“Have You Been to New Zealand?”
I have just listened to Marc Maron interview Sir Ian McKellen on Maron’s podcast “WTF”(Episode 621, 20th July 2015). Here is a snippet of their conversation which I faithfully wrote down in my journal.
Sir Ian McKellen: “Have you been to New Zealand?”
Marc Maron: “No.”
Sir Ian McKellen: “Oh. Well if you like living where you do, surrounded by sky and weather, go to New Zealand – because they have more of it.”
Marc Maron: “It’s beautiful, right?”
Sir Ian McKellen: “Overwhelmingly beautiful! As you drive down some of those empty roads and surrounded by rapidly changing scenery; mountains and glaciers and volcanoes, you hear yourself saying I believe in God because this couldn’t just have happened.”
Marc Maron: “Wow”
Sir Ian McKellen: “Yes, wonderful!”
This post illustrates Sir Ian McKellen’s point. I have just returned from New Zealand and here is a selection of photos – all taken on my I-Phone. Here goes…
View from our apartment in Christchurch. Beyond the Canterbury plains there is fresh snow on the Southern Alps.
A hill in the suburb of Cashmere, Christchurch, with the Alps in the distance.
New Brighton beach, Christchurch just before dusk.
A selfie of my shadow in the grasses of New Brighton. (Don’t I look nice!?)
Matt and I took two separate trips into the mountains. Here he is at Arthur’s Pass.
New Zealand’s mountain parrot, the kea, at the viaduct lookout above Otira…not minding at all the gales and horizontal snow.
Otira township. This is a railway junction between Christchurch and the West Coast town of Greymouth. It is rather forbidding but I love it.
These engines are waiting for the Transalpine Express train to arrive from Greymouth. They are needed to haul the train up the steep incline to Arthur’s Pass. (The train goes through a 20 minute tunnel under the mountain – which I always find a bit daunting.)
We stayed at Bealy. Here was the landscape at sunset.
Signpost in the mountains. The river is the Waimakariri which flows to Christchurch.
View from the balcony of our cabin at Bealy.
In the morning Matt and I wandered beside Waimakariri river just below our cabin. The air and waters were freezing and pristine.
Gazing into a still pool of the Waimakariri river.
Going off road up to Mount White. I do enjoy the exclamation traffic signs in New Zealand. They seem to me to exclaim at the views. “Look at this!” they say. “Awesome”.
Selfie at Mount White. The Waimakariri is a perfect example of a ‘braided river’. Most of it runs underground.
Cass station – made famous (at least in New Zealand) in a painting called “Cass” by our iconic artist, Rita Angus.
I flew from Christchurch to Wellington and back. This photo illustrates why the Maori called New Zealand Aotearoa – which means land of the long white cloud. Note the alps poking up through the clouds.
A closer view of the Southern Alps as we flew north.
Beautiful blues of Tasman ocean and sky on the return flight.
The township of Kaikoura is below. (The plane was an ATR 72.)
Kaikoura mountains and gorgeous colours in the sea.
Matthew picked me up from Christchurch airport and we drove straight out to Lake Coleridge where we stayed overnight. View from Harper Road. Good old New Zealand SHEEP! (Their coats are much cleaner than Australian sheep.)
Late afternoon at Lake Coleridge. The winter sun in New Zealand sits low in the sky as we are so far south.
Matt and I pushed ourselves on a big walk up Peak Hill. Gosh it was hard work but it made us feel that there is life in us yet. Here is Lake Coleridge.
The Rakaia river from Peak Hill.
Raikaia River. (There’s my selfie shadow again.)
After our climb, we drove down another gravel road. Matthew in front of the Wilberforce river. There is that low winter sun again – and it is only around midday.
We took an off-road detour to get back to Christchurch. Lyndon road is unsealed and takes one past the totally frozen Lake Lyndon. The dirt road (which was actually mud and ice in places) takes one between Coleridge and Porters Pass.
Lake Lyndon. Actually, Lyndon Road was closed – as it is a ‘fine weather’ road so we shouldn’t have been there at all.
We don’t EVER see such a thing as a frozen lake in Western Australia, so this was mesmerizing to us.
As we drive back across the Canterbury plains, the mountains receded in my rear view mirror and the sun set behind them. Goodbye New Zealand. See you next time!
Yes. I have been to New Zealand.
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