand beach before and they really are truly magical, especially in gloomy and stormy weather. The weather was just perfectly gloomy the first few weeks, it was really funny as everyone kept apologising for the Spring weather and we would say “No it is perfect! This is just what we want for photography + we just came from Singapore and every cold and overcast day has us dancing with joy!” Bring on the shitty weather!
We then headed south towards New Plymouth and the amazing Mount Taranaki. This is where our trip, our car and are plans – but fortunately not our health – was changed dramatically by an oncoming tractor driving into us. It is also where I learned that a mountain can hide for days and days. We ended up spending almost two weeks in New Plymouth and I think I can count the minutes I saw Mount Taranaki clear of clouds on one hand. Tricksy mountain! I am completely useless at taking pictures of mountains (I blame my flat homeland of Denmark!) and this is all I can muster:
New Plymouth has the very large and outstanding Pukekura Park. It really is fantastic, we spent hours exploring it and was especially lucky when one Friday afternoon turned extremely wet and foggy. Perfect conditions for forest photography and movie making. Yes I know the next picture is at the top of this blog post, but hey I like it, it is my blog, so here it is again!
Charlene made a beautiful video of this wonderful foggy rainy afternoon in Pukekura Park, and I recorded some sounds of the forest. Put on headphones, turn up the volume and watch it here:
I mentioned it was foggy, yes? When we walked out of the forest towards our motel, the world was engulfed in this thick soup of fog. Again, bring on the shitty weather, we love it!
The fog even carried over to the next day and I made my one “Road” image on the entire trip. Shitty weather, happy travelers!
Rotorua and the Treewalk
After a nice stay in the city of Tauranga we went to Rotorua for a few days and through the wonders of instagram we ended up discovering the Redwoods Treewalk. This is a beautiful 500 meter treewalk that is gorgeous during the day but absolutely magical at night. Artist David Trubridge has created a light-installation in the trees, the Redwood Nightlights, which you absolutely must see if you are in the area. My pictures do unfortunately fall short at capturing the magical feeling of this experience, do go and experience it if you can and definitely go both during the day and at night.
Back to the black sand
We chose to spend the last few weeks back at the black sand beaches, back at our fantastic little house in the forest. This is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I have stayed, and a perfect place to reboot, recover and not have to drive around too much. We went to our favourite Bethells Beach several times to capture stills and video, and did some nice small hikes in the Waitakere Regional Park.
And…that basically is The End of this post. It is a mess, I know, but so are my memories of NZ right now. I will post a few more words and stories in the coming months.