Near Mangaweka

There’s some great, isolated hill country at the back of Taihape (near Mangaweka and Omapane) in the central North Island of New Zealand. It’s rough, steep and covered in bush and trees.  Deep river canyons pierce the hills.  Some of the land has been cleared of bush to make way for sheep and cattle farming but it’s a tough life.  Freezing cold winters, lots of rain and long distances to the nearest big towns.

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Hawkes Bay

I was back in Hawkes Bay (North Island of NZ about four hours drive north of Wellington) – such a beautiful spot.  The weather is great too.  Us Wellingtonians are so used to grey skies, howling gales and chilly temperatures that we when we do get some sun and warmth we write songs about it! (You Can’t Beat Wellington on a Good Day – very famous in NZ). But Hawkes Bay is a different story. Warm, sunny – balmy even.  I was there for over a month and the sky was blue and the sun shone practically every day.  What a joy. Autumn had just arrived. the grapes were being harvested – so I made the most of the walking and biking that the area encourages.

The views from the top of Te Mata Peak were as spectacular as I remembered. And a mist one dawn in the Tukituki Valley took my breath away.

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Serenity in the Begonia House

There’s nothing like spending a few hours in Wellington’s Botanic Gardens to lift the mood and bring out a smile.  It’s a peaceful,  colourful place and the Begonia hothouse is a particular favourite spot of mine.  In winter it’s a warm place to go with the camera and in summer the flowers seem particularly happy to be photographed.

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Road trip – Tolaga Bay horse races

To mark the start of a New Year, the locals of the East Cape bring  their horses to a beach near Tolaga Bay to have some fun.  These horses are usually used to round up cattle and slog through the hill farms but many have good breeding and can pick up some speed on the beach.  There’s a great mix of pintos, palaminos, thoroughbreds and many with no claim to any particular breed or lineage.  The riders are all ages – this year, once again 80 year old Whaea (Aunty) Dinah took part.  She and her palamino competed in three races and while they didn’t win, she didn’t come last either.

The day out include a section for adults and children to test their sprint skills.

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Road trip – Tolaga Bay

Tolaga Bay, north of Gisborne is a lovely spot, known in New Zealand for it’s historic wharf which was built by local farmers needing to get their sheep and cattle to market.  The wharf is now a tourist attraction and children love to jump off the edge into the deep water below.  They seem not to worry about the stingrays that often hang out there.

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Road trip – Gisborne area

The beaches of Gisborne are known around their world for their beauty, surf and long stretches of isolated sand.

I hung out at Tatapouri and collected these, which show no sand, no sun, no surf but some of the other scenery found at low tide on the rocky shore of Tatapouri and the nearby marine reserve.

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Road trip – Hawkes Bay hills

The hills around Havelock North dry off in summer – creating shades of bleached brown and gold mottled with dark patches of shade and trees.  An evening’s drive provided me these shots from Maraetoa Rd.

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